Stablefax coming soon

stable2Several years ago in Maine, I ran 24 Carrot Horse Care, taking care of horses while their owners were away or too busy. I tossed hay, mucked stalls, exercised, medicated, and even hauled horses to vets for surgeries.

Most of the time, instructions and specifics were written down and tacked to the barn wall.

Sometimes, notes went missing.

Sometimes, horses went missing. (I once arrived at a Bowdoinham barn to find the horses gone, with not even a whinny in the air to hear. I tracked them to a neighbor’s yard, a half mile down the road.)

At some point over the years and miles, I got to thinking:stablemate1

  • Wouldn’t it be great to store horse records and care instructions on a phone?
  • Wouldn’t it be great to share that information with others, in times of need?

After working with CSFrontier, I’m proud to present Stablefax. This horse care and management application will soon be downloadable to your phone or tablet. With easy sharing features, you can give friends, neighbors, vets, and barn managers access to your feed and care schedule notes. Never miss a farrier or vet call! Share an x-ray or report. Store your Coggins result.

Stay tuned for more information!

Given the choice between notes for your loved ones on a tailgate or Stablefax, we hope you’ll choose the latter.

fed hay

Horse Skeleton offers nightmares, but no answers



For nights after discovering this skeleton, I had trouble sleeping. Couldn’t get the image out of my head. Instead, I extrapolated back to this horse’s final days – it died a pointless and likely painful, drawn-out death, getting tangled in branches by its blankets. Ridiculously, it had on two.

Pep and I found it while bushwhacking in the Oquirrh foothills. Best guess says this poor horse died two winters ago. The carcass has been picked clean and decomposed enough for that time frame, but not longer. There is still hair on its face and other parts.

It was in a dense mass of scrub oak, downhill from ridge leading towards Butterfield Canyon, maybe two miles from the nearest home. After dismounting, I got entangled just getting close enough for photos. It was wearing the horse blankets and shoes on all fours.

scrWhy, oh, why didn’t his owners search harder?

What happened?

Coyotes and cold, perhaps. I’ll never know.

I do know this horse’s fate can serve as a heads-up for all of us horse owners and horse lovers. What would you do if your horse took off, got loose, or disappeared?

What steps can you take to prepare for such a scary scenario?

I look forward to your thoughts!


Comeuppance in Equine Terms

IMG_4178Sticking it to the man:

Performing an act of civil disobedience in order to oppose established power hierarchy.

Horses do it. Mules do it, too.

No, we’re not anthropomorphizing. We’re just using this slang term to help describe how horses lower in the herd rank can take advantage of a situation to give higher-ups a piece of their mind.

It happened during a recent outing with Pep and Jolene.

Thinking we all could benefit from some leg stretching, I rode Pep, ponied Jolene and took along Kip, the Ride-Along dog. We traveled onto Bureau of Land Management land in the Oquirrh foothills, walking and trotting through juniper and scrub oak. After a quick bite of grass in a small meadow, we hit a dirt road. It’s a rarity around here: wide and flat.

I asked Pep to move out. We were galloping, but there were hitches in her steps. Had she stumbled? Did a pebble get lodged in her hoof?

Without slowing, I looked around to check Jolene. The mule was taking intermittent Big Mac bites of Pep’s haunches. At a gallop. Without breaking IMG_4176her stride. Pep had been trying, without success, to kick out at Jolene.

In the pasture, Pep pushes around the bigger mule.

Jolene’s antics (which stopped when I yelled at her, but resumed when I wasn’t looking) seemed to offer little Miss Bossypants a certain comeuppance.


Redmond’s For Real

IMG_1901On the surface, you might be tempted to say, “Salt is Salt is Salt.” It’s such a humble, ho-hum commodity.
But we live in a world of consumerism and we have choices galore. There are inexpensive, synthetic blocks. There are pricey, Himalayan blocks from 7,500 miles away. There are Redmond Rocks.

For the last several years, NickerNews & BestHorsePractices have enjoyed a healthy partnership with Redmond Minerals. The Utah company has generously donated products (the popular Redmond Rocks, Daily Red, Daily Gold and Real Salt for us humans) in exchange for some positive public relations.
It has been a nice arrangement. But recently I discovered there’s a whole lot more to like about this company.

  • For starters, Redmond is not a huge agricultural conglomerate. It began as a family business in the midst of a severe drought more than 50 years ago. Brothers Milo and Lamar Bosshardt, struggling to keep their farm going, started mining the salt on their property.
  • It’s sustainable; even after several decades of mining these deposits (left when a prehistoric sea receded), there remains more than 200 million tons underground.
  • RedmondMine_EntranceThe company has a refreshing, trickle-up attitude. They don’t like to give titles to employees. When I met the Rhett Roberts (to the outside world, he’s known as Chief Executive Officer), he was dressed in khakis, an untucked polo, and was meeting with employees. He took time to chat with me, listened to my questions and looked me square in the eye when responding. He was friendly, smart, and welcoming.

According to an Inc Magazine feature, “Redmond doesn’t have an organizational chart, titles, or even job descriptions, Instead of pigeonholing people into jobs, Roberts believes everyone should have the chance to stretch into new roles and learn.” Read the article.

kenlyn-beyzatalMike Mumford is my main Redmond contact, helping to keep NickerNews fans happy with product giveaways. The gentleman is no pencil pusher. Before moving to Salt Lake City, he served in the British army , ran a successful business in England, and competed in the Olympics as a Modern Pentathlete (riding, fencing, swimming, running, running). Now, he and his Arabian excel at endurance riding.

  • Did you know that Redmond’s product is a deceivingly complex?

While leading a tour of the Heber City plant, Darryl Bosshardt compared the natural spectrum of minerals in Redmond’s salt to the nutritional components of a garden tomato. No matter how hard scientists try, they’re just not going to match the beautiful perfection of a good-tasting tomato. Nor will they match the subtleties of ancient sea salt.
Manufactured blocks might have up to six ingredients: salt, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, and iodine. Redmond salt has those components plus dozens more, including potassium, selenium, and magnesium.

Darryl Bosshardt and Mike Mumford in Redmond's Heber City plant

Darryl Bosshardt and Mike Mumford in Redmond’s Heber City plant

Interested in trying it and/or having your horse try it? Enter here, please make sure to leave your US mailing address.

The Triple Crown Boycott

28racing-1-master675-v3For the love of horses, I’m boycotting the Triple Crown this year. There will be no watching the Derby, Preakness, or Belmont in this house.


  • The thoroughbred industry is one of the most irresponsible breeders in the country. Each year, thousands of foals are born, tested for speed, and wasted. Men and women of the Sport of Kings breed with impunity; horses are their easy, experimental crops. Dan James, of Double Dan Horsemanship has seen it first-hand. He told me:

I think the thoroughbred industry needs to become a little more responsible for the number of horses that are being produced each year… What are they going to do for the rest of their lives?”   Dan James

1Read more.

  •  Some trainers and jockeys are no better than the scoundrels guilty of soring in the walking horse industry. As has been widely reported, they’ve been secretly abusing them with electric shocks during training sessions and competitions. Read more.
  •  Drugging horses continues, despite condemnation by politicians and the public. Drug testing and compliance is probably more restrictive cows than it is for thoroughbreds. Read more.
  • ROI (Return On Investment) is more important that proper horse development.  Why else would babies be running at the tender age of two years? That kind of intense activity is too much for young horses, athletically AND mentally, say the authors of Evidence-Based Horsemanship.
  • Recently, I watched an excellent short documentary of nurse mare foals. These days-old foals are stripped from their mothers, so the mares can serve other foals with higher racing potential. Hundreds of foals cast aside, auctioned under curtain of darkness. Some have been rescued. Like all the aforementioned abuses of thoroughbreds, the practice goes unchecked. Watch the video.
  • foalThe industry does a nice job of contributing to thoroughbred rescues and agencies. But the charitable efforts are self-serving. It’s their Tide for image laundering.

The industry has no incentive to amend their harmful practices. And I’m not counting on politicians or law enforcement to affect any meaningful change. Adopting a thoroughbred is a nice gesture and thank goodness for those non-profits!

But if breeding is a running hose, rescuing simply diverts the flow. Better to turn off the faucet and pressure the industry to rein in breeding and treat their charges more humanely. Better to not watch in hopes that less viewing translates to fewer dollars.

These current industry practices are not what’s best for the horse.

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