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!


Save these dates!

If you live in southwest Colorado, this fall will bring you two outstanding educational opportunities.

close-up-copy-300x225If you do not live in southwest Colorado, let those two outstanding educational opportunities be your best excuse to visit the region, where we like to say “The West Still Lives!”

Randy Rieman, a renowned colt starter and clinician, will visit the Durango area on September 24-26. The Dorrance protégé has received high praise for his clinics. His well of knowledge runs deep with expertise in multiple disciplines including horsemanship, stockmanship, and roping. Read clinic feedback here.

Register here for Randy Rieman Clinic.

Consider staying the week as Rieman, also a renowned cowboy poetry reciter, will join fellow performers at the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering, September 29-October 2.

Also in the area, Dr. Steve Peters and Martin Black will give an Evidence-Based Horsemanship seminar, November 18-20.

Register here for Evidence-Based Horsemanship Seminar.

Peters and Black

Peters and Black

In the morning sessions, attendees will learn all about horse brain structure, development, neurochemistry, neuroanatomy, how horse behavior relates to brain function, and how to apply that concept to proper training and management practices.

The afternoon sessions will be spent in a controlled environment (round pen or arena) to reinforce the concepts learned in the morning sessions.

Participants will observe demonstrations and learn directly from Black’s hands-on lessons using evidence-based methods, and will have the opportunity to put the concepts to use themselves (subject to number of participants). Read seminar coverage here.

Save the dates!

We’ll post more information, including registration forms, costs, lodging accommodations, and extracurricular ideas (sight seeing, etc.) soon.

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.

gang with w

  • 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.

Equine Affaire prize lineup

We’ll be giving away fabulous Darn Tough socks (made right in Vermont and guaranteed for life), Adventure Medical Kits and Zootility tools to ALL Remuda Reader subscribers at the Equine Affaire (while supplies last).  We’ll be at the Better Living Center.

Not going? (scroll down)

Anyone signing up to be a Remuda Reader automatically receive Eco Lips lip balm and a Nicker More Buck Less bumper sticker. Sign up and also qualify to win daily giveaways. Remuda Reader subscription is just $10 per year.

Here’s our schedule:Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 12.16.52 PM

  • Thursday: a luxurious, superfine Merino wool top from Ramblers Way Farm, valued at $90.
  • Friday: a Perfect Barn Coat from Cotopaxi, valued at $279
  • Saturday: one English and one Western saddle pad from 5 Star Equine Products, valued over $200.
  • Sunday: SPOT satellite messenger and tracking device with one-year complimentary service, valued at $450.

We’ll also have A Rider’s Reader: Exploring Horse Sense, Science & Sentiment books as well as custom Nicker More Buck Less Liberty bottles too.

Not going?

You can still qualify to win by signing up to be a Remuda Reader between November 11-14. Just $10 per year.

Also, Keep in touch by monitoring our NickerNews and BestHorsePractices facebook pages during the Equine Affaire. We’ll have daily giveaway especially reserved for social media fans.

Redmond-GiveawayHere’s the lineup for daily facebook giveaways:

Redmond Equine, a $94 prize pack including Redmond Rock, Daily Gold, and First Aid for Horses.

Renegade Hoof Boots, a $200 prize of a pair of boots. (wow!)

Hay Pillow, standard slow feeder bag. ($70)

Muck Boots, new Western leather boots ($250 value

See you there or see you virtually!

Get Smart. Get Tan!

It’s going to be cold and dark in a few months. These delightful, crisp, and sunny riding days will be a murky memory as you bundle into seven layers to toss hay and rub frosty noses with your equines.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 11.42.30 AMWhy not give your mind and body a break with an escape to Costa Rica? Assuage your guilt by simultaneously improving your horsemanship and the connection with your equine partner.

Get smart. Get tan. Get warm at the Evidence-Based Horsemanship seminar, hosted by Equisol Retreats in Nosara, Costa Rica.

Dr. Steve Peters and Martin Black, co-authors of Evidence-Based Horsemanship, will join a limited number of attendees at the January 17-24 event. Check out one element of EBH here.

“Equisol offers week-long holistic yoga and horsemanship retreats that feature luxury accommodations, delicious and healthy cuisine, yoga classes, relaxing massage offerings, and truly amazing beach and jungle trail riding. Add Martin and Dr. Peters to the mix for daily 1Evidence-Based Horsemanship seminars, horsemanship discussion and roping lessons, and you have the opportunity to relax and learn! Each guest will be paired with one of Equisol’s charismatic Costa Rican horses, so both horse and rider will have a chance to bond and learn together over the course of the week,” said the EBH press release.

A typical day: Roll out of your luxurious bed, enjoy a leisurely brunch, then take in a one-hour presentation on equine brain function, followed by lunch, then an ocean-front trail ride before it’s time to get cleaned up for dinner. Or, you might choose to have a roping lesson with Martin after lunch, try out a little yoga, or catch a nap by the pool. All-included.

Prices range from $2550 – $3300 per person and includes daily seminars scpwith Black and Peters, roping lessons, trail riding, seven nights of accommodations, and all meals. Includes transportation once in Costa Rica, but does not include airfare.

Click here for more information and to register. Limited availability for this tropical seminar.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 11.44.19 AM

Durango Gathering Does Authentic


Over the course of four b-e-a-utiful October days in southwest Colorado, the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering entertained several thousand visitors with myriad offerings.

There were poetry readings, music, and art showcased around town, during the day and at nightly, sold out performances at the historic Strater Hotel and elsewhere. Suffice to say: around these parts, the odd man out was the one without cowboy boots and hat.

My favorite elements were the Cowboy Poetry Ride,

L-R, Anne Rapp and Linda Mannix

L-R, Anne Rapp and Linda Mannix

the parade (the largest motor-less parade in the state), and the exhibit of William Matthews’ watercolors at the Durango Arts Center. Matthews, who was in attendance, has a well-earned reputation for exquisitely capturing the modern-day working cowboy. Over the course of several decades, his subjects have included horseman and saddle maker Scott Brown, saddle maker and silversmith Jeremiah Watt, and horseman and poetry reciter Randy Rieman.

The Gathering’s ride got its start over 20 years ago, said Anne Rapp, who runs Rapp Corral and supervised about 40 guests and several wranglers on the splendid, six-mile trek. After an hour through the San Juan National Forest, riders were treated to a catered lunch (chili, salad, wine, coffee, and more), campfire, poetry recitation by Jerry Brooks with music by Mike Beck.

Horses. Fall colors. Mountains. Good company. What’s not to love?

The event annually sells out in June or July, according to Rapp.

“It’s a good day on horseback,” she added.

Linda Mannix, the gathering’s coordinator, said the ride added authenticity to the event. “This is how cowboy poetry started, around the campfire. They talked with each other. There was no social media,” said Mannix.

At the next day’s parade, spectators were a mix of locals and tourists. All seemed to have a keen appreciation of western U.S. culture. Pairs or foursomes of draft horses pulled impressively restored carriages. Drivers and riders dressed in costumes straight out of the 1880’s.

Planning a trip to these parts? Mark your calendar for next year: the Gathering runs September 29-October 2.

At the Durango Cowboy Poetry Parade

At the Durango Cowboy Poetry Parade


Check out the Horseman’s Calendar

The horse world just got a little less confusing and overwhelming thanks to a new website developed by Jim Thomas, his daughter, Emily Luciano, and Steve Bell of Eclectic Horseman.
The Horseman’s Calendar, a new online listing service which went live last week, was the outcome of one sleepless night around

Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas

Christmas last year, said Thomas.

“It was the middle of the night and I was thinking, ‘why in the world do we not have a resource to visit, instead of searching through 97 different websites? It’s just a killer,’” said Thomas, a successful clinician and owner of Bar T Horsemanship, from Pittsboro, North Carolina.

And, so, the project was born.
Here’s the beauty of the Horseman’s Calendar: You can search by key word, by region, by clinician, by type of horsemanship. Or, you can browse and explore. As it grows, everything from trail rides to clinics to fun shows will be listed.

“We hope to open up the horse world and give riders a cornucopia of opportunities,” said Thomas.
For web developer, Steve Bell, the Horseman’s Calendar presented myriad challenges. Behind the smooth-running façade, there were plenty of complicated features and technological hurdles to overcome.
The result, however, is a seamless, smooth-running, and logical site that’s pleasant to navigate and fun to browse.
horse cal“I think the site could become a destination site for the horse world. I don’t think there’s another site for horse people to search out not only clinics, but to find local info on farms and barns, even coffee or steak houses if there are travelers to a given region during an annual event,” said Bell. “So, I think it could build into something bigger than what Jim & Emily originally envisioned if they stick with it and think big.”
Added Luciano, “the beauty is that the Horseman’s Calendar will be collaborative,” said Luciano. “After we’re solidly underway, Horseman’s Calendar users will be able to review clinicians, barns, etc. This will absolutely help folks decide on their equine activities.”

Got a listing to advertise?
Until the end of the year, the Horseman’s Calendar is offering free listing for any events taking place through April, 2016. Click here for more information.

Visit Nelson and Skinner at the Equine Affaire

Amy Skinner

Amy Skinner

Our game plan is coming together for the Equine Affaire, the horse extravaganza that’s less than two months away. (November 12-15 in West Springfield, MA)

We’re thrilled to announce that horsewomen Amy Skinner and Raechel Nelson will be at the NickerNews and BestHorsePractices booth in the Better Living Center. They will help Maddy Butcher and Emily Thomas Luciano with spreading the word about our online magazines and offerings.

Skinner is the popular writer of Journals & Journeys, the regular feature on NickerNews. She will travel from Boyne City, Michigan, and be at our booth throughout the four-day event.

Raechel Nelson

Raechel Nelson

Nelson is the gal behind Mustang Miles & Minutes, a BestHorsePractices feature dedicated to documenting her progress with a BLM wild horse and her filly. She travels from Salt Lake City, Utah, and will be at the booth Saturday and Sunday.

Come visit with us and make sure to enter for daily giveaways including a luxurious Ramblers Way garment, a Perfect Barn Coat from Cotopaxi, and a SPOT Gen3 satellite personal tracker.
Sign up to be a Remuda Reader and receive a complimentary bumper sticker.
Mark your calendar, mark your Equine Affaire map, and stay tuned for more updates.

Outdoor Retailer is for us riders, too

IMG_8872Attending the Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City is a bit like heading to the mall on Christmas Eve: be prepared for nuttiness and overstimulation. Attend it in cowboy boots and jeans and you’ll spend a good amount of time convincing folks that horse riders – a well-educated, well-resourced, outdoors-y group – are just as much a part of equation as those spandex-wearing cyclists or tech-decked hikers. Arguably more so.

Read about snacks we discovered at the OR.

Read about last year’s OR trek.

Whatever kind of rider you are, the OR presents much cooler stuff than any mall. Outdoor recreationalists who manage to acquire a pass (most of the 27,000 attendees are retail buyers, about 600 of us are media) can be seen drooling at the quantity and quality of goods packed into some 1,500 exhibits.

If you’re interested in the next big thing, you’ll likely find it here in a small budget booth on the outskirts of the Salt Palace. Of course, the heavy hitters are here, too, with mammoth booths and big budgets. The Keen booth, decked with multi-levels of perfectly refashioned, reclaimed wood, must have cost $100,000 and they served complimentary craft beer at their Happy Hours. The Royal Robbins booth hired baristas to serve free lattes around the clock. The Altra running shoe booth featured a 50-foot IMG_8871long, elevated treadmill and hired elite athletes to churn out miles high above the masses.

Here’s a quick review of items and companies that caught our eyes:

Here’s a quick review of items and companies that caught our eyes:

Of the scores of knife companies, Kershaw continues to be a favorite. Why? They understand carrying a knife is something women do, too. Kershaw is virtually the only company with an entire line of knives appealing to women for their sleek design, slim fit, and utility. No testosterone here. Check out the Leek review.

We visited with SPOT exhibitor Jon Butcher (no relation) about the ease and fail-safe elements of SPOT, the satellite rescue service in a simple orange and black device.. The service easily exceeds the capabilities of any cell phone app and makes trail riding, especially solo outings, exponentially safer. Read about this California hiker-turned-wildfire-survivor here.

ELH-40449-7One of the niftiest items that caught our eyes was the new Tread, a bracelet by Leatherman. Yes, you read correctly: a Leatherman bracelet. Call it a mechanical aesthetics. Call it a conversation starter. Call it the Tread. It was developed by Leatherman CEO Ben Rivera, after he was escorted from Disneyland for having a multi-tool in his pocket.

The Tread has a tiny knife hook that’s perfect for cutting baling twine, a flat screwdriver head for those Chicago screws, and a bottle opener, of course. You can design your own, customizing tools and wrist size.

TreadWe met with Caroline Duell of Elemental Herbs. Duell developed Goop (a fabulous blend of olive oil, beeswax, calendula, comfrey, plantain, lavender, and yarrow) while working on an organic farm in California years ago. From there, she’s grown the company and the All Good product line, which includes sunscreens, lip balms, and pain relief spray. Goop was great after the recent wreck.

We visited with the folks at ThermaCELL about their remote-controlled, rechargeable, heated insoles. These thin, orange pads have us looking forward to subzero temps spent mucking stalls and hauling hay. Bring it on, winter! We will review ThermaCELLSs as soon as the temperature drops.

We talked with Davis Smith, the CEO of Cotopaxi. The folks at this Utah company (which sells direct to consumer and gives generously to charities) have agreed to giveaway one of their Perfect Barn Coats to a lucky subscriber at the Equine Affaire.

Additional shout outs go to:

thermacell_foot_warmer_insoles_0Crazy Creek. We’ll be offering one of the Montana company’s camp chairs in an upcoming giveaway.

Adventure Medical Kits – They’ve developed a new line for humans AND their canine companions. It’s a welcome item, since most of us horse owners have dogs. Stay tuned for that giveaway, too.

Zootility – They’ve just moved to a new facility in Maine. The young company makes cool multi-tools that fit flat in your wallet. We have the new Headgehog, a comb, wrench, screwdriver, and bottle opener. It’s the cutest tool on the market, hands down.

Darn Tough. Other sock companies are just playing. Darn Tough socks, made in Vermont, have brilliantly survived rigorous testing through four seasons of hiking and riding. Read our review.

MG_9889We need our feet to stay happy and healthy. Darn Tough’s seamless, merino wool socks make it happen, breathable in the heat, cozy in the cold.


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