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December 2009

November 2009

FURminator – Buck likes it!

Buck the official ranch dog gets a good grooming with the FURminator. (Click on the photo to enlarge.) Oh, my gosh! A tool that actually works. At first I thought it was a fluke when the FURminator, also shown in the products at lower left, came to our house and removed a mountain of hair from my yellow lab and official ranch dog, Buck. This is the dog featured on the back cover of my book, Winning Bet, and by the way, Buck makes Marley look like a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Anyway, I love Buck to death and he loves me, but … among other things, there is this little issue of hair -- everywhere.
If people paid money for dog hair, I would be a millionaire. A friend who runs a tack shop in California and loves to get all the newest gadgets, came to visit this summer and gave us a FURminator. I have so much “stuff” in my house collecting dust that the FURminator did not immediately grab my attention. We used it a little in the fall (OK, I’m a naughty, infrequent dog groomer), but I thought the pile of loose dog hair it combed out was mostly the result of shedding.
Not so true. What you see in the photo is what I groomed out halfway through a brushing today! Buck liked being FURminated so much that he offered to lay down for the operation. (He hates cameras and started to get up when we snapped this shot.) Our lovely Buck has always had a nice coat, but imagine the feel of a luxurious mink wrap. That is what his fur feels like now, no kidding! I can hardly wait to try the FURminator when the horses start shedding in another month or so!

Wild -- and vulnerable

I met a neat horse this summer at one of a string of 4-H jumping clinics we organized. He was a three-year-old, which if you read your good-old 4-H Horse Project Manual, is a no-no when choosing a horse for a child.
This horse however, while still obviously green, had a heart of gold, a quiet temperament, and a willingness to learn. A girl of about 12 owned him. I was also amazed that a 12-year-old could be so kind and patient. Then again, that’s what 4-H teaches.
The little horse turned out to be a former wild horse adopted out of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) program. The fate of the wild horses, whether to kill off thousands or manage herds through less dire population control, comes up again at a December 7 meeting in Nevada, and it reminded me of this little horse.
He is living history -- and living proof -- that whatever we do to support the wild horse herds will benefit generations to come, sometimes in unexpected ways.

Barefoot in the pasture

We had our annual shoe pulling Friday, just in time for whatever winter storms roll in. Bare footed horses have a much easier time on snow and ice than horses with regular shoes, and winter provides a great time to let a horse’s foot expand the way nature meant it to be. I swear the horses are happier. I would keep them barefoot all year if it weren’t for the rocks on the summer trails and the horse show culture that pretty much says, “Put shoes on your horse.”

There are many exceptions to the "go barefoot" rule. You won’t see the fancy carriage horses in New York’s Central Park – or good old Fort Collins, Colorado for that matter – going barefoot. Their feet would wear down to nubs in no time with all the work they do. And, our very own, lovely Bonnie Blue, star of the novel, Winning Bet, will probably always have to wear front shoes. Every time we’ve pulled her shoes since she foundered, she goes sore.

Planning commission: Stable rules need teeth

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- The Larimer County Planning Commission put off a vote on new land use rules for horse stables at its meeting Wednesday night, citing concerns that proposed rules needed more development.

"You have to have some way to judge it. You have to have some way to enforce it. You have to have some penalty," said commissioner Roger Morgan.

Commissioners also said they wanted some way for neighbors to be notified that a horse business was up for approval. The county has pointed to about 25 complaints from neighbors over four years as the spark that set off the quest for stable land use rules.

Wendy Chase, a member of the working group assigned to develop the rules for stables, cited more than 100 pages of recent comments from county staff and advisory boards seeking much stronger regulations than those proposed. "I hope budget cuts take care of some of the people making uninformed comments," said Chase.

"If you want to have a rural community, you need to do something to try to help the people that are subsidizing your rural vistas," said Chase. "Right now we’re doing all the subsidizing on our own, plus paying for it in our taxes."

"The county is supportive of the horse industry, and recognizes its contributions to quality of life," said Linda Hoffman, director of the county's rural land use center in her initial presentation of the working group's plan to commissioners.

About 60 people attended Wednesday's hearing, and the majority of the public comment supported the working group's proposal, which has been in development for 10 months. Earlier this month, at the last of many public feedback meetings, sentiment had shifted from strong opposition to a spirit of compromise regarding the working group's plan.

A minority proposal by two dissenting members of the working group, Sonja Craighead and Lisa Oppenheimer, supports geographic boundaries for horse business approval and a points system that would make it harder for a stable to get approved.

Accusations of working group policy development based on self-serving interests, and an alleged conspiracy by current permitted stable owners to turn non-compliant stables in to the county for investigation peppered both sides of the debate.

Opponents of new rules have said they would hurt horse businesses and destroy a way of life. "This is just absolutely ludicrous," said large stable owner Gary Gadsby. "This is not just a set of rules. This is a way of life for us."

Previously, horse businesses, if they sought county approval, have had to apply for special review, which including fees and associated consultant costs, could approach $7,000 - $10,000. Historically however, enforcement of the special review requirement was inconsistent. The county typically investigated stables and enforced the process only if somebody made a complaint.

The working group has proposed a scalable points system based on a stable's size and impact that would determine its required review level. The group combined several horse business services to fall under one definition.

Under the proposed rules, an "equestrian operation" would include: "a facility or place used for boarding (including equestrian pasture boarding), equestrian events and/or activities for remuneration and/or fee. Activities of an equestrian operation may include: horse boarding, riding lessons, horse training, competitions and exhibition events."

Larimer County Commissioners had been scheduled to review the planning commissioners' recommendation and make a final vote on stable land use rules in December. There was no date set for further action on the rules, but Hoffman told the planning commissioners she hoped they would give the working group a chance to address concerns.

Both sides jockey for position ... Loveland Reporter Herald

Hoofprints previous coverage on this issue

Just released: 'Winning Bet', the novel!

Will the losing streak ever end? In the middle of a horse show, Emma Duncan, age 15, scratches out of her next class because her mare, Bonnie Blue, shows everything but winning behavior. When Emma tries the timed events, her feisty horse gives speed a new twist. At home, saddle thieves are on the loose, and so are friend thieves. Will Emma’s best friend, Aubrey, abandon her for the rude new girl, Caitlin? Will the chemistry between Emma and the mysterious Enrique turn into something more? Emma’s father utters the word “slaughterhouse”, and Emma understands one thing clearly. She and Bonnie must win or face separation forever.

Set at “River Bend Stables” somewhere along Colorado’s Poudre River, Winning Bet also features two real-life horses, Bonnie Blue and her son, Billy Blue. The horse on the cover is Bonnie, and yes, a certain lovely property is the inspiration for the setting. The rest of Winning Bet's colorful characters are purely figments of imagination.

Winning Bet is a horse book dedicated to everyone who ever struggled – or still struggles -- to be a winner. Click on the Amazon link, left, to get your copy!

NEWS FLASH! First copy goes for $100! Click here for story! NEWS FLASH! Amazon accepts Winning Bet for sale on the Kindle!

"Winning Bet" first copy raises $100

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- The first copy of the forthcoming novel, Winning Bet (retail value $12.95), surprised everyone Saturday night when it sold for $100 at the 2009 Saint Joseph Catholic Church and School "Spirit" fundraiser. The copy, actually a collectible proof version, was autographed by the book's, author Karin Livingston.

"I'm just happy Winning Bet was a winning bet for a great cause," said the blushing author. "This represents a great start for Winning Bet's success, and I'm grateful for the vote of confidence!"

NEWS FLASH! Just released! 'Winning Bet', the novel!

Amazon accepts 'Winning Bet'

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Amazon Kindle has accepted Winning Bet, the story of how 15-year-old Emma Duncan and the mysterious Enrique Olvera must show her mare, Bonnie Blue, to a blue ribbon win before the horse goes to the slaughterhouse.

"This is a great start for Winning Bet," said author Karin Livingston. "Amazon is expected to sell $750 million in Kindles by 2010, and I'm proud to be a part of the e-reader movement!"

Click here for Amazon Kindle and Winning Bet hard copy link. (Don't own a Kindle? Click here to learn all about the world's best e-reader.)
NEWS FLASH!  Barnes & Noble picks up Winning Bet.
'Winning Bet' first copy goes for $100!
NEWS FLASH! 'Winning Bet' novel just released!

Stable land use: Horse people lend an ear

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- The winds of change are blowing toward horse facilities in Larimer County, and horse people are listening.
Under new rules proposed by the working group in charge of the nine-month project, horse facilities will face different levels of review based on the size of the facility and its impact on the land.

"The question is, do you like what’s proposed better than what we have?" said Linda Hoffman, study facilitator and director of the county's rural land use center. Several of the approximately 30 people attending the public feedback meeting Tuesday night congratulated the working group on coming up with a much-improved plan compared to existing rules.

A small number of disgruntled neighbors and the horse properties about which they have complained were the spark that set off the horse facilities study. Working group members said they now see the rules up for a vote by planning commissioners this month as protection for horse businesses against development.
Working group members attending the meeting Tuesday night acknowledged that while not perfect, the proposed new rules are better than what exists.

"If the transition period (an incentive program for existing businesses) is soft, and done right, you will get support from the horse industry," said stable owner Robert Dehn, who urged that the working group clearly define as much as possible. "If we have more defined, then people won’t be so scared," said Dehn. According to Dehn's wife, Debbie, one county stable owner has begun asking clients to leave as details of the proposed rules for horse facilities emerge. Debbie Dehn said some details, such as how the scalability formula is interpreted, remain too vague.

Properties boarding more than four horses would be subject to the new rules. Large facilities could face going through special review, at a cost upwards of $2,300, not including consultants fees, which could push costs closer to $10,000. "If you’re running a good-sized business, you’re going to be in special review because of potential impacts to your neighbors," said Hoffman. She added that rules probably would not go into effect until April.

Activities that would specifically fall under new definitions include boarding or training, riding lessons, equestrian events, and activities for fee or remuneration . The working group also recommended that new rules should also apply to horse rescue facilities.

As part of the new rules, the working group developed a "scalable system" in which any business accruing 14 points or less would have "use by right" with no requirement for further review. Higher point totals would result in a business going through different types of review starting at administrative review and going all the way to special review.

Regardless of where a horse facility falls on the scalable system, if it boards more than two horses per acre, it would have to go through at least minor special review, according to Hoffman.

However, even though a business may have use by right, it would still fall under code requirements on page five of the proposed land use amendments. For instance, normal hours of operation would be limited to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and any loudspeakers would have to be turned off by 9 p.m.

Under administrative review, parking access and restroom facilities would have to be approved by the appropriate county staff, such as a the county engineer or the health deartment.

Two members of the working group, Lisa Oppenheimer and Sonja Craighead, issued a minority report questioning the enforceability of the proposed rules and urging that any regulations be based instead on a stable's geographic location, with more rural locations requiring less or no review. One working group member has resigned from the project.

County commissioners are set to vote on the proposal in December. A preliminary hearing before Larimer County Planning Commissioners is planned Wednesday, November 18, 6:30 p.m., Hearing Room (First Floor), Larimer County Courthouse Offices Building, 200 W. Oak St., Fort Collins, Colorado.

Previous coverage on this issue:
Horse Property Issues (

Larimer County's Horse Facilities Study website:

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