Final appearance ’til EBH Seminar

s and mart2This weekend, Dr. Steve Peters and Martin Black will make their final presentations before their May seminar for Evidence-Based Horsemanship.
The pair will be speaking at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.

Tonight, they’ll present at the Great Basin College. Friday, they’ll be at the Elko Convention Center.
Peters will speak about the horse’s brain chemistry, development, and functioning. Black will give anecdotal evidence and empirical observations connected to the science. Putting this information to use, they suggest, will create a better understanding of horse behavior and can potentially improve one’s horsemanship.

The Gathering is in its 29th year and continues to offer an incredible eclectic mix of all things cowboy.
Black and Peters share the floor with poets, singer-songwriters, rawhide braiders, and, of course, fellow horsemen. It’s an educational and entertainment festival with a distinguished worldwide reputation.

This year, Italian cowboys or butteri are highlighted.

elkoItalian cowboys?

I had no idea.

Read additional articles on Evidence-Based Horsemanship

Help for Hayburners

Come winter, horse owners can get in a jam – with no viable pasture, too little hay, and not enough money to buy more. Finding a new home for your beloved horse, for whatever reason, isn’t an option.
hay delivIf you’re struggling, there’s help. It’s often just a matter of finding the resources, searching the Internet, or networking amongst fellow horse owners.
First Light Farm Equine Shelter in Perry, Maine recently introduced an Emergency Feed Fund, developed to help horse owners get through tough periods.
FLFES Managing Director Andrea Barstow writes:
Requests can come through the Maine Animal Welfare Program, from a concerned friend, or directly from the individual in need. We only ask that the need be verified by an AWP staff member, a vet, farrier, or other trustworthy source. One request per family or farm.

The program is just a few weeks old and already two requests have been made and hay delivered to their farms.

Barstow continues:

flf_bannerThe purpose here is to help someone through a rough spot.  We will offer up to 10 bales of hay and up to two bags of grain (or shavings or combination) funding up to $75 per request. We hope to be able to fill one or two requests per month, hopefully more if we can get more donations toward our fund.

Check out their site or attend their fundraiser at the New Friendly Restaurant in February. Visit our Events page for listing.

Horse Shot Dead

horse shotI woke up to this report in the local papers:
Just a few miles from my home, Ryan Grafft, 31, was driving around in his truck Sunday afternoon, shooting at things with his rifle. He came upon four horses and decided to shoot them.
He fired 20 shots, killing one and injuring two.
He reportedly was unable to tell investigators why he shot the horses but did state that it was a stupid thing to do, according to complaints.
Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said it’s the only case of random violence resulting in the death of a horse that he’s encountered.
Reporter Mark Carlson, of the Cedar Rapids television station KCRG, attributed the killing to “a growing culture of violence resulting in an act of stupidity.”
HorseShooterThe horses’ caretaker Todd Zach said, “Was he watching too many video games or just wanted to kill somebody’s pets? I don’t know.”
Grafft faces charges of shooting a rifle over the highway; reckless use of a firearm with property damage, an aggravated misdemeanor; manner of conveyance; second-degree criminal mischief, a felony; and injury to animals, an aggravated misdemeanor.

PHOTOS, courtesy of KCRG-TV, above of Todd Zach and friends, at right of Ryan Grafft.
horse dead

Win Redmond’s Daily Red

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My horses like salt.
Redmond Rock sells mined Utah salt. It’s sea salt left by oceans long ago. So it’s natural and the horses love it. Plus the folks at Redmond Rock are really nice.

dailyred_product1Julie Goodnight endorsed them:
 “All of my horses have free-choice access to a Redmond Rock salt lick. Its naturally irregular shape is much more appealing than a chemically processed and hardened brick. “

This month, we’re giving away one 5-pound container of Redmond Daily Red.

Here’s what Goodnight says about it:
“When my horses are on the road, I prefer to use Redmond Daily Red, a granulated form added to the feed, to be sure my horses are getting the right balance of salt. With the added stress of traveling, I feel it is critical to my horse’s hydration and over-all vitality, as well as insuring a rapid recovery from strenuous exercise.”

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Winter Ride, II

The second ride in two days was with Shea and Jodi.
Shea’s such a lovely, quiet horse, so ponying the new girl is a Win-Win:

It’s good for Jodi to see new things and good for me to practice that extra juggle.

Jodi has some nice roundpen hours racked up, but stepping out into the neighborhood offers a new and different world to her. For pony2the rest of us, the ride was like any other. For her, I think, those ordinary encounters were extra-ordinary.

  • Scores of egg cartons missed the trip to the recycling plant and lay strewn along the roadside. The wind picked them up and blew them in our direction. They pursued us like heel-nipping dogs.
  • A neighbor decided to fire his gun right as we passed.
  • Cars passed close and fast.
  • Dogs bounced out of their yards to meet us.
  • Once off the road, we found the ground muddy on top but icy underneath. We trotted gingerly and Jodi learned to keep pace without bearing any tension on the leadline.

She learned that trail rides have their rewards. We found grass and stopped to graze for 10 minutes.
Through all of it, she kept her head.

Did quietness flow from me and Shea or is Jodi just a level-headed gal?
To be continued!


Winter Ride, I

Call me a grouch. A wet blanket.

There were times I had a more upbeat attitude about winter, this month is not one of them.

Make that a frozen, wet blanket.

The shorter, colder days cut down on saddle time. If we do ride in subzeros temps, it’s humorous and inelegant – picture a Michelin Man atop a fuzzy caterpillar.

But when temperatures soared into the 40s, I got out twice in two days.
In the first ride, Pep and I headed out for a few hours. We hadn’t ridden in a month, so everything was new:

  • Leaving the herdmates.
  • Neighbor’s brokendown truck on the road shoulder.bike3
  • Birds in the brush.
  • 30 mph winds stirring things up and making things loud.

Everything warranted a spook or a conversation.

At one point, Pep managed to jump sideways and buck at the same time. At a lope. What a talent!

Temple Grandin was on my mind as a group of cyclists approached on a long, straight section of gravel road.
“Bikes are scary to animals because they come up fast and they don’t tell you they’re coming,” she said at the Alberta Horse Breeders and Owners Conference in Red Deer.
Pep saw them coming from a half mile away but the advance notice did not help defray her flight impulse. As they approached, her head raised higher and higher above her withers. They passed silently and she scooted around on the muddy shoulder, all in a tizzy.
But the next group was talking back and forth. Nonstop and loudly. Their noise seemed to help Pep get a better handle. She was much more mellow when they passed.
All things considered.

This I’ve learned: It’s much easier to deal with bikes if we think of them like dogs or any other possible predator: we’re better off if we face them and have room to maneuver.

New Horseman, Old Soul

My friend, Rick, was born and raised in Harpswell, Maine. He started lobstering at the age of 10, when he’d ride down to his rick hskiff with bait bags hanging off the handlebars.
After graduating from Mt. Ararat a few years ahead of me, he worked at Bath Iron Works for 16 years. Then he left to serve as caretaker for a large, Cundy’s Harbor property. He does everything there – maintaining the buildings and boats, harvesting timber, landscaping. On top of that, he runs a successful lobster business.

The last thing he thought he’d be doing was hugging horses.

Rick’s boss brought horses to the property some five years ago. I was called to help this non-horseman learn the basics of safe handling and management.
Rick was edgy around horses.

When they snorted, he jumped.

When they spooked, he spooked more.

When they got their hooves trimmed, he gagged at the smell. (He was, however, unfazed by the stench of bait.)

Read more about Rick, a Cowboy on the Water.

But talk about a Quick Study. It wasn’t long before Rick was on his own, managing all the challenges with intelligence and sensitivity. Not only did he master horse care, he came to love it.
With perhaps a coffee or beer in hand, Rick has come to spend many a quiet moment just hanging with the horses at the barn.
cupckHe called me the other day. He wanted me to know about the passing of Cupcake, a big, gentle Clydesdale-Thoroughbred cross.

A vet came. The owner attended. Rick told them he couldn’t be there for it. He paused before telling me, “I said to them, you wouldn’t want to see a grown man cry now would you?”

Hang in there, Rick. We know your pain.

Evidence-Based Horsemanship Seminar Opens

Pretty excited about the Evidence-Based Horsemanship seminar May 4-6.

07_hotel_meetingsandevents_businesseventroomIt’ll give students a great opportunity to be immersed in the topic and absorb what is, in my mind, the most helpful, most beneficial work being offered right now in the horse world.

Dr. Steve Peters and Martin Black will present EBH at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center and at a nearby private facility. Morning sessions will be classroom style, led by Dr. Peters in a conference room at this luxury hotel. Afternoon sessions will involve horse handling and be led by Black.

Getting here is super easy. Drive or fly to Cedar Rapids. The airport is four miles from the hotel. They’ll pick you up.

Accommodations are fantastic and we’ve got a great rate at this Four Diamond hotel. Heck, even the ladies’ room in the lobby is something to write home about. The hotel’s Class Act restaurant is staffed by Kirkwood Community College hospitality students and the food is super fabulous.


I’ll buy the coffee. We can talk about the interesting things horses do. You’ll go home with a whole new toolbox of skills and knowledge.

Any questions, email me here.

Visit Evidence-Based Horsemanship for more details, to download seminar flyer and registration form.

To Note:

Full disclosure, Steve Peters is my significant other.

I helped Peters and Black with the manuscript and have written extensively on the topic for NickerNews. Read related articles here.

Carol waves goodbye to MEA

A big thanks to Dr. Dave Jefferson for his assistance with my deworming article on BestHorsePractices.

Dr. Jefferson and Maine Equine Associates have been around for several decades. MEA is the oldest continuing ecarolquine practice in the state.
Just recently, they said goodbye to one of their stalwarts, Carol Coleman, their receptionist and ‘greatest asset’ for 32 years.

“If you have called us, you have talked to Carol. She’s the one who probably recognized your voice when you called and the one who has taken your concerns to our vets…Carol has been “Mom” to a total of 6 vets and 14 support staff, who have worked here and moved on, and the 3 vets and 4 staff with us now. We will truly miss her.”

Happy Retirement, Carol!

Burros busts a move

John Murray wrote compelling about adopting and training his mustang, Nitro.

John writes:

These once wild equines show some of their natural behavior.   

Nitro, the mustang, is from Nevada. 

Sparky, the burro, is from the southern California desert. 

They were adopted from Bureau of Land Management wild horse adoption program and now live in Maine.  They spar like this on a daily basis and Sparky is usually the winner, chasing Nitro around and around the paddock.

He sent this fun video of Nitro and companion, Sparky.


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