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April 2011

'Working with horses, it's like, different than owning a cat'

Hobbes gets a few words of comfort mid-way on his "spin" to CSU Equine Center's parking lot, then back to Poudre River Stables, Fort Collins, Colorado. (Click photo to enlarge.)

On Easter Sunday, Gregg and I took another shot at getting Hobbes to go solo in our two-horse, straight-load, bumper-pull trailer. Hobbes is fine in our three-horse-slant gooseneck -- when he is with his friend, my Morgan gelding, Dell, but you can forget the two-horse trailer alone.

Contrary to Hobbes, I believe every horse should learn to travel solo in whatever carrier you choose. They might need to make an emergency run to the vet, go to a horse show alone, or live life without their friend.

It took hours of “friend” Dell loading by example, “friend” Dell standing nearby for moral support, the two of us reviewing Hobbes’ halter drills, backing, pivoting, giving any part of the body to pressure, and a turf-ownership review in the round pen. We punctuated the halter drills with attempted load-ups that promised grain at the end of the tunnel. Whenever Hobbes did something naughty his way, we assigned him another job our way. Hobbes reacts violently to the presence of whips, so force is not an option.

Hobbes’ real name is Sixes Daredevil, which as the story goes, he earned after jumping off a loading dock as a weanling. I wonder if this had something to do with his attitude toward the two-horse trailer, but we will never know.

As the sun began to pass overhead, Hobbes crept into the trailer. He “whoa’d” for our prescribed amounts of time, and backed out on command. Ten seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds: When Hobbes could load and whoa for at least a minute, we shut the back gate, started the truck, and took him for a spin – a nice, slow, peaceful spin.

Spanky was small, but ferociously built.

“You know, working with horses,” said Gregg as we drove home, “it’s like, different than owning a cat.”

Speaking of cats, we found our cat dead under the bed on Good Friday. No kidding. Spanky didn’t like to travel solo, either.

I cannot remember a barn cat before this little gray tabby, who wandered in to our workshop one February day more than 15 years ago. She was all ribs and had a blind, milky left eye. A client veterinarian blamed the eye on a fight. I could imagine other animals picking on this fistful of fur.


Spanky aced her barn cat job and dispatched many a mouse, but the next winter, she again pulled the pitiful card on a single-digit February day, and moved into our house. Spanky would still visit the barn as a volunteer, but preferred to spend her time as bed-lounger, confidant to my daughter, and oh yes, queen of the dogs.

As I said, Spanky didn’t like to travel either, and she outdid Hobbes in this department. Spanky would turn into a crazed maniac if you tried to put her in a carrier. Even if you wore gloves, you were in mortal danger because Spanky could wiggle out of any wrapped towel, knew exactly where to look for exposed skin, and didn’t care if it was your face or your neck. We learned to bring the vet and meds to her.

Spanky now rests under a rose bush. One little life passes, and another steps into the future.

Oh, and on working horses v. owning cats: 


  •  It’s a good thing cats don’t weigh 1,200 pounds.
  • They both like their faces scratched, just there, along the cheekbone.

Farewell, Spanky. Good job, Hobbes.

(Like this? Try 'Memo to boarders: Blood, sirens hay' -- This blog is available on the Kindle.)

Shields Street targeted: Widening, sidewalks, bike trails

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Shields Street users and property owners, hang on to your hats. Thanks to a $2 million grant awarded to Larimer County, improvements are headed our way, including widening Shields, adding sidewalks and bike lanes. Click the link to read the full Coloradoan story.

Links for people, groups involved in the story:

Rusty McDaniel, Asst. County Engineer

Helen Migchelbrink, city engineer

North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization

BlueMountain Free eCards

Wonderful thing on the way to the barn

Winning Bet front cover - Will Bonnie be sent to the slaughterhouse? - Available through AmazonWe have a new young client, and I ran into her and her father walking down one of our lanes to see their new horse the other day. These are exciting days when people begin their journey with $5.99 Flat Shipping
a new horse. They are especially exciting when that person is a young person. Horses light up children. In the middle of her glow, our young client turned to me and said, “Oh, by the way, I just read Winning Bet for like, the 11th time. It’s awesome! I love it!” Psychic income: You can't beat it - and it's tax-free!

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Get Winning Bet AR test for your school

Buying a horse: 14 questions you should ask

Get Winning Bet AR test for your school

Winning Bet Front Cover - Karin Livingston Readers: If enough of you request it, Renaissance Learning can write an Accelerated Reader test for Winning Bet that any "AR" school can use, and anybody -- not just librarians -- can request! (Accelerated Reader is the #1 reading practice software used by schools across the nation.) Just go to to make the request. Information you’ll need:
Title: Winning Bet
ISBN: 0-615-32165-8
Publisher: Ingram
Interest Level: Middle Grades Plus
Year Published: 2009

Winning Bet is also available on the Kindle. Happy Reading!

Wonderful thing on the way to the barn

$225 scam in 'Corporate Controllers Unit' letter

The Corporate Controllers Unit envelope, complete with 'official' seal and IRS-style dating at bottom right. Click photo to enlarge. I opened my mail this evening to find a letter from the Corporate Controllers Unit (500 17th Street, STE 2800 South, Denver, CO, 80202) demanding that I fill out my business information and send $225 per Colorado statutes, by April 15 as a potentially delinquent Limited Liability Corporation status filer. Thank you, Google, because I searched and quickly discovered that this is a scam. The envelope and letter mimic official government documents and cite statutory language to imply that this is an official demand. The LLC fee for the Colorado Secretary of State is only $10 if you file online and on time, which I had. The Boulder Daily Camera and Colorado's News 5 are just two of several organizations that have confirmed the scam in the last week. It is only when you get to the bottom of the letter that you find the this-is-an-offer disclaimer. Toss the letter out. Or maybe, send them Monopoly money. We're guessing their P.O. Box 46518, Denver, CO, 80201-6518 has been abandoned by now, but it would be fun to return the favor. Click on the photo to enlarge the picture. Click on the link below to read the letter.

The Corporate Controllers Unit letter

Saddle savvy: How much do you know?

SaddleSavvyGraphic copy

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

The 4-H Riding Advancement Levels make up an important part of any 4-H'ers Horse Project in our neck of the woods, and the annual county and state fairs emphasize an exhibitor's knowledge of horses. Sometimes, at open shows a judge may even break a tie with a horse knowledge question. Are you ready? How much do you know about saddles?

Our 4-H’ers also take written tests as part of their projects. In Colorado, the Written Test counts as a regular horse show class at both the county and state fairs horse shows. Easy points on any horse knowledge test include, among other things, parts of the saddle. In real life, you need to know your equipment terms so that if something breaks or doesn’t work right, you can call it something other than that “thingy” when describing the problem to your tack shop. This is also a great project if you’re enrolled in the $5.99 Flat Shipping

4-H Horseless Horse project. Click on the photo or the following text link to try our parts-of-the-saddle quiz. There are 35 “click-it” questions on English and Western saddles. You need 80% or better to pass. If you do pass, be sure to click the “Finish” button to get your printable achievement certificate. Have fun! Good luck!

If this quiz helped you, please:

Try our other horse quizzes!

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