GERL gets things done

top_title_rOne of the great rewards of running NickerNews and BestHorsePractices is rubbing elbows with good people and good organizations.

The Georgie Equine Rescue League, Ltd. is one of them.

Boy, do they get things done!
They distribute an excellent quarterly newsletter with updates on rescues, fundraisers, educational seminars, and success stories. The group fairly oozes with good will, strong efforts, charity and focus.
They recognize the connection between overbreeding and horse neglect by sponsoring Stallion to Gelding Castration ittyDays. Fifty bucks to castrate your stud!

In today’s world, groups don’t get far without an effective website. GERL’s home page features rotating images of horses “before” and “after” their GERL rescues. Images at right are of one named “Itty Bitty”  I can’t think of any better way to convince visitors to get involved.

There are also pages devoted to available horses, adopted horses, personal rescue stories as well as educational pages, a Horse Hotline link, and wellness pages. They have a cool 2014 horse calendar for sale, a painless way to contribute to GERL. Check it out.

Hats off and best wishes to GERL, its leaders, members, and volunteers. Keep up the fine work.

Please and Thanks for your vote!

Over the years, NickerNews and BestHorsePractices have attracted an incredibly vibrant community of like-minded readers. esma1

  • You are curious, life-long learners with a passion for doing what’s best by your horse.
  • You are positive and enthusiastic.
  • You motivate me.

Thanks to you, both sites have advanced to the finals of the Equestrian Social Media Awards. NickerNews returns to the Best Blog finals; BestHorsePractices enters the finals for Best Newcomer.

Again, Thank You for your continued support.

pIf you haven’t already, check out this video.

Or head over to the ESMAs to vote. Simply click here, then scroll to Numbers 13 and 14. You will see us there.
To celebrate the nominations, we have great giveaways on both facebook pages. You can enter by commenting on facebook’s NickerNews and BestHorsePractices pages.

Tasty ingredients, Better Colt Starting Recipe

The Road to the Horse has become one of the most popular horse training events in the world. It offers spectWANTED_POSTER2-1ators flashy performances along with shopping experiences in the horse-rich community of Lexington, Kentucky.

But what does it offer the horse?

More and more horsemen and women believe the event is detrimental to the horse, giving it a frenzied, dumbed-down start they’d never wish on their own colts.

Dean Voigt doesn’t mince words about RTTH:

“It’s quite appalling what they’re doing to the horses,” said Voigt.

He’s offering a healthy and refreshing alternative with “Become a Horseman, Colt Starting Symposium” in Reno, Nevada. The event features Dan James, Jason Patrick, and Glenn Stewart from April 4-6. There is no competition, so clinicians can offer what’s best for the horses without judges weighing in on their performance.

1Read interview with Dan James.

In the mornings, the horsemen will work with mustangs.

Afternoons feature young ranch horses.

Each clinician will work with an apprentice, too, so the audience can see and hear the men guide less experienced riders.

“I want that interaction, so people can see the little things that need to be done,” said Voigt.

The symposium will be emceed by the popular RFD-TV host, Rick Lamb, and features daily Questions and Answer sessions. Check out details here.

Maine to Utah, circa 1849

Imagine my delight in learning a Maine family was among the first white folk to settle in this neighborhood!

Meet Thomas and Mary Jane Butterfield of Farmington, Maine.

[Photo at right shows the stone and brass monument, erected in their hometown, Herriman.]

In the 1830’s, they met Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, and followed him first to Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri, before finally heading to Utah by oxen and wagon.
In 1849, they settled just west of the Jordan River and found clear drinking water in the canyon that now bears their name, Butterfield Canyon.

Thomas Butterfield was a busy guy. He raised cows, sheep, oxen, horses, and bees, and fathered 12 children.

“Thomas Butterfield was a very industrious man. As the years went by, he added to the variety and amount of crops planted until the family produced most everything they needed or cared for. His herds grew large and prosperous. He was known for his generosity, always giving to those in need or less fortunate.”

thomasAccording to Family Search, a website maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The pretty Butterfield canyon lies a few miles from where, after much searching of the 21st century variety, we found a place to suit our needs and wants after completing our own journey west over the Rockies.

Photo at right, Thomas and Mary Jane Butterfield.

Looking forward and back

2013 was a heckuva year for NickerNews and BestHorsePractices.

header_home_02It started last winter with a bang. Two bangs, actually.

The first came with NickerNews’ nomination for Best Blog in the Equestrian Social Media Awards. The ESMAs featured an international field with most bloggers commercially backed. We advanced as finalists and were thrilled to compete, excited that our supportive fans brought attention to NickerNews on a global stage.

The second bang came with the debut of BestHorsePractices. The new site offers reviews of research as well as goods and services. We call out those using sketchy science or bhp logononsensical practices. BHP applauds those using sense and science to improve the lives of horses.

Popular articles included features on blanketing, rider weight, Lyme disease, acupuncture, feel, and the NAS study on mustang policy.

But as the saying goes: There’s nothing more certain than change.

After five years of free newsletters, this year, we’re moving to paid subscriptions. For the price of a sandwich, you can continue to enjoy all NickerNews and BestHorsePractices has to offer, including popular stories like our interview series with Unbranded, trail riding adventures, training reports and links to newsworthy topics.

Subscribe now.

westChange occurred on a personal level, too.

I continued a westward trek that started with a 2011 idea, followed by a 2012 move from Maine to Iowa. Steve Peters and I moved with my sons, horses, dogs, and cat to Utah where we now live next to public wilderness land.

Thanks again for your fantastic, continued support.

Happy trails and stay in touch. I love hearing from you. Click here to contact.

Dr. Rachel Flaherty opens solo practice

r f vetDr. Rachel Flaherty, for years a popular vet with Maine Equine Associates, has moved on to a solo practice.

Flaherty, a 37-year old graduate of the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, has opened Back Cove Equine Veterinary Care.

At MEA, Flaherty worked alongside Dr. David Jefferson, who inspired her to pursue veterinary studies decades ago.

“He was my veterinarian growing up. He’s probably the reason I became a large animal vet. I watched him, how he interacted with people and what his lifestyle was like,” said Flaherty.

That lifestyle is not for the faint of heart. Each day brings challenges with weather, travel, and, of course, thousand-pound animals and vtheir humans.

But, said Flaherty: “Building amazing relationships with people and their animals, seeing beautiful places every day, seeing parts of Maine that nobody ever gets to see… It’s kind of an amazing thing.”

Flaherty excels at internal medicine, dentistry, and enjoys her work with camelids (llamas and alpacas). With future coursework at the Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine in Reddick, Florida, she looks forward to adding acupuncture to her repertoire soon.

Best wishes, Dr. Flaherty!

Find Back Cove Equine on facebook or at the new website for Back Cove Equine Veterinary Care. She may also be reached at (207) 232-4316.

r f vv

First Trail Ride, Part II

The first trail ride with the mule proceeded after she gave me a few bucks and raced towards trees and our fence. (Thank you, trees and fence for stopping us.)
Read Part I.
j 1Steve and Comet were crucial riding partners. They rode ahead and blocked Jolene from bolting. And they gave her a reason for riding away from home.
I tried to relax, giving Jolene plenty of slack in the rein as we moved down the path. She lowered her head and loosened into our pace (a fast walk with some trotting).
Occasionally, I’d ask her to turn by bumping her with one rein. This made her tense, but she complied.
What I realized immediately was her unwillingness to bend her head and completely stop. Too much rein would speed her up, not slow her down.

All that vital lateral flexion discussed in the Bolting article?

All that ground and round pen work?

Forget about it.

Still, I wasn’t going to get into a big fight or do anything to make this first outing anything but a good time. With this mule, at this stage, a good time was my highest priority.  We’d work out kinks on subsequent rides.

Indeed, horsewoman Kyla Pollard provided some excellent pointers for the brace-y horse:

  • If you pick up a feel, like the one feel that you would like her to respond to and she doesn’t feel back to you i.e. a brace, hold that brace and bump her lightly, getting more and more annoying. Increase the level of discomfort in phases so she appreciates that first feel you offered her. Be sure NOT to put slack back in the rein when you are bumping. It must be associated with that brace.
  • Get way out to the side, turn your thumb down and with the rein in your closed hand. Use your triceps, not your biceps. Think: Out and high to tip that nose.
  • Remember: they don’t know how to push, brace, or pull until the human shows them. If she gives to the ‘bumps,’ throw slack into that line so she hunts that soft feel up.
  • Think steel hand in velvet glove on that rein. Don’t let it slip out, but, definitely release on the slightest try and throw slack right back at her if she comes off that feel.
  • Remember, pick up a feel. If there is a brace, bump, bump, bump until she is so uncomfortable and gets off of it.

Next, ponying gives Jolene an alternative lesson in bending and feel.


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