Win 5 Star Pad and Unbranded book

allaround_1At NickerNews and BestHorsePractices, we partner with great businesses that hold up to our nitpicking scrutiny. We like to endorse products and services proven to benefit horse and rider (with evidence-based research whenever possible). Partner products are almost always made in America and have the support of great customer service. Those qualities make up three must-have’s in our book.

Five Star Equine Products, a small business in Hatfield, Arkansas, hits the trifecta.

The use of all-wool pads is supported by academics, professionals, and regular riders like us who are spending hours, days, and years in the saddle. Read more articles on the advantages of wool pads here.

During their epic, six-month ride, the guys of Unbranded used Five Star pads exclusively and their adopted mustangs never sored.

BookCoverOriginal_60458173-47c1-4d1f-b104-8c89b8008249_grandeAs part of a social media campaign, one lucky reader will win a Five Star pad and a signed copy of Unbranded, the book by Ben Masters.

To enter, head over to Facebook and like our pages, NickerNews and BestHorsePractices. We will randomly pick a winner once we’ve passed 2,000 likes for NickerNews and 800 likes for BestHorsePractices. We will send the winner:

  • The All Around, 30 x 30, three-quarter inch pad, valued at $219.00
  • Unbranded book: Four Men and Sixteen Mustangs. 3,000 Miles across the American West. Soft cover edition, signed by Ben Masters. $25

Total value, $244.

Like NickerNews page and BestHorsePractices page on Facebook to enter. Pay it forward by suggesting your friends do the same.

Good Luck and Happy Trails!

Not on facebook? Join the Remuda Readers and we’ll enter you in this contest.


Blunnies: Don’t let their Hipness Fool You

DSC00071The folks at Blundstone, a 146-year old Tasmanian company, were kind enough to send us a few pairs of their classic, slip-on work boots for consideration.

Blundstone might have started in Tasmania, off the southeast coast of Australia, but you’ll now find Blunnies in over 50 countries. Most recently, they’ve become especially popular in Canada and Israel. As with Maine’s famous LL Bean boots, they’ve become a hit with urbanites, too.

Hipster Love notwithstanding, they’re still darn good boots for horse work. And who can argue with a Lifetime Guarantee?

I’ve bought low boots before and have been routinely annoyed when the boot top routinely catches my jeans’ cuff. Not so with Blunnies! The width of the boot top is just wider than one’s calf. No jeans (or bits of hay, twigs, manure, gravel) are going to find an opening.

IMG952557I was also pleased with their comfort. I usually squeeze into women’s boots or concede the wideness of my feet and order men’s boots. No need with Blundstones.

Amy Skinner, owner of Essence Horsemanship, wrote from her barn in Boyne City, Michigan:

I’m a sucker for a good pair of boots, but I’m hard on footwear. From barn chores, to teaching, to riding, to going to the bank, any boots of mine have to do it all.  The Blundstone boots are cute enough to wear out, but made for barn wear.  As I tromped through the morning mud to toss hay over the fence at 12 hungry beasts, they stayed firm on my feet.  Huge plus there. (Everyone who has had a mud-related, slip-on boot fiasco knows how it can ruin your whole day.) The sole is firm with a good tread, which helped in the slippery footing.

It also came in handy keeping my feet comfortable as I walked next to my students while teaching. Lots of boots I’ve tried are set up for just riding, but these had a comfortable sole, so DSC00069they worked well for walking too. The tread is good and not slippery and grips well in a stirrup.

The boots are easy to slip on and off, which is nice. The finger loops (pull-on tabs at the front and back of the boot cuff) make getting them on easy.  They don’t seem to need any break-in time to be able to get your feet in easily, unlike lots of boots.  The leather is flexible and comfortable for wearing all day.  They have a good, solid heel which helps you stays in position well in the stirrup.

Some boots break in right away but seem to age prematurely.  These boots took a few weeks for me before they softened up a bit, but the leather is of a nice quality, so I think it’s worth the wait.  I imagine these boots and I will be working together for another good while.

A few cons for me: my socks tended to be pulled down and the snug elastic on each side sometimes rubbed my ankles.

Unbridled movie tackles tough topic

Guest column by NickerNews marketing director, Emily Thomas Luciano:

What horseperson doesn’t love an inspiring movie that involves horses? And if the stories are true? Even better!

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.56.52 AMEquine Assisted Therapy and Equine Facilitated Learning have grown exponentially over the past decade. Now, with increasing amounts of research to back up the benefits, EAT and EFL are substantiated treatment methods for behavioral, physical and emotional issues. It’s something that we, as horse owners, have known forever—that horses can help us, heal us, ground us. Horses make and keep us whole. Read the research.

Now, a group of N.C.-based filmmakers will bring the message that horses heal to the big screen to tell the masses. “Unbridled” is feature-length drama based on true stories from Corral, a Cary, N.C.-based healing ranch that pairs rescued horses with troubled girls.

In the film, a therapeutic riding center called Unbridled becomes a healing oasis for Sarah, a teenage victim of prostitution. Though the movie starts out on a bleak tone, the story is one of redemption, triumph, and resilience. It’s a reminder that we can Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.56.37 AMall live a fulfilling life in spite of adverse circumstances.

The inspiration for the movie came after Christy McGlothlin, the film’s producer and vice president of Moving Visions Entertainment, visited Corral with her daughter, a Corral volunteer.

“I was pretty much awestruck by what they do,” McGlothlin said “The impact that they have on the girls, the way the girls’ lives had just really changed for the better. When I left, I thought, ‘Wow, if we could capture what they do in a drama, I think it would be extremely inspiring on a couple of fronts.’”

The movie tackles the same difficult issues: abuse, abandonment, sex trafficking, and bulimia, that the real-life staff and mentors at Corral see every day.

Handling such dark issues in a manner suitable for the film’s intended family-based viewing audience presented a challenge, but one that the production team met head-on, motivated by the promise of redemption at the end of the film.

“Unbridled” will have a limited theatrical release nationwide Sept. 9, 2016, followed by a Netflix debut and DVD availability. Click here for more.


Welcome back advertisers!

Copy_of_Grass_800x1121_largeWe welcome back advertising partners Morton Real Estate, Hay Balancer, Spalding Labs and Renegade Hoof Boots.


Morton offers premier real estate services in southern Maine. Check out this lovely Woolwich property, woolwichready for you and your horses. Need to sell and horse property? Morton can custom fit the process to highlight its best features.

Hay Balancer is a young company offering veterinarian-developed products to fill in your horses’ nutritional needs.

The Hay Balancer folks are so sure you and your horses will dig it, they’re offering a 30-day free trial. Click here.

The Utah company recently revamped its website. It flows beautifully with videos, testimonials, and plenty of educational pages on equine nutritional requirements. Check it out.

Spalding Labs, based in Reno, Nevada, helps horse owners and others combat the less savory issues of barn and paddock: flies 1464.just_2D00_what_2D00_are_2D00_fly_2D00_predatorsand stink. We’ve been big fans of Fly Predators for years. The tiny flies make summer exponentially more enjoyable by attacking the larger, pesky flies before they’re even flying. The regular deliveries of predator flies saves time, effort, and gives us a sense of well being, knowing that we’re vastly reducing our farm’s chemical use.

back-page-header-750x170If dog control were fly suppression, Fly Predators would be Invisible Fencing. Remember, though, it’s best to start Fly Predators before fly season. Order yours today!

Renegade Hoof Boots have outperformed and outlasted the competition in the rugged Oquirrh Mountains of Utah and beyond. They stay on in mud, resist wear over rocky ledges, and the good folks at Renegade have outstanding customer service. On the rare chance your boot needs repair, they will be there to guide you through the fix. No charge!

Untethered, a romping spoof of Unbranded

They say imitation is flattery, but what happens when the imitation takes on a life of its own?

That’s what happened with Untethered, a spoof of Unbranded. The latter is the award-winning documentary of a border-untetheredto-border trek across public lands with four guys and their team of adopted BLM horses. The former is a clever, seven-minute parody with more than 9,000 views and an invitation to the Equus Film Festival in New York City.

In fact, Untethered was first and foremost a marketing vehicle for Tevis Talks, an annual gathering of endurance crazies, in Auburn, California. (Ok, according to the Tevis Cup website, it’s an annual event to “promote awareness of the Western States Trail Foundation and to raise money for the trail’s preservation and maintenance.”

Matt Scribner had invited Unbranded’s Ben Masters to speak and wanted a way to promote Masters and Tevis Talks while also celebrating the historic trail that starts near Lake Tahoe and ends in Auburn.

The Untethered team crosses No Hands Bridge, part of the Western States Trail

The Untethered team crosses No Hands Bridge, part of the Western States Trail

Scribner recruited his brother-in-law, Dave Losko (who just happens to run Sun River Films) and his friends: Shawn Bowling, John ‘Cowboy John’ Brain, John ‘Gypsy John’ Jarnagen along with the eternally youthful Potato Richardson, who, at age 72 won the hundred mile Tevis Cup last year. (Scribner said he and his mates saw him coming out of a bar on New Year’s Day and asked Richardson if he’d like to join the project. It was a moment and an addition Scribner described as “too perfect.”)

“Every scene was a first take which is rare in the movie business,” said Losko, who collaborated with Scribner to “write as we went along,” he added.

There are references to Brokeback Mountain and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

There are donuts, whiskey, a talking dog named Earl, an Arabian pack horse, farts, a stunning athletic feat (Jarnagen pressing into a handstand while horseback) and stunning takes of No Hands Bridge and other mileposts of the famous trail.

Amid the fun and follies, you might not guess these guys are, in fact, accomplished endurance riders. Bowling, the baby-faced 40-something, has ridden the Pony Express Trail (an 1,840-mile trek from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California). Twice.

I reached Scribner as he and the men were en route to Death Valley for two back-to-back 50 mile rides. No big deal.

Matt Scribner and John Brain ride in Death Valley

Matt Scribner and John Brain ride in Death Valley

Scribner enjoyed visiting with Masters and Lanny Leach, the horseman who gentled the Unbranded mustangs and who joined the gathering at the Tevis Talks.

“He reminded me of Tom Dorrance,” said Scribner, who followed Dorrance decades ago, of Leach. “In his horsemanship, in his mannerism, and the way he delivered his message. I got the same kind of goosebumps.”

What’s next?

Scribner’s developing an Odyssey-esque humor flick. Said the 50 year old, “You can go have fun on your horse. The horses, they feel it. There is so much ‘disengage the hind, engage the blah, blah, blah.’ We train horses but we also have a great time.”

Keep us posted, Matt!

A Vest to Invest in

When it comes to gear, I veer towards minimalism. I like products that look good, fit brilliantly, and last for years.

altiI also like to feel good about my purchases. Maybe that’s why our connection with Cotopaxi, a young Utah company, has been so fortuitous. Cotopaxi makes stylish, classy, durable apparel and donates a sizeable chunk of each purchase to help fund charitable projects around the world.

Read more about Cotopaxi’s perfect barn coat, the Kusa lightweight jacket, and the Cusco backpack.

Delight would describe my trial of the Altiplano vest, a sleek, highly packable piece with a slimming, attractive fit that will, if you let it, become your new favorite layer. It happened to me. It can happen to you. (Enter “nickernews” at checkout and receive 20 percent off.) Click here.

Vests are valuable layers for those of us working in variable temperatures and moving a lot, especially with our upper bodies (think tossing hay, shoveling, hauling water, skiing, hiking). The Altiplano is thin, warm, and styled perfectly to stay out of the way of those upper body exertions and look good doing it.

IMG_1366My vest experience prior to wearing the Altiplano was this:

— If it was light and utilitarian, then it didn’t look nice enough not to stay hidden under another layer.

— If it was more finished and stylish, then inevitably it was too bulky or uncomfortable to be much use outside of a dressy occasion.

With Polartec Alpha insulation, the Altiplano worked great as a layer under a barncoat while riding and working with horses in 30 degree whether. It also got compliments on a warmer day when I used it as a last layer (over a long-sleeve shirt) on a trip to town.

The ripstop shell feels like velvet and the heather-ish stretch fleece on the back adds an interesting contrast, distinguishing it from those aforementioned utility vests.

Each Altiplano purchase helps provide primary and secondary schooling to kids in Ecuador.

Cotopaxi recently became a B Corporation (like our partner, Eco Lips). B Corps are for-profit companies certified to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.


Clothes Horse: Mexican Influence

The Clothes Horses is our new, regular feature with posts by fashion-conscious riders. Here, we discuss the decisions, merits, and enthusiasms behind riders’ wardrobe choices.

It’s not common knowledge, but aside from being an accomplished neuropsychologist and author, Dr. Steve Peters is a heckuva clothes horse. He’s mighty particular about his riding outfits.

This week, Peters and the Clothes Horse pay tribute to vaqueros (Spanish for ‘cowboys’) from south of the border, from the mission and rancho period in California. Check out the Clothes Horse ode to Texas garb.

Got a Clothes Horse idea? Contact us!

Starting from the top, Steve Peters writes:

I am wearing a sombrero. Cowboys came to use this term for any wide-brimmed hat. The sombrero provided wide shade to protect from an intense, relentless sun. The sombrero has a high, conical crown. The Spanish had a flat top sombrero and the vaquero modified the round crown (called a Poblano which looks like Zorro’s hat. The small beads on my stampede strings are Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday) skulls.

The vaquero often wore his scarf underneath his hat, pirate style.

Like the sombrero, the white cotton jeans and shirt were designed in response to the environment and desert climes.  The belt I bought from a small tack stand in Mexico City.

I am donning big Hispanic-style spurs with large rowels (Don’t worry, these are antiques, hang on our wall, and are never used on our horses!). Often the spur had a down-turned rowel and the rider did not walk with them. He took them off when he got off his horse.
Some of these spurs were called Chihuahua spurs or G.S. Garcia spurs. Guadalupe S. Garcia, born in Mexico in 1864, eventually settled in Elko, Nevada and built a reputation as a premier saddle maker and silversmith. His famous shop is now J.M. Capriola’s. Read more here.

The Vaquero could wear armas, a big leather skirt that attached to the saddle.  Here, I am wearing the traditional armitas (little armour). Armitas were light in color and light-weight with short fringe so as not to get caught up in the brush, and with an apron in front. Typically, these were “step in” style and decorated with conchas on the side.

Ponchos originated in the Andes and were used like a wearable blanket. They  were often brightly-colored and hand-loomed. The Saltillo serapes of northern Mexico were famous for their patterns, colors and association with horsemen.

My rope is made of maguey, a Mexican plant in the agave family.

Hope to see you there!

four statesIf you’re in the Four Corners area, make sure to come visit our booth at the Four States Agricultural Expo in Cortez, Colorado, March 17-19.

We’ll be at booth 32, right next to the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering booth, at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds. Sign up for our newsletters and you might just win a 5 Star 5starcinch and cap, courtesy of 5 Star Equine and worth over $100.

As at the Equine Affaire last November, we will have copious supplies of freebies and giveaways. Can’t make it? You can still take advantage of special offers here.

Sign up to receive our free weekly newsletter and receive:

  • Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 12.38.00 PMOrganic lip balm from Eco Lips


  • Nicker More, Buck Less bumper sticker

Sign up as a Remuda Reader (our exclusive content, just $20 per year) and the prizes are even better. Your choice:

  • Skida hat (perfect for under helmets or on its own)
  • Kicking Horse Coffee (your choice of Kick Ass or 454 Horse Power varieties)
  • A pair of premium Darn Tough socks
  • Redmond Equine product (your choice Redmond Rock on a Rope, Daily Red, Daily Gold)
  • A Rider’s Reader: Exploring Horse Sense, Science & Sentiment. The critically-acclaimed book by Maddy Butcher

Can’t make it?

You can still receive one of these special offers by clicking here.

Hope to see you there!


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