Saddlebag Gotta-Haves

No doubt moving makes you appreciate what’s left behind.
Sure, I love Utah. But where’s my Slipstream granola and Eco Lips lip balm? Two great products for day packs and saddlebags.

Mike Winnike

I stumbled across both Iowa products while cruising farmer’s markets and reading local papers there. I met Slipstream’s owner, Mike Winnike, at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market (one of the country’s best, in my opinion) where he was just getting started with the granola. For years, Winnike has run a successful bike shop, Slipstream Cycling.
He developed the recipe, delectably heavy on hazelnuts and honey, with a Colorado friend and pastry chef. It’s organic and downright addictive. In our family, the Slipstream disappears more quickly than any other brand. Aside from this original recipe,  called “Heidi’s blend,” Winnike has brought two new varieties to the table this year. “Julie’s Blend” tastes like crunchy, homemade apple crisp and “Theo’s blend” has dark chocolate and coconut.

Missing my farmer’s market ritual, I got back in touch with Mike the other day. Slipstream is more and more available in supermarkets, he said. Plus, you can buy it online. Hooray. Check it out here.

Many readers are familiar with Eco Lips, a company we’ve partnered with as much for its outdoorsy-ness as its commitment to keeping it American and keeping it real (without chemicals).
Last year, I met President Steve Shriver after he’d just returned from a mountaineering trek in South America. He showed me around the facility, housed in Cedar Rapids’ historic Cheery Building. Unlike several businesses, Eco Lips moved ecolipsbalmback into town soon after the devastating, roof-topping, six-billion dollar flood in 2008.
They do solar.
They do sustainable.
And now, they do self-serve.
As in, make your own custom recipe. Yep, with a few clicks, you can whip up your own batch, using Eco Lips huge array of organic ingredients: beeswax, olive oil, lavender, orange, ginger, mint. You could literally eat this stuff. It’s that good.
Check out your options here.

And stay tuned for giveaways!

Finally, a trainer’s event with rescued horses

For years, I’ve been reporting on colt-starting events and saying to myself:

EquineComebackChallengeAmazing stuff, but rescued horses are way more challenging than these untouched two-year olds. They’ve got baggage by the bucketful, troubled pasts, bad habits, and even horsey PTSD sometimes.

Why not work with them? It’d be cheaper, more charitable, more challenging, and help relieve the glut of unwanted horses.

But that’s the sad thing with colt-starting events:
Most have ulterior motives that make them less about horses and more about making money, selling those horses (and horsey accoutrements), and creating a spectacle.

More and more horsemen or women are criticizing The Road to the Horse because its format (three days of high-pressure training in front of bright lights and screaming fans) doesn’t do the horse any favors.
Other events like the Horsemen’s Re-Union take the glitz and competition out of the picture; that’s a huge improvement. But the Re-Union still exists primarily to sell off a breeder’s yearly crop of two-year olds.

AHomeForEveryHorse_Mock_LogoNow comes the answer to my thoughts:
The Equine Comeback Challenge, sponsored by A Home for Every Horse (AHFEH), pairs 10 rescued horses with 10 trainers. The trainers have 60 days to work with their horses and will be featured at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in Denver, Colorado.
The horses, ages 5-15, came from several Colorado rescue organizations and will be sold privately by the trainers and adopted after they compete with their trainers in a Ranch Versatility trial at the Expo.

Best wishes to all involved and hats off to AHFEH for creating and sponsoring the event.

Helen Peppe’s ‘Pigs Can’t Swim’ Inspires

It’s a wonder she made it out of childhood in one piece. And with a brilliant attitude to boot.

Those were my first thoughts, coming with a nervous chuckle, after reading Helen Peppe’s Pigs Can’t Swim: A Memoir.

There are scenes of frigid winter trudges, of endless sibling taunts, of lonely, seat-of-her-pants learning.

In Peppe’s childhood, hunger and confusion mix readily with mud and manure. And nearly everything seems to happen helenwhile barefooted, even the riding.

Those riding moments will resonate with us horse lovers. In Chapter 16, she writes of solo rides with a free-leased mare, Dakota:

“I felt the grip of home loosen. I began to feel something I can describe only as possibility, a release in my chest that made me breathe more deeply and fully.”

In my mind, Peppe achieved the near-impossible with this thoughtful memoir:

  • First, she recalled with vivid detail a fluid stream of memories from girlhood.
  • Second, she manages to do so with a convincing voice and girlish mindset.
  • Third, she knits into her narrative the kind, mature, and forgiving perspective of a woman who has made it through very personal and sometimes traumatic trials of growing up in a big, poor family.
  • Lastly, Peppe seems to encourage and inspire her readers, especially those of us who also grew up in rural Maine, to consider their own childhoods from a new perspective and with greater appreciation and humor.

That’s when books like Pigs Can’t Swim become more than words on pages. They become gifts.

Visit Helen Peppe’s website here.

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