Survey feedback most excellent

bhpA BIG thanks to all those completing our recent NickerNews & BestHorsePractices survey. We received excellent participation and input.

Here are some tidbits:

Who reads our newsletters and visits our sites?

— Most have been reading the newsletter for 2-4 years.

— Most are women, between 37-77 years of age.

header_home_02— Many are from New England, especially Maine. Numbers are growing in the western states as well as internationally.

What’s good to read?

It was virtually a tie between the many categories of content. From guest columns and research to personal anecdotes, DIY’s, and interviews, you said it was hard to rank them since you enjoy reading them all. Research and helpful articles for everyday riders, though, were mentioned as particularly popular.

Some comments related to content:

— Articles are getting better all the time.

farm fit1— They are fun, informative, and wide-ranging.

— Merging equine neurology with training modalities is fascinating.

— Thanks for the piece on Rider Fear. After an accident, I was going through it, too. It was so helpful.

— Your piece on Blanketing showed me that I don’t have to feel guilty this winter.

— Your article on Holes in Training made me aware to be more aware.

— At 74, I’m no longer able to ride or have my horse. Your work allows me to be close to horses vicariously and continue to learn.


With the Internet chock full of content, why do you read NickerNews & BestHorsePractices?

— Real people talking about real things helpful to the average person. Understandable language and real events.

— I feel confident sharing the information with others.

— I trust the source.

— I read it because you stay true to your topic, best horse practices.

— There’s research behind the information.

— It’s easy to read and packed with information, geared around everyday people who work with their own horses, not hired hands.

— It’s personal and familiar.

— Often you write about obscure but very interesting and effective horse people. It isn’t just about who is in vogue at the moment.

— I usually find myself reading every work even if I didn’t start out to do that.

— You target the real horse owners and view all sides of anything you air. It’s refreshing.

Miller Jordan works with Line Dancer

When asked what to change, most respondents gave a variety of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, there were some calls for more:

— Research

— Mulemanship

— Features on horse and/or human growth

— Reviews of products.

Thanks again for your viewpoints! By now, all respondents should have received a Thank You token via US mail. If you have yet to receive it, please let us know here.


Sleek Leek is Solid Gold

leek3Three safety items you’ve got to have if you’re working with horses, out on the trail, or both:

Knife. Phone. Belt. Read about those essentials here.

This summer at the Outdoor Retailer, we met several knife company representatives and brought them one tiny complaint:

Can’t your knives be a tad more feminine?

Most NickerNews and BestHorsePractices readers are women. We grew up TomBoys. We have no problem smelling like horses and living in jeans. But, heck, we still like to look good.

The folks at the Kershaw booth were the ONLY responsive ones. And they had plenty of ammo in their answers.

For the past few months, I’ve used the Kershaw Leek pocketknife. Kershaw makes the only American-made, testosterone-free line of knives with its Leek, Chive, and Scallion blades. We’re giving away a Chive and a Scallion!   Become a Remuda Reader to enter.

leek2The Leek, with a three-inch, half-serrated blade, is my favorite.

Here are the pros:

  • It clips unobtrusively to your belt or in your back pocket.
  • It’s easy to grab and flip open one-handed with either hand. (It has a patented, assisted-opening “flipper.” Pretty nifty.)
  • leekIt feels smooth, strong, light, and svelte – qualities not easily combined.
  • It locks open 100 percent of the time, without fail. Unlocking it is a simple, one-handed deal.
  • Unlike many knives of its size, it has a simple slider lock to keep it locked closed, an especially important feature if you’re carrying it on your belt.

Here are the cons:

  • It’s solid stainless steel, otherwise I’d call it solid gold.
  • It’s so skinny and svelte you might forget you have it and then have to surrender it at airport security.

If you’re looking for something even less obtrusive, the Chive blade is under two inches long and it weighs less than two ounces. Super cute while still strong and capable. We’re giving away a Chive and a Scallion! Become a Remuda Reader to enter.


Saddlemaker, Silversmith, Cyclist?

HARDWARECOLLAGEThe world has its Sticks in the Mud. Discovery and personal growth? They might occasionally embrace a longer haircut or different flavor of ice cream.

And then there are NickerNews favs, people pushing their individual envelopes, open-minded learnaholics who crave new experiences.

watt3Jeremiah Watt, a renowned silver smith and saddlemaker, is one of those folks. For decades, Jeremiah has lived with his lovely wife, Colleen, on ranches in Montana, Colorado, Utah, Texas, and most recently, California. They have two college-age children.

Watt’s craftsmanship is distinctive, attractive, and enduring. Check out his wares here.

But this year, starting in May, the 57-year old set down his tools and headed east. Way east. Starting in China, Watt is traveling the world by bike. It’s a 10-month adventure for which he started watt1planning a few years ago.

The goal? “…To meet people of different regions and cultures. To share in their lives and, if they’re interested, to share in ours” according to his blog.

Thankfully, Watt is letting us relative loafers enjoy his travels by documenting with wonderful humor, anecdotes, and fantastic images. He’s eaten bugs in Chinese street markets, dealt with Russia border officials, unintentionally discovered mine fields, slept in cemeteries, and editorialized on European coffee. Thus far, he’s biked through parts of China, Mongolia, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Bosnia, Crotia, and Italy. (I may have missed a country or two!) Several family members have joined him for stints. In some months, he will fly to the East Coast and cycle across the States.

Thank you so much, Jeremiah, for opening our eyes to your discoveries and reminding us that that the world is out there to explore. One just has to embrace the notion, plan, prepare, and step out the door.

Check out his travels here.


Mule Notes

joOur recent NickerNews and BestHorsePractices survey brought to light some readers anxious for more mule news! Research and practice-specific posts will come, but here are a few anecdotal tidbits:

Jolene is the December cover girl for the Save Your Ass Long Eared Rescue 2015 Calendar. Yahoo! You can order soon to help this non-profit, a New Hampshire charity that’s saved hundreds of mules and donkeys since its founding in 2007.

The pretty molly mule has improved on the trail, but saddling up remains our nagging shortfall. To remedy this, we recently devoted three, hour-long sessions entirely to saddling and pre-ride procedures:

  • I used a 20-foot line and looped it around a rail a few times instead of tying her fast and hard. That meant she could move around and deal with the saddle and saddle pad on her own terms. Gradually, she became more and more willing to stay close and stay still.
  • I offered her hay so she could graze and relax at all times during the saddling.
  • The saddle came off and went back on, got cinched up, uncinched, came off and went back on. (With a 30-pound saddle, my arms got stronger in the process.)
  • Lots of rubs and pauses when she was relaxed and in the right place.

joleneThe tacking up process improves. It used to be an hour-long deal. Then it took 30 minutes. Now, we can head out after 15 minutes of cool-headed prep. Read about more holes in the training here.

Here are a few odd mule tidbits I’ve learned:

  • Many mules can be very sensitive about their ears. But if you can get your finger inside an ear, right where it meets the poll, you might find a super-sensitive pleasure zone. When I rub Jolene here, she stretches her head and flutters her eyes.
  • Mules don’t smell. That is, they don’t smell like horses and they don’t seem to emit any distinctive odor (unless they’ve rolled in something or are sweaty from a hard ride).
  • Of everyone in the herd, Jolene complains least about the rocky, irregular footing. Her hooves are tougher. And it seems, so is her stomach. She is largely responsible for eating the less palatable forage, like scrub oak, in the pasture. These hardiness observations seemed to be confirmed by the Baja vaqueros, who’ll be feted at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and who use mostly mules in their ranch work.
  • Mule eyelashes curve down towards the eye more than horse’s eyelashes. That this makes them more endearing is strictly subjective.


5 Star Shines

IMG_0049Ben Masters, the team leader of Unbranded, told me not a single horse suffered from sores or rubs during their incredible six-month, 3,000 mile journey.

He credited 5 Star Equine Products, the company that outfitted the crew with pads and cinches, with this success. Add up the men (four) and the mustangs (14) and you get more than 12,000 miles of testimony. Pretty impressive.

Though we haven’t crossed the country, we here at NickerNews and BestHorsePractices can also attest to the company’s durable, horse-approved cinches and pads.


For starters, they’re all wool. Read here why wool is the best thing to put between your saddle and your horse?

We’ve tried synthetic and even sewed lambswool shearling cinches on our horses over hundreds of miles of rough country and in every season. Those options either gall the horses or fall apart.

photo 1 copy5 Star products hold up outstandingly over the miles and years. I especially like the shorter, 30-inch pad for the pony, Pep, and her short back. My horses wear the cinches of neutral tone (natural greyish-white color), but 5 Star has wonderful Vaquero styles or buyers can design their own.

That 5 Star Cinches and Pads are made in America which makes buying them even more satisfying. Owner and president Terry Moore (in photo with his wife at right) runs the company out of their facilities in Hatfield, Arkansas.

Got a lot of ups and downs on your trails? Try the Y Cinch which many say are more comfortable and functional than the typical front and back cinch rig.

We’re now offering a chance at a $100 gift certificate for a 5 Star Equine cinch to all Remuda Readers. Check out this great opportunity!


Hello NCPG – See you in Elko!

T-I-neon-cowboys-442x590Cayuse Crest Communications is proud to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Western Folklife, the non-profit organization that each year puts on the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. This year, it takes over the historical Nevada town (Elko has been called “the last real cowtown in the American West” and has a rich history of Basque immigrants) from January 26-31.

The media sponsorship (which includes coverage by NickerNews and BestHorsePractices as well as UtahOutsider) was sealed after discussions with Western Folklife’s new executive director, David Roche, and communications director, Darcy Minter.

What does it mean for readers?

  • A pair of Deluxe Three-Day Passes for the event, awarded to one lucky Remuda Reader. (A $120 value)
This year highlights the vaqueros of the Baja peninsula in Mexico.

This year highlights the vaqueros of the Baja peninsula in Mexico.

Check out past coverage of the annual event:

Taking in the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Randy Rieman at the NCPG

Evidence-Based Horsemanship presents at the NCPG

Read about this year’s event.

Stayed tuned for regular updates.




A Healthier, Happier Horse with your Hands On

jimFor more than a decade, Jim Masterson has been doing good works for horses in the way of massage, tension release, and interactive body work. I met Jim at the Equine Affaire and we shared shuttle rides to and from the hotel. What an interesting guy!

He’s traveled with the US Endurance team to Malaysia, Germany, and Chile and treated the team’s equine athletes. He’s presented at major horse expos in the U.S. and Australia. He’s helping humans, too, by teaching his methods in the U.S. and the U.K.
Want a taste of the Masterson Method?

Here are links to scores of free videos:

General training videos

Clip from Masterson Method, Beyond Horse Massage DVD

Improving Lateral Flexion

Learn about the Bladder Meridian

Releasing Tension in a Resistant Horse

jim_masterson_relaxedWorking with the Horse’s Hind Legs

Releasing tension in the poll.

Releasing tension in the TMJ and Jaw

Ways to help your horse relax

Herd behavior and working with your horse

Masterson Method Head Down Technique

Release Tension in the Neck-Shoulders-Withers Junction

Thanks, Jim!

A Darn Tough Convert

26802_601_zoomWe hear from Barbara, a Remuda Reader from Maine, on her impressions of a free pair of Darn Tough socks:

I thought I was very lucky when notified that I’d won a Remuda Reader drawing for free products. However, I felt like I had really won the lottery, when  told to go directly to the Darn Tough website and choose a pair of their life-time guaranteed socks! This is an impressive website with fabulous options, great colors, styles and loads of product information which made shopping easy.

After much deliberation, I selected the whimsically designed and colorful Yeti over the calf performance sock, which is listed for ski and riding. Its lightly cushioned bottom and seamless Merino wool has met all of my expectations and its non-bulky profile is perfect for all my riding boots. I am so pleased with this product. They are by far the most comfortable and functional pair of socks I have worn riding.They stay put, do not chafe or irritate and wash and dry beautifully.

While my first pair was free (but normally at around $25) purchasing Darn Tough socks makes them affordable and a lifetime investment. I think they are a functional, comfortable and a high performance treat for yourself and they would make fabulous gifts, guaranteed to please the recipient forever. I truly can’t imagine how anyone could find a more satisfying sock for their outdoor adventures.

I will love my Darn Tough socks for the rest of my life! The people at Darn Tough have made a serious commitment to quality and value and it is a pleasure to purchase from a Vermont company that clearly has confidence in their product supported by their amazing guarantee.

Read UtahOutsider’s Review of Darn Toughs!

An autumn view of Barbara's Maine farm

An autumn view of Barbara’s Maine farm


Welcome Peeko!

IMG_3082We welcome sweet Peeko to the NickerNews family. She may not be great at writing or marketing, but she’s certainly livening up the place.

Peeko came from the wonderful folks at Ruff Patch Rescue, a foster-home centered rescue organization in Riverton, Utah. Led by Stacy Ward, a veterinary technician at Stone Ridge Veterinary Clinic, the non-profit has a team of fosterers who care for incoming dogs and begin basic training.

Ruff Patch rescued Peeko from a rural shelter in Roosevelt, Utah, where she was turned in as a young stray of about six months. Because of what initially was considered an injury, the slight, white pup would likely have been euthanized had it not been for the efforts of Ruff Patch.

FRONT EXTREMITY - LATERAL RIGHT copyPeeko, a small cattle dog/border collie mutt, has an old fracture. She broke her elbow and it never healed correctly. Subsequently, the leg grew awkwardly.  It bows in, making her little paw toe out a bit like a flipper. According to an orthopedic specialist, the abnormality makes one leg shorter than the other but shouldn’t slow her down or cause her pain.

Already Peeko is giving our Ride Along Dog, Kip, a run for her money. She’s fast, super smart, and friendly. She has a natural sense to steer clear of the horses but keep close enough to be part of the party.

Thanks Ruff Patch for rescuing and finding forever homes for hundreds of dogs every year. You make it easy for folks like us to (as your motto says):

Save A Life and Enrich Your Own!”

ruff patch

Road trip with riding on my mind

view around dillon

Dusk outside of Dillon, MT

Last week, we headed north from Utah to Bozeman, Montana, to visit with Unbranded’s creative team and to see bits of the film. The team is busy with last minute details before submitting it to major film festivals.

The trip allowed for some quick detours to favorite places. My folks lived in Montana for a decade and I worked two summers on a Montana ranch. The Big Sky state is dear to me.

Three Forks, population 1,852: The town is named for the nearby confluence of three major Montana rivers, the Jefferson, Gallatin, and Madison. They meet and form the Missouri, the longest river in North threeforksAmerica at 2,341 miles.

Three Forks Saddlery: a working cowboy store, for sure, set along Main Street. There are walls full of ropes, reins, stirrups, and bits. They carry jeans, vests, hats, and wild rags and other essential gear. They make saddles here, too. And when you have a horse gear question, they know the answer. Ask ‘em anything and they are super helpful.

wheatWheat, Montana: a bakery, deli, and farm just of Interstate 90. They were doing non-GMO before it became popular and buzz-worthy. Wheat makes mammoth cinnamon buns, plate-sized cookies, wicked sandwiches, and, of course, 50-pound sacks of flour if you’d rather make it all yourself. Their interstate sign says it all: “Feel Good After You Eat. Stop Here.”

Bozeman has changed enormously since I frequented there years ago. It’s growing at a 20 percent clip and, as Ben Masters told me, “No one living in Bozeman is from Bozeman.” It seemed a bit like Park City, Utah’s richest mountain town. There were lots of Patagonia-clad women meeting for coffee, etc. etc.

But there are still plenty of regular types, working stiffs, and cowboys.

Fabric at Main St. Quilting, Bozeman

Fabric at Main St. Quilting, Bozeman

I found fine cowboy boots at Carter’s Boots on Main Street. Jeff and Lisa Carter have run it for many years, stocking the shelves with custom boots, fine leather purses, and more. I picked up a lovely silk scarf for the upcoming cold months.

The Country Bookshelf, also on Main Street, is a fine place to lose yourself. It’s a big independent bookstore with a rich, diverse stock. I picked up a copy of The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, one of my recent favorites.

Main Street Quilting had dozens of western and horse themed fabrics for my next quilt. Another place to get lost in hundreds, thousands of choices.

On the way home, I took Route 41 through Dillon, home of Randy Rieman and on this night, a pep rally of sorts with a ginormous, house-size bonfire. (see photo below)

The route took me through the Targhee National Forest and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests. All told, they encompass more than six million acres. Yes, folks, there is space to ride here.

Stay tuned for more on Unbranded.

Read current Unbranded interviews here.


© Copyright NickerNews Blog - Theme by Pexeto