Twice is Nice for Baling Twine

Consider all our horses and the millions of hay bales we toss to them every year.

Consider all that baling twine:

  • Do you toss it?
  • Do you burn it?
  • Do you bury it?

Until recently, there were no good answers to the twine waste problem.

But the Four Corners Backcountry Horsemen club is starting to collect the twine for recycling. As soon as it has enough, the club will ship it off and may earn as much as five thousand dollars for its efforts.

Christopher Smyth is organizing the recycling effort in the Durango, Colorado area. He first heard of it from Emma Van Dyck, who developed it as a 4H project a few years ago. Read more about that here and watch video.

As far as these folks know, just one American plant recycles twine: the I 90 Processing plant in Albert Lea, Minnesota. The company makes new twine from the used product. Currently, only a handful of communities are taking advantage of the program.

Certainly, there are challenges. For starters, you need A LOT of twine to make shipment to Minnesota worthwhile. Smyth says the club is aiming to collect 40,000-45,000 pounds of twine over a few years.

Next, you need a place to store it.

Valley Feed and Ranch Supplies in Bayfield, Colorado, has stepped in to provide space.

Smyth said the club is now looking for a container to place on site in Bayfield. Additional plans will be made to have collections elsewhere in southwestern Colorado.

“You have to be pretty proactive,” said Smyth of the program and its challenges. But it’s a worthwhile endeavor, he said. “Some people burn it. When it’s left outside, some birds can use it for nesting and become tangled in it.”

We all know there is plenty of twine out there. Smyth said his club plans on inviting neighboring Backcountry Horseman clubs to join in the collection. For more information, email Smyth at

We think it’s a great project. Kudos!

Check out twine recycling opportunities here.

Favorite Reads of 2016

We asked a few contributors for their favorite reads of 2016. Here’s what they picked:

Emily Luciano, occasional guest columnist and director of Lucky Dee Communications

Emily Thomas Luciano

Less is More

Feel Defined

Amy Skinner on Self Carriage

Amy Skinner on Guiding

WiseAssWallace on Gear

Amy Skinner, frequent guest columnist and owner of Essence Horsemanship

Wise Ass Wallace videos

Focus on Fitness articles

Amy Skinner

Katrin Silva’s feature on contact

Use Mental not Mechanical Gear

Creating Self Confidence in your Horse

Julie Kenney, Focus on Fitness guest columnist

Amy Skinner on Education versus Learning

Julie Kenney

Katrin Silva’s feature on contact

Wise Ass Wallace videos

Amy Skinner’s Drop Rotten Routines article

Amy Skinner’s Pitfalls of Training article

Dr. Steve Peters, author Evidence-Based Horsemanship and occasional guest columnist:

The Case for Cowboys

Steve Peters

Greed in Full View

Mustang Emergency and How We Got Here

Julie Kenney’s Focus on Fitness

Another Call against Cross Ties

Creating Self Confidence in your Horse

Wise Ass Wallace

Stay in the Flow, by Shelley Appleton

Dream Jobs for hard-working horse lovers

For two summers during college, I had my dream job. An avid birder, I landed field positions in Michigan and North Carolina, studying Indigo Buntings. Hot, long days were spent observing, netting, and banding the small, beautiful songbirds. By the end of the summer, I could walk through the study area and identify each male bird by his distinctive song, without looking at them. I knew the location of every nest, where the parents liked to perch, and how they wiped their beaks on branches. Best of all, it was outside and combined mental and physical skills. All day. Every day.

  • Imagine a similar job with wild horse and burro populations. Imagine no more!

That dream job has been posted recently on college job boards: “Field technicians needed for work on wild horses and burros: Utah and Arizona”

Wild_horse_and_burro1Drs. Sarah King and Kate Schoenecker are heading up the project from their base at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. When I spoke with King last month, 30 students already had applied for six available positions. Read about the upcoming project here.

“I think it’s going to be a really great opportunity to get out there and study, to get to know each horse individually, be in a beautiful area, and answer scientific questions along the way,” said King.

The work is not for the weak of body or heart. Here’s part of the job description:

“Field work will be rigorous, and conducted under all weather conditions from summer heat to monsoon rains to winter snow, at elevations above 6,000 feet, frequently on high slopes. Field technicians must be able to hike in the backcountry covering 4-5 miles each day while carrying a 35-pound pack. Independence and a tenacious work ethic are required…” Check it out.

Field techs will be monitoring and mapping the horse and burro demographics, noting births, deaths, and social behaviors, among other observational tasks, said King, who has studied the Przewalski’s horses in Mongolia and who was mentioned in Wendy Williams’ book, The Horse.

  • For those of you with more horsemanship skills, here’s a job that might appeal:

Ranch intern: must be able to catch, saddle, ride at all gaits with ease. Live off grid.

photo by Sam Ryerson

photo by Sam Ryerson

Laura Jean Schneider and her husband, Sam Ryerson are looking for a ranch intern to help out with several hundred mother cows and yearlings on their ranch in south central New Mexico.

The young couple from back East (Schneider graduated from Smith College, Ryerson from Yale.) manage the stock with seven geldings and four working dogs on the Mescalero Apache Reservation, explained Schneider by phone last month. They emphasize low-stress handling. The intern will likely live in a cowboy tipi or camper. Check out the job opportunities here.

While Schneider rides, ropes, and doctors, she’s also busy writing and reading. She contributes to Ranch Diaries for High Country News and blogs here.

Happy Appy Pancake for One!

Need something warm, simple and balanced to start the day?

IMG_0989Check out this fast, healthy, skillet or fry pan recipe I created:

Total Preparation and Cook time: 12-15 minutes.


One good-sized apple, grated (I like to partially peel it.)

One egg

1 ½ tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Heat a your skillet or pan and grease with butter or oil.

IMG_0996Drop generous spoonfuls onto skillet or pan surface, spreading out if it lumps higher than ¼ inch.

Flip after a few minutes, cooking each side until golden brown.

Enjoy plain or top with yogurt and/or maple syrup.


Still hungry? Try these Best Ever Oatmeal Pancakes!

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?

Starting ’em young and without mounting blocks

Russ Little has a lot going on. The 37 year-old Idahoan has dozens of horses he uses for the company, Dry Ridge Outfitters. His four children, ages 14, 12, 10, and eight, all help out. It’s a busy place and the kids, said Little, have “on the job training.” The three daughters and son have learn to be quite resourceful.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.29.03 AM

That’s pretty much how eight year-old Little’s son, Cody, ended up on a beautiful, 17 hand Percheron AND as a Facebook darling, with 10 million views and counting. Little said the Percheron, Sheila, “is always a sweetheart.” Check out the video here.

Just so you know, Sheila is not Cody’s regular riding horse. That would be Bud, a three year old Friesian-Percheron cross. He’s about 16 hands, said Little. Cody gets on Bud by grabbing the saddle strings and doing a variety of scrambling and pulling-up.

Not to be outdone by her little brother: Watch Cody’s older sister getting up on her horse.

Granted, these horses are gentle beings. The Little family puts a lot of time into working with them and many don’t make the cut. “We have some mustangs and quarter horses,” said Little, “I just sold a few. They were fine for wranglers, but not gentle enough for guests.”

Little’s grandfather started Dry Ridge Outfitters in the 1950’s, and his father, Kevin, leads pack trips and outings under the same business name with his wife, Deb. Their motto? “Leave only hoofprints. Take only memories.”

Keep up the good work!

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.39.21 AM

Ramblers Way suits this rambler’s way

The parcel from Ramblers Way arrived with perfect timing. I was packing for a 20-day, 6,000 mile, truck-camping trip to Ramblers-Way-Farm-logoMaine and back. I might see a washer and dryer at the midway point, but nice-looking, packable, stink-resistant tops would be key. They’d have to be versatile: for city and country, for hiking and reporting stints. They’d have to be warm or cool, depending on weather conditions over three weeks and 20 states.

Read more about Ramblers Way and its founder, Tom Chappell.

Like the perfectly chosen audio book or the most comfortable pair of hiking shoes, these tops were the tops. They helped make the trip easy and enjoyable.

I tried the women’s Henley tank, crew neck and quarter zip polo – all sized medium, in a warm charcoal grey of superfine Rambouillet wool.

“Itchy wool?” you ask.

On the Ramblers Way road

On the Ramblers Way road

No, yummy-next-to-the-skin, lightweight, delectable wool. Not your grandfather’s, scratchy beard wool, I reply.

The three items can be worn together or on their own. I mixed and matched. On a balmy Colorado walk and for a sultry college commencement in New York, the Henley tank served marvelously on its own and under a blazer.

The long-sleeved crew has the perfect neckline for showing off a necklace, but isn’t so scooped to make it inappropriate for active use. I wore it hiking and tucked it into my jeans for a slightly neater look and a dinner engagement.

To be honest, I also wore both as pajama tops, that’s how inseparable I was to these separates.

The quarter zip feels a bit like your favorite flannel shirt, but it’s warmer, classier and exponentially more versatile.

When I buy fabrics like wool or silk, a red flag immediately goes up: What about the dry cleaning or handwashing?

rwwRamblers Way items can be tossed in the washer and dryer. The care instructions say you can also hand wash and line dry them, but they held up well to my regular, no-fuss wash and dry treatment.

The last requirement for an active traveler, of course, is pack-ability. All of the tops were crammed into my pack (they’re made of fine, four and five ounce knit and compact exceedingly well). I even balled up the crew neck and used it to help with my sciatic pain while driving. They retained their shape perfectly and always looked wrinkle-free.

They might cost a bit more, but there’s something to be said for feel, the literal and more thoughtful varieties.

It’s nice on the skin. And, with Ramblers Way’s mission of sustainability and Made in America values, it’s nice on the brain, too.

A real model wears Ramblers Way top

A real model wears Ramblers Way top

Read more about Ramblers Way and its founder, Tom Chappell.

Nicker More, Buck Less Bottles are here!

Most readers know that NickerNews is not big on promotions. But we do stand behind what we like and what makes sense: bottlestreating horses like horses, laying a good foundation before trying bigger challenges, and being a lifelong learner.

How about staying hydrated and using Made in USA water bottles?

Starting this month, NickerNews is proud to offer our own custom-designed Liberty Bottles!

The folks in Union Gap, Washington helped us design two super-fantastic offerings. Both feature our trademarked logo: Nicker More, Buck Less. The bottles are made of recycled aluminum and are BPA free. Read more about why these bottles beat all.

Liberty offered us a great price that we are passing on to our readers. Buy one for $19 or two for $35 (plus shipping). And, yes, we send internationally!

There’s a limited supply. Order yours before heading out on those lovely, long trail rides. Click here to purchase (scroll down for bottles).

Here’s a closer look at the two bottle designs:

bottle1 bottle2

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.

United in Love and Equine Dedication

kelQuestion: How many horse owners does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Name any number. The light bulb won’t get changed because they’re too busy talking about horses, minis, donkeys, and mules.

Say this about our crazy community: we are passionate, enthusiastic, devoted, engaged and opinionated. We help each other in the best and worst of times. Especially during this winter season, we bear burdens with tough commitment, smiles of commiseration, and shakes of the head that say, “What next!?”

Community is one of the most gratifying elements of work here at NickerNews and BestHorsePractices. We love hearing from you. Recently, with our Winter Weigh In’s and Winter Warrior Muck Boot Contest, we’ve been hearing a lot. Here’s some more news from horse gals:

nelKelly from Durham, Maine, cares for eight horses and sent this photo of her Nelson waterer.

“Three inches of ice from drool, but the Nelson is amazing,” she said, adding that with snow banks so high, her minis have finally stopped breaking out of the pasture.

We talked with Tom Dowd, head of customer service at Nelson Manufacturing. The Iowa company has been making the automatic waterers since 1949. They’re in zoos, they supply the Budweiser Clydesdales, and even serve a sheik’s racing thoroughbreds in the United Arab Emirates, he said.

This week, though, Dowd was mostly chatting with customers in cold weather states. He sent a new heating unit to a long-time customer in Palmer, Alaska, who needed to replace it after 12 years of service.
nelsonThe heater might wear out after over a decade of steady use, but it’s much more efficient that livestock tank heaters. It costs about 18 cents a day to maintain the Nelson when the weather is zero degrees, according to Dowd. That’s a stark contrast to many horse owners we’re heard from who say their electricity bill has tripled this winter.

“We like to joke that when you plug in a tank heater, you can see the smoke coming off the electric meter,” said Dowd.
We’ve heard from scores of horse owners from New England, southeast U.S., the Midwest and Western States, Canada, and beyond.

Carole, of Maine and Florida, poses with her pony, during a warmer moment

Carole, of Birds n Bees Farm in Hope, Maine, wrote to us:
“I am in Florida this winter, something I never thought I’d do because I’m not “old,” hate golf and RV parks. But I have discovered it’s a great place for walking and riding…I’m determined to get my ponies down here next winter.

Can you believe what they are going through in Maine? I’ve lived there nearly half a century and I have never seen a winter like this one. I don’t think my poor ponies can even walk around, it’s so deep.

We have testaments to that, Carole!

Check out our Winter Weigh In Series.
Check out our Winter Warrior Muck Boot Contest.

Not on facebook? You can submit your entry by emailing to
We love hearing from you.

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