Setting Horsemanship Goals And Themes: Racing Towards The End Of One Year and Preparing For The Next

Whoosh! Does my horse, Shiloh, know the end of the year is quickly approaching? He looks about as startled as I feel about how fast this year went. Did it seem to come around quickly for you too?

Seems strange that I am back here again, already reviewing this past year and thinking about the next.

During this yearly season, I reflect on what I’ve done in my horse life during the previous eleven months. I also start to think about what I would like to accomplish the next year.

I generally couch those thoughts in terms of goals.

I may not reach those goals. In fact, I often unfortunately don’t.

So why bother to set them, you might ask? Well, bottom line, I feel like I get further in my horse life when I set goals than when I do not.

With a destination in mind, my goals help orient me in my day to day work with horses, even if I rarely get as far as I want to.

I feel like if I don’t know what my overarching reason is for working with a particular horse that I just kind of flounder. Especially considering I mostly ride at home by myself.

It can be easy to get rather lost while riding and not be sure of what I am doing if I don’t make my motivations clear to myself.

The absence of the why of an activity, even an activity you enjoy, can lead to a lack of activity. A stagnation. I suspect this can lead to a loss of enjoyment and even a turning away from horses/riding.

So for me, I am a big fan of formulating specific goals. Whether riding my own horses in my backyard or while riding lesson horses at a nearby barn, I like to have an idea of what I am shooting for.

All my recent personal reflection will likely make it into some of my upcoming blog posts as the year wraps up and next year begins.

Today, though, I wanted to let readers know about a concept I recently learned about. I am sharing it in case it might be helpful as you do your own reflection and planning.

While recently looking through my email inbox, a subject title jumped out at me: “Yearly theme instead of goal?”.

It was the title to an email from trainer and clinician Stacy Westfall. You may remember the viral video of her riding bareback and bridleless during a freestyle reining class at the AQHA Congress in 2011.

The email included a link to Westfall’s recent podcast episode where she talks about setting themes for the year instead of goals.

I had never thought about that option so I was immediately intrigued.

Westfall goes on to talk about the reasons one might want to select a theme(s) and how to do so. She also gives several examples of themes and how to implement them. Themes like “the year of focus.” “The year of relationship.” “The year of less.” How interesting!

If you’d like to listen to the nineteen minute podcast, go to

While I expect to stick to formulating some measureable goals each year, I really like the idea of adding in a theme(s). I will definitley be giving it some thought.

How about you? Do you set horsemanship goals each year? Or if you like the idea of themes, what theme do you think would set a positive tone for your horsemanship next year?

Update: My Horses Give The Constant Comfort Block Two Thumbs Up (Or should that be four hooves up?)

Please note this post is unsolicited and uncompensated by Tribute Equine Nutrition

For anyone curious about how my horses like the Constant Comfort Block from Tribute Equine, here is your answer. My horses love it! All three of them.

If you missed my previous post describing the block, please read it here at

Have you seen the Constant Comfort Block?

I wrote in the post that I was saving the block to put out during Winter time. Well, Winter in my area is here so I put out the first block last week inside an extra salt block holder that I had available.

This photo shows the block after about four days of use from the three horses. Looks messy, I know, but as the horses lick and nibble on the block, it becomes crumbly.

Anyone who has seen horses eat knows that the bits and pieces that fall from their mouths tend to go everywhere. On the ground. On a nearby wall. Mushed into their whiskers. All over you when they eat and sneeze at the same time.

Anywho, the first day I put the block out for my herd, I saw each of the horses spend about 5 to 10 minutes licking it within the first hour. I first thought I might have to take the block away due to their eagerness. Tribute Equine’s website info about the product does suggest that you should watch for over-consumption. It states that the target consumption rate per horse is 12 ounces per day.

After the first day, the horses’ interest seemed to level to a more reasonable amount. The block was completely consumed within a week. I came out one morning to see the salt block holder was empty and licked clean.

Now, I have to say that I don’t consider any of my horses to be picky-eaters. So maybe all this post tells you is that my three horses with healthy appetites like the block. Just to garner a little more “palatability review cred,” I will point out that all my horses are eighteen and older, including Bear who at twenty-six has become a bit more finicky with age.

Now, does all that mean YOUR horses will like the block? And does it mean that the horses (yours or mine) will get the gut-health benefits from the block that it purports? I don’t know.

I will say though that with a price of $10 each (or $5 each if you can still find the BOGO offer I described in my other Constant Comfort Block post), it seems like a reasonable product to try. Especially if your horse does suffer from known gut-health issues, I would think it worth asking your veterinarian if the block might have a part to play in your overall strategy to keep your horse feeling better.

Oh, and don’t forget about the Constant Comfort Sweepstakes that runs through December 31st, 2021. You can win a year’s supply of Constant Comfort feed and blocks! Read my post about it below at

Enter Tribute Equine’s Constant Comfort™ Sweepstakes- Now through December 31st, 2021!

Announcing The Buck Channel

If you enjoy learning from Buck Brannaman, you might find the upcoming The Buck Channel of interest!

Brannaman is a famous horse trainer and clinician, promoting the California vaquero style of horsemanship. His own horsemanship mentors include the also famous Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance.

No surprise that I have not ridden in one of his clinics, but I read his book The Faraway Horses and have seen his articles in Eclectic Horseman Magazine. I have also viewed the Seven Clinics with Buck Brannaman DVD set.

In a recent Eclectic Horseman Magazine article (that I underlined and highlighted as seen in the above photo), the author quotes Brannaman about the impetus for creating the channel.

“I’ve always been bit of a dinosaur about technology and social media,” says Buck, “but after last year, when I couldn’t do what I’ve been doing for 40 years, I thought it’s possible that my life working as I know it is over. And then I thought, if that was the case, what did I leave behind.” —-From article appearing in the Nov/Dec 2021 issue of Eclectic Horseman “A New Way to Learn From Buck” by Emily Kitching

Video content will reflect a continuum of rider levels from rank beginner to advanced, long time riders. As the article continues, Brannman describes the channel format.

“Rather than filming full-length videos, which do have their place, with this you might be sitting on your horse, thinking ‘How do I back a circle?’ I’m missing something here.’ Well, then you can go to The Buck Channel, scroll down the list of videos, find backing circles. Watch it for 5 minutes while you’re sitting on your horse, put your phone in your pocket and say “Thanks Buck” and then you have your answer.”

The channel is not up and running as of this writing, although hopefully it will be soon. There is no information yet regarding pricing. The channel website currently states that interested horseman can email the channel to ask Buck a question that he might choose to later answer through the video topics. I like the idea of being able to potentially help shape future content!

If you are interested, the email address is, and the channel website is

Horse-Care-in-Cold-Climates Round Up (plus something for those of you still dealing with flies)

In my neck of the woods, I am at the start of an annual Winter season that holds mostly cold, clouds, rain, ice and snow. Lots of swings between frozen ground and mud too. All this takes place over a long five months.

Winter holds plenty of horse care and riding challenges for me. Challenges that result in my riding far less often than I would like. Challenges where I find myself constantly battling the elements while feeling stiff, sore and exhausted. With painfully frozen fingers too.

Fortunately, Winter also holds moments of beauty and delight too. Like the sight of my horses’ warm breath blowing into the cold air. Or the feel of their thick, wooly coats (at least when I can stand the cold enough to take off my gloves). And then there’s the fun of riding bareback through freshly fallen snow.

For those of you who experience a similar season, I have compiled a “Winter Roundup” of a few previous Winter posts with corresponding Pinterest pins. Hopefully you can find a useful tip or hint among them to apply to your own cold weather situation.

Six Ideas For What To Do If You Can’t Ride During Winter (A Guest Blog Post that I wrote for the Savvy Horsewoman Blog)

The Beauty of Horses in Snow

Winter Barn Hack: Extending The Life of Disposable Hand Warmers

Does Your Horse Wear A Grazing Muzzle During Winter?

Winter Barn Hack: Help For The Reluctant Hay Eater

Fun and Festive Winter Horse-Craft

While I know that readers on the other side of the world from me are experiencing warm weather, there are some right here in my own country who are still dealing with flies too. So here is something you might find more applicable. An Absorbine fly spray rebate!

The offer is for Absorbine’s Ultra Shield Ex, Green, Red and Sport (gallon size bottles only). It is a $10 rebate offer for every gallon you purchase. Up to 10 gallons.

I received several of these rebates earlier this year so I know that the offer is legitimate. The trick is that you have to find gallons to purchase that already come with the little rebate tag attached.

This year, I purchased gallons from two different retailers and received the tags on both. I have also seen the gallons with the rebate tags at my local Tractor Supply Company store. But if you are purchasing your gallons online, I suggest checking with the seller to ask if they have those rebate tags on their gallons. If you want to see a sample of what the rebate tags look like (I already mailed all of mine in so I don’t have one to show you), here is an image of it that I found on under their rebates and promotions section (please note their “click for details button” does not work here on The Back Yard Horse Blog):

It does take quite awhile to receive the rebate once you mail it in. I think mine each took like two to three months. If you want to save money on postage, wait until you purchase all your fly spray gallons for the year and mail them in all at once. The $10 rebate is issued on a debit card like this one below:

The Absorbine rebate offer runs through 12/31/22 with a limit of 10 rebates per household (you may note that the image taken from the PBS Animal Health website leads with the offer ending 12/21/21, but if you read the actual details on the image, it states that the offer runs through 12/31/22). That means for those of us who won’t be purchasing more fly spray until next April/May, there’s still time to take advantage.

I have made a note on my 2022 calendar to look for those gallons with the rebate tags again when I am ready to buy in the Spring. What does that say about me that I am actually looking forward to having to purchase fly spray again?

A Take On Rider Perfectionism and Failure

“Perfectionism is the biggest factor that holds my students back from making progress with their horses . . . People really care about their horses and are very detail-oriented in their desire to improve themselves and help their horses. In this effort, they can become paralyzed by perfectionism. They don’t want to take “messy action,” as I like to call it, and that causes sneaky patterns to appear.”- Madison Shambaugh

It doesn’t matter who you are. Sure, it looks and feel different to each of us. But whatever wording you want to use. Whatever it looks like for you. Whatever value and meaning you place on it. I venture to guess that all of us horse people have failed, messed up, or underperformed in some way.

For that reason, maybe this quote jumped out at you the same way it did to me? I have really enjoyed following the quote’s author, Madison Shambaugh, over the years. Her natural horse skill is admirable. Likewise her quest to bring attention to the many issues involving mustangs. Hence her moniker “Mustang Maddy.”

What is especially interesting to me is her quest for continual self-improvement, even as a highly skilled equestrian. I wrote about that issue in a post last year at

An Example of Growth and Change in The Horse Industry

Today, I wanted to share a link to a more recent Mustang Maddy interview that writer Jennifer Paulson published with Horse and Rider. It is where I found the above quote. You would think that with Madison’s level of success and interest in learning that she would be a perfectionist. But this article shows that Madison has an interesting perspective on the subject.

Some of the phrasing in the article really jumped out at me. Concepts like “taking messy action” and the word “fail” standing for a “faithful attempt in learning” are encouraging to those of us who have ever felt “less than” in our horsemanship or riding skills. Reached for a goal and fallen short.

If you’d like to read the article for yourself, head over to the following link at Horse and Rider magazine at

While changing our perspectives on the issue of perfectionism or fear of failure doesn’t make it any less likely that we will fail in our horse goals, I think it can help us cope with the mental fall out.

I know it’s easy to look around you (or down at that little device you are holding in your hand) and feel like everyone else is a conqueror on horseback while you are struggling to just put a halter on your hard-to-catch-horse in the pasture.

Those uber-awesome horsemen certainly do exist. If we can put aside any feelings of intimidation or jealousy, there’s certainly lots to be learned from them. But I also know it can be hard for many of us to relate to their level of skill when that question in our minds linger. That question something to the effect of “why her and not me?”

Why is she getting her own horse, winning the accolades, heading down the trail or progressing through the levels, but I am not?

I know I have often felt something akin to grief over not being the highly skilled horseperson I would otherwise like to be. Watching other folks be the rider I once hoped to become, while I am in the saddle year after year still trying to master the basics in my middle age? Well, let’s just say it can get discouraging.

Despite my own understanding of falling short, I feel sad when I hear of folks leaving the horse industry because they have not gotten as far as originally planned. Some might argue that their decision is due to disappointment, not perfectionism or fear of failure. Yet I wonder if all those emotions are not just different parts of the same puzzle that lead to the same result?

Do we sometimes need to adjust our goals? Take a bit of a different path than we originally planned? Scale back? Get some help? BE WILLING to fail? Sure. But if you decide that including horses in your life is really what you want to do, please don’t let the fear of failure stop you from at least trying to continue.

Yes, there is the real risk that you may not ever get as far as you want to. But you won’t know how far you can go if you don’t give it a shot.

Don’t just take it from me. Take it from Mustang Maddy.

From Balaam’s Donkey to The Brooke: Thinking about Working Donkeys During This Holiday Season

Photo of The Brooke’s suggested donkey crafts. Taken from

Both as a Christian believer and an animal enthusiast, I am drawn to the numerous mentions of donkeys in the Bible. Whenever I hear the words “working donkey,” the story of Balaam’s donkey often pops into my head.

The passages including Balaam’s donkey are found in the book of Numbers. Numbers is the fourth of the five books of the Jewish Torah and recognized by Christians as part of the Old Testament. Even if you are not of the Jewish or Christian faiths, you might still find the passage as intriguing as I do.

On a related note, I want to take a moment to say that I hope for a Hanukkah filled with peace and light for my Jewish readers celebrating this week. Happy Hanukkah!

If you’d like to read this particular donkey narrative and don’t have a Bible handy, you can go to and head down to verses 21 to 33.

As with most texts, religious or secular, there are numerous varied interpretations. There is also a lot of context involved. Balaam’s history of his involvement with the Jewish people, specifically his attempt to curse the Israelites, goes far beyond this one narrative. It definitely surpasses the scope of this post.

But my personal take away from this passage is that God worked through an animal to surprise, humble and redirect Balaam. And I find that idea fascinating.

I know in my own life that I continually learn about myself and absorb life lessons through and in relationship to animals. Sometimes I like what I see and learn about my myself. Sometimes I don’t.

I also see that Balaam’s reaction to his donkey’s behavior revealed this man’s flawed heart. Perhaps in a way that only an animal could. Balaam lost his temper and took out his frustration on his donkey.

While I have not had an angel of The Lord stand in my path (as far as I know), I have often heard that still small inner voice. It tells me when I am not reacting well to a particular situation with one of my animals and that I need to change course. I’ve also wondered how many times I misinterpreted an animal’s actions, just as Balaam did.

Whatever you may make of this narrative, Balaam’s donkey fits the description of a working donkey. But the text describing this pair may likely be less familiar to most people than all the working donkey images appearing around Christmas. Donkeys being ridden, packed and driven.

Interestingly, there is no mention of a donkey in the Bible passages involving the birth of Jesus. Some of our Christmas imagery and traditions are not technically scriptural. But considering all the working donkeys of that age, it is not much of a stretch to think there was a donkey hanging out nearby during the time of Christ’s birth.

In any case, all that leads me to the current Christian season of Advent, with Christmas being the most famous day therein. When I found out that the organization the Brooke was offering an interesting way to bring attention to donkeys during this season, I couldn’t help but smile.

Readers may have noticed that I mentioned Brooke USA as part of my Giving Tuesday post. The Brooke in the UK and Brooke USA work to support the millions of working animals worldwide and the families that rely on them for their very survival. If there is a prominent face of working animals, both in current and Biblical times, the donkey must be at or near the top of the list.

The Brooke is currently offering a free, 32 page download of donkey crafts. The download includes a list of needed materials, instructions and pictures. The crafts range from simple to more complex. They look like so much fun!

The Brooke is hoping that as folks makes these crafts that they will share the story of working donkeys in an effort to raise awareness of issues surrounding working animals and their people. What a neat idea!

To get your free download, go to

You will notice that while the download is free, The Brooke asks that you consider making a donation. Because The Brooke is UK based, it asks for donations in British Pounds. I wasn’t sure about credit card charges for currency exchange and the like so I declined to donate (and still got my free download).

Instead, I headed over to Brooke USA website and made a donation to them. In the notes section of their donation page, I told them that I was making this donation because I received the free download from their mother organization. Just suggesting this as a possible option for readers who would also like to donate, but to donate in US dollars, not British pounds. Go to

If you do end up making a donkey craft, The Brooke hopes you will share your creations on social media with links to the Brooke so more people can learn about working animals and their families. A creative way to help donkeys get their due. I’d like to think that Balaam’s donkey would approve.

Giving Tuesday: 2021 Horse Edition

Yes, today is Cyber Monday. But I want to give a shout out to tomorrow’s 2021 Giving Tuesday.

Created in 2012, #Givingtuesday refers to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. Wikipedia defines it as “a global movement that unleashes the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.” Giving Tuesday reminds us to look beyond our own backyards.

While giving to a cause can certainly be about donating your time through volunteering, donating money is what usually comes to mind on Giving Tuesday.

Not sure where to donate? Read on for several horse-related suggestions.

And in case you wonder about why I’ve selected these particular listings out of thousands of worthy organizations, I include links to previous posts I’ve written that relate to each one in an effort to add a personal touch.

Every dollar counts in a big way when running a horse rescue or sanctuary. There are so many organizations, large and small, doing the ongoing work of helping horses in need. If you don’t know of any local horse rescues off the top of your head, a quick Google search should give you some ideas. In addition to cash, many need donations of items like hay, feed and horse-care products. Giving Tuesday is a great time to get in contact with your local rescue. If you aren’t already aware, you might be surprised to learn about the equine rescue-work that goes on in your own community.

Beyond donating money, have you ever thought of fostering or adopting a rescue horse? Read about my own experience at

Wild Horse Education(WHE) continues to be my favorite mustang advocacy organization. WHE works to film and document horses on the range as well as those controversial government round ups. As part of their ongoing public education efforts, WHE explains to the public why it is important to keep wild horses and burros on the range instead of removing them. WHE also advocates for wild horses and burros on a national level working with government law makers to try to improve protections for these animals. Right now, a generous donor is matching all donations up to a particular amount so your donation dollars can go farther!

Read about my own experience with mustangs by checking out my post “For The Wild Ones,” at

Have you heard the podcast Young Black Equestrians? One of the YBE co-hosts, Caitlin Gooch, is also the founder of Saddle Up And Read, a literacy program that combines the wonderful worlds of reading and horses. From the Saddle Up and Read website, “Saddle Up and Read is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based out of Wendell, NC. Saddle Up And Read is on a mission to encourage youth to achieve literary excellence through equine activities.” I personally love to read and would have been excited about a program like this as a child. I’ve posted about Saddle Up and Read more than once on this blog. See the most recent mention at

The Bucket Fund is proof that one blogger can make a difference for horses in need. I know that The Bucket Fund works because my local horse rescue once received much appreciated help from the fund!

“Each Month, HORSE AND MAN has a Drop in the Bucket Fund for a specific equine charity. My theory is that sometimes it is easier to give anonymously in a very small amount than not give at all because one feels embarrassed to give just a little. Well, many of us feel that way. But, if we put all the drops in one bucket, it makes a difference in some horse’s life. So, that is what this page is about. If you feel moved by our monthly Bucket Fund story but only have a few dollars to spare, we are happy to help it grow bigger.” – From the Horse and Man website

In addition to running The Bucket Fund, Horse and Man has recently added a separate fun called the “Keep them off the truck” donation fund. This fund is being built to raise money for horse rescues to purchase horses, donkeys and mules when they are in danger of going to slaughter via auction. You can find more information on the Horse and Man website.

To read my previous post about The Bucket Fund, go to

THE BROOKE USA: Empowering Equines, Empowering People
Did you know that 600 million of the world’s financially poorest people use 100 Million horses, donkeys and mules to make money and otherwise survive? The Brooke USA (and the long-standing UK based The Brooke) seek to support these folks by helping them help their working animals. This Giving Tuesday, your donations will go farther due to a current matching-donation program. From their website, “Giving Tuesday is a great time to show your passion for equines and people, so do not forget to #BrookeUSA #Women4Donkeys #GivingTuesday #DonkeyHideCrisis.”

I have mentioned them and the UK-based Brooke several times on this blog, most recently at

Horse-Related Shopping: Black Friday 2021 Edition

What a weekend! We have Black Friday and Small Business Saturday followed by Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. Get your wallets ready.

After posting a “pre-Black Friday shopping” post recently, I am posting a list of discount offers that I came across since (and even a couple of rumors of offers that I wasn’t able to confirm but thought were worth noting).

Please note that offer details may vary. If you see something that peaks your interest, I highly suggest popping over to the corresponding website immediately to read the exact offer and all the fine print. Sometimes time limits, quantities, etc . . . are very specific.

If the details I list below are different than what you see on the company’s website, take the website’s word for it. Make sure the discount actually shows up in your shopping cart total before you press “buy”. If not, you can call the company and try to recoup your money, but that’s not always possible. Shop with caution.

Alright, let’s get started . . .

Big D’s Tack and Vet Supply
10% Off sitewide on Black Friday with some notable exceptions such as feed, shaving, vet wrap, vaccines and dewormers. In addition, check out their Black Friday Doorbusters on their website.

Cheshire Horse
15% OFF plus free shipping with orders $75+ with code HOLIDAY2021. Good through Cyber Monday.

Chewy has listed quite a few horse-related Black Friday deals. I saw A LOT of “buy two-get one free” offers on everything from liniment to horse feed! Click on the Chewy link above to see the offers.

Remember, too, that Chewy has a donation program where you can place a Chewy order and have the items mailed directly to a rescue of your choice. A wonderful Black Friday gift for the lucky animal rescue you select! Find more info at

Now through November 29th, 2021 at 11:59 pm EST, take 15%-20% off select brands and receive free shipping on all orders.

Dover Saddlery
BOGO 50% OFF Dover Saddlery & Noble Shirts, Breeches & Tights with promo code: CMXBOGOBF. Offer expires 11/28/21 at 11:59pm EST. As quoted from their website: “Excludes outerwear and sweaters. Purchase an item from the BOGO 50% Off Dover Saddlery & Noble Equestrian Shirts, Breeches & Tights promotion, and get another item from the BOGO 50% Off Dover Saddlery & Noble Equestrian Shirts, Breeches & Tights promotion, 50% off its list price.” Also, Dover is offering numerous additional discounts on specific equestrian brands, all advertised on their home page now.

Five Star
Buy 1 pair of patriot boots-Get 1 pair half off with code BFBOOTS. Black Friday 2021 only. Ends at midnight.

20% off all single products, 2fer hay nets deals and free shipping from 11/26-11/29.

Horse Class
Horse Class announced that it will be offering a large discount on one or more online-learning courses, but I am not privy to exactly what it is. I am guessing it will be announced on their website sometime today.

Ice Horse
Twenty percent off purchases using HOLIDAY20

Ivy’s Glide Gait
Special offer on Ivy’s “Train A Smooth Gait- Complete Guide DVD Set”. From Ivy’s website, “Train a smooth gait, whether you have a trotty gaited horse or a pacey horse. Learn the most important exercise to get your horse calm. Watch multiple horses learn to gait using these techniques. Over 9 hours of footage.” Black Friday deal is 50% off the normal price of this set so was $199 and is now $99. Personal note here- I have not seen this particular training set, but I enjoy watching and have benefited from Ivy’s Youtube training videos that feature horse-friendly riding and training techniques.

Jeffers Pet
10% off sitewide on Black Friday with some notable exceptions listed on their website. Use code: GOBBLE21.

Joyful Equestrian
20% off everything. Discount automatically provided at checkout. Offer only on Black Friday.

Kong Equine (horse toys!)
Offering $50 off a Kong Equine through 11/29. Go to the website, wait for the pop up square and enter your email address. Kong will then send you a coupon code to get the $50 off.

Majesty’s Animal Nutrition
30% off on Black Friday, November 26, 2021 only using code: BLACKFRIDAY30. Remember that if you happen to miss shopping with them on Black Friday, you can still get 25% off on orders through December 31st, 2021 using coupon code HOLIDAY2021.

Redmone Equine
Buy two products get one for free. Mix and match. Free item will be least expensive one. Offer is for now through December 1st, 2021. Here’s my personal note- Be aware that you must add three items to your cart and then have to go all the way through to the last page of the checkout process before you will see the discounted price of the free item show up.

Retired Racehorse Project Store 20% off storewide, free boot socks on orders $75+ and free shipping on orders $75+ now through Cyber Monday. Buy one, get any additional 20% of on subscriptions to OTTB Magazine through end of year.

Riding Warehouse at
Generally, Riding Warehouse features a certain percentage off your shopping cart on Black Friday, but I didn’t see an offer pre-advertised yet for this year. I DO see a 20% off discount on Kerrits, Horze and BVeritgo apparel right now on their website.

If you’d like to have a portion of your Riding Warehouse purchases go towards helping horses in need, please go to the blog and click on their affiliate link with Riding Warehouse. You can do this all year round, not just Black Friday. A portion of your sales will then go to help horses in need through the Horse and Man Bucket Fund!

Smart Pak Equine
Save 15% on your order through 11/29/21. Use coupon code BF2021. Plus, for folks placing larger orders (like $200 worth), they are offering a free gift with purchase that changes each day, but they are not announcing ahead of time what those free gifts are (last year, they ranged from a free hay net to a free pair of paddock boots). You will have to look at their website each day to see each day’s offer.

The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care
$5 DIGITAL subscription offer now through Cyber Monday. I personally really enjoy reading The Horse each month. A great source of solid, reliable horse information.

The Narrow Trail: Inspire, Learn & Grow in Horses and Faith
25% off now through Cyber Monday. Use code: BLACK.

Total Saddle Fit
20% off site-wide when you use promo code: BLACK.
Offer valid on Black Friday November 26, 2021 only.

Trafalgar Square Books OR you can click on the affiliate link on The Backyard Horse Blog website where you see the photo of a woman reading a book to a horse. The blog will then receive a much appreciated portion of your sales without it costing you anything extra.
20% off sitewide now through Cyber Monday.

Vintage Western Wear
Save 15% at checkout. Use coupon code: BLACK FRIDAY. Discount is site wide on non-sale items over $50. Expires 12/1/21.

Not enough discounts and offers listed here for your tastes? Amanda at the Breed Ride Event blog posts a huge annual list of equestrian Black Friday discounts. Find this year’s list at

Finally, don’t forget to set aside some money for Giving Tuesday! I’ll have more to say about that on Monday’s blog. I also plan to post a list of horse-related non-profits that could benefit from your support!

If Wishes Were Saddles

Are you familiar with the phrase, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride?” If not, you might enjoy reading about its history on Wikipedia at,_beggars_would_ride

The phrase and rhyme from which it comes definitely have a wistful quality. When it comes to horses, “wistful” could have been my middle name as a child. As a young girl with no horse of my own, I always envisioned myself with a stable full of steeds one day.

Reality has been decidedly different. Not too bad, mind you. But definitely different. As an adult, I have yet to keep more than four horses at a time. I never did get that stable with the indoor arena. While in theory I would still love to have a bigger herd, I have my hands full at the moment with my current set of three geldings.

But if wishes were saddles? Well then. Let me wish away.

I am especially interested in acquiring a couple of western dressage saddles. I’ve written previous posts about my interest in using basic dressage principals as I ride my gaited horses in western tack. I would like one saddle to fit my horse, Shiloh. The other to fit my horse, Piper. Bear, as you may recall, is retired. But if we are dreaming here, can we make Bear young and sound again?

While most plain old saddles work fine for my level of pursuit, Western dressage saddles tend to put the rider in a more classic dressage position, rather than more of a chair seat as happens with many western saddle varieties. They also allow the rider to feel their horse’s back, something that can be difficult to do through the bulk of many regular western saddles. The goal with the western dressage saddle is to help the rider help their horse find a more balanced way of going in keeping with the tenants of dressage.

But . . . quality western dressage saddles are few and far between. And quite expensive. And almost impossible for me to find on the used market. There is also the issue of fantasy meeting reality. A fancy saddle won’t magically make you a better rider. Even worse, sometimes that fantasy saddle does not end up fitting your horse.

How often do we make the mistake of thinking that some shiny new thing is going to dramatically improve our lives? Over the years, I have sat is some very expensive saddles across several disciplines. Usually when taking lessons or test-riding a horse for sale. I can’t say I instantly rode better because of those saddles. The feedback I received during some of those lessons definitely reflected that reality unfortunately.

At the same time, I do believe a quality saddle has the potential to help a rider get farther faster in their horsemanship. It is hard enough to “ride well” in any kind of saddle. But when we are constantly fighting to reposition ourselves due to some fault of the saddle design? Or struggle to feel what our horse is doing underneath us? It makes riding ten times more difficult.

So I keep having this saddle fantasy. I dream of wonderful quality saddles. That fit each of my horses like a glove. That look handsome with a beautiful finish and intricate tooling. That allows me to happily gait my horses off into the sunset. With my horses reflecting a deep comfort as they glide over the ground. Relaxed. Engaged. Forward.

Photo taken from the Lilly Tay website

What is my fantasy saddle of the moment? It is a DP Saddlery Quantum Short and Light Western saddle with a Dressage Seat #5028, sold through the company Lilly Tay for about $4,000. I have never sat in one, but I would sure would like to give it a try and see if reality matches my fantasy.

“This saddle is a true hybrid built on an English tree, it works for those difficult to fit horses with short backs, wide, and round horses and has wool flocked panels for extra comfort for horse and rider and is fabulous for those seeking comfort for their horse and themselves.

It also features DP Saddlery’s famous adjustable gullet so that you can change the gullet from narrow to extra wide, providing superior spine clearance for the horse.

As if it couldn’t get any better, with the added Western Dressage seat and fender style, the rider is automatically placed in a correctly balanced seat. And the stirrup bars are set back to encourage a proper leg position and discourage a chair seat.

With a softly padded seat, this saddle is ideal for long trail rides, gaited horses, and endurance riders.”

-From the Lilly Tay website at

How about you, dear reader? Do you have a fantasy saddle? If so, let me know in the comments section. And by the way! Do you plan to do any shopping, saddle or otherwise, this weekend? If so, please stop by The Backyard Horse Blog on Friday morning. Assuming my computer is firing on all cylinders, I expect to have a list of horse-related shopping discounts for you to hopefully make all those Black Friday/Cyber Monday purchases more affordable.

I Am Getting Prepared For Winter- How about you?

What season is it in your part of the world? I am technically in the later part of Fall. But it sure is feeling like Winter. Cold, wet, windy. Pretty soon, my backyard will look like the photo above, taken on the last day of December in 2017.

It may not be official yet on the calendar, but when my horse-water tubs start to freeze at night, I know the coldest, darkest days are just around the corner. I spent last week and weekend doing Winter preparation.

To start things off on the right hoof, I got in an enjoyable and productive ride on both Shiloh and Piper. It was a cold but mercifully sunny day. We had something new to look at during our rides as the harvest was in full swing with all the combines/trucks out and about.

I am happy to report that neither Shiloh nor Piper seemed upset by the commotion. I recall that Bear used to be very difficult to ride during harvest time as he was afraid of the large vehicles and all the related noise. Those repeated previous experiences now leave me wondering how any horse that I ride will handle those situations.

While it may not be my final at-home-ride day of the year, it was likely one of the last. The combination of cold-wind-clouds-frozen/muddy ground in my area typically makes regular riding outside painfully uncomfortable for me. I usually am not able to ride at home again with any consistency until almost May.

Since the rest of the week didn’t look promising for backyard riding, I then tackled other items on my Winter prep list:

Item #1 Move horse trailer to its Winter storage position

I don’t think I’ve ever hauled a horse between December and February. In an emergency, though, I might decide to take the horse(s) to the vet clinic rather than wait for a vet to arrive to my property. I want the trailer easy to access but somewhat protected from weather and out of the way for visitors. In good weather, it’s easy to run outside and move the horse trailer at the last minute so the farrier can easily park his truck. In bad weather, when I have to wade through snow drifts to get to the trailer, moving it becomes a major chore. Better to move it out of the way now. And lookie here, I got the ball lined up just right on the first try! Why doesn’t that happen on a warm Summer day when I am excited to hook up the trailer and go for a ride?

Item #2 Take all liquid barn products into the house

Those of you with a more traditional barn may not have this issue. But I have to bring all those bottles of liquid into my house so they don’t freeze in my open air barn. Tack cleaner, fly sprays, mane detangler and shampoo can all freeze and bust out of their containers. It creates a wasteful mess that I learned to avoid by organizing an annual migration for all my barn potions and lotions.

Item #3 Organize Barn Area and Count Supplies

The end of my at-home-riding season is a great time to dig through my tack and equipment bins. It reminds me of items I previously set aside to be repaired or replaced. It allows me to count what I still have left over. And to realize what I need to restock. I take special note of items that I use more often during Winter, trying to make sure I have enough on hand to last through a Winter weather storm. Sometimes getting to my local feed store or Tractor Supply Store is difficult or downright dangerous during those times. Having enough hay on hand is an absolute must. Also things like bedding and stall deodorizer for my run-in-shed. In good weather, the horses tend to do their business away from the run-in shed. But in cold, snowy, windy weather, I am regularly cleaning up big messes in and around the shed as they spend more time around the shelter.

Item #4 Set up water tank with heater

Without a way to heat my water tanks, my horses’ water consumption would plummet. Unheated water tanks will freeze over in December and not thaw out until March in my area. Read almost any literature about colic in horses during Winter, and it will inevitably mention lack of water as a major contributing factor.

The one situation that I have not been able to resolve to my satisfaction yet? My on-again-off-again quest to buy a second run-in-shed before Winter. I’ve been fortunate that after almost twenty years, I’ve had up to four horses all be able to use the one run-in-shed equitably. But my newest horse, Piper, is not as apt to share. I’ve been waffling about whether or not to get a second shed. Piper’s resource guarding behavior has waxed and waned since he arrived, leading me to wonder if a second shed is actually necessary or not. Another complicating factor is that all the recent wet weather is not conducive to bringing in large equipment to prep a site and bring in a heavy shed. Way too much soft ground and mud. So my plans are still in limbo and may realistically need to wait until next year.

What about you? Do you live in an area with formidable Winters? Are you ready? Preparation doesn’t help us avoid all disasters. All the same, doing as much as you can ahead of time will give you the peace of having some resources in place and at the ready for what can be a long and harsh season around the barn.

Enter Tribute Equine’s Constant Comfort™ Sweepstakes- Now through December 31st, 2021!

I know I am not the only one who enjoys entering horse-related contests, right? Well, here’s another one for interested readers to enter.

I found out about the sweepstakes after signing up to receive emails from Tribute Equine. Readers may recall my post about taking advantage of a BOGO free offer of Tribute Equine’s Constant Comfort blocks.

I used the photo you see above for that post too (in case you are wondering why the picture looks familiar). If you missed the post, you may read it at

Have you seen the Constant Comfort Block?

This particular sweepstakes is giving away a bunch of useful stuff for some lucky human and their horse(s). I noticed that one of the prizes is a Constant Comfort block holder. I didn’t even realize they made block holders especially for the Constant Comfort blocks!

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of the Constant Comfort Sweepstakes event! Sign up before December 31st for a chance to win a prize valued at $1,000. A random winner will be drawn January 3rd, 2022. Winner will win 1 men’s or women’s Tribute Cinch jacket, a Dover Saddlery custom leather halter, a Constant Comfort block holder, and a 1 year supply of Constant Comfort Plus (12 bags) and Constant Comfort blocks (24 blocks), shipped on a monthly basis.”

– From a Tribute Equine sweepstakes email announcement

The sweepstakes is open to residents 18 and older in most of the USA (Alaska and Hawaii excluded, probably because of the monthly shipping compenent of the contest prize).

If you’d like to enter the contest, click on the link below and let me know later if you win!

Equine Illustrated Inspiration

“When I can’t ride anymore, I shall keep horses as long as I can hobble around with a bucket and a wheelbarrow. When I can’t hobble, I shall roll my wheelchair out to the fence of the field where my horses graze and watch them. Whether by wheelbarrow or wheelchair, I will do likewise to keep alive-as long as I can do as best I can-my connection with horses.”
― Monica Enid Dickens, Talking of Horses (1973)

I love this quote from Monica Enid Dickens. This great-granddaughter of famous British author Charles Dickens was clearly acquainted with horses. She spoke to that longing that so many of us have, to maintain some involvement with horses no matter our circumstances. Such is this magnificent creature’s hold on our hearts.

Pairing inspiring quotes and horse pictures, Equine Illustrated Inspiration is a periodic feature on The Backyard Horse Blog. Sending out thanks to my horse, Shiloh, for posing to let me take this nifty shadow shot from the saddle.

The Tack Change and Exchange Game

No one is going to mistake me for a professional horse trainer, but I definitely subscribe to the idea that anyone who interacts with a horse is stepping into the role of an educator. We teach our horses how to behave around us, in part, by the behaviors we reinforce. The following quote jumped out at me in that regard.

“The overall goal in educating a horse is not only to teach him what we expect him to do, but to cause him to want to do it- with enthusiasm, enjoyment, and even a kind of commitment, as if he felt himself to be a partner in important work.” – Dr. Deb Bennett

If you are wondering that in the world that has to do with the title of this blog post, please stay with me here while I explain.

The “important work” of my horses, as I see it for my situation, is keeping me safe. Whether I am on the ground or sitting on their backs. Safety is always on my mind.

I can’t avoid all disasters, but I can try to help my horses help keep me safe. One way I can do this is by finding tack suited and comfortable to each horse.

After all, how can I expect my horses to consistently do things “with enthusiasm, enjoyment and a kind of commitment” if they are constantly distracted-constricted-hurting in some way by what they are wearing?

All this has been on my mind as I get to know my newest horse, Piper. My tack options are limited by price and access, but my goal is still Piper’s comfort.

In his former home, Piper was ridden in a Western trail-type saddle and curb bit. So I started off riding him in my own Western trail-type saddle and a Myler curb bit I had in my tack bin.

Unfortunately, my Western saddle seems too wide for Piper. It slopes down somewhat towards his withers rather than sitting level on his back. With the curb bit, he seemed to carry it comfortably in his mouth, but any rein pressure accentuated his tendency to get behind the vertical.

Then I bought a quality Circle Y Western saddle on sale. But Piper flinched when I mounted as though the saddle dug in and pinched him. And while the saddle was couch-comfortable underneath me, as soon as Piper started gaiting, I was in a chair seat. I struggled constantly to put my feet back underneath me with every stride.

After returning the Circle Y, I borrowed a saddle-seat saddle from my riding instructor. This saddle seemed to fit Piper well. But the slick, flat seat didn’t give me the most secure feeling. Especially when riding a horse that I am just getting to know.

So when I saw an Australian-looking-type saddle for sale at a second-hand tack sale, I decided to give it a go. I say “looking-type” because it doesn’t sport all of the details that I normally associate with Australian saddles. My uneducated identification may very well be inaccurate. Maybe some of the blog’s Australian readers could set me straight on that?

In any case, what I like most about this saddle is that the saddle tree is similar to the saddle-seat saddle that seemed to fit Piper well. I really appreciated being able to borrow the saddle-seat saddle, because I don’t think I would have thought about trying a saddle with an English tree without that experience of seeing how Piper seemed to like the saddle-seat saddle. He just seemed to feel more relaxed in it than the two Western saddles that I tried.

I also sampled several saddle pads and girth styles. I got the impression Piper preferred my five star saddle pad paired with a traditional English girth. He consistently flinched when girthed up with the wider Total Saddle Fit girths that my other horses seem to like and that I happily gave a positive review to on this blog.

After riding Piper in both a curb bit and a snaffle bit, I have recently settled on a Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle for the moment. Piper’s tendency to over flex is more pronounced in the curb bit than the eggbutt snaffle, but I feel like he relaxes and stretches out even more with the bitless bridle. I may switch back and forth for awhile between the snaffle and the bitless bridle until I get a better feel of him.

So long story short, we’ve got a bit of an eclectic tack situation going on. The Australian-looking-type saddle, the Western saddle pad, the English girth and the bitless bridle (with the eggbutt snaffle a close second). Winter (the end of my backyard-riding season) is fast approaching so this is likely how we will finish the year.

I know I am not the only one who has struggled with finding the right tack combo. How about you? What is the most unusual tack combination you’ve ever tried? Let me know in the comments section.

2021 Equestrian Pre-Black Friday/Cyber Monday Discounts (plus bonus horse-treat recipe)

Last year, I wrote a post about pre-planning for Black Friday/Cyber Monday horse-related shopping. Taking advantage of discounts and BOGO offers features prominently in my ability to better afford my horses and the entire horse lifestyle. You can read the post here at

Master Plan For Cyber Monday: prepping for all that horse shopping 🙂

As the world continues to cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic and the resulting supply chain issues, I notice that many retailers are starting to advertise deals earlier than usual. Equestrian retailers included.

Here are a few of the horse-related early deals that I found online. Please be aware that offer details are sometimes quite specific and can change. I suggest visiting the corresponding websites and reading the terms/conditions of offers thoroughly.

SmartPak Equine 12 Days of Deals
SmartPak, best known for their supplements, carries a huge line of tack, gear and clothing for the horse and rider. Each day’s deals ends at Midnight. Check back daily through November 19th, 2021.

Majesty’s Animal Nutrition 25% OFF Holiday Shopping
Majesty’s Animal Nutrition carries a line of tasty treats/supplements for horses and dogs. Use the code HOLIDAY2021 now through December 31st, 2021 to get 25% off your order.

Trafalgar Square Books 25% OFF
Trafalgar Square Books carries a wonderful line of horse books (both hardcopy and digital) and DVD’s for a range of equestrian interests and disciplines. The Backyard Horse Blog likes Trafalgar Square Books so much that it became an affiliate. The blog can earn a much appreciated portion of your book sales when you shop through the affiliate link on The Backyard Horse Blog website (look for the photo of the woman reading a book to a horse). Using the affiliate link doesn’t cost you anything extra, but if you don’t want to use it, you can also access TSB directly through their website at Either way, use code TSBFAN for 25% off during the month of November 2021.

Dover Saddlery BOGO 50% off select clothing
Dover Saddlery, catering to the English rider, carries a full line of equestrian products. Currently, for a limited time (through 11/14/21 11:59pm EST), they offer a BOGO 50% off Dover Saddlery and Noble shirts, breeches and tights with code CMXGET2.

What if you live outside the USA and it’s not practical to shop these US based stores? Or what about if you prefer home-made gifts for yourself, your horses or barn friends? Try out a horse-treat recipe from fellow horse-blogger, Reese, at Horses of The Ozark Hills! Made with pumpkin puree, these make a terrific fall/holiday treat to gift to your own horses, friends’ horses, lesson horses or for all those upcoming holiday-themed barn parties. See her recipe at

Hopefully as Black Friday/Cyber Monday approaches, I can offer up one more post listing even more options. All depends on what I come across as I surf the web. If you are aware of a horse-related discount that you’d like to share, help your fellow readers out by including it in the comments section below!

Winner Announcement of The $50 GiftECard to Great British Equinery!

Congratulations to Tracie N., our latest winner of a contest hosted by The Backyard Horse Blog!

The contest was announced in last Friday’s post. Powered by the platform Rafflecopter, the winner was randomly selected. Thank you to Rafflecopter for the assistance in running the contest and to Great British Equinery for providing the goods! Thank you also to everyone who took the time to participate in the contest!

Remember, even if you didn’t win, readers can still use the special coupon code BYHB to receive 10% off at Great British Equinery!

Speaking of shopping, I notice that more than one equestrian retailer is offering some early holiday deals ahead of Black Friday/Cyber Monday. I wrote previously about how I usually save up money all year so I can take advantage of the many discounts and free offers. See the post at

Master Plan For Cyber Monday: prepping for all that horse shopping 🙂

It’s definitley part of my budgeting strategy to better afford the things that I want but yet are normally out of my price range. I notice this year that some of the deals are starting early so between now and Cyber Monday 2021, I plan to do a couple of posts listing the horse-related shopping deals that I am coming across as I comb the internet. Stay tuned . . .

Congrats again to our latest blog contest winner!

Horse On The Mend But Human Dwindling

In a post last week, I wrote about a very rainy October interfering with my riding plans. Then my horse, Bear, developing a painful abscess.

Bear is on the mend. He was still somewhat gimpy a week after his vet visit, often wearing his Soft Ride boots for added comfort. He’s been about a day and half without his boots now. Looking good. Bear’s farrier comes out this week so it will be interesting to get his input too.

I have also been somewhat gimpy. Also pretty exhausted from all the extra work of keeping Bear separated from the other horses during his treatment and recuperation. All this coming on the edge of adding a third horse, Piper, to my backyard herd.

Even before Bear’s abscess, my body acknowledged the increased work load in distributing all that extra hay and shoveling all that resulting extra manure. My mind acknowledged the increased band-width it takes to make room for this new creature. All the plans, hopes, concerns. Expected and unexpected.

My body was hurting. My mind was busy. And then I thought I saw the first signs of Bear becoming foot sore. I wondered if the addition of Piper, who is now top of the pecking order, was still causing Bear to move around more than his old hooves could accommodate.

Their interactions seemed much more cordial to me than when Piper first arrived, but I couldn’t deny that Bear was now looking uncomfortable.

So I split the run-in shed and the rest of their paddock down the middle using plastic step-in posts and electric tape. Piper on one side. Bear and Shiloh on the other. I breathed a sigh of relief. I told myself this set-up would give Bear time to heal.

And then Bear quickly went three-legged lame, holding out his left front hoof like it was on fire. I called the veterinarian and reconfigured the paddock set up again. Now using an ever evolving configuration of the electric-fencing tape, depending upon how much space I feel is appropriate for the level of activity I want to discourage or encourage in Bear through the healing process. Bear in a small pen. Shiloh and Piper in the rest of paddock.

Since I don’t have actual stalls, I turned half of the run-in-shed into something resembling a bedded stall with shavings for a soft place for Bear to stand and lay down. Good for Bear. More work for me to keep it clean and fluffy.

Through all this, I kept up with my lesson-horse riding lessons. But due to my exhaustion level, Shiloh and Piper likely thought that their upcoming Winter riding break had started early. Finally after not riding either horse for two weeks, I got in a ride with each of them yesterday. Then promptly took a nap. I loved looking down at those now fuzzy-wuzzy ears, all prepped for a long and cold Winter.

By the way, if you have a horse with lameness issues of any kind, I highly recommend talking with your veterinarian and/or farrier about whether the Soft Ride boots would be appropriate for your horse.

They have been instrumental in Bear recovering from previous episodes of laminitis and abscesses (also in emptying my bank account- the boots are pricey as is expedited shipping if you need them overnighted for emergency lameness- just a warning).

You can read about the boots at (this recommendation by me is unsolicited and uncompensated by Soft Ride).

So long story short, I’m still feeling run-down. But here’s something more fun to share with you as I wrap up my tired tale. While laying on the floor trying to keep my aching back from seizing up, I did some web surfing about various lameness issues. I came across the following interactive quizzes. Two are specifically regarding horse hooves. The other regarding general horse anatomy.

I enjoy the entertainment aspect of quizzes, but I also find that sometimes I retain the information presented more readily than if it had just been given in didactic form.

How about you? If you have some time, take a minute to check out the quizzes and let me know which one(s) you like best!

Still got a minute? Don’t forget to enter the latest The Backyard Horse Blog contest! Go here to find out more and get the entry link

Entries close tomorrow, Tuesday, November 9th, 2021 at 11:59pm!

Enter Now to Win a $50 E-Gift Certificate to Great British Equinery!

Today marks my 300th post at The Backyard Horse Blog. Thank you to each person out there for your reads, likes and comments!

The occasion seems like a good time to announce another contest. Thank you to Great British Equinery for making this blog’s third contest possible!

Why Great British Equinery? My first review on The Backyard Horse Blog was of a set of fly masks I bought from Great British Equinery of Indiana. Since that time, Great British Equinery has periodically sent me products to test and review on this blog. While Great British Equinery caters to the English rider, there are plenty of products for all equestrians to use and enjoy. Just because you don’t ride in an English saddle, don’t let that stop you from checking them out. For a recap of those blog reviews, use this link at

Shout Out To Great British Equinery of Indiana!

But back to the contest! I decided to try my hand at using the platform Rafflecopter to run this particular contest for a $50 E-Gift Certificate to Great British Equinery. Due to the selected Rafflecopter contest parameters, this contest is open only to USA residents who are thirteen years of age or older. My apologies to my valued readers who live elsewhere in this wonderful world of ours.

Since this is my first experience with Rafflecopter, there may be bugs to work out. If you have trouble entering, please contact me via email at so I can try to resolve the issue for you.

Hurry! Contest ends soon on Tuesday, November 9th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Remember too that the Backyard Horse Blog readers (if you are reading this, that’s you!) can now get a 10% discount when you shop at Great British Equinery with a special coupon code! Even on sale items! Go to Shop and then enter this coupon code at checkout: BYHB

Free For Young Horse-Lovers Everywhere

Did you know that Horse Illustrated has a sister magazine called Young Rider?

“For over 20 years, it has delivered a fun-filled mixture of English and Western riding instruction, horse care tips, contests, beautiful color posters and stories about real kids. Young Rider continues to encourage and inspire kids to pursue their passion for better riding and horsemanship.”

Taken from the Young Rider website at

You have to pay to subscribe to the main Young Rider magazine, but they also offer a FREE digital-only extra publication named YR MINI! Who doesn’t love free?

Go to to see all the issues available to read for free online. Enter your email address (with permission from your parents/guardian, please, if you are under 13) and then a link to the issue will be sent to your inbox.

I have not read all the issues cover to cover, but I enjoy scrolling through them. Coloring pages, word searches, quizzes, horse care and riding articles. Fun and informative stuff.

While the issues are geared to readers age eight to fifteen, I actually think the magazine would be of interest to horse lovers of any age due to the engaging content and layout. Sharing the issues would also be a fun way to connect with the horse-loving youth in your family. I know there are a few horse-owning grandmothers out there looking at this right now, right?

Happy reading!

*Please note this post was unsolicited and uncompensated by Young Rider or Horse Illustrated magazine.

The Trouble With All That Rain

Yikes! The rain just kept coming down in my area for most of October. In unusual amounts. With surprising frequency.

Before I continue my grousing, I want to declare that I actually like rainy weather. The cool feel to the air. The cloud cover. The sense of cleansing and renewal. The way rain makes me appreciate the sun’s rays when they reappear. Rain has life-giving power both to the body and the spirit.

But just like anything else out of balance, too much rain can cause problems. The weather in my area during this recent period was definitely unbalanced.

Without an indoor arena in my backyard, I lose precious riding days during these seasons. Even after the rain stops, I often have to get creative to work around soggy footing conditions. Here I am getting a quick ride in with Piper between storms.

My creative riding helps me accumulate more saddle time than I would otherwise. But at a certain point, I usually have to cry uncle and post-pone all riding plans. This happened to me last week.

Even just general horse-keeping is complicated by the rain and all the ensuing mud. My run-in-shed is surrounded by an ag-lime footing base, but the rest of the paddock is not.

Despite the benefits of having a small area of solid footing, I still end up schlepping through a certain amount of mud to do horse chores. Worse still, the horses drag and squash the mud into the ag-lime footing and use the area as a restroom when they don’t feel like trudging through the mud to reach their usual lavatory locations.

It all creates a huge mess. Everything takes longer to clean. The footing gets worn down. My entire body hurts. It is me, my muck bucket and pitch fork against the world.

But could it be worse, you ask? Well, yes, as a matter of fact. What is more serious than my riding plans being derailed? Then all the extra chore- work? The increased likelihood of a horse developing a hoof abscess during periods of wet, muddy weather. Especially for a horse with a history of hoof problems.

This sadly was my horse, Bear, at the end of last week. Hoof abscesses (while generally not life threatening) are incredibly painful. It is very stressful to see your horse, particularly an older horse with multiple health issues, in so much discomfort.

With the support of his veterinarian (who did that beautiful leg wrap to address leg swelling above the affected hoof), I am in the middle of trying to nurse Bear through this episode. Hopefully I will be able to write an update in the near future. Even better would be a positive update.

Curious to learn more about hoof abscesses? I found the following resources, written by veterinarians, to be helpful:

Here’s looking forward to what the weatherman says will be a drier and sunnier change in the forecast this week.

A Home For Every Horse giveaway- enter by 10/31/21!

Photo taken from A Home For Every Horse Website

If you are a USA resident, here is a contest for you to enter. Sponsored by Purina, the contest brings attention to the program A Home For Every Horse.

“A Home for Every Horse was created in 2011 in result to a partnership between the Equine Network, the nation’s leading publisher of equine-related content, and The American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition. The program provides a resource for 501(c)(3) horse rescue organizations.

The A Home for Every Horse program helps connect rescue horses in need of homes, in over 600 rescues across the United States, with people looking for horses. To make the connection between rescue horses and homes, rescue organizations can list their horses for free on, the world’s largest horse marketplace, where they can be seen by 300,000 visitors each month.”

-Taken from A Home For Every Horse website

To learn more about A Home For Every Horse, go to Then to enter the contest, go to The winner will receive a $100 visa gift card, FIVE FREE bags of premium Purina horse feed and all sorts of swag. Total prize value is $300. The winner will be announced on A Home For Every Horse social.

Hurry, entries for the giveaway end on October 31st, 2021.

Horse Vital Signs- Free Download

*UPDATE: Please note these normal vital sign numbers are for the ADULT horse. I have only ever kept adult horses at home so that is my orientation. A comment from a reader made me remember that vital sign numbers are different for foals verses adults. Here is a link that includes a great infographic that shows both adult AND foal vital sign numbers for those who might benefit from that info:

Even after almost twenty years of horse-keeping, I struggle to recall the numbers associated with normal horse vital signs. And I can guarantee that during an emergency, my recall will not get any better.

While I don’t take my horses’ vitals that often, I have found it useful to do so during instances where I am trying to decide whether or not to call the veterinarian. If my horse seems a little off, but their vital signs are within normal ranges, I might take a wait and see approach. But if I am able to identify an increased temperature or heart rate, for example, I am more apt to call the vet immediately.

My relaying abnormal vital-sign numbers to the veterinarian may give a better picture of my horse’s condition than my own vague “he just doesn’t seem like himself” description.

Since I have trouble keeping all the relevant vital sign numbers in my head, I like to store a print-out in my first aid kit. I’ve seen various versions over the years, but I have to say that I really like this one from feed manufacturer, Standlee, that is shown in the photo at the top of this post (photo taken from the Standlee website).

If you’d like your own copy, the chart is free to download at

All good information for any equestrian to have at the ready.

A Take On Horse Reactions to New Objects

On my list of books to read is Horse Brain Human Brain by Janet L. Jones, PhD. In the mean time, I’ve enjoyed reading some online articles by the author.

Dr. Jones does some writing for the magazine Psychology Today. She wrote a piece about the incident this Summer at the Tokyo equestrian Olympics regarding a particular jump design. Specifically, a giant Sumo wrestler statue positioned next to one of the stadium jumps.

Show jumps can be works of art. It is amazing to see the creativity of jump designers. I enjoyed seeing many of the Olympic jumps clearly reflecting the cultural and environmental beauty of Japan.

Horses at the Olympic level are in fact used to jumping some pretty interesting designs. Unfortunately, a number of horses at the Tokyo Olympics had trouble with the jump accompanied by the Sumo wrestler.

If you have not yet seen photos of the wrestler, you can do a Google search for it. Multiple online news outlets reported on the disruption it caused. Some of the news reporting gave me a chuckle in how they recounted the story. But I remember seeing the statue on TV while watching the Olympics. I was not amused. The jump made my heart race while I was just sitting on the couch. It was quite intimidating.

If you are a horse person, you have likely read explanations of how horses perceive new objects differently than humans do. Still, I like the way Dr. Jones explained it. Straight forward enough for a non-equestrian to comprehend and yet interesting enough to add to even the experienced rider’s equine knowledge base.

The article particularly caught my attention as I read it right after I had returned from a riding lesson involving a new object in the arena.

Side note here- Those of you who regularly read The Backyard Horse Blog may know that in addition to riding my own horses at home, I frequently take riding lessons at a nearby barn on their lesson horses. If you keep your horses at home like me, I highly recommend taking outside lessons. Without them, I doubt I would have the skill practice and confidence to ride my horses on my own at home.

That particular week of my lesson, the indoor arena where I rode had a board replaced along one of the gates. The board had not yet been painted over to match the old wood so the new board clearly stood out against the other painted white boards.

Homer, the lesson horse that I was riding, immediately noticed this difference. He was anxious about heading towards it and passing by it for much of the lesson. For example, our attempt at cantering calmly next to it, past the corner onto the straightaway, turned into something that felt more like riding a skittering spider.

The poor guy was clearly creeped out by this out-of-place item that was absent the hundreds of other times he had entered the arena.

I have long struggled to keep a horse’s attention during moments of tension. This time was no different. Good practice, you say, in trying to keep my own composure and give the horse something else to think about besides the scary object? Sure. But it ain’t easy for me.

I suppose I should be grateful that nobody has propped up a sumo wrestler statue in the corner yet!

If you would like to see Dr. Jones article to read her explanation about why horses shy at unusual objects, go to

If you would like to purchase a copy of Horse Brain Human Brain by Dr. Jones, you can buy it through Trafalgar Square Books. The Backyard Horse Blog has an affiliate link with them. If you purchase any books through the affiliate link (click on the photo of the woman reading a book to a horse featured on the blog website), I will receive a much appreciated portion of your purchase. Many of Trafalgar Square Books materials can also be bought as downloads if you prefer reading on your computer.

Driveway As Rideway: Using your driveway as an arena

When it rains in pours. That’s how the weather in my area seems this October. The sloppy footing conditions around my property limit most of my rides to the round pen. Despite a thick grass cover, my open pastures and barn area are much too soggy.

While I very much appreciate having my round pen with its aglime footing, I get the sense that Shiloh finds the round pen monotonous. I work to make the rides as interesting as I can, changing the obstacles and whatnot, but I also value being able to vary where I ride.

For a change of pace, I decided to break up a roundpen session with some work in my barn driveway.

I mounted in the roundpen and then rode Shiloh onto the driveway, trying to spend as little time as possible on the squishy grass between the two. At the end of each part of the driveway, I began by doing little half circles to reverse directions, going briefly onto the grass sides in each direction.

After a couple of rounds, I advanced to changing directions at each driveway end by doing either a turn on the forehand or a turn on the hindquarters. Varying the direction of the turns each time. Meanwhile, Bear and Piper chose to use Shiloh’s work session to take a nap. If you look closely, you can see Bear lying down in the photo backgrounds. Piper was resting behind him just out of view.

In between the turns, I switched between walking and foxtrotting. Sometimes asking Shiloh to foxtrot right from the halt just after completing the turn on the forehand/hindquarters. It’s good practice for us both. He’s kind of a slow horse. I’m kind of a slow rider. Snappy really isn’t our style.

But the short, narrow driveway prompted us to try to be a little more active and crisp in our movements than usual. Unfortunately, we loose some relaxation in the process. I then have trouble encouraging Shiloh to reach towards the contact. Especially when his adrenaline level shoots up early in our ride as seen in the photo below. But where’s the fun in life without some challenges.

In reviewing the photos of our work (kindly taken by my husband), I noticed that we were able to keep to the same line of travel. Just like riding in a newly dragged sand arena (or through freshly packed snow), the hoofprints tell the tale.

It’s a simple thing to ride a straight line. Yet weirdly difficult. I remember when Shiloh and I first started riding together that I couldn’t get him to go down a straightaway for more than a few strides. We’d bob and weave all over the place.

Shiloh naturally doesn’t move very straight. I can see it when he moves in the pasture. The way he places and turns/twists his hooves/legs as he moves through space is odd. It makes efficient forward movement challenging. All that to say, I was pleasantly surprised that we could keep to the middle as well as we did.

Driveway as rideway? It’s funny how when you are an equestrian that you see so many things in terms of horses. When I am traveling around and see a long driveway, my mind usually travels to thinking about how much fun it would be to ride on it. I know in the past when looking at properties for sale, I would consider where I could potentially ride in the absence of a designated arena. A smooth dirt or gently graveled driveway was definitely on my wish list.

How about you? Have you ever used a driveway as a training space for you and your horse?

Piper Update

After announcing the latest horse addition to my backyard at, I thought I’d do a Piper update for today’s post.

Piper continues his process of settling into his new life. But no mistaking it. Transitions are difficult. It really is a tall ask to take a horse from all he has known and expect him to function well in a totally new environment.

I couldn’t miss the initial signs of anxiety in Piper. Constant pacing along the paddock fence line. Aggression towards the other horses at feeding time. Tension about being handled and ridden.

Now that a month has gone by, I am seeing signs that Piper’s tension is dissipating, although not completely gone. Despite that, he hasn’t done anything terrible through all we’ve done together- groundwork, riding, trailering three times and two farrier visits (I had his hind shoes removed before I put him in with Bear and Shiloh and then his front shoes removed more recently).

We completed ten rides to date. Mostly in my home round pen, but also in my open pasture as well as in the indoor arena and on the outdoor track at a nearby barn. Short rides practicing basic transitions, turns and crossing ground poles. Just trying to get the feel of each other.

He may be twenty-years-old with plenty of training, but we do have some things to work out between us. I am quite different from his long-time former owner in almost every way. A person that Piper really seemed to like. It’s actually one of the reasons I did not go through with Piper’s sale the first time. I had my doubts about how Piper, a bold- energetic- forward horse (even at age twenty), would adjust to my own skill level, confidence and demeanor.

But maybe I wasn’t extending Piper enough credit. I’m already seeing improvement in some of the areas that proved initially challenging. For example, he is now moving out of my space when I enter the paddock with hay or the ration balancer pellets as opposed to running at me when he sees me coming.

Piper is also improving at standing and growing roots at the mounting block, but we still have a ways to go. His former person was much taller and mounted easily from the ground. I remember when I test-drove Piper that I had to use an overturned bucket as his owner did not have a mounting block on hand. All that to say, Piper may not have had much previous exposure to mounting blocks.

He is showing more relaxation at the block than he used to, but I’m still having to channel my inner gymnast to get in the saddle more frequently than I’d like. This video clip shows one of those moments.

As far as Bear and Shiloh go, Piper quickly established himself as herd leader. That hasn’t changed. But I see much less of the resource guarding behavior that I imagine was related to his anxiety about being in a new place.

At first, Piper seemed bound and determined to guard every hay pile, even when I spread them out across the pasture. He completely blocked Bear and Shiloh’s use of the run in shed. During nap time, Piper would run them off the good patches of shade that appear in the pasture at different times of the day. Bear and Shiloh got a lot of exercise. Shiloh even ended up with three small bite marks on his rear end, likely when he didn’t move fast enough out of Piper’s way.

I contemplated separating the horses permanently with electric tape as I had when Piper first arrived, dividing the run in shed down the middle or buying a second run in shed. The herd dynamics have fortunately now improved enough for me to put that idea aside for the time being.

Moving forward with Piper, I am trying to find the right tack for us. You may notice several wardrobe changes in this post’s photos. Piper is croup high, with some muscle wasting behind his shoulders and well-sprung ribs. Saddle fitting is proving challenging (I’ve tried four saddles so far- some fit better than others- but I’m still looking for other options). He is also quite sensitive to rein contact so I’ve been changing out bits and reins to try to find the best combo.

I also suspect that conformationally croup high combined with some mental tension and his sensitivity level to rein contact leads to moments where I inspire him to end up leaving hind legs out behind him, curling behind the bit and dropping way onto the forehand as opposed to keeping a more level balance (you can see the contrast in the two photos below). Using my rudimentary dressage understanding, I hope to improve on these areas as we find some mental relaxation and a healthier physical balancing point between us. I am interested to see where Piper and I can go from here.

Older Horses Finding Homes With Older Folks

As I look out over the paddock fence line in my backyard, I am greeted by the site of my horses. All seniors. Currently 18, 20 and 26 years old.

So while reading the latest issue of Horse Illustrated (Nov/Dec 2021), the article by Pat Raia “Reversing Time: Older horses can be harder to place, but they are finding fantastic adoptive homes among senior people” resonated with me.

“Since 2010, surveys conducted by American Horse Publications (AHP) that were prepared by Jill Stowe, Ph.D., of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky, have revealed that women 45 to 65 years of age and older represent the fastest growing segment of those most likely to own horses.” – Pat Raia

I did not adopt any of my current herd, but I am female, fall into the age demographic noted and have three senior horses. Many of the reasons the article listed for older women selecting older horses ring true to me.

Some of the issues mentioned were

  • Concerns about their own lifespan in relation to their horses (for example, I feel I have a better chance of outliving a twenty-year-old horse than a two-year-old)
  • Welfare concerns about how senior horses may fair in the current equine industry as in the idea that if I don’t provide a home for this horse, who will (this definitely entered into my decision to bring home the most recent addition to my herd)
  • Awareness of their own physical limitations in relation to the endurance and athleticism needed to train and ride young horses (that’s me to a T)
  • Being able to relate to age-related physical changes they see in their horses (as someone diagnosed with arthritis who often experiences pain through movement, I am open to the idea that many horse behaviors may have a physical competent. I no longer dismiss all unwanted behavior as the horse simply needing an attitude adjustment)

Having said all that, I don’t want to imply that all older folks should only keep/ride older horses. I know plenty of people my age and older who have younger horses. I have seen riders in their seventies and eighties who are more skilled at riding young horses than many of their more youthful human counterparts. Aging is after all a very individual experience.

But as for me? I am starting to appreciate senior horses in a way I did not when I was younger. Senior horses often (although not always) emit this calm, even-keeled energy that I find very inviting. They seem a good match for my skills and abilities. Maybe that is why the article struck a cord with me.

Even so, I know that being around older horses still involves risk. After all, a senior horse is still a horse. Still bigger than me. Still stronger than me. Still faster than me. While in general someone might have a better chance of staying safe around a senior verses a youngster, it takes guts to share our lives with horses of any age.

We all get older. Our horses too. Let’s not let that fact of life stop us from pursuing our passions in one form or another. No matter if we have to make some accommodations for age-related changes or illness. The article echoed that sentiment for me. That there is so much yet to enjoy. Let’s keep going!

Have you seen the Constant Comfort Block?

Please note, this post was unsolicited and uncompensated by Tribute Equine Nutrition.

I picked up this “buy one- get one” offer at my local feedstore recently. I also received an email regarding this Nationwide (in the USA) offer from Tribute Equine Nutrition.

For the price of one ($9.99 in my case), you get two Constant Comfort Blocks. These are 15 pound solid mineral blocks that are designed to “soothe and support” your horse’s gut health system.

They function like a salt block in the sense that the horse ingests the ingredients by licking the block.

“The very first gut health system to help soothe and support your horse 24/7! Allow free-choice access to the Constant Comfort™ block and add the Constant Comfort™ Plus topdress to your horse’s regular feedings and before times of stress.

Product Details:
Formulated with Seaweed Derived Calcium to help maintain proper stomach pH.
Contains Aloe Vera, Glutamine and Lecithin, which can help soothe the stomach.
Added Equi-Ferm XL®, a pre- & probiotic, supports hindgut health.
When used together, the Constant Comfort™ gut health system offers your horse 24/7 support.

From the Tribute Equine Nutrition Website”

My guess, based on looking at the ingredients, is that this product was made in mind mostly for those equestrians concerned about their horse’s potential to develop ulcers, even though I don’t see that explicitly stated on the block.

As for me, I have not yet had a horse that I knew to have gastric ulcers. The symptoms themselves can be vague. The only way to know if your horse actually has ulcers is to have them scoped (gastroscopy) by a veterinarian. I have never had that done before so I can’t confirm or deny the presence of ulcers in any of my horses from that standpoint.

If you are unfamiliar and would like to read about gastric-ulcers in horses, I recommend this piece, written in 2016 by a veterinarian, from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

This article by Dr. Nancy S. Loving, DVM from Horse Illustrated in 2019 is also informative

Overcoming Ulcers in Horses

In looking at all the horse risk-factors for ulcers, probably my horse, Bear, would have the highest overall risk. He has been on the equine pain medication Equioxx for several years now to help with symptoms of arthritis. One of the know side-effects of long-term NSAID use is ulcers. Hence my own interest in using a product that may speak to a horse’s gut health.

While there is only one FDA approved medication for treating ulcers, there are dietary and lifestyle changes that can lesson the chances that a horse will develop gastric ulcers in the first place or lower the likelihood of recurrence.

Now, will the Constant Comfort Block (along with the recommended Constant Comfort pellets which I did not purchase) actually make my horses’ guts feel better and thus be part of a larger plan to help prevent gastric ulcers in my horses?

How would I measure if the product actually works for my horses?

Am I wasting my money?

These are all questions that I have about the Constant Comfort Block. Really about any nutritional product that we feed to our horses. There is a lot of heavy marketing involved (and apparently a lot of money to be made for the manufacturers) in the recent proliferation of types of horse feeds.

I personally picked up the blocks out of curiosity. I am saving them to put out later this Winter. I will likely put out one block and see if any of my horses will even lick it.

I suppose I remain skeptical about the value of the block, but I am always up for trying a new product, especially when it involves a BOGO offer.

To learn more about the Constant Comfort Blocks, go to Through the Tribute Equine Nutrition website, you can find out if a feed store in your location carries the product.

What about you? Are you concerned about your horse having ulcers? Have you ever had a horse diagnosed with ulcers via gastroscopy?

For Donkey Fans!

I have never owned or otherwise cared for a donkey, but I am definitely a donkey and mule fan.

I have petted a donkey. I even rode a mule (half horse/half donkey) once. But that is more or less the extent of my experience.

I enjoy reading about them and find both the similarities and the differences between horses-donkeys-mules to be really interesting.

So while reading The Hoofbeat newsletter from Canadian Horse Journal, a feature caught my eye about a virtual collection of articles on donkey health and welfare.

You can read the article for yourself here at

At the end of the article is this link to a bunch of research articles at

This research study link is free to view until October 29, 2021. There’s quite a treasure trove of donkey information contained therein. If you are at all interested in donkeys, I would highly suggest your taking advantage before the deadline.

The same day that I read The Hooftbeat article, I attended the annual tack sale at the Indiana Horse Rescue. They have an influx of donkeys this year and have something like seven donkeys available for adoption. All the photos you see in this post were taken at the Indiana Horse Rescue.

If anybody reading this is interested in adopting donkeys, please contact the Indiana Horse Rescue at (765) 605-5790 or If you don’t live in Indiana, they do adopt to approved out-of-State homes. You can also see some information on several of the donkeys available for adoption on the Indiana Horse Rescue website at

How fun it would be to see this blog be involved in a deserving donkey findings its new temporary foster or permanent adoptive home!

Update on Chewy- More Products For Horses and A Donation Program!

If you live in the USA and buy pet products, you have likely heard of Chewy. Did you know that they sell many horse products too? Tack, supplies and feed can all be ordered and delivered to your doorstep.

I published a post early last year about my experience as a Chewy customer at

Chewy Sells Horse Stuff!

Since that post, I notice that Chewy has expanded its horse- product line considerably. You can even buy saddles through Chewy now.

And did you know that Chewy supports a charity program? Animal rescues can post animals for adoption as well as a wish list of items. Donors can then purchase those wish list items as a donation and have the products shipped directly to the rescue.

I previously fostered nine horses from the Indiana Horse Rescue. They have signed up with this program and now have their own Chewy wishlist.

As a donor to the Indiana Horse Rescue through this program, I can confirm that the program works!

You order the items and the rescue receives them. You even get an email confirmation upon placing the order donation and when the donated items are delivered.

If you’d like to see the IHR wish list (IHR functions under the name Animal Protection Coalition) to donate items to the cause, go to

To learn more about Chewy’s donation program in general, to find a different rescue to donate to or to find out how to get a rescue that you are involved with connected with the program, go to

*Please note this post was unsolicited and uncompensated by Chewy.

For Thoroughbred Fans

Last year, I wrote a post about my admiration for Thoroughbreds at

Gotta Love Those OTTB’s

This week I was thrilled to find in my mailbox the Fall 2021 issue of Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, a production of the Retired Racehorse Project.

I really can’t say enough good things about Off-Track. Even if like me you don’t have a Thoroughbred of your own, many of the articles are applicable to working with any breed. This season’s issue covers topics like how to have a positive ride, coping with a cold-backed horse and groundwork exercises to teach your horse to better yield to pressure.

The issue reaches me right before the start of the Thoroughbred Makeover, October 12-17, 2021 at the Kentucky Horse Park. I love what the Retired Racehorse Project is doing through this event.

“The Retired Racehorse Project, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, created the Thoroughbred Makeover to showcase the trainability and talent of off-track Thoroughbreds. The competition is intended to inspire good trainers to become involved in transitioning these horses to second careers, and the National Symposium serves to educate the people involved in the care, training, and sale of these horses to responsible owners.”

From the Thoroughbred Makeover website

If you’d never heard of the Thoroughbred Makeover, please visit their website at

If you want to subscribe to Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, please visit their website at

Whose Got Bots?

Do you check your horse’s coat for bot eggs? Those tiny, yellow little dots that stick to your horse’s hair coat and mane? I don’t find bot eggs on my horses very often. Perhaps bot flies are not prolific in my area. But on the day that I picked up Piper, my new horse, I saw that he had a few small clusters of bot fly eggs on his neck and front legs.

Piper used to live about fifty miles North of me, and I suspect that might have something to do with it. I remember when I boarded my first horse, about thirty miles North of where I now live, he accumulated bot eggs easily. I don’t remember that being much of an issue once I brought him home. I have plenty of insects around my place, but perhaps bot flies are not usually one of them.

For those of you not familiar, here are some resources I found that discuss the issue of bot fly eggs as well as how/why to remove them.

As for Piper, I was able to buy a $3 bot knife (I couldn’t find the old one I had back in my boarding days) and easily remove them. See the three photo slide-show below.

Do you ever find bot fly eggs on your horses?

Not Entering But Still Interested – Western Dressage For Gaited Horses

Last October, Shiloh (my Missouri Fox Trotter gelding) and I entered our first virtual horse show. You can read my two posts about that experience here

Shiloh and I Make Our Virtual Horse Show Debut

Shiloh’s First Virtual Horse-Show Experience: Results and Conclusions

I won’t be entering the same show this year unfortunately. It is difficult for me to ride a dressage test at anything faster than the walk without a proper arena and good footing. But that doesn’t mean I’m leaving my interest in western dressage for gaited horses behind.

I continue to try to incorporate my understanding of basic dressage principles into my riding. I use the qualifier “my understanding” because my formal training in this area is almost nonexistent. I know I get a lot wrong in both my intellectual understanding and execution.

Despite that, I really like the idea of trying to ride a horse in a balanced way. Encouraging the horse to use its body in a manner that builds strength and flexibility. Hopefully in a way that actually feel good to the horse once he or she figures out what you are asking.

These pictures of Shiloh and me show a recent roundpen ride. Shiloh has good and bad days, but on the whole, I’d say his ability to carry himself has improved in these three years I’ve been riding him.

I enjoy feeling his body puff up beneath me, seeing his neck softly stretching towards the rein contact and the sensation of his weight shifting rhythmically from one hip to another. On the good days, he’s so well-timed that the feeling is almost hypnotic.

His walk, foxtrotting and upward transitions have improved a lot, but I am still struggling with certain aspects like supporting him better through downward transitions like from foxtrot to walk.

I’ve become increasingly aware of this feeling that I call “splat”. The sensation is his front hooves getting caught in quicksand and then his hips quickly popping up off the ground. Very jarring.

I finally caught a moment of “splat” on camera during this same ride. What I feel during these moments finally makes sense. It looks about as awful as it feels. Compare this splat photo to the photos above. Shiloh looks like a different horse from his nose to his tail.

Now that I think I have a better awareness of what is happening, I’m experimenting with how to encourage a more balanced downward transition so we end up with more “spring” than “splat” as we transitions up, through and down the various gaits. But trying to figure it all out is a bit of a head scratcher for me.

If nothing else, I am learning that I need to support Shiloh continuously throughout the ride and not just think that because things are going well during one exercise, or in one direction or at one speed that they will continue that way without my supporting him.

My intention, my attention and my aids need to match up in a way that makes sense to him. Easier said than done. But I want to keep aiming.

If anyone out there is interested in learning more about western dressage for their gaited horse, you can enter the same online show this year that I did last year. The judge’s feedback that you receive after sending in your video is quite specific.

I know it seems odd to enter a show at the start of one’s journey in a discipline, but that detailed written feedback you receive from the judge can be very useful, especially for someone who doesn’t have access to a western/gaited dressage instructor in person.

The online show “Gaits Wide Open” is sponsored by the organization Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) and is hosted by The North American Western Dressage Association (NAWD). If you’d like to explore entering, go to

Traditionally, there’s been a huge disconnect between dressage, the western disciplines and the gaited horse industry.

While there will always be distinct differences, FOSH and NAWD attempt to bridge that divide and bring awareness of important training principles for any horse with any level of rider.

If you are at all curious, I’d highly suggest checking out what FOSH and NAWD have to offer.

Welcome, Piper!

Please join me in welcoming Piper to The Backyard Horse Blog. Piper is a bay, twenty-year-old Racking Horse (unregistered) gelding.

I first met Piper earlier in the Summer after seeing his ad online. I test-drove him and liked him, but I wasn’t quite sure he was the horse for me. I chose not to buy him. But as I continued my horse search, I noticed that he was still for sale with his price lowered. Then lowered again.

Eventually, I saw that his ad had been updated with a note that he would be sent to auction if someone didn’t pick him up soon. Apparently, if you want me to buy your horse, “going to auction” are the magic words.

While there are horses bought at auction who end up in good homes, there are also horses who end up in the slaughter pipeline when purchased by dealers. Those horses move from auction to auction if not sold privately by the dealer in the mean time, eventually being sold to slaughter houses in Mexico or Canada when no other buyer comes forward.

Lots of sound, healthy and trained horses end up in the slaughter pipeline simply because there was not a private buyer to purchase the horse on whatever day the horse was presented at auction.

During my horse search, I had actually been hoping to adopt from a horse rescue. But I was having difficulty finding the type of horse I wanted within reasonable driving distance. Then when I saw that this horse that I had met earlier in the Summer might be sent to auction, it occurred to me that perhaps here was my opportunity to potentially keep a horse out of the slaughter pipeline.

Piper has many good qualities. He is a handsome fellow who is in remarkable shape for an estimated twenty-year-old horse. He was well-cared-for and seemed quite happy with his long-time owner who had kept Piper sound, trained and in good condition.

But at an auction, I was concerned that he would be passed over by potential buyers due to his age. Whether or not he really would have ended up at an auction, bought by a dealer and sold for slaughter? I have no way to know. It is conjecture on my part. But I like to think I kept him from that possible fate.

So once I had Piper vetted, I picked Piper up at his former owner’s place and trailered directly to the boarding barn close to my house where I take lessons. They had a stall opening and kindly let me keep Piper there for a week. It was a good way to get to know him initially without the added drama of integrating him immediately into my home herd.

Piper wasn’t used to being mostly stalled, so I visited him twice a day to let him out to graze/do groundwork/ride in either the indoor arena or the outdoor track. At the barn, I got to experience how he handled moving around a new-to-him place with me, his new-to-him human. I appreciated the opportunity to see how he navigated a busier environment than my backyard. And I liked what I saw.

As of this writing, Piper has now been in my backyard a week and a half. From the get-go, Piper made it very clear to Bear and Shiloh that there is a new sheriff in town. It is an adjustment with everyone feeling various degrees of upset at times.

Fortunately, I am seeing signs of Piper slowly feeling more secure. Bear and Shiloh also seem to be more accepting of the new arrangement. I can see some calm being restored. But all adjustments take time. We ask a lot of our horses when we suddenly take them away from everything they have known and drop them into a totally new experience. Ditto when we subtract from or add to a herd.

As we start our journey together, I reflect on what an interesting experience it is to get to know a new horse. I have lessons to teach them. They have lessons to teach me. I am trying to show them the ropes of their new place by integrating them into my established routines and expectations. At the same time, I am trying to learn their individual needs and preferences so I can make appropriate accommodations.

On that note, I share excerpts from author Anna Blake, taken from her own Relaxed and Forward blog. You can read the full post here

Her words so often reach me right where I am at, reminding me of guiding principles that orient me as I navigate my way through this horse life.

“Being with horses is about creating tendencies of behavior over time . . . Problems die when starved of attention. Ignore what you don’t want, ask a better question next time, be consistent and affirmative. . . When we get our next horse, they’ll be confused and disoriented when they arrive. Things don’t start well because we forget how it was in the beginning with the last horse. Trust that time is on your side, trust that one moment prepares for the next. Then let the conversation begin . . .” – Anna Blake


What Is a Backyard Horse?

What is a “backyard horse”?

The backyard horse is any equine kept on their owner’s private property, apart from any business like a boarding barn, training facility or ranch. The backyard itself could be anything from a city/suburban literal backyard to a rural property with acreage.

The backyard horse could be any breed and participate in any discipline. You do sometimes find backyard horses who are top competitors but that is more the exception rather than the rule. Your typical backyard horse is more likely to be a pretty average horse.

I would like to clarify that my use of the word “average” is not meant to imply that the backyard horse is without value though. When did “average” become a dirty word? Average makes the world go round.

The typical backyard horse may not be your national level winner, but he or she can still be a delightful ride. A wonderful companion. A wise teacher of life lessons among other treasured experiences.

When I was growing up, I always saw the term “backyard horse” and its companion “backyard rider” as pejorative. Maybe they still are in some circles.

I think the idea is/was that backyard horses are likely to be poor quality. Kind of dinky. The backyard rider was uninformed and unambitious. Unable to win ribbons in any kind of competitive setting. As though accumulating accolades is the only way to show worth.

That said, I very much appreciate competition and enjoy supporting other equestrians as they pursue their show goals. I even like to try to snag a few ribbons by competing in the occasional local or schooling-type show myself! I have lots of good memories competing and hope to accumulate more.

Competing can be fun. A rush. An exciting challenge. It teaches you lessons that are harder to learn outside of competition settings. If competing is your main gig with your horse, you go for it. I am cheering you on!

While I am clapping for you from the sidelines or entering a class myself, I am also remembering that winning prizes or purses is not the only determiner of the worth of a rider or a horse.

For example, I turn my life over to my backyard horses every time I ride or handle them, especially considering I am usually interacting with the horses by myself. The horse that keeps me safe but hasn’t won a ribbon in his entire life? I would say he or she is just as valuable as a prized show horse.

That horse that allows me, as an average rider with non-professional horse skills, to handle, ride, transport and otherwise care for him year in and year out? You can’t tell me that horse is not special, even if the horse were the homeliest, most unathletic four-legged creature on the planet.

Even though my particular perspective is of a backyard rider with backyard horses, I know there is room in the equestrian world for all of us and our different types of horses/minis/mules/donkeys. Backyard horse or rider. Show horse or rider. Trail horse or rider. Equestrians who board their horses. Riders without their own horse. Folks who enjoy their animals but don’t ride, drive or otherwise employ them.

I love it when we make space for each other. To be proud of the corner of the horse world we occupy, and at the same time, support others in their chosen endeavors, interests and level of involvement. To celebrate measurable wins. But also see the important qualities that go beyond those gained through external achievement.

I suppose one of the reasons I chose the name “The Backyard Horse Blog” is to reclaim that derogatory title I remember from my youth. Instead, I wanted to use the term in its most positive sense.

I wanted to hopefully show that backyard horses and their riders have a place at the table within the equine industry. They have value. Even if that value might not look like rising triumphantly through the levels of a particular discipline.

Instead, maybe it might look more like someone enjoying their horses during the ins and outs of everyday home and barn life. Maybe it looks like someone improving their skills or developing their horses’ talents. None of which will ever be tested outside their backyard. Maybe it looks like someone providing a lifetime home to a horse that can’t ever be ridden. Maybe it looks like marking time together. Watching each other grow up or grow old.

If you have a horse or two at home, I hope you can join me in positively using the term backyard horse. Not in a way that denotes we are worse or better than any other equestrian who makes different choices, but in a way where we recognize the merits of our own horses. Appreciating the wonder, the beauty, the adventures and even the challenges that your horses add to your life. Right in your own backyard.

Equine Illustrated Inspiration

“When we are open to listening and learning, each horse and every ride teaches us every day, for the School of Soft Hands and Hard Knocks never ends. Anyone with desire can enroll in this school and be exposed to many worthwhile lessons through the process of being with horses and learning to ride. This school accepts all applicants, yet no one ever graduates. Since the course of study is infinite, students are perpetually earning credits of insight and know-how toward their lifelong degree in HorsePower!”

From Living with HorsePower! Personally Empowering Life Lessons Learned From The Horse by Rebekah Ferran Witter

Equine Illustrated Inspiration is a periodic feature on The Backyard Horse Blog. The writer pairs her personal photographs of horses with inspiring quotes from a variety of authors. She hopes that readers will find these quotes as motivating in their own horsemanship journeys as she does.

Tune into Horse Week- Free Online Event

If you enjoying watching videos about horses, you may want to tune into Horse Week from October 3-9, 2021. It is free to anyone with an internet connection and streaming capabilities at

Brought to you by the Equine Network, Horse Week is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim and includes organization partners from across a variety of horse breeds and disciplines. It looks like the content will include a little something for everyone.

Here are the FAQ’s From the Horse Week website:

“What is Horse Week?
Presented by the Equine Network and brought to you by Boehringer Ingelheim, Horse Week offers over 25 hours of fresh high-quality educational and inspiring video content that riders and horse lovers of every level and discipline will enjoy.

When is Horse Week?
October 3-9, 2021

How/where do I watch Horse Week?
Viewers can stream all Horse Week video content from any smart device by tuning into

How much does it cost to watch?
Horse Week is 100% FREE! Viewers will have complete access to all Horse Week content for no charge.

What type of content can I expect?
Incredible and compelling stories of the impact horses have on the lives of others from all walks of life, clinics with industry leading professionals, profiles on both equine athletes and equestrians from across the different disciplines.

How can I stay up to date with all things Horse Week?
Subscribe to our Horse Week newsletter or follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and #horseweektv.”

Mark your calendars!

Balancing and Shaping in Riding

I’ve recently been reading a book by Beth Baumert called “When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics.” You may recall that I previously read her book “How Two Minds Meet: The Mental Dynamics of Dressage” and wrote about it in a blog post titled The Wonder of Horses at Here is a picture of the two books taken from the Trafalgar Square Books website:

It wasn’t too many years ago the idea dawned on me that some riders could actually improve their horse’s way of going. I’m not just talking about successfully accomplishing a task with a horse or getting it to calm down or speed up. Those things can be part of it. But it encompasses so much more.

I’m talking about actually improving our horses’ body shape, outline and movement. Actually improving their physique through exercise. Essentially turning riding into physical therapy for the horse. Much of dressage training is couched in these terms, but these goals are not exclusive to dressage.

Most of us just do good to stay upright on top of our horse, more or less at the mercy of what our horses do or don’t do. We follow our horses in and out of balance. Remarkably, it seems that most horses do okay with this arrangement. Otherwise, no one but the expert horseman would ever be able ride.

But there can also be a physical and mental cost to many of our horses when they are ridden without attention to their movement. We can end up wearing them down instead of building them up.

Unfortunately for me, actually improving a horse’s way of going in a consistent and measurable way at all gaits still eludes me. Even so, I think it’s a worthy goal to try to hone my eye on the ground and my feeling in the saddle. To seek balance in any horse I ride.

When I tune into how the horse that I am riding feels underneath me. When I continue to read riding literature, listen to podcasts, observe others riding. When I’m able to watch videos and view photos of my riding. All these things help me very slowly learn what I am supposed to be heading towards. What I should be thinking about, feeling for and observing in myself and any horse that I am riding.

It’s like a puzzle that sits on the top of a desk in various stages of completion, but never seems to ever get done. My riding often feels like a bunch of pieces, strewn all over the desk. I’ve been trying to fit them together for years and years.

I especially see it in the videos and photos I accumulate of my riding. I’m still often not able to match up well with what something looks like and what I’m feeling in the saddle. But when I am able to get it right- connect a moment where my horse looks beautiful to a particular sensation I remember at that moment in my ride- it’s a magical feeling that makes me want to keep chasing it.

If any of this resonates with you, I would highly recommend both of Beth Baumert’s books. No matter if you consider yourself a dressage rider or not. So many of her concepts are applicable to all types of riding.

While you can buy the book at a variety of stores or maybe find them in your local library, if you purchase them through the affiliate link to Trafalgar Square Book’s equestrian material on this blog, I will receive a portion of the book sales. If you are reading this from The Backyard Horse Blog website, you can find the affiliate link on either the right hand side of the website or at the bottom (where you see the picture of the woman reading a book to a horse).

Or, if watching videos is more your thing, you also may find the following clip from Horse Class to be helpful. It explains and demonstrates what is meant by the phrase “inside leg to outside rein,” an important concept used for shaping the horse’s body towards better movement.

As quoted from a September 2021 Horse Class Email:

“There are many terms in riding that are a bit vague. Commonly used, but rarely explained. Inside leg to outside rein is one of these vague terms. It is a concept, a key concept for encouraging balanced movement from a horse, but many riders don’t actually know what this means or more importantly, what this feels like.

When I teach riding, I prefer to give both explanations and exercises. When we understand what we are doing, why we are doing it, and can feel it this creates true confidence!

In today’s video, I will do just this with the inside leg to outside rein concept to demonstrate what this means with our school horse AppleJack, explain why this is important (even if you are a trail rider), and then teach you an exercise to feel this with your own horse.

Click Here to watch “Inside Leg to Outside Rein” – What this means and an exercise to finally FEEL it:”

While you are on the Horse Class website, check out the other free videos offered. I think many of them dovetail nicely with the information presented in Beth Baumert’s books. In my book, they are all different pieces to the same puzzle. 🙂

Something For My Canadian Horse Friends

While I am a horse-owner in the USA, I enjoy keeping tabs on how folks ride and care for horses across the globe. I recently learned through the Canadian Horse Journal that the company Boehringer Ingelheim is offering free PPID tests to eligible horses in Canada.

Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID) is a chronic endocrine disorder. You may know it by its more common name, Cushing’s Disease. My own horse, Bear, received this diagnosis several years ago. Boehringer Ingelheim is the maker of the medication, Prascend, that Bear’s veterinarian prescribes him to address PPID symptoms.

To find out if your horse may be eligible for the free PPID test, go to to take the quiz.

The offer for the free test runs through October 26th, 2021.

If you are curious about PPID and would like to learn more, you can click on that link above. Even if you aren’t a Canadian resident, you may still find their website material informative. It contains helpful information about PPID including sections on how PPID is diagnosed, what symptoms it can cause, treatment and outcomes.

I have not seen any similar offers for residents outside Canada, but I will keep my eyes open and let readers know if I do. Horses are expensive. A horse with a chronic disease potentially more so. Every free offer that I see is worth considering and posting if it can help someone else better afford to care for their horses. Whether they live near or far.

The Bucket Fund

Have you heard of the Horse and Man Blog? It has got to be one of the longest running horse blogs in existence. I have been reading it for about a decade.

Dawn, the creator and author of this well-established blog, is a friend to horses in need. Through the blog’s “Bucket Fund,” thousands of dollars have been distributed to help horses recover from abuse, neglect and natural disasters.

The idea behind The Bucket Fund is that each “drop in the bucket” can add up to large amounts of money to help each month’s selected recipient(s). For example, if one thousand of her readers each donated just $5 (price of one fancy coffee), that would provide $5,000!

I personally know the power of the Bucket Fund. The fund once helped support the care of a group of miniature horses from the Indiana Horse Rescue, after I nominated them for the honor of being a Bucket Fund recipient. That month, the fund raised over a $1,000 for the minis. The money was much needed and appreciated.

Dawn’s mother passed away recently, and in honor of her Mother, she is asking readers this month (September 2021) to donate money towards a group of ten neglected horses recently taken in by Falcon Ridge Rescue in California ( Many of the horses are seniors. All terribly thin.

If you would like to read the group’s story go to

You can also learn how to donate to The Bucket Fund through the above link. I know that Dawn, Falcon Ridge Rescue and of course the horses would really appreciate any and all contributions.

Equine Fun With Carrot Tops

Usually, when I go to the grocery store, I see carrots without their leafy-green tops. But did you know that many horses enjoy eating this part of the carrot plant? As you can see by the photos, my horses certainly do. Every once in a while, when I can find them, I grab a bundle of carrots complete with tops.

Bear likes them so much that he even performs tricks at liberty in exchange for another bite.

Apparently, most people can eat carrot tops too. I confess I have not tried any myself yet, but I am curious. If you are too, see a recipe for sautéed carrot tops at

Interestingly, conventional wisdom holds that there are some cautions for both horses and humans when it comes to carrots.

For example, it is thought that folks with sensitivities to alkaloids and nitrates may want to avoid them. Likewise, it is thought that horses with PSSM should not eat carrots due to the high potassium levels. And horses with EMS, like Bear, are cautioned to only eat them in very small portions (or not at all depending upon an individual horse’s current health status) due to sugar content.

If you’d like to read more about feeding carrots to horses, with or without tops, read this post from Helpful Horse Hints at

Most importantly, it is helpful to remember that even though watching our horses enjoy carrots is fun, treats are best given in moderation (for example, the above article recommends no more than one or two carrots per day for the average horse without any dietary restrictions).

Race on Over to Take These Quizzes . . .

Check out the link below to take just-for-fun quizzes. All horse-related, of course!

From my favorite horse magazine, Equus, comes six entertaining quizzes with titles like “What rare horse breed are you?” and “What do horses say in different languages?”.

For those of you who might be sensitive to what your answers reveal about yourself, please note that your results are not to be taken seriously. 🙂

Go to to have a little horsey fun today!

Equus Magazine Barn Stories Episode 38: The Next Journey (Featuring My Horse, Bear)

Have you listened to Equus Magazine’s Barn Stories podcasts? Barn Story material is selected by the magazine’s editors from almost forty years of True Tale stories that appeared in the printed magazine.

I am thrilled to see that my previously published True Tale story was made into Barn Stories Podcast: Episode 38! Equus has long been my favorite horse magazine. I actually remember reading it as a child. To have the magazine publish an essay of mine was meaningful. To see it turned into a podcast episode is a pleasant surprise.

I wrote the essay a few years ago. I composed it not long after my horse, Bear, began to struggle with a variety of health issues. His problems eventually led me to retire him from riding.

I actually figured that I did not have much time left with him. I anticipated most likely having him euthanized within the year.

I also didn’t have another horse of my own at home. I was fostering a series of horses for a rescue to keep Bear company. But none of them stayed with me permanently. With Bear’s health deteriorating, I also saw the end of my time as a horse owner looming before me.

The essay vividly reflects my feelings during that period. It is sad. Full of grief. Both real and anticipatory. My writing charged by the emotional turmoil that can occur when one experiences unwelcome life transitions.

Those of you who read the blog regularly will recognize that Bear is still with me. He turned 26 this year. But, you know. He won’t live forever. One day, I will in fact be grieving his actual loss. And at some point, my time as a horse owner will come to an end too.

Knowing those things will come to pass? It is painful. At the same time, that knowledge makes me appreciate all the more what I still do have. It sharpens my appreciation for what is right in front of me. Right here. Right now.

While reading or listening to sad stories is not for everyone, some of us find it therapeutic to dive into the depths of human experience and emotion. At least on occasion. Especially when it comes to how we feel about horses. Sometimes it is affirming and comforting to know that someone else feels similarly.

If you are inclined, you can listen to the podcast or read its transcript at

The podcast is about 10 minutes long, including the introduction, an ad read right in the middle of the podcast and the actual essay.

For those of you who prefer to listen to or read something a little different, check out the other Barn Stories podcast episodes. Some are sad or poignant like mine. Some are funny and more of a gentle read. I think they all do a beautiful job of capturing the range of experiences that equestrians have with horses. Find them at

This is the image that I chose to accompany my Equus True Tale story in the magazine. Bear and I are riding out on BLM land near the Little Bookcliffs mountain range in Western Colorado. I have long been drawn to the openness and stark beauty of the high desert. I thought the feeling of the picture captured the vastness of my relationship with Bear. The photographer is none other than my non-riding husband who was leading my other horse, Pumpkin Spice. You can see Spice’s ear sweetly peaking over the bottom corner of the picture.

Labor Day Horse-Shopping Discounts

Readers may know that I like to do the majority of my horse-related shopping when I can best take advantage of steep discounts. I do this by keeping a list of my equestrian needs/wants while setting aside money throughout the year. I then try to time as many purchases as possible to coincide with Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals.

But . . . there certainly are discounts during other holiday-related shopping times too.

Speaking of that, those of you in the USA may be enjoying your last day of the long Labor Day weekend. If you’d like to get in some last minute shopping, I’ve rounded up a list of Labor Day horse-shopping discounts that popped into my email inbox recently for your shopping pleasure.

The picture above was taken from the Big D website. Go to to take advantage of the offer(s) shown.

I don’t have pictures for these other offers, but here is the pertinent information from several more shopping websites. Please visit the websites for exact offer details and exclusions.

Riding Warehouse
Free $25 RW gift card with any $150 purchase
Offers expires on 9/6/21

15% off plus, if you place a $200 order, get a free $50 e-gift card.
Use promo code LaborDay21
Offer expires 9/10/21

Cheshire Horse
20% off in store and online (with some exceptions)
Offer expires 09/08/21 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern

Hay Pillow
10% off Standard Hay Pillows
One Day Only – Monday September 6th
Use Coupon Code: Lbr10

Majesty’s Animal Nutrition (supplements/treats for equines and canines)
25% off all products
Valid Sept. 3rd through Sept 13th, 2021
Promo Code:LABORDAY25

Beauty For Real
30% off site wide
Use Code: LABOR30
Not sure of expiration date but probably at the end of the day today 9/6/21
(Please note that Beauty For Real is a makeup company. Not for horses. BUT, if you purchase their Lip Revival- Tinted Lip Balm, 20% of proceeds will benefit Brooke USA. This is an organization that helps working equids and their families worldwide. See my previous post at to learn more about The Brooke and Brooke USA)

Very Short Story: Window To A Horse’s Soul

Led into the stable, he held his head low. He had never been here before and didn’t know these people. His instincts told him to run, but he felt too tired and sore. He just got off the trailer after a long ride. Throat dry from lack of water. Stomach tight from little food. Hoofs sore from lack of trimming. Whatever these new people wanted to do to him, he knew he would just have to stand there and take it. With eyes and ears at half-mast, he started to disappear into himself as he had done so many days and nights before. As he shuffled forward into the new barn, he suddenly felt the soft bedding beneath his hooves as he entered a stall. He caught the scent of fresh hay in the corner. He took note of the full bucket of clear, clean water. All these unexpected comforts captured his attention. Maybe, just maybe, he could come alive again. Today I think I saw hope in that horse’s eyes.

***This very short story is dedicated to all those horses-in-need out there, still waiting on their own soft place to land. ***

Wednesday Whinny

One of the many horse professionals that I enjoy learning from online is Barbra Schulte. I find her positive outlook on horses, riding and competition so inviting.

I referenced her in a previous post at

Mental Fitness in Riding

For today’s post, I share her words that appeared in one of her recent “Just For Today” emails.

“I think about the people in my horse world who inspire me.

I am so grateful for them.

Today, I realize that I too inspire others.

This makes me feel good.

It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just a smile or a kind word or a compliment about their horse.

And I will never know how I encourage someone else by never giving up, succeeding, and just being me – as I am.

I love knowing we all help each other in ways we will never know!”

By Barbra Schulte in her Just For Today Email Dated 8/16/21

Pursuing our horsemanship goals can bring out the Type A personality hidden (or maybe not so hidden) in some of us. This can lead to noticing every thing wrong about our own horsemanship and that of others.

Sure, in order to improve, it is helpful to notice and acknowledge what needs to change. But there’s a difference between that kind of awareness verses dwelling on the negative. It can be a delicate balancing act of perspectives as we seek to learn and grow our skills.

I like this reminder from Barbra Schule that we all have the power to look for the inspiration we gain from others. Barbra also shows us that sometimes just being ourselves, in all our human messiness and contradiction, allows us to connect with others in a way that a “perfect” version of ourselves never could. How refreshing is that!