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February 2010

January 2010

Walk (and jog) the line in winter footing

Long Lining Color

So, here we are, in the middle of winter, and once again, the snow refuses to melt, the footing is iffy, and there is, yuck, the cold. One thing we like to do when riding isn’t such a great option is to do some slow long-line (ground driving) work.

We learned that a horse with lots of long-lining experience will be a better performer than the same horse without the long-lining. Correctly done, long lining builds impulsion and posture, both of which are key to that “winning look”.

To do a proper job, you need the proper equipment. We own a couple of long-lining surcingles (accessorized leather straps that buckle around the horse’s girth), which I

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County commissioners back working group

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Contrary to unofficial reports that the working group appointed to develop new land use rules for stables was being disbanded, county commissioners in an informal meeting Tuesday morning gave a “thumbs up” to the progress the group has achieved so far.

"The commissioners made the selections of the members of the working group and we are pleased with whom we have chosen," said county commissioner Steve Johnson. "The planning commission does not have the authority to make a decision if the working group is to be disbanded, which they will not,"

Horse- and livestock-owner property rights have simmered for many years in Larimer County, with a constant tug-of-war between neighbors in growing developments, pre-

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Stable rules meeting cancelled

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- The meeting scheduled for tonight to continue work on new rules for horse stables has been cancelled.

The working group appointed by county commissioners last winter to develop the rules began working with county staff in December. Since then, County Commissioner Kathay Rennels resigned to take a job with Colorado State University, and study facilitator Linda Hoffman was promoted to county planning director.

Stay tuned as we continue to follow this issue!

Previous coverage

Good night, sweet Duke

(Originally published Jan. 22, 2010)

“Mom! Duke reared and he’s not getting up!”

I put down my hairbrush late Sunday afternoon, about half an hour before we were due to sing in church. My daughter’s words sent a chill down my spine. I ran down the stairs from my attic rooms, pulled on my MuckBoots, and dashed out the back door to the group turnouts. My daughter followed.

“What happened?” I tossed the question out as we ran.

“I was putting Billy away, and Duke was prancing around, and he reared and fell over,” she said. I wondered if Duke had somehow slipped in the snow in the next pen and knocked the wind out of himself.

We arrived at the gate and opened it. Duke, an almost black Thoroughbred gelding, lay on his right side. Two of the other horses stood around him, nudging him with their noses. A back leg quivered.


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Auto-hammer soothes savage stable owner

Billy Blue, co-equine-star of the book, Winning Bet, helps with fence repairs after his earlier disaster. (Click photo to enlarge.)
The call came from the barn at breakfast Saturday morning – Billy Blue, co-equine-star of my book, Winning Bet, pulled back on his halter and crashed into the stall wall, taking it down. (Hmm … sounds like a certain scene in the book!)
Miraculously, there were no injuries, other than the wall, which lay in about eight pieces between the two stalls. I briefly considered giving up having a stable, but, and I kid you not, the Craftsman Nextec 12-Volt Auto Hammer, a Christmas gift received by my daughter, changed my mind.
Within minutes, we – thank you team – had the wall nailed back up. The auto hammer was a little miracle, especially for those of us who, in spite of living their entire lives around horse breakages, are not exactly pro with the hammer.
We stuck our three-and-a-half inch twist nails on to the hammer’s magnet, pointed it at the boards, steadied it, and wham-wham-wham-wham-wham-wham! The nail went in. No crooked nails. No exhausted forearms. I kid you not. (You might want to get a set of earplugs, however.)
We got so excited that we started looking around for things to fix. The picture at left shows the auto hammer at work replacing a broken fence board in the common turnout area with Billy “helping” in the foreground. Thank you, Craftsman!
I should note that expert carpenter Gregg, also in the picture, who was probably born with a hammer in his hand, still prefers the manual version of a hammer, as did the reviewer at Popular Mechanics. Still the reviewer almost waxed poetic, calling the auto hammer a “nice tool”. (What can I say? They’re both boys!)
Be sure to get the Craftsman auto hammer that says “Nextec”. There are mixed reviews about the other version. If Amazon doesn’t have it, try Sears.

Courage to get up and ride again

Imagine getting up after a bad fall, your body hurts, fear-induced adrenaline pulses through your body, and you know you should get back up and ride right now. If you don't, who knows when you'll get back on?
Some people never do get back up and try again, and I believe they let something valuable slip away. They will never know whether they could have done it. Eventually, not knowing will haunt a little corner of their lives. 
One man however, roper Ryan Rochlitz, "got back up", and took it a step further.
After nearly dying in high school, Rochlitz received a heart transplant, and is now among the elite rodeo athletes competing at the National Western Stock Show. Click here for the full Denver Post story and photos by Joey Bunch. Thanks Ryan, for your example to all of us!

Bedroom eyes, compelling, a lover

A clue to the next great piece of horse fiction by Karin Livingston. (Clck photo to enlarge.)
Meet one of the characters, whose name remains a mystery, for a story in the works! The handsome fellow belonging to this photographic tidbit will be “named” after a very famous piece of Arthurian lore.
Horses’ eyes are fascinating, don’t you think? Most come in a dark, luscious brown, some in blue. This guy is the only horse I’ve ever met with hazel eyes. In the story, he survives a tragic accident. He may also bring together two people who swore … oh well, never mind.
Unlike the days of King Arthur, it’ll be a woman, not a man, who gets Mystery Name here to work! (Kindle owners take heart. This story is especially designed with you in mind!) And, if you are looking for an existing good read, try my latest, Winning Bet!

Take 2: New rules for Larimer horse stables

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- The working group in charge of developing new land use rules for horse facilities returns to work later this month. 
January marks a new year for Larimer County's horse facilities land use "study", which began its latest phase in February 2009 when county commissioners assigned a group of about 20 volunteers to develop rules for horse operations.
Land use rules for horses and other livestock have been the source of a sometimes bitter battle between Larimer County and property owners for many years. In the latest round, the target was narrowed to horse facilities.
On one side of the coin are state and local policies that have protected agriculture and livestock operations from costly standard business regulations, and the historical treatement of equestrian operations as "agriculture". On the flip side: The county's campaign to address potential environmental impact and quality of life for the neighors of these properties.

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Feed storage leads, please!

More and more it seems that each and every horse at our barn needs its own custom feed. We have searched and searched for large (must hold a 50-pound bag of concentrates or more), stackable (three-high), easily-accessible (lid is angled and hinges to the side), affordable (in the neighborhood of $50), strong, rodent-proof containers that will help us neaten up the feed room. We are on the verge of building our own, but stop us, please! E-mail us at: