Equine Affaire Highlights

We had a great time at the Equine Affaire in West Springfield, Massachusetts earlier this month. With over 100,000 attendees, you see and hear a lot, including news from a brilliant, 92-year old trail rider! We note here some Best of the Equine Affaire and Things Heard at the Equine Affaire. Check them out:075-smiley-face-vector-art-free-download-l

Heard at EA:

  • I have multiple sclerosis and when I have a seizure, my horse stops and waits for me.
  • You know you’re at the Equine Affaire when two peoples’ phones go off and one is a theme from “Good, Bad, and the Ugly” ringtone and the other is “Bonanza.”
  • Said when receiving one of our Nicker More Buck Less bumper stickers: Will this work for my horse if I put it in his stall?
  • I can’t go fast on my pleasure horse because I don’t want him to learn to go fast.
  • Small-Questioning-FaceMy horse doesn’t like the color.
  • I threw a bucket at him and he still wouldn’t go in his stall.
  • My horse won’t do trail classes because he won’t put his nose to the ground and I can’t just tie his nose to the ground.


Best of the Equine Affaire:

  • We loved hearing the wisdom of presenter Warwick Schiller, who traveled from California to give several presentations.


  • We loved the folks from Redmond Equine, our neighbors in the Better Living Center and donors of one of our fabulous booth giveaways.

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  • We loved seeing partner Lucerne Farms, the Maine forage company. Owner Richard James happily reported that they sold out of all their offerings.






Welcome new subscribers!

Welcome to NickerNews and BestHorsePractices!

If you’re still trying to get a handle on who we are and what we do, let me help:

For starters, I’m Maddy Butcher, a former newspaper reporter and founder of NickerNews and BestHorsePractices.

These two websites are online horse magazines dedicated to providing smart, lively information for horse owners and enthusiasts. Read more about NickerNews here and BestHorsePractices here.

L-R: Butcher, Skinner, Luciano, Nelson

L-R: Butcher, Skinner, Luciano, Nelson

If you checked out our booth at the Equine Affaire, you likely met me and/or the rest of the team: Raechel Nelson, Amy Skinner, and Emily Luciano. Here’s a bit about us:

I’m a native Mainer now living in southwest Colorado with my horses, mule and BLM burro. My partner is Dr. Steve Peters, author of Evidence-Based Horsemanship.

Raechel: a Coloradan living in Utah, she is the subject of the popular Mustang Miles & Minutes column, a feature on BestHorsePractices that documents her progress with an adopted mare and foal pair. (And she’s also a successful dentist.)

Amy: an up-and-coming trainer in northern Michigan. Amy writes her Journals & Journeys column for NickerNews. She has studied with a wide array of trainers from English and Western traditions, including Buck Brannaman, Buster McLaury, Leslie Desmond, and the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Spain.

Emily: a multi-year competitor in the Extreme Mustang Makeover, she’s our marketing director. The Florida gal originally hails from North Carolina, where she learned from her father, the renowned horseman, Jim Thomas of Bar T Horsemanship.

We hope you enjoy all the free content! Newsletters are delivered every Thursday morning. For additional and exclusive content, check out our Remuda Reader program.

Any questions? Contact us here.

Don’t forget to find us on facebook. Like us at NickerNews and BestHorsePractices.

When Moving is like Riding

Moving to a new place where you don’t know a soul, don’t know what the weather will do, and don’t know where to buy stuff is a IMG_9783lot like riding a new, fresh horse. Read more about the move to Colorado.

For me, anyway, it’s about being ready for anything and tamping down the fear.

Friends say ‘how adventurous!’ and, indeed, it’s adventurous and fun. But along with the curiosity and excitement, there is fear and self-doubt. Those negative feelings sit on the back porch of my brain. Most days, they knock to come in. I wave – which is to say, I acknowledge them – and move on. Watch Mancos slideshow.

It dawned on me one day as I was repairing fence that what I feel is precisely the alert state of mind described in the BestHorsePractices article on optimal learning. It’s midway between relaxed and panicked. It’s out of the comfort zone, as the article explained, which referenced the work of Martin Black and Dr. Steve Peters, authors of Evidence-Based Horsemanship.

Interesting things happen out of the comfort zone as I meet people, explore new territory, and ask questions.

— My eyes and ears are more open.

— My attitude is inquisitive.

IMG_9835And yet, there are moments when I simply strive to stay busy, keeping rushes of adrenalin, nausea, and anxiety at bay.

— When your windows face wilderness, do you draw the curtains?

— When you get lonely, do you have longer conversations with animals and with yourself?

— Do you wonder what strangers and acquaintances really think of you?

I tend to call friends and family more often. When I call, I pace around the mostly empty house, trying not to hear the echo of my voice.

I have conversations with people working cash registers, with fellow coffee drinkers at a local café, with the UPS guy. I ask their names and try to commit them to memory for the next time. I extend myself.

It’s like:

— Putting an energetic horse into a long trot

— Doing big turns in an open field with this same horse

— Reminding the horse that a one-rein stop is still there.

— It’s singing and smiling while galloping.

These are all exercises I use to relax and connect.

Do you have some of them? Do you extend yourself?

Al Dube offers lessons (and miracles)

cynnewNickerNews and BestHorsePractices is happy to reconnect with Al Dube Quarter Horses, the Horse Farm of Merit offering lessons as well as hay in southern Maine. It’s been another successful season at the farm, according to owner Cynthia Hodak.

The stables hosted clinician Martin Black last month and held versatility events earlier in the year.

Moving forward, Hodak said she’s looking forward to focusing most on her lesson program.

“I’ve seen so many changes in people through riding,” said Hodak. “Their leadership improves. Horses can help individuals get through life crises, too.”

Hodak should know. When her partner, Al Dube died in 2011, she “rode every day, all day,” she recalled.


Martin Black clinic last month

“Our lesson program has expanded in all directions. This continued to enlighten us of the leadership qualities and healing energies exchanged between the horse and rider. We see miracles every day!”

Soon, the business will move to a new facility in Arundel: “More open space. More open fields and dirt roads,” shared Hodak, who is also a certified Reiki master.

Lessons and hay sales will be offered. The grass fed beef business will operate next door to their new location.

Great job, Cynthia!

Visit the Al Dube web site here.

al dube

Skida hats so very rider-friendly

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 2.03.37 PMJust in time for winter, NickerNews has a new friend. Say hello to Skida, the Vermont headwear and accessories company.

What Darn Tough has done for the drab, itchy sock industry, Skida is doing for the drab, itchy hat world. The colorful, hip hats fit easily under riding helmets and will jazz up any barn outfit.

We’ll be giving away Skida hats and Darn Tough socks at the Equine Affaire. Check out details here.

Skida (Swedish for ‘to ski’) was founded by entrepreneur Corinne Prevot when the cross country skier was still in high school. That was about seven years ago and Prevot was sewing the hats herself and selling them to friends and teammates at Burke Mountain Academy, in East Burke, VT. Since then, the 24-year old has graduated from Middlebury College and her business has boomed. Last year, Skida produced 50,000 pieces and sold to about 300 retail accounts, from resort shops to small country stores. It does a brisk business with web sales, too.

This year, it will make many more. “We’ve definitely grown at lightning speed,” said Prevot.

No ‘made in China’ tags here. The fabrics are cut in New Hampshire and made by contracted seamstresses in northern Vermont. Prevot and her team of four full-timers just opened a storefront in Burlington.

Check out the website here.

Corinne Prevot

Corinne Prevot

From farm to fashion: Meet Cheri Sanguinetti

Excuse the stereotypes for this one, please:

Lots of girls grow up wanting to design clothes. Like boys and their dreams of becoming professional athletes, most of those

Cheri Sanguinetti, Cotopaxi apparel director

Cheri Sanguinetti, Cotopaxi apparel director

girls end up doing something more humble and ordinary. Of those who do enter the fashion industry, few actually design clothes.

Meet the exception to the rule: Cheri Sanguinetti, 33, apparel director for Cotopaxi and designer of the Bengal and Kusa jackets (better known in these parts at the Perfect Barn Coat and the Perfect Layer).

Sanguinetti grew up on a ranch west of San Francisco. Her first job out of college was in the western and equestrian boot division of Ariat. Since then, she’s worked for Marmot, Nike, and Columbia Sportswear, among others.

When she joined Cotopaxi as apparel director and founding team member in 2013, she was excited and ready.

“I’m an entrepreneur at heart. Self-starters are in my blood,” said Sanguinetti from the Cotopaxi offices in Salt Lake City, Utah. “To be apparel director here gave me the chance to really infuse the brand and not just go with the flow. That was a huge draw.”

Sanguinetti was a great fit for CEO Davis Smith’s vision of Cotopaxi:

“Cheri comes from the outdoor industry, but if you take one look at her you know she understands fashion,” said Smith. “The outdoor world is infamous for designing for men, and then shrinking and pinking the products to try to cater to a female consumer. Cheri’s vision for our apparel line has been refreshing, innovative and forward thinking. Her fashion sense is exactly what the outdoor industry has needed.”

Sanguinetti with coworker in China

Sanguinetti with coworker in China

The Bengals’ rustic yet refined look is due, not just to the styling, but also to the choice of fabrics and use of technology, explained Sanguinetti. She used Polartec Alpha insulation and lightly waxed canvas. “It breathes, so you don’t have to take it on and off. Maybe my farm upbringing sneaks into its styling. My niece does high school rodeo and she loves it.”

As for the Kusa, it was her idea to use llama fiber. It might seem like a no brainer, given that the company’s logo is a llama silhouette and two llamas (Coto and Paxi) routinely hang out and schmooze at Cotopaxi events. But the task proved challenging. Fine llama fibers are difficult to source. The Kusa uses product from Bolivian farms.

Sanguinetti likes that it’s more sustainable (and humane) than goose down. It doesn’t poke through like feathers do and performs better than wool, she said.

Keep up the good work, Cheri!

Check out the Kusa review here and the Bengal review here. Enter “nickernews” at checkout to receive 20 percent off.

No Goose-a in the Kusa!

The Perfect Barn Coat just found its perfect layer, now making it a four-season jacket to love and adore. The perfect layer? The new, ultra thin Kusa jacket from Cotopaxi.

llama-outerwearThe reversible Kusa weighs just 15 ounces and has an attractive quilted stitching pattern on one side and is nearly stitch-free on the other. Its thinness, slick material, and simple design (no pointless pockets or cumbersome tailoring) make it great for slipping under the Bengal, aka the Perfect Barn Coat.

We’re giving away a Bengal at the Equine Affaire. Read giveaway details here.

The folks at Cotopaxi, a Utah company with a strong charity component, introduced a revolutionary new insulation fiber to the outdoor clothing world by using fine llama fibers from Bolivia. Llamas! Those loveable, protective camelids, kissing cousins of equids. Sure, folks have used llama fiber before, but not in this

1387880technique. The hollow llama fiber has been blended with polyester to create a fill that’s warm, light, and likeable. Who likes the idea of all those geese being slaughtered for goose down, anyway? Add human and sustainable to the list of pros.

Kusa’s sizing is user friendly. The jacket is unisex, styled the same for men and women, with four brass-colored side snaps that make it perfect for riding and for anyone who is standing and sitting and standing and sitting. The Kusa in men’s small and the women’s medium.

Enter “nickernews” at checkout and receive 20 percent off Cotopaxi items!

Read about Cheri Sanguinetti, the creator of the Kusa and Bengal.

Love the side snaps!

Love the side snaps!

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