Score one for the land - the bison have returned

Every now and then, something turns out really right. I would add the return of genetically pure bison to our very own Soapstone Prairie Natural Area to that category. Don't try to attend, however. According to the Denver Post, spectator spaces are already filled for Sunday's release of the bison to the prairie.

Read the full Denver Post story about the return of the bison.

The horsey Halloween force awakens - what will you be?

Looking for horsey Halloween ideas? Plans are afoot at our place for all sorts of creations, weather permitting. Meanwhile, here are a few from years past:

Halloween 2013 

Angel devil in all of us - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
A little of the angel and devil in all of us ...
Cow - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
Is it "neigh" or is it "moo"?
Magician - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
All in a day's work for our resident magician and her magic horse ...
Rainbow of feathers - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
A rainbow of feathers for Billy Blue, one of our Morgans.
Snow white - Halloween - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
Snow White and her minions ...

Halloween 2012

Billy Blue the Horse - Halloween 2012 - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
All it takes is a little paint, glitter, a few ribbons and scarves, perhaps a discarded hat, and voilà, your horse morphs into the Spirit of Halloween, a giraffe, a zebra, a fairy, or Mr. Bows. The Poudre River Stables gang outdid itself this year by achieving all of the above, and the horses, shy at first, seemed to enjoy the combing and brushing that came with their makeovers. Check out the video above to see all of the costumes. Many thanks to these kids' instructor, Cayla Stone, for organizing this. Happy Halloween to all of you from all of us! (Billy, the horse in the photo, is a real-life horse character in the novel, Winning Bet, a clean read for 'tweens and teens.)


Halloween 2010

HalloweenBonnie  HalloweenJasper  HalloweenBilly 

The funniest part came when all the horses, who had been individually costumed by all the handlers you see here, saw each other and were horrified. Billy, in the “All-American” red, white and blue, looked at Magic the Wizard, group shot, far left, in the sparkly black hat, threw up his head, rolled his eyes, snorted and scuttled backwards. Magic tried to turn around and leave with his human on the other end of the lead line.

Bonnie, appropriately the Beautiful Veiled Witch, Jasper, carrying his Knight in Shining Armor, and the Gypsy Dani were heroes, and never flinched.


(Bonnie Blue and her son Billy Blue are the real-life horse stars of the novel, Winning Bet, by Karin Livingston.)

Developer, council member dreams big on road to national medals

I wonder what the Fort Collins City Council, or even the Larimer County Commissioners in charge of surrounding areas, will do with the challenge tossed out by city council member Gino Campana as he explores Fort Collins' path to a gold-medal-winning community. Phrases like “urban farming”, “demonstration gardens”, “community gardens” and “locally produced” accepted at a national level are words of hope. I’d like to call “ease land use regulations around urban animal husbandry” icing on the cake. However, since we are promoting somewhat-healthy lifestyles, let’s just call it “locally-produced strawberry jam over farm brie on homemade whole wheat bread with a farm cider chaser and a couple of homegrown tomatoes”. Dreaming big: Tax breaks and grants for micro-producers? What about an easy way to sell farm wines? More micro-neighborhood farmers markets? Going wild, we could even embrace the value of manure (don't laugh), the importance of rural heritage and history, resurrect the Code of the West and (you fill in the blank) ___________________________. 

Deadly impact: Skull - 1, Helmet - 0

The outer shell of the helmet cracked and fell away from its foam inner shell. (Click to enlarge.) (Originally published July 2009.)

The Thoroughbred gelding had been jumping the green and white, two-foot flower jump for days. This was just another routine schooling. As the horse cantered the line, his rider balanced over the balls of her feet in a classic two-point. She shortened the reins for better contact, looked ahead, and prepared herself for liftoff. The horse pricked his ears toward the jump, boldly cantered forward, then skidded to a halt, swerved right, then left, then right and, feeling his rider come unbalanced, scrambled away from the jump. She hauled on the reins, but the gelding continued his mad scramble. The rider slammed to the ground, head first. She didn’t move. Others in the arena ran to help, but seconds later, she stood up on her own. She was shaken and covered in the mud of the puddle her body hit.

Except for a bad case of road rash, and later, a stiff neck, she was injury free. Somebody started laughing. Pretty soon everybody in our arena started laughing, partly in fun, partly in relief. As the rider tried to pull muddy strands of hair out of her face, she unstrapped her helmet. She stopped laughing. A six-inch spiraling crack fractured the helmet’s surface. (Click on picture to enlarge.)
Those of you who think you don’t need one, think again. My daughter’s helmet saved her life today.
Read also:
Traumatic brain injury survivor Courtney King-Dye opens helmet conference
Fractured skull: She vows to wear helmet next time
Check out this life-saving video: Every Time, Every Ride

SmartPaks video: How to properly fit a helmet

(Karin Livingston was a career 4-H leader specializing in horses, and is the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet.)

Recommended: 'Building a horse property from the ground up'

I wanted nothing more than to wake up at 6 a.m., wander out in my pajamas to feed my horses, and stand -- cup of coffee in hand -- watching them munch hay. I’m not kidding.
-- Michelle Anderson,

File this article on building a horse property in your bookmarks in case you ever find yourself planning a personal horse facility. It is the most concise, on-point article I've found on the subject, and will save you from many common errors in horse ownership.

Read also:

Fencing fracas: Tips for sanity

Horse fencing: Do it right and skip the 1,348-acre brush fire

Colorado state veterinarian's office confirms VS in two counties

How much do you know about vesicular stomatitis? Take this quiz.

STATE VETERINARIAN'S OFFICE (VS) – Positive Diagnosis in Two Colorado Counties
Tips for Livestock Owners and Veterinarians

Horses on two Montrose and one Delta County premises tested positive for the disease and have been placed under quarantine. Colorado has become the fourth state in the country to have confirmed cases of vesicular stomatitis (VS) in 2015. Previous positive cases of vesicular stomatitis this year have been diagnosed in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

On July 2nd, the National Veterinary Services Laboratory reported positive tests on samples submitted from horses in Montrose and Delta Counties. The initial Colorado disease investigations were accomplished by field veterinarians from the State Veterinarian’s Office at the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

“The primary spread of VS is thought to occur through insect vectors; the horses involved in these cases have no history of travel,” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. “Vesicular stomatitis can be painful for animals and costly to their owners. The virus typically causes oral blisters and sores that can be painful causing difficulty in eating and drinking.”

A 2014 outbreak of VS created 556 livestock investigations in Colorado resulting in 370 quarantines with the final quarantines released in January 2015.

Livestock owners who suspect an animal may have VS or any other vesicular disease should immediately contact their local veterinarian. Livestock with clinical signs of VS are isolated until they are determined to be of no further threat for disease spread. There are no USDA approved vaccines for VS. While rare, human cases of VS can occur, usually among those who handle infected animals. VS in humans can cause flu-like symptoms and only rarely includes lesions or blisters.

New for 2015 VS Investigations:
A notable change in the 2015 State response to VS has come from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) delisting of VS as a foreign animal disease in horses; VS continues to be listed as a foreign animal disease for cattle and other livestock. This USDA procedural change will allow greater flexibility in how VS is managed in respect to equine cases. The primary change will now be that quarantines may be released as soon as 14 days after the onset of clinical signs of the last affected horse on a premises.

“Science has shown that the transmission of the virus is for a brief period of time after the initial clinical signs of VS. Our goal is to appropriately adjust our response to this disease to reduce the negative economic impact to the equine community,” continued Roehr.
With the delisting of VS as a foreign animal disease, Colorado veterinarians may now take a lead role in the management of the disease in equine cases. In earlier cases, CDA or USDA field vets were required to perform the disease investigations on horses; the delisting now allows local veterinarians to perform the initial investigations, collect samples, and collaborate with animal health officials regarding movement restrictions and quarantines.
The Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has been approved to perform VS tests on horses in Colorado. This will provide a more timely response on test results.

Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) Signs and Transmission:
VS susceptible species include horses, mules, cattle, bison, sheep, goats, pigs, and camelids. The clinical signs of the disease include vesicles, erosions and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, teats and above the hooves of susceptible livestock. Vesicles are usually only seen early in the course of the disease. The transmission of vesicular stomatitis is not completely understood but components include insect vectors, mechanical transmission, and livestock movement.

Tips for Livestock Owners:
Strict fly control is an important factor to inhibit the transmission of the disease.
Avoid transferring feeding equipment, cleaning tools or health care equipment from other herds.
Colorado veterinarians and livestock owners should contact the state of destination when moving livestock interstate to ensure that all import requirements are met. A list of contact information for all state veterinarians’ offices is available at:
Colorado fairs, livestock exhibitions, and rodeos may institute new entry requirements based on the extent and severity of the current VS outbreak. Certificates of Veterinary Inspection issued within 2-5 days prior to an event can beneficial to reduce risks. Be sure to stay informed of any new livestock event requirements.

Important Points for Veterinarians:
Any vesicular disease of livestock is reportable to the State Veterinarian’s Office in Colorado – to report call 303-869-9130. If after-hours, call the same number to obtain the phone number of the staff veterinarian on call.
With the delisting of VS as a foreign animal disease, Colorado veterinarians may now take a lead role in the management of the disease in equine cases. In earlier cases, CDA or USDA field vets were required to perform the disease investigations on horses; the delisting now allows local veterinarians to perform the initial investigations, collect samples, and collaborate with animal health officials regarding movement restrictions and quarantines.
In livestock other than equine VS is still considered a foreign animal disease, any case with clinical signs consistent with VS will warrant an investigation by a state or federal foreign animal disease diagnostician (FADD).
When VS is suspected in livestock other than equine the FADD will gather the epidemiological information, take the necessary blood samples, collect the necessary fluid or tissue from the lesions, and inform the owners and the referring veterinarian as to necessary bio-security and movement restrictions.

During the event, important VS disease prevention procedures include minimizing the sharing of water and feed/equipment, applying insect repellent daily (especially to the animal’s ears), and closely observing animals for signs of vesicular stomatitis.

For additional information, contact the Colorado State Veterinarian’s Office at 303-869-9130 or to view the current location of cases and other important updates and information you can visit:

Deceased: Brand inspector Lyle David Horn, age 54

Our condolences go out to the family of brand inspector Lyle David Horn, Wellington, Colorado, who passed away suddenly June 15 of sudden cardiac death. Many thanks to The Coloradoan staff for doing the research to confirm this information. Our brand inspectors are very busy people and help keep the agricultural economy alive. Thank you, Mr. Horn, for your service.