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July 2009

New land use rules: 'Ain't so damn easy'

Working group members debated new policy for horse facilities Tuesday night. (Click photo to enlarge.) FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- As it juggled public welfare, measurability, scalability, neighborhood interactions and existing law, the working group in charge of developing new land use rules for horse facilities edged toward agreement Tuesday night.
 “This whole idea of being a good neighbor. That ain’t so damn easy,” said working group member Dennis Goeltl, who later urged the group to create a concrete policy that people could rely on as the county grows.
The group was appointed earlier this year by county commissioners to study new rules for horse facilities, partly in response to a small but persistent problem with neighbor complaints against horse property owners in general. But members disagreed Tuesday night about how much control Larimer County should have over horse businesses.
“I don’t think government has any business telling people how to manage their horses,” said Wendy Chase.
“If we get into over regulating … I think that you’re actually limiting the ability of folks to manage their places,” added Pat Hall.
“There needs to be enough structure to protect us in two ways,” said Joe Andrews. “One, the planning department needs to administer this equally across the board … and two, there needs to be enough structure so that they’re not given a blank check, and require people to do things that are absolutely ridiculous.”

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Horse flying-lead changes: The foolproof exercise

The horses practice traveling the "S" through the chute of cones at a walk. (Click photo to enlarge.) Our horses are good, average horses that fit well with our family. They do multiple jobs in 4-H at open horse shows. None received specialized training. None broke the bank at time of purchase. When it came to learning flying leads, we faced the challenge of rider inexperience, less-than-perfect horse conformation and in some cases, performance baggage that had nothing to do with the quality of our training. We tried method after method, sometimes with hilarious results: Jumping in a western saddle to force a change, horses bolting at the center of the figure eight fearing heavy leg cues, horses changing down the rail just for the fun of it, horses dripping with sweat due to stress. Of all the exercises we tried, this one from John Lyons Perfect Horse Magazines This horse, properly cued by its rider, executes a lead change at the lope over the pole. (Click photo to enlarge.) (December 2005 and January 2006) is my favorite. All the horses we tried this exercise on executed a flying lead change by

the end of our 4-H mounted ride. Simply put: You construct a chute of cones close enough together to discourage dodging, put a ground pole at the end of the chute, and ride the horse in an “S” through the chute, switching leads at the ground pole, all while using proper seat, leg, and hand cues. Remember, before you can "fly", you must first be able to sidepass, turn on the forehand, and two-track at the trot and canter, all with your horse in a good, light frame. (Click on the photos to enlarge.)

(Karin Livingston is a career 4-H leader specializing in horses, and the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet, available in hard copy and for e-readers.)

Check out Bob Avila's slideshow of lead-change tips at Equisearch.

More training: Four things I learned from Greg Best

Hair box: The ultimate organizer

The "hair box" is an indispensable piece of horse show equipment. (Click photo to enlarge.) One item that has proven valuable over the years is our “hair box”. It holds everything from hair nets, to bows, to show numbers, to scissors, to a sewing kit. The latest incarnation of this idea is a tool box from our local Ace Hardware store. (Click to enlarge the photo.) We have used old overnight travel cases, makeup kits and clear, stackable tubs, but the tool box has been the best. The handle is convenient, the plastic is tough and shatterproof, and this size is light and therefore easy to carry along with all the other items you need to pack for a horse show. Our hair box has clear, closable compartments on the lid for small stuff like safety pins, stock pins and bobby pins. When you open it, another tray for bigger items makes up the second layer, and finally, underneath it all is the big open spot for everything else. As an organizational tool, the hair box keeps us from having to repack easily forgettable things, which when forgotten, create a crisis. When the show is over, we just close the lid and our hair box keeps everything in place for next time. This Stanley tool box at Amazon is similar to ours.

Radios: Stay in touch at the show grounds

Two-way radios prevent missed classes. You'll need one for each contestant and their support person. (Click photo to enlarge.) Communication is everything; especially at large horse shows where you may find yourself far away from your support person. (Yes, every contestant needs a support person, and for children, a support person is a must!) There are times when we have missed classes at large horse shows due to arena changes that were suddenly announced in one barn, but not the others, or due to broken sound systems. After suffering the loss of all-around points due to missed classes, we went out and bought two-way radios, which instantly solved the problem. Even with the evolution of cell phones, we prefer our radios because they require no dialing, and therefore no wait time. We also carry the radios around the property at home, and have nipped many an emergency in the bud thanks to instant communication. My last pair of two-way radios purchased about two years ago came with a five-mile range. This pair from Wal-Mart costs about half as much and provides up to 15 miles of coverage. A word to the wise: Make sure you pick a different frequency than horse show management is using, and teach your children to use the radios as a tool, not a toy.