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August 2010

July 2010

Weapons for the dog days of summer

My daughter enjoys the scarf's soothing coolness following her cross-country round.

The dog days of summer are here. When the Colorado Front Range weather get this hot, our dogs just give up, and sleep all day. We riders prefer crazy activities like competing on 18-jump cross country courses in 100-degree-plus temperatures.

At the Moqui Meadows “Jump Start”, we discovered a new tool for our collection of hot-weather weapons: the Cool-Medics cooling scarf, given to us as a gift by a friend who runs a tack shop. It worked great! All you have to do is keep the scarf damp, and its patented materials keep you cool.

As of this writing, the scarf is priced at $15, not too bad for a good idea. Other hot-weather weapons:

  • Electrolyte paste for your horse the morning of the show
  • Plenty of horse-watering the day of the show (Pack some unless you know for sure the show grounds has their own.)
  • A light-weight, white, reflective fly sheet
  • Sponging or hosing (Note: Always cold-water hose a horse starting with the feet. Blasting them in the heart-girth area with icy water could kill them.)
  • A large, insulated water cooler filled with ice and water for the humans
  • Sun protection: Hats, sunscreen, clothing with sunscreen protection

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Hoof nail puncture: What NOT to do

The nail that, miraculously, failed to penetrate the sensitive tissue's of our gelding's hoof - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80621  
Today my daughter found a nail in the cleft of her gelding’s hind foot, and we knew what NOT to do, thanks to an episode from my childhood:

Six months after buying my beloved first horse, a blood bay Morgan-Quarter cross, my mare went down in her stall one morning, with a high fever, hardly able to move. The cause? A few weeks earlier she had stepped on a nail, and an uneducated horseshoer, not ours, pulled the nail out right there, trying to help the rookie horse owners.

That nail hole healed on the outside first, preserving a pocket of infection inside my mare’s hoof, which abscessed, and sent inflammation throughout her body, making her sick enough to go down.

Six weeks later, following antibiotics and three-times-a-day soaks in Epsom salts with hot water trucked from home, plus flushing with betadine, we were lucky that my horse lived and had no permanent damage. We were also lucky that none of us got killed because normally the soul of gentleness, my mare hated the treatments with a passion, and kicked, lunged away, and bit, trying to get rid of us.

Note: IN A PUNCTURE SITUATION, NEVER PULL THE NAIL OUT OF THE HORSE’S FOOT BY YOURSELF. Call your vet, who will bring medicines and tools to possibly cut a bigger hole around the wound, so it heals from the inside first, and drains properly. If your horse is showing pain, the vet may x-ray the nail before removal to see how deep it went.

Today? We were very lucky. Our vet pulled the nail. It turned out to be a short roofing nail from who-knows-where. The nail was barely in there, and never hit anything sensitive.

Chalk one up for the school of hard knocks. You might want to keep this handy reference, above left, from Nancy S. Loving, DVM, on your bookshelf for the next emergency.

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Top secret: How to find fair's 4-H horses

LARIMER COUNTY, Colorado – What horse show has top-notch arenas, beautiful barns, enthusiastic exhibitors, hundreds of show entries, historically totaling more than the Colorado state fair, yet remains a virtual unknown? The Larimer County Fair 4-H Horse Show, August 1st - 4th. (Yes, it starts this Sunday!)

But no more of this "unknown" business. The secret is out: Just click here for a complete schedule of when and where to find the 4-H horses and kids at this year’s fair.

Our youth would love to have you visit, and if you are a parent, day camp, day care, or any other kind of youth organization that needs an outing, the Larimer County Fair 4-H Horse Show is perfect. Our mix of youth and animals provides an education you get nowhere else.

Want to know another little secret? The Larimer County horse clubs all compete for the “Club Image Award”, part of which is how well they treat visitors. So feel free to stop a horse 4-H’er and ask a question or two. If you like what you hear, get the club member’s name or the club’s, and turn it in to the show office behind the Ranch-Way Arena grandstands.

Come join the fun! Come check out 4-H!

Go to the Larimer County 4-H Horse Project site

Directions to the fairgrounds

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

Surprise! New leeway in horse land use rules

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Larimer county commissioners expanded privileges for boarding stables' "use by right" Tuesday night, adding to new rules the right to give up to 15 lessons per week, and host non-profit activities for which a small fee is charged.

Commissioners unanimously approved a sweeping re-write of existing horse land use rules, and then, at the behest of commissioner Tom Donnelly, proceeded to surprise everybody attending the hearing by amending the proposal, which was more than a year and a half in development.

Proposal details (pre-amendments)

The amendments came following public concern regarding properties that host non-profit horse activities getting dinged for "trainee visits", and being forced into some sort of review, as well as comments that "use by right" did not go far enough.

The two amendments expand possible horse activities for small as well as large horse properties as a use by right. Larger operations will still have to undergo approvals ranging from public site plan review to a full special review because of client volume.

Commissioners thanked the public -- and everybody involved in developing the new rules -- for "extraordinary" feedback that helped them make their decision.

"We've seen other counties in this area pass regulations that I think have hurt the horse industry," said commissioner Steve Johnson, "and I think it's because they haven't taken the time to listen."

"Nobody needs to move to Weld County anymore," said commissioner Donnelly. 

"What I'm actually really excited about is that we are recognizing how important the equestrian industry is to Larimer County," said commissioner Lew Gaiter. "While we may need to go back and look at this again in a half year to a year ... we're a lot better off than we were a couple of hours ago. I think this is something we can all be very proud of."

Hearing quote highlights

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Horse boarding: 'Important to the rural character of our county'

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Larimer County comissioners set the stage for adoption of new horse boarding stable land use rules Monday night, promising that the current proposal, if approved, would be reviewed again in a year.

"Let’s do a review of this in a year," said commissioner Steve Johnson in opening remarks for the Monday night hearing. "We realize we may need to do some adjustments."

Current regulations call for anybody boarding more than four horses to undergo "special review" of their property, an expensive process Johnson called "burdensome."

"We realize that horses are very important to Larimer County," he said. "I think it’s important to the rural character of our county."

"Our current codes are untenable. They’re so bad, we don’t enforce them," said commissioner Lew Gaiter. "If a law is so bad that you don’t enforce it, then it’s time to change it."

Public feedback highlights:

"If a facility is doing 40 lessons a week, that begins to feel to like a business that should have some sort of regulation," -- working group member LuAnn Goodyear

"I would encourage you to require the registration certificate for all applicants. It's not a burdensome or onerous procedure. It's an opportunity to say what you’re doing, and to sign your name to it." -- working group member Kathleen Kilkelly

"The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a kid ... You can't get on a horse with those baggy pants and tattoos, and flip-flops don't work very good ... Three of the biggest indoor arenas in this county are for sale, and they're empty ... I think you guys are wide open for a class action lawsuit or something ... I don't want any regulations." -- Gary Gadsby, large stable owner since 1971

"I don’t want these facilities to say, ooh, there’s 10 trainee visits. (And not allow 4-H'ers or Pony Club.) We have a huge, huge number of children that own horses in this town." -- stable owner Debbie Dehn, asking for protection for stables that host youth organizations, and charge a small maintenance fee

"Just living in Larimer County, 4-H is a big deal." -- stable owner Bob Dehn

"I think we should treat all farms and horse properties the same. They all make the rural county rural. It would be best to treat everything (all stables) as that, as agriculture, as rural." -- Mike Sutak

"I live here because I want to. I live here because I do not want to live in Weld County. I choose to live here. It's a code that's worth accepting." -- working group member Dennis Goeltl

"Please remember that it is an agricultural activity, and that we as landowners are helping to maintain the open atmosphere of this county, and it is costing us to do that for the general public." -- working group member Wendy Chase

"If it’s a non-profit, we can handle that with a code interpretation." -- county planning director Linda Hoffman, on how 4-H, Pony Club, and other non-profit activities could be protected under proposed rules

"Larimer County has one of the strongest 4-H programs in the state." -- commissioner Steve Johnson

"These regulations feel like death by a thousand paper cuts to me. I don’t think profit is necessarily evil or dirty. I think it’s fine. If kids are learning something, I think it’s fine." -- commissioner Tom Donnelly

"I still believe that we get our rights from the people, and not the other way around." -- commissioner Lew Gaiter

Surprise! New leeway in horse land use rules

Previous coverage

Horse land use rules: Final vote?

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Larimer County commissioners are set for a final vote tonight on sweeping revisions of horse boarding stable land use rules.

The new rules purge a largely unenforced 1988 land use rule that requires "special review" for anyone boarding more than four horses. Special
reviews can cost land owners more than $10,000 including $2,300 in county fees, plus consultants needed to complete paperwork.

The proposed rules, in the works for more than a year and a half, created controversy in the horse community because unless there was a complaint -- and there were very few -- the county left stables alone for the last 20 years.

The proposal's road to approval has been rough, with planning commissioners tabling an advisory vote in November, and county commissioners, who have the final vote, sending it back to the volunteer working group for more work in May.

In place of the current four-horse rule, property owners boarding horses will have a tiered set of options based on the size of their property, horseback riding lesson load, and the number of horses they serve. Very small operations and people with large properties will retain some "accessory" use by right.

At minimum, many boarding stables will have to go through a "public site plan" review, which includes neighbor approval, a resource management plan, planning meetings with, and approval by county staff. Large operations will still face the special review process.

Stables with previous "grandfathered" (legal, non-compliant status certified by the county) or those with pre-existing approved, special reviews will not be affected unless they expand.

How the county plans to enforce the new, more complex rules and educate the horse industry on changes will be up to staff, who could be challenged by possible personnel cuts.

A one-year "transition program" will cut existing stables' new $300 application fee in half. Unless a stable falls under "use by right", it will automatically start at the public site plan review level, and move up the tier of necessary approvals as needed.

Proposal details

Previous coverage

The commissioners' hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. tonight, First Floor, Hearing Room, 200 West Oak Street, Fort Collins, Colorado.

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Bernice Ende: In it for the long ride

Bernice Ende: "Inspire others - be inspired." (Photo by Gregg Doster) 

On a road trip to McClelland’s Beach, Iowa, I made a sudden left at Oakland, Nebraska. The turn was enough of a surprise to leave Gregg grabbing at the hand grip above his door.

In my defense, Gregg did say he wanted to stretch his legs, and personally, I think serendipity was at work.

The box that carries Claire the Dog. (Photo by Gregg Doster)We turned again at a little park, and there in the middle of farm country, which rarely wastes space on horses, we found a woman, two horses, a dog, a trail-riding saddle, and a pack saddle. The little group was on a grazing break from their ride, which started in Austin, Texas. You read that right, Austin, Texas, 913 miles away.

Meet Bernice Ende, lady long rider.

To be technical about it, Bernice started in Montana, many years ago. This is her fourth loop around the country with her horses and dog, Claire.

Essie Pearl, the Norwegian Fjord pack horse, sports a custom fly mask. (Photo by Gregg Doster)A classical ballet teacher who also rides, Bernice came to a turning point in 2005, and decided if not now, when? She saddled up and headed out, leaving everything behind. Well, OK, except for the website dedicated to her efforts,

Bernice is not alone in this kind of quest. Check out the Long Riders’ Guild,, a group of “equestrian explorers”.

Putting in 20 or so miles a day, you do get a chance to see the country in a way you’ll never experience by car. “I take as many back roads as I possibly can, a lot of power line roads, railroad-track roads, forest service roads,” says Bernice.

Claire, and Essie Pearl, the Norwegian Fjord pack horse, have been with Bernice for 15,000 miles. Don't worry about Claire’s poor little dog pads. Claire did most of those 15,000 miles riding in a box on top of Essie Pearl’s pack.

Bernice pays special attention to the horses’ feet, too. They are shod with cleats that give themHart, the latest addition to the team, takes a grazing break. special traction and make their shoes last a long time. When the horses need a trim, Bernice pulls the shoes and resets them herself.

Bugs are the worst problem, and Bernice fights back with custom-cut bed sheets, customized fly masks, as well as garlic juice and Bag Balm “lathered all over their legs”. Personally, Bernice allows herself the luxury of the Tucker saddle, provided by the company, which she says has done a great job.

The Ende team suffered a heart-rending setback several months ago in Austin when penned together, Essie Pearl kicked Bernice’s veteran mount, a Thoroughbred mare, and broke the horse’s leg. The Thoroughbred had to be put down. Well-wishers stepped forward to offer Bernice many mounts, and she picked Hart, the big Paint. Hart is green, but says Bernice, “by the time I get back to Montana, Hart’ll be broke.”

Riding tens of thousands of miles requires hands-on horsemanship skills, and Bernice credits 4-H with teaching her the important stuff.

“4-H is not just an organization. It is an American tradition. It takes the study of something and makes it applicable,” said Bernice. “It was instrumental in giving me the whereClaire, a "rare breed of unknown origin". (Photo by Gregg Doster)withal to know how to do this.”

Bernice is in it for the long ride, and the lessons from the road. If she ever wrote a book (“I’ll get around to that some day.”), it would be about the “lessons of devotion and lessons of respect”, she learned through the special bond with her horses. “Respect yourself, and they will respect you,” says Bernice. “They’ll only trust you as much as you can trust yourself.”

The horses will occasionally lie down next to Bernice. Once, the Thoroughbred mare protected her from two hostile dBernice has high praise for her Tucker trail-riding saddle. (Photo by Gregg Doster)ogs. “She put her ears up and her head down, and just circled around me,” said Bernice.

Bernice dedicates all her rides to her mother, Cornelia Ende, who taught her daughter, “Live your life to inspire others, and you too shall be inspired.”"L

The people Bernice meets prove the truth of her mother’s words. “I just meet really good, kind people,” says Bernice. “If there’s a message in all this, it’s the goodness in our country. It’s an absolute miracle.”

If she happens to be in your town, Bernice does talks for pass-the-hat donations. You can check her website, mentioned above, for updates, or contact her at [email protected].

(Special thanks to Gregg Doster, who took the photos for this story.)

(Karin Livingston is a career 4-H horse leader. Winning Bet is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, stores, on the Kindle/iPad (use the Kindle store), and to librarians and retailers through the Ingram Book Group.)