17-year-old treasure from the 'vineyard'
What to do with all that lovely manure

'Winning Bet' pays tribute to Richard Shrake

I clicked on the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo site the other day, which by the way, is one of the best bargains you’ll ever find for useful horse knowledge, and ran into an old friend, Richard Shrake. Richard probably doesn’t know he’s an “old friend”, but I consider him one. I happily paid for and attended two of Richard’sOur gelding loves this Richard Shrake bit, which breaks softly in the mouthpiece. It is a legal western bit in 4-H. (Click photo to enlarge.)
Resistance Free™ clinics in Colorado and Wyoming, and I think I’ve been to every one of his presentations at the Horse Expo. (Just go. You’ll learn a ton.)

Our gelding, right, is wearing a Richard Shrake bit, which really softened his mouth. (Click on the photo to enlarge.) I see Richard is offering a bitting clinic Friday.

Anyway, Richard also probably doesn’t know that he influenced a lot of what happens in my teen-romantic-suspense-horse novel, Winning Bet. (Just buy it. You’ll love it.)

Here’s a Winning Bet excerpt that mentions, but does not completely give away, one of Richard’s best techniques. Here, it looks like Emma could also use Richard’s “Natural Movements Without Unnatural Aids” class Saturday. For the details on the technique below, you’ll have to ask Richard at the Expo. See you there!

Excerpt from Winning Bet:

If Bonnie blows the pattern, I’ll die.

A gust of wind scooped up a plastic bag and bounced it in a wild zigzag across the warm-up arena. Bonnie slammed to a halt, pushing her front

legs out in front of her. Emma lurched forward, over to the right side, and almost fell off.

“Whoa, Bonnie. Whoa!”

She thumped on the horse’s neck, trying to pat her.

“It’s all right. Just hold still.”

Bonnie skittered sideways. Emma jerked her reins, and was ready to do worse when Enrique walked up to her.

“Easy, mare,” said the boy. Enrique reached over to stroke Bonnie’s neck just ahead of the withers. “It is just a silly bag, just a bag.”

“What are you doing?” said Emma. She dismounted.


He continued stroking the horse. “Did you know,” he said as he worked, “that horses have skin that is sensitive enough to flick off a mosquito? When you pat them hard it is like hitting them with a stick.”

Emma shook her head.

“They would much rather be stroked.”

Bonnie lowered her head and let out a sigh.

Enrique stopped and looked at Emma.

“That is one of the things I wanted to show you the day the river went wild,” he said. “It relaxes them. It is what their mothers do when they are little. They rub them right here.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes. Watch them sometime in a pasture. Here, you try.”

Emma continued the stroking. Bonnie’s eyelids drooped.

“It’s like she’s a different horse,” said Emma. “Where’d you learn this?”

“A man named Richard Shrake helped me once,” said Enrique. “He teaches a thing called Resistance Free Riding ™. I went to one of his clinics.”

Emma let out a sigh.

“Thanks. Wish I could do stuff like this.”

“You just did.”

“Oh. Yeah.”

“You will be all right out there?”

 “Yeah. Thanks, Enrique,” said Emma. She climbed back into the saddle. “I’m OK.”

Bonnie tossed her head up and down.

“It seems Bonnie’s ready, too,” said Enrique. Their eyes met. Emma turned her face toward the mare’s neck.

Enrique watched Emma blush. Her lips almost smiled. Those lips. Enrique shivered. The girl was so vulnerable. Headstrong, too. He wanted her to look up, and he would take her hand, and then …but she just stood there, studiously rubbing Bonnie. Emma avoided him from a foot-and-a-half away.