Welcome Fly Predators & Renegade Hoof Boots

This week, we welcome two new businesses into the Cayuse Crest Communications advertising family!
Spalding Labs has a well-earned and established reputation for effective fly control with smart, science-based methods. All without Spalding-Fly-Predatorschemicals.

What’s the key?
Wee little flies that tackle the bigger, pesky ones.
I talked with founder Tom Spalding this week. He explained:
“The species in Fly Predators are found everywhere in North America.  We are not introducing a new species, just increasing the quantity of them slightly, causing the pest fly population to dramatically decline.  Customers never notice the Fly Predators they have as our little bugs stay near manure areas and are one ninth the size of a fly.”

Read more here.

renegades-made-in-the-usaRenegade Hoof Boots, based in Arizona, have been outfitting endurance riders and serious trail riders for years. In our opinion, they are the best boots available. More durable than Easy Boots and with better customer service, too. Easy Boots are made in China. Renegade boots are made right here in the U.S.A.
Give them a call (888) 817-4794 or visit them here. Tell ’em NickerNews sent you!

Also, a hearty “Welcome Back!” to renewing advertisers: Western Sky Saddlery, Braids by Britt, Morton Real Estate, and Back Cove Equine.
Did you know?
Western Sky Saddlery, based in Alberta, Canada, has an incredible inventory of Wade saddles and often beats American dealers. Discover more here.
Morton Real Estate has another gorgeous horse-friendly listing. Check it out here.
Braids by Britt creates lovely, custom jewelry with your horses’ mane hair. Check out her talents here.
— Dr. Rachel Flaherty of Back Cove Equine is ready to answer all your equine concerns. Read more about Flaherty and her greater Portland practice here.

Zarzyski’s Wild Rides

I had the excellent opportunity to interview poet and former bronc rider Paul Zarzyski last month.
As a young man, Zarzyski headed west from his Wisconsin roots and landed in Montana where he started riding bucking horses and attended the University of Montana.
COVER_Poet1Some 40 years have passed. He’s hung up the spurs, but still “spurs the words wild” as he likes to say. Read the three-part interview here.

As we talked, Zarzyski kept mentioning his “Dumb Luck.” He called his successes at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, for example, Dumb Luck.
But I know Dumb Luck:
When my kids were young, we lived on Massachusetts Bay, south of Boston. One day, I took my six-year old son rowing in a friend’s skiff. To keep him amused, I rigged up my fishing pole.
With a slack tide, we rowed easily up an ocean inlet. It was his first time fishing and he tended the rod with enthusiasm, pulling in the line every few minutes. Once, he hooked a crab. We shook it off, restrung the bait, and tossed back the line.
Given his rambunctiousness, I thought it best to tie the rod to the skiff’s seat. (Never before stripedBassand never since have I had such foresight.) We rowed and fished some more under the hot afternoon sun.
Suddenly, my little boy felt a big tug on the line. He yelled gleefully as I coached him on how to reel in what I suspected was an old boot. Ten minutes later, we had a magnificent, 30-inch Striped Bass flopping between our knocking knees.
That’s Dumb Luck.

Zarzyski, I realized, was just being humble about the huge amount of effort, talent, and commitment he’s given to his vocations.
“Fortune favors the prepared mind,” commented the famous chemist, Louis Pasteur. (A funny reference since Zarzyski was studying chemistry before an epiphany steered him to poetry and creative writing.)

Zarsyski showed up to ride back in those rodeo days. And, under the tutelage of poet Richard Hugo, the Montana man translated that passion into the business of word-crafting. You could say he segued successfully from one sometimes-torturous occupation to another. He swapped a saddle for a Smith-Corona and shimmied effectively from arena to stage.
Dumb Luck had nothing to do with it.
If only I’d had the wit to challenge the claim, as author Amy Hempel wrote once: “There is no such thing as luck. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.“

I hope you enjoy the three-part interview. Check out Part One here.

Kurgo gives us reason to smile during Mud Season

muddy-dog-by-wout-1024x768Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me follow, down to the hollow
And there let me wallow in glorious mud
Flanders and Swann

Mud Season’s around the corner. How will your back seat look?
Is it enthusiastically trashed by your beloved canine? Does she look at you with that “What? Me?” look as you grind your teeth and pinch your nose?

Kurgo_square_logo_600x600_hi-res copySeat covers are crucial if you don’t want your car still smelling like Mud Season in August or October. There are lots of choices. I recently returned a fancy, expensive “custom-fitted” seat cover. It didn’t fit, wasn’t well made or well designed and attracted dog hair like a magnet.
Then I found Kurgo. It’s a young, Salisbury, Massachusetts company dedicated to all things dogs: beds, collars, drinking bowls, harnesses, even life jackets and car booster seats.
They sent me an Allagash Bench Seat Cover.

Hooray!  I finally have relief from a truck perpetually smelling doggy and featuring a stubborn layer of multi-shaded hair.

IMG_8693The best feature of the Allagash seat cover might surprise readers: it’s the lack of customization:
Let’s face it, so-called custom seat covers never really fit well and can be incredibly hard to take off once you get them on.
Kurgo seat covers are simple and adjustable. They have slits to allow for seat belts and zippered pockets for stashing leashes and travel water bowls.

The next impressive feature is its material:

It’s Hydraweave, a tough, waterproof fabric made especially for the Allagash line. Hydraweave does not attract hair like most every other seat cover.
Yesterday, my three boisterous dogs jumped in and got the IMG_8697back seat muddy. Really muddy. I unclipped the seat cover, hosed it off, and put it back on the seat in a few minutes.
When Kip got excited and had a little accident, I just cleaned it with soap and water. No more smelling smells for months or spitting out dog hair when the windows finally get rolled down.

Winter Warrior Sampler

The Muck Boot Winter Warrior Contest is over. Thanks to all who participated! Check out the slideshow here.

Some of my personal favorite images and comments came from Barbara, Debbie and Doris. Three tough gals, for sure. All will be receiving small consolation gifts from NickerNews and BestHorsePractices.


Debbie's snow bank

Debbie’s snow bank

The winter of 2015 in Maine has been ridiculous:

1.  I had never seen frozen eyelashes on my horse before, but even then, they were hard to see through the 1mm slit between my neck warmer and hat.
2.  Generally, the path to the muck pile is plowed for me, but I’m pretty sure that the pile has subsequently spread into the next county.
3.  The paddock has been plowed three times so my aging horses don’t have to fight the snow; but I still have to shovel the Dutch doors that are so great without snow.
4.  And there are the mornings when I have to snowshoe to the barn, shovel out the sliding door to get in, shovel the stalls, hope that the plow cleans up the path Debbiemuck bucketto the muck pile, shovel the doors to let the horses out, snowshoe home and shovel the walks and path to the woodshed, then to be greeted by my husband, “What have you been up to this morning?”
5.  When I open the door to the barn on those minus ridiculous mornings, the warmth that condenses from my 28-degree barn looks like I just stepped into the local laundromat with all dryers working.
6.  Cleaning the paddock poop is another challenge- I cannot use the wheelbarrow but have a worthy substitute (see photo) and a pulp hook manages to dislodge frozen piles.
7.  The picture of the snow pile says it all, though honestly, I had a loader move some of the snow away from the piles that have fallen off the arena roof.
Debbieboots8.  I love my Muck Boots, but the tread wears off faster than the boot.  After a couple of impressive falls, I tied on some “cleats”…  Yankee frugality (not sure how frugality and horses work together though)
9.  I’ve wondered if my horses get ice cream headaches from the frozen carrots.
10.  I used to laugh that my grandfather wore long underwear inside and outside the house from November through March (ahem….)
11.  My barn clothes and town clothes have become interchangeable, that is, I only wear barn clothes into town and feel no embarrassment.  The benefit of the cold is that if you move fast enough, the clothes don’t smell like the barn, which some people consider offensive. Just don’t stay in a heated shop for too long.

Ridiculous or not, how lucky are we to be able to own horses, to hear their nickers as we deliver more hay, to sit in heated seats (bareback riding), have no mud to groom.4


I am attaching a few photos that I have recently taken. My “camera,” which some people actually call their phones, has had a rough winter, too. I have been handicapped in catching some of those Kodak moments, while dealing with the lens fogging as quickly as I dig it out from my multiple layers of clothes and exposing it to sub zero temps. The battery also finds these temps offensive and goes into sudden death mode! I just love the message that flashes on the screen telling me that my camera has “overheated” and must cool off before use! I am assuming that my phone must have been manufactured or programed somewhere far from a Maine winter

Here are the photos:

Blizzard White Out 012715The Blizzard White Out was taken from the house looking at the arena. It was our first blizzard of the season. There were moments when I thought I might have to run a rope between the house and the barn so I could find my way between them.

Icelandic in His Element is a photo of Megas, one of our three Icelandics. Their general attitude toward cold and snow is very laid back. They tend to plant their rumps into the wind and enjoy the weather.

Am Temperature 022115The photo of my  iPhone with -17  showing on local weather was  a particularly balmy morning. There was no wind chill to factor into the equation, so life was grand!

Sassy at Last Call was taken the evening of a blizzard. It was really The Tail End of a Storm in more ways than one! It is also a reminder of the beauty that exists Sassy at Last Callin the belly of the beast of a Maine winter.

Snow Bank at Back of Barn was my challenge to carve Snow Bank Back of Barnthrough in order to get to the manure bin. Wind driven snow pack found the morning after a big storm just added to my exercise program. No need to count calories in Maine this winter!


When both humans and horses have icicles on their eyelashes, you know it’s cold outside.  I thought they were pretty on the horse, and made sort of pretty light fractures in my eyes, as I chased frozen pieces of poop around.  I particularly like it when I’m prying poop up and it suddenly flies free and hits me in the aforementioned eyes (NOT!).  One day, one went into my mouth (almost.)

doris 6I’m on my second pair of Yak Traks this winter.  They fit nicely over my Muck boots, which keep me quite warm, even after taking 2 + 1/2 hours to clean the run-in shed after the blizzard.  So, navigating the paddock is not so bad.

How high are my snow banks?  Well, they are in competition with my muck pile, to which I now have to throw the muck over my head to reach the top of the pile.  If this snow was not so soft and fluffy, my horses would be stepping over the fence.  My husband plows out an area in the paddock to give the horses some room to move around.  Consequently, the snow banks are as high as the eave of the roof.  Because of the location of the run-in and the northeast winds, after each storm, we have about 4 feet of drift in front of the hay storage.  More shoveling before I can even feed hay!

Bad enough I had to chase down my dogs who stepped over their fence, and then I had to shovel a trench all the way around the inside of the dog fence.  It took me three hours, and I was already sore from falling off my horse (Harley) the day before.  I had watched your video of the woman riding her horse bareback in the deep snow, and it looked like soooo much fun.  So I decided to try it.  When I couldn’t open the door to the tack room in my trailer, you guessed it – crusted with ice – I couldn’t get to my bareback pad.  I thought, well I’ve ridden bareback before.


How high is your muck pile?

I rigged up his rope halter, so I had reins and led him over to the round  metal feeder, climbed up on it, and climbed onto him.  I immediately discovered I had no control over him, as he proceeded to run around the feeder which sits under a tree with low branches.  I clung to his neck for 3 turns.  I managed to get him out into some deep snow, but he spun around and went back around the feeder.  Coming around the other side, we ran into my mare, who acted like a lion was chasing her.  Harley believed her and spun around again, throwing me off – not into deep, soft, powdery snow, but onto icy hard-packed snow.

Just before my head hit the ground, I realized I didn’t have a helmet on.  It was in that iced-in trailer with my bareback pad.

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