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September 2010

Fractured skull: She vows to wear helmet next time

"I will definitely wear a helmet to show." -- Courtney King Dye, world class dressage rider, who suffered a fractured skull in March, and typed this message one-handed because an entire side of her body was paralyzed after a fall while riding her horse on the flat.

"As much as I'd like to compete with a helmet, I'm still arguing with myself." -- Steffen Peters, 2009 World Cup Champion dressage rider, riding in this year's World Equestrian Games.

Get the full story in this New York Times article.

We believe now more than ever in helmets. Read: Deadly Impact: Skull - 1; Helmet - 0

(Karin Livingston is a career 4-H leader specializing in horses and the author of the horse novel, Winning Bet, available in paperback and for e-readers.)

Let the (World Equestrian) games begin!

One of the downsides of most major television programming, at least for me, is that it has nothing to do with horses. I get so desperate for horses that I start critiquing the horse parts in movies. (I’ll write about some of those funnies later.) For now, you CAN get your horse fix this month with the World Equestrian Games, which believe it or not, will actually be (somewhat) covered by NBC. More fun: You can also log on to the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) network site or the World Equestrian Games site and watch live. NBC coverage starts Sunday morning, November 26. If you own Dish Network, or any of the other satellite providers, go to your account and search for “Equestrian”. This should give you all the possibilities for scheduling the games on your home television. I’ve attached what I got from Dish Network for the World Equestrian Games schedule here as a .pdf file. (To get an exact schedule, be sure to search for your regional schedule. This is for our zipcode.) Happy viewing!

(Karin Livingston is a career 4-H leader specializing in horses. An ad-free version of this blog is available on the Amazon Kindle and other e-readers through the Kindle store.)

Help 4-H win $500,000

JC Penney has a great Facebook promotion in which it asks people to vote for their favorite among four after-school charities the retailer sponsors. One of the four charities will win $500,000. Just go to, and either log in to your existing Facebook account, or create a new one. All you have to do is "like" the project, and then you'll be allowed to vote.

Go 4-H! 

Practice your 4-H test skills with our free quizzes -- earn a certificate!

(Karin Livingston is a career 4-H leader specializing in horses, and the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet.)


20 questions: How well do you know leads, diagonals?

Diagonals_Leads_Cover_Shot TEXT (Earn points and free badges at our sister site, Mane-U. We are mobile-friendly and love horse trivia.) 

Recently, we got a judge at a horse show who gave first place in our equitation class to a rider with gross lead and diagonal errors on the pattern. Worse, it happened in yet another class. Same horse. Same rider. These things happen, and maybe the judge forgot to wear glasses. You have to figure that days like this make up for that time you won a ribbon and didn’t really ride that well. Really though, everybody riding, judging or rating needs to have a firm grasp of leads and diagonals.

Good horsemen know where the horse’s feet are, and what those feet are doing. Judges, instructors, and raters in particular need to be able to see these things from a distance. Riders need to feel the differences for balanced and safer rides, in order to pass riding advancement levels tests, and yes, be more competitive.

How good are you at leads and diagonals? We offer 20 questions for you, and if you pass, you earn a certificate that you can print out. This is not just a quiz. It is a learning experience. You can watch the videos and take the quiz as many times as you want. Good luck! Click here, or on the photo to start.

If this quiz helped you, please:


Other quizzes:

Horse Safety: How do you rate?

Winning Bet: Reader's challenge

(Karin Livingston is a career 4-H leader specializing in horses, and the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet, available in hard copy and for e-readers.)

Animal Den - The Gift Shop for Animal Lovers!

Horse-lovers' wines: Gabbiano Chianti


Up there on my list of favorite things to do, other than riding a horse, is sitting down at the end of the day with a good glass of wine. I prefer reds, and just to make it fun, I like to keep an eye out for “horsey” wines. That is, wines with a horse somehow integrated into the label. Not exactly classic wine-tasting methodology, but I do enjoy the art. A favorite at our house is the Gabbiano Chianti.

The 2008 Chianti is shown here. On a chilly night, I open up a bottle of the Gabbiano, and taste the summer sun, warm grape skins, and the scent of the earth in which the grapes were grown. The Gabbiano Chianti is smooth and dry. It tastes best while concocting a batch of Rachael Ray’s Perfect Paella, listening to An Evening With Il Divo: Live In Barcelona, pondering the label’s colorful knight, and envisioning that next ride!
You might also enjoy: Wine Lovers on Horseback Canter, Slurp in Bordeaux

(Karin Livingston is the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet. This blog is also available for e-readers at the Amazon Kindle store.)

Buying a horse: 14 questions you should ask

The ever-helpful economy never seems to know what it's going to do these days, but if your life is relatively stable, this is a great time for your latest adventure -- buying a horse. Prices have never been better. (Parents, if you're thinking of buying a horse for your child, beware: There are some things you need to ask first.)

I've had some memorable moments shopping for horses. I once declared a prospect “toed out”, only to have my big mouth hit the grapevine. The horse’s irate owner called to say “that horse does NOT toe out”.

My personal favorite is the owner who whipped out a pistol and pulled the trigger as we stared, dumbfounded, at a possible mount for my daughter. The owner grinned and said, “See, bullet proof!” (The gun was loaded with blanks.) Seriously though, if you’re buying a horse, always take an expert, get a vet check, and phone ahead with these questions (Click the "questions" link for a printable page.)When I picked up my first horse, she flipped over backward as we novices tried to force her into the trailer with ropes and a whip. Then there was the lady who sank her spurs into my prospect. As he leaped away, she noted this horse’s great side-passing skills.

  1. Why is the horse for sale?
  2. Does the horse have any vices? (i.e., cribbing, biting, trailer shyness)
  3. How much has the horse been ridden during the past year?
  4. Who has ridden the horse the most — trainer, amateur, youth?
  5. How easy is the horse to handle after being turned out for a while and not ridden?
  6. What kind of equipment has been used?
  7. How much training has the horse received and in what areas?
  8. Where has the horse been stalled?
  9. What type of concentrates and roughage does the horse eat and what is its feeding schedule?
  10. What kind of health has the horse had during the past year?
  11. Has the horse ever had any colic episodes? Lameness?
  12. How often is the horse de-wormed and shod?
  13. How often has the horse been away from home and what is his behavior in different surroundings?
  14. How does the horse react when being shod, clipped or de-wormed?

(Karin Livingston is a career 4-H leader specializing in horses, and the author of the young-adult horse novel, Winning Bet, available in hard copy and on the Amazon Kindle.)