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May 2010

Boarding stable rules: 'Monster' or 'OK and fair'?

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- In chronological order, here are highlights of public remarks at Monday night's Larimer County commissioners hearing on new land use rules for property owners boarding horses. The proposal was tabled until July 19 during a meeting that lasted until nearly midnight.

(New readers: Welcome! Scroll to the bottom for links that will bring you up to speed on this issue.)

"We are pretty significantly expanding use by right ... We want to have flexibility, to be reasonable ... We don’t want to have people pay for something they don’t need.” – Commissioner Steve Johnson

“Is it true that 20 horses equals 20 trip-in’s, which equals $300/horse, which equals $6,000, plus a $300 Public Site Plan Review fee?” – Commissioner Lew Gaiter

“I cannot support the transition program capital expansion traffic fees … Finally the county

Continue reading "Boarding stable rules: 'Monster' or 'OK and fair'?" »

New land use rules for boarding stables tabled

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- County planning commissioners Tuesday night sent proposed horse land use rules for boarding stables back to the working group that has worked on the problem for a year and a half.

The commissioners set another hearing for July 19.

Commissioners questioned:

  • Transportation and capital expansion fees that could cost stable owners $300/horse and $150/lesson client.
  • How a proposed resource management plan for stable owners would work.
  • The number of boarded horses allowed as a use by right, especially on larger properties, and suggested increasing numbers.

"I don't think I could support these regulations as they're written now," said commissioner Tom Donnelly.

"I like the idea of a scalable system," said commissioner Steve Johnson. "I don't want it to be complex. I don't want it to be inflexible."

Donnelly called the proposed resource stewardship plan that a stable might have to complete to prove best-practice management an "onerous regulation".

Boarding stable rules: A 'monster' or 'OK and fair'?

Coloradoan newspaper: Officials balk at revised rules on horse businesses

Contact Larimer County county commissioners.

Down through the chimney ... a what?

Click here to see what it was.  My daughter heard the sound in the chimney late Friday night, something was up there, flapping.

 I pooh-poohed her complaint until the dogs started guarding the fireplace. Our half-Beagle, half-German Shepherd, Vincent de Mile High, “Vinnie”, sat in front of the fireplace, and barked whenever it moved.

I preferred letting the wild thing figure its way out, rather than invade. That way, I didn't have to touch it, and likewise, it – say a rabid bat – didn't have to touch me.

By Sunday however, an apron of soot covered the fireplace bed and part of the hearth. The thing had been wiggling around, but was still hiding. I leaned into the fireplace and sent a pen light beam up the depths.

Something flap-flap-flapped just above my head, something big. I launched across the room on to the couch, the sound of my own scream in my ears. All four dogs ran to save me and succeeded in running around in circles, barking at the ceiling.

Our May winter – it snowed a couple of days ago – had finally departed, and we left the house doors open, put the dogs in their pen, and locked the cat in a bedroom. The theory here was that the thing would drop out in peace-and-quiet and disappear.

But by Sunday night, more soot covered the bottom of the fireplace and the hearth. It was up there, and would likely die a slow death, or get fried if we suddenly needed to light a fire. Poor Vinnie spent most of Sunday night guarding the fireplace.

Monday morning, my daughter returned home from an errand, and saw it in the kitchen window, trying to get out.

In a fit of bravery, we called Gregg to come over and get it. Click on the picture to see what “it” was. (Be sure to drag open the window all the way so you can see the captions.) How it got into a chimney, we’ll never know!

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Don't blink or you'll miss the destruction

Don’t blink or you’ll miss the destruction of the horse industry – and a way of life -- in Larimer County. On May 24, county commissioners will vote on a plan that peels horse facilities off from other agricultural uses, and forces them to comply with new, anti-business land use codes.

No new stable owner in their right mind would want to start a horse business under these conditions, and few post-1988 stables will survive. I say post-1988 because if you were a stable before then, you can choose the potentially-equal agony of our “grandfathering” process.

The vote will settle the question of who gets priority as the county grows, the new “public” or existing citizens.

Amazingly, few people took advantage of public feedback in this process. Word on the street says the stable contingent hid “under the radar”. Others think this issue affects only a few. Those cowards who hid, or the good citizens who trustingly sat back while this 18-month saga

Continue reading "Don't blink or you'll miss the destruction" »

Horse babies: They are to die for


Sometimes this horse passion really is just about sitting back and watching all the beautiful horses in the world. I have always loved watching horses, especially this time of year. Horse baby season is upon us, and they are all cute. My friend, Carol, however raises some particularly cute horse friends, and this year is no exception. Click on the photo at left to launch a little slide show of the latest addition to the horse family at Painted Prairie Ranch! (Make sure to expand the pop-up window so you can see the whole thing. The control buttons are at top-right.)

Raising horses is not for the faint-of-heart, but if you think you might like to try it, I recommend Blessed are the Brood Mares. We bred and raised Billy, one of the real-life horse characters in Winning Bet, and he turned out fine, thanks in large part to help from Blessed are the Brood Mares.

(Karin Livingston is a career 4-H leader specializing in horses, and the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet. An ad-free version of this blog is available on the Amazon Kindle. Just search for "Hoofprints" on your device.)

Stable fire at site of triple murder

An arson-caused stable fire near Commerce City, Colorado that killed 12 horses Sunday was also the site of a triple murder 10 years ago. According to the KDVR Denver story, witnesses saw people pouring gas on stalls and lighting them on fire. A teenager at the scene told Fox 31 News that the stable was set on fire over a racing dispute. Law enforcement officers also removed roosters from the property that had been altered for cockfighting.

Cash the Mustang gets 'Extreme Makeover'

Cash the Mustang watches his friends at the CSU Spring Fling Horse Show. (Click photo to enlarge.)
FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Cash the wild horse is busy learning the business of civilization.

Rounded up earlier this year with a herd of mustangs in Nevada, Cash took up residence March 6 with his foster-human and new trainer, Jessica Gabkowski. A week and a half later, Cash accepted the saddle. Note: Many fully-grown, untrained horses would not make life this easy.

The goal? To give Cash the “Extreme Mustang Makeover ”, and have him ready for the mustang sale June 13 at the Colorado State University Equine Center.

I met Cash this Saturday at CSU’s annual Spring Fling Horse Show. Cash, and Jessica, who boarded at our stable when she was a CSU student, were hanging out, soaking up the atmosphere, and watching the English horses jump. I might add that Cash was “hanging out” very quietly and peacefully. Cash, a gelding, is four years old, but acts much more mature. Cash will compete in a horse show with the other “Extreme Makeover” candidates in the days before the auction, June 11 -12.

Cash the Mustang under saddle with his foster-human and trainer, Jessica. (Click photo to enlarge.)
Jessica feels lucky. Not all full-grown mustangs are as easy as Cash, but she said “there are some people like me that got really good ones.” Jessica is keeping a diary of Cash’s progress at You can see from Jessica’s photos that Cash has been a real sweety all along. For those who are new to the horse game, remember: A good disposition is one trait that can never be trained.

Cash, as you may notice, is also very cute, about 14 hands, with a long, curly mane, full tail, lots of flaxen highlights, sturdy bones and feet. A lot of people might pass Cash over however, because he is well, just brown.

“That is really the whole point of the program,” said Jessica, “to provide incentive for trainers to train the brown, un-colorful mustangs and get them adopted out.” Wild horses across the country are in oversupply these days, and the government's attempts to keep herd size down have been the subject of controversy.

I should add that Cash will not be auctioned off to just anybody. In order to get him, you need to sign up with the Bureau of Land Management’s adoption program and get approved. No renderers here, please.

Oh, and Cash’s name? It is a sign of hope. Jessica has her eye a share of the $12,000 prize to be split among “Extreme Mustang Makeover” winners. You may also see her flashing a bid card when a certain young horse hits the sale ring.

(Karin Livingston is a career 4-H leader specializing in horses, and the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet. An add-free version of this blog is available on the Amazon Kindle. Just search for "Hoofprints" on your device.)

Some rules were made to be broken

Hobbes explores our arena. (Click photo to enlarge.)

In my experience, horse sales have always been synonymous with “buyer beware”. Guess what? Rules were made to be broken, and the Colorado State University “Legends of Ranching” sale is the exception to the rule.

What a great sale it was – a horse show the week before in which many of the sale horses competed, demonstration rides the morning of the sale, veterinarians available to do soundness exams, time to go meet horses and run our hands over legs before the sale, a well-run registration office,
classy seating in a great stadium arena, many, many beautiful horses. All told, more than 70 horses went through the sale.

Mark your calendars for next year, and attend all phases. Even if you don’t intend to buy, you can learn a lot about conformation as it relates to function just watching.

And … meet “Hobbes” Gregg’s new horse! Three years old, a registered Quarter Horse gelding bred at the Purina Research Farm, well-started by “Danny” in the CSU colt training class, and a super disposition to boot! The first thing I did was hand Gregg my copy of Lyons on Horses, a must-have for all green horse owners. Stay tuned as Hobbes proves himself a horseback riding joy! P.S. His name? My daughter's idea: Because we already have a Kalvin!

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(Karin Livingston is a career 4-H horse leader and the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, stores, and to librarians and retailers through the Ingram Book Group.)