Horse Around New Mexico Sept Oct 2019

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New Mexico







Positive solutions. Positive motivation. Positive reinforcement. Curious about Positive Reinforcement Training for horses? Want to ride a truly “happy athlete” in competition?


Shawna Karrasch

Learn about the effectiveness of humane, science-based training skills to develop your horse’s motivation and trust. In our Weekend Clinics and Intensive Workshops at Terra Nova Equestrian Training Center, legendary trainer and equine behaviorist Shawna Karrasch will show you how to unlock the power of Positive Reinforcement with horses. Take home a new outlook and practical ways to truly address problems like trailer loading, spookiness, and far more. Your horse will love you for it! 2019 Weekend Clinic dates: May 3-5, September 13-15

2019 6-Day Intensive Workshop dates:

March 1-8, April 5-12, May 3-10, June 14-21, August 2-9, September 13-20, October 11-18 Web: Email: EVALYN BEMIS PHOTOGRAPHY 47 Ranch Road, Santa Fe, NM, USA Mailing Address: 7 Avenida Grande, #B7-504, Santa Fe, NM 87508 JANNEKE KOEKHOVEN


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Mark Meddleton DVM

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In every Health & Wellness issue of Horse Around New Mexico, I include writings about emotional and spiritual health, and here’s why. For most of my career I edited a magazine called Health For Native Life. I traveled around the country and interviewed Native Americans about their views of health and asked them how they stayed or became healthy. I learned that we have four aspects of health -- mind, body, spirit and emotion -- and to be truly healthy, each quarter needs to carry the same weight so we can achieve balance. I realized that I put most of my energy on building my physical and mental health and did little to nurture my emotional and spiritual health, which is so critical. That’s why there are emotional and spiritual health articles in this issue. Lynn Clifford, in her article on page 12, explains how we can become aware of our emotions and practice ways to keep them at levels that serve us and our horses in the best way. John McKenna, page 20, explores the spiritual nature of the horse and makes us aware that when we are with them we are closer to God. And Erica Hess and Joost Lammers, page 16, suggest that we can connect to our horses through a brief meeting of the eyes, that we can understand how they are feeling, and they, in turn, can feel “the weight of our thoughts.” In the past, when horsemanship went beyond physical mechanics and obvious results, I became skeptical. But thanks to many horse trainers and magazine contributors, I now clearly understand that horses indeed have emotions, much like mine -- anxiety, the desire to do well and contentment. I am also understanding we can communicate with each other softly with eye contact, breathing and connecting in the present moment. I am putting these teachings into practice and getting not just improved horse behavior but much joy. For example, my horse Lance has always balked at a property down the lane that has pigs, turkeys and dogs. My usual method of getting him past this involved urging him to go forward, making him do circles and disengaging his hindquarters. Then when he still refused, I dismounted and led him. When I rode him to the property recently, I was inspired by Erica and Joost's teachings, so I let him stop. I tried to listen to him, guess what he was feeling. I let him stand for as long as he needed. Then he flicked one ear back, slightly dropped his head and sighed. I petted him and asked him to walk on. We passed the critters calmly. For the next two hours I rode him in a new way. There was an exchange of responsibility. Sometimes I let him be the wise one and guide me, take the reins, lead the way. Other times, like when a pack of three dogs popped out of the woods and Lance froze, I was the leader, letting him access the situation, assuring him and not asking him to continue until he let me know he was willing and able. We rode that way in the Santa Fe National Forest. I thought about how important it is that I have humility when in the company of this great creature, an old soul for sure. At the same time, I needed to be nurturing, like the parent of a five-year-old child. I would not be the contented person I am today without Native American friends teaching me about the importance of balanced health. And, I could not have experienced the magic of riding in a state of awe and tenderness without the insights of horse trainers and equestrian friends. So many of my past beliefs about horsemanship have either been proven ineffective, or provided a stepping stone to the next, unforeseen level. I am so excited about learning what I don’t know.

Cecilia Kayano

Exciting journeys are in our future.



Subscriptions $30/YR MAIL CHECK TO:

HANM * PO BOX 367* PECOS * NM 87552 OR PURCHASE ONLINE AT: Well-written informative articles and high-resolution photos are welcome. Submissions will be considered and are subject to editing. The next issue, the Best of New Mexico Issue, appears at New Mexico outlets on November 1, 2019. The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2019. The deadline for ads is October 1, 2019. For information contact Cecilia Kayano, HANM Editor, 505-570-7377,,

Need more trail riding details, horsey events and equine inspiration? Check out our expanded Facebook page. Make sure to like us! COVER PHOTO: Elizabeth Cooke rides Zuni, a former entry in the Gimme Shelter – Trainers’ Rally for Rescues competition, during the event's alumni parade in Santa Fe. PHOTO BY EVALYN BEMIS.





8 Horsing Around Santa Fe Style

Experience three very different horse events with exciting photos and summaries


12 After An Accident

Steps to overcome fear and become a better equestrian

16 Rethinking Horsemanship

Two horse trainers provide food for thought and rethinking, from the role of dominance to the purpose of whips

20 The Big Holy Dog

A saddle maker contemplates the Divine by telling the story of a Navajo horse trainer

24 A Dressage Clinic To Remember How humor, skill and approachability enhanced learning

28 Ride Epic

Rides in the Valle Vidal and the Pecos Wilderness prove to be epic, and here's why

34 Safe In The Sun

Tips to keep you and your horse safe in the New Mexico sun


24 28

38 Horse Services Directory 38 Upcoming Horse Events

Horse Around New Mexico is printed five times per year: Mar/Apr, May/Jun, Jul/Aug, Sep/Oct, Nov/Dec. Submissions of articles and photos from all around NM are welcome! See our website or email/call for submission standards/deadlines:,, 505-570-7377. Horse Around New MexicoŠ2019. All rights reserved. Horse Around New Mexico and are copyrighted, trademarked, and the sole property of Cecilia Kayano. Individual content copyright belongs to the author. All the opinions expressed herein are the sole opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect bias or belief on the part of the editor, publisher, distributors, printer, advertisers, or other contributors.






We are a volunteer organization whose mission is to protect and preserve the back country by keeping trails open. We assist various government and private agencies in maintaining trails and horse camping areas in the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests. We teach common sense use and enjoyment of horses in the back country and wilderness. If you want to work to keep places open for horses and have some fun at the same time, please join us.

505.474.0494 FACEBOOK:2019BackCountryHorsemenOfSantaFeNM 6 HORSE AROUND | September/October |


Cameron Veterinary Clinic, in Eldorado, Santa Fe, offers two veterinarians and five clinic staff who are all devoted to providing the best care to your beloved horse or pet.

Andy Cameron, DVM, owns 3 horses for mounted search and rescue and wilderness packing.

Allison Otis, DVM, owns 2 horses for trail riding and ranch work.

505.466.1540uCAMERONVETERINARYCLINIC.COM | September/October 2019 | HORSE AROUND


Horsing Around Santa Fe Style

Spectators congratulate Chenoa McElvain and her horse Wallstreet RC for their win at the Fiesta Week Grand Prix at Hipico Santa Fe. The venue never fails to provide a festive atmosphere. | July/August 2019 | HORSE AROUND


Santa Fe is a community that has a long and proud connection to equines. From the tough little horses brought by the Spanish conquistadors in their search for New World gold, the mules that carried Archbishop Juan Bautista Lamy from San Antonio to Santa Fe by wagon in 1851, to the modern-day diversity of horse breeds from American-bred Quarter Horses to imported Warmbloods, we love them all. Here is a glimpse of three horse events that celebrated horses, horse sports and their human connections. ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY EVALYN BEMIS

Gimme Shelter – Trainers’ Rally for Rescues

Hipico Santa Fe – Summer Series

Elizabeth Cooke brought her former THS horse Zuni to participate in the alumni parade held during the lunch break. (See cover photo.) During the parade, Zuni and her daughter Zia (one of this year's Gimme Shelter horses) recognized each other. A lot of whinnying ensued between them.

You might imagine Chenoa McElvain has an insider's advantage showing her horses at Hipico, being the daughter of Guy and Sharon McElvain, co-owners of Hipico Santa Fe with Brian and Phyllis Gonzales. Actually it can sometimes be a lot harder to win on your home turf, partly due to distractions and partly because of expectations. Chenoa earned her blue ribbon in the $30,000 Fiesta Week Grand Prix the old-fashioned way – keeping all the rails up and putting the fastest time on the clock. Her many fans in the crowd of spectators were happy for her win on Wallstreet RC, her long-time partner.

The sixth annual edition of Gimme Shelter was held at the Santa Fe Rodeo arena, showcasing what seven trainers had accomplished in 100 days with young rescue horses from The Horse Shelter. The horses were selected by a lottery from a pool of horses prepared by volunteers at THS and left with their trainers in April to begin new lives under saddle. By the middle of July they were ready to show off their skills in friendly competition, at the conclusion of which they were all available for adoption.

TOP: Brody Provence rides Zia in the freestyle show of Gimme Shelter – Trainers' Rally for Rescues event at the Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds. BOTTOM: Chenoa McElvain on Wallstreet RC demonstrates the focus and form that won the $30K Fiesta Week Grand Prix at Hipico Santa Fe in August.

Elizabeth had already been considering bidding on Zia but maybe the mother/ daughter display was what put her over the top and now the little family lives happily together again.

10 HORSE AROUND | September/October 2019 |

Four weeks of back-to-back horseshowing might seem like work to some, but not to the crowd that escapes to Santa Fe from the hot days of Texas and Arizona, and the cold nights of Colorado. In fact, there were riders from as far as Tennessee and Florida, and everyone really seemed to love the great party that Hipico puts on. With multiple arenas, professional show management in place, and facility owners who are exhibitors themselves, this venue is making a name for itself as a premier show grounds.

Charles Padilla sorts a calf and Zia Reato runs barrels at Clint Mortenson's National Day of the Cowboy event.

National Day of the Cowboy

Santa Fe’s version of this national celebration of all things cowboy and western is produced by Clint Mortenson and held at his ranch and arena off Hwy. 14 on the fourth Saturday in July. Kids had an egg-and-spoon race, there was

barrel racing and trick-riding, cowboy polo and demonstrations of ranch skills. Charles Padilla put his lovely Quarter Horse mare, SeĂąorita, to work sorting a calf out of the bunch and holding it away from the herd, all the while riding with the lightest touch of the reins.

Zia Reato took a turn at running the barrels and was bested only by her ranch boss, Clayton Stambaugh, the master of the dash for cash.


Evalyn Bemis is a photojournalist and lifelong equestrian. View her photos online by searching Evalyn Bemis Photography. | September/October 2019 | HORSE AROUND


After an Accident

Steps to Overcome Fear and Become a Better Equestrian



et’s face it, horse-related accidents happen all too often, no matter how careful we may be. Ranging from mild to severe, from a bruise to a life-altering injury — they are almost always painful for the rider and not just physically. To varying degrees, we are affected mentally and emotionally as well as physically. Some people are impacted in a significant way by a seemingly small accident, while others can shrug off even a large accident like it was nothing. An accident can also make us question the quality of our relationship with our horse. The rider may have thought this horse was safe or would take care of them. Now they’re questioning if this is the right horse for them, or if they should even be riding at all! These are normal, healthy questions.

Take the reins on your self-regulation

While I prefer to prevent accidents as much as possible, I also believe that an accident can be an incredible opportunity to become a better equestrian on every level. From my perspective as a professional horse woman and licensed therapist, the key is to avoid the urge to bypass your nervous

Here are some tips for evaluating whether you will get back in the saddle again and if so, how you might do it in a mindful way:

Now identify another number, the one that feels ideal to you if you were in a perfect awake and aware conscious state but not anxious or scared to the point of checking out. This is your reference to use throughout the process of re-connecting after the accident, first with yourself, then eventually with your horse. _____ INNER ANXIETY GOAL

Start with identifying your inner climate/ energy/intensity level right this moment on a scale of 1-10, 10 being very escalated and 1 being extremely calm. Note that being extremely calm sometimes means you are checked out or disassociated. This is not a safe state and I suggest getting professional support and perspective to work through that. _____ INNER CLIMATE AT THIS MOMENT

Once you have these two numbers, practice identifying your number in numerous non-horse related situations. Try it while driving your car, running late for an appointment, standing in line, eating a meal, having a conversation with someone. Many find this exercise very insightful and informative. I suggest you use this tool extensively so that it becomes natural for you. The benefits are

system and re-create trauma. Re-creating trauma isn’t healthy — not for you, not for your horse, and certainly not for the connection between the two of you.

12 HORSE AROUND | September/October 2019 |

Even the most accomplished riders have fearful moments on a horse. Some shrug it off and get back in the saddle while others may never consider riding again. There are step-by-step ways to diminish fear and start trusting your horse and yourself again. PHOTO BY EVALYN BEMIS. | September/October 2019 | HORSE AROUND


Even though an accident may have been caused by rearing, for example, moments leading up to a possible rear can ignite fear. PHOTO BY EVALYN BEMIS.

to self-regulate and reach a state of safety and calm consistently and repeatedly. You will be re-programing your neural pathways and literally changing your brain and nervous system to be calmer and more centered.

Three steps to be calmer around your horse and in your in life

Identify the trigger

I had a client whose anxiety trigger was mounting. While the actual horse accident happened well into her ride and seemed unrelated to mounting, even to consider getting back up on the horse created anxiety.

You can extend this practice to your riding life by experimenting with the following three steps:

We worked with simply approaching the mounting block, then backing off because her energy/stress number would escalate. After a few repetitions, she reached a calm-enough state to step up on the mounting block.

1. Put yourself near the situation that causes you mild stress—mounting for example. Be aware of your inner climate number. When your number goes down and you feel ready, move a little closer to the stressful situation. 2. Move further away from the anxietycausing situation, i.e. release pressure, like you would with a horse.

We did this exercise many times, in multiple sessions. Eventually her nervous system started to re-set, her energy/ stress number lowered, and she felt empowered because she was consciously choosing every step. After a while, she could stand on the mounting block while the horse was there, then get on and ride.

3. If you’re not sure whether moving closer or further feels better, become even more curious and try both in mini steps. Using a scale like this can help you determine your anxiety levels throughout your day. ILLUSTRATION BY ALICE GRIFFIN. 14 HORSE AROUND | September/October 2019 |

The riding portion turned out not to be as big a deal as the mounting, but guess what would have happened if we had bypassed this part? She would have taken all the unresolved stress up into the saddle with her, and both she and her horse would have felt the effects.

Build self trust

Sometimes the release of pressure needs to be tiny and incremental to transform anxiety into calm empowerment. Take the time it takes. The key is to stay connected with yourself in that ideal number range. Practice these steps: • Breathe into the belly. Put your hand on you belly to feel this type of breathing.

Often there are trigger moments that seem unrelated to the actual accident. It is difficult, if not impossible, to overcome fear if you don't address your triggers.

• Do a full body scan. Have compassion and curiosity for yourself. There is no good or bad here. Be willing to be surprised at what shows up! • Feel how you actually feel. Slow down enough to really notice. And if that doesn’t feel safe, then just feel it a little bit. Often what happens with my clients is that when they become truly present with the sensation or feeling, it dissipates or dissolves. Another way of saying this is, “What we resist, persists.” It is very natural to harbor grief for the loss of the romantic stories or hopes for the future. You may also be holding onto anger for the pain and suffering or for the break in trust between you and your horse. Honestly feeling these emotions is the first step in healing. Feel how you want to feel while avoiding the temptation to fake it until you make it by pushing through actual feelings in an incongruent fashion. Most horses will sense this a mile away and it makes them feel very unsafe. In essence, you are lying. Instead incrementally feel how you want to feel, perhaps starting with just one body part at a time, until you reach a state of safety and relaxation. Take. It. Slow. Take. It. Kindly. And then slower and kinder still if needed.

Increase anxiety awareness

Practice these steps when you greet and work your horse. Know that safety is created through rhythmic, repetitive, patterned behavior. If you’ve had an accident, you are most likely bringing stored anxiety into your relationship with your horse. Rate your anxiety level from 1-10 in these situations: ____ ARRIVING AT THE BARN ____ APPROACHING YOUR HORSE ____ PREPARING TO RIDE ____ GETTING ON YOUR HORSE

(Don't) tell your story

It is very likely that friends and acquaintances will ask questions. There’s a human fascination with tragedy and often people are very unaware that reliving your experience on demand is not supportive. What happened? What about your horse? Will you be riding again? When will you be riding again? It’s important that you find ways to avoid triggering your accident-related trauma/ stress every time someone asks you a question. Come up with a one-sentence accident story that will satisfy their curiosity without triggering stress and continuing the conversation in-depth, something to satisfy and shut it down such as, “We had a lot of good days and one really bad day,” or, “Thank you for asking, but I’m not ready to talk about it.” To prepare for the questions about if and when you will ride, have a brief reply ready: “Doctor says I shouldn’t ride again for six months,” or “We’ve gone back to basics for a while, but I look forward to joining you when I’m ready,” or “Thanks. I’ll let you know.”

Reset and forgive

Use your physical rehab time to work on your insight, perspective and skills. An accident is truly an opportunity to hit the reset button! You can step back and ask yourself how horses have fit into your life in the past and how you want them in your life in the future. Forgiveness can play a large role in whether you are ready to move on or not. Consider making a list of resentments— towards your horse, your friends, your trainer, your barn mates, that day, life— really let yourself go for it! Then consider what you gain from this resentment. Then consider what you are losing by holding on to this resentment. Ask yourself if your behavior patterns and long-held resentments serve you well. Or do they keep you stuck? Upon reflection, you may be surprised that they do not serve you well. By changing thoughts and behaviors, the unfortunate occurrences in our lives can be revealed as life-enhancing gifts.


Lynn Clifford is a third generation professional equestrian and licensed therapist. Call 505-231-5353 or email

Get professional perspectives

Sometimes it’s very beneficial to ask for help! Ask your doctor and/or physical therapist. Will you be able to ride again, and when can you safely expect to get back in the saddle? Check in with your coach, counselor, therapist or a trusted loved one—how has the accident affected you mentally and emotionally? Do you have fear issues or other trauma? PTSD-type symptoms are very common. How will you address them? When? Remember there is no time like the present to begin healing of body, mind and emotions. | September/October 2019 | HORSE AROUND




here is a movement across the globe to dramatically change how we relate to horses. It involves letting go of the idea of being the dominant one in the herd. It requires us to focus not on the correction we think a horse needs, but on every positive thing the horse is doing. Erica Hess and Joost Lammers, who operate Heart of the Horses in Santa Fe, practice this type of horsemanship. You may be at a point in your horsemanship where you want a more thoughtful, deeper way. But hold your horses, some of these ideas will undo almost everything you have learned. Be open to these new ideas and something akin to magic may await your relationship with your horse. Here are snippets that will get you thinking...


Joost: The most important thing in horsemanship is to have a relationship with your horse instead of just a rope and whip to be dominant. Usually dominance is just an expression of anxiety. Erica: I had to let go of dominating the horse and replace it with the idea of being exactly what the horse needs to feel good. This is how we can become important to them. It is not about coddling them, it’s about transmitting joy, love, safety and confidence. Ultimately, it’s always about working on myself.


J: In the book, The Little Prince, about a prince and a fox, it says that if you tame an animal, then you are responsible for that animal. It is my job to teach a horse, to show him what I am asking, to help him find the right path. Because we tamed them, we need to show up every day and engage the horse. Show up at the same time every day so the horse can anticipate your arrival with joy.

E: We are responsible for helping the horse find relaxation and feel good.

Purpose of whips

E: We use the whip to extend our energy. Horses are horizontal. We are vertical. When we extend our horizontal space, we become more like a horse. I create a bigger presence, a bigger me, so I have more energy to communicate. I like to think of it as my magic wand.


E: Instead of asking, ‘How can I get the horse to respect me,’ we need to ask, ‘How can I respect the horse? I will look for the politest way to ask for what I need and will be sure to be very consistent and clear. J: Instead of thinking about discipline and correction, think about letting the feeling of goodness stream out of you into your horse. Be consistent and be present.

16 HORSE AROUND | September/October 2019 |

Erica Hess with her horse Dancer at Heart of the Horses Sanctuary in Santa Fe. Erica and Joost Lammers operate the training and instruction facility. Visit PHOTO BY NIR ARIELLI.


E: The only tool I have to use with my horse is our strong connection. I don’t use whips for correction or a lead line to yank on. In a microsecond of eye contact, I can see our connection. I can see the horse feel the weight of my thoughts.


E: I have had intense fear. I learned that the most merciful thing I can do for a horse is to climb out of the fear and be there for

Exercise to diminish fear

the horse, make him more precious than the fear. Instead of focusing on your feeling of being afraid, ask yourself, ‘How can I help this horse?’ I overcome my fear by staying curious and honest enough to find the actual cause. I can’t push the fear away or it just gets bigger. Most of the time the fear just needs to be acknowledged. I learned that doubt happens right before fear. And when doubt wells up, I ask the horse to look at me for a brief moment, to connect with me. And the doubt goes away.

When you start to feel doubt or fear, ground yourself. Imagine you are growing a long, sturdy tap root, a root that goes deeply into the Earth, into an artesian spring. Breathe into the root and bring its energy up to and through you. Have this energy give birth to a tree that grows from your head and reaches to the heavens. Nurture a feeling of joy and ease within yourself and share it with your horse.


Cecilia Kayano is the editor of Horse Around New Mexico magazine. She can be reached at HorseNewMexico@ | September/October 2019 | HORSE AROUND


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henever I swing my leg over the back of a horse, a certain peace comes over me. I can’t help but feel that my probably illiterate ancient pagan Celtic ancestors felt the same when mounting up. And though I’m not riding like my ancestors, that is, looking for the warrior’s glory, I can’t help but think that this animal was designed for me by the Great Spirit to sit on, care for and yes, utilize!

20 HORSE AROUND | September/October 2019 |

And so, I ponder the spiritual nature of the horse/human relationship and wonder if the equine is a gift to us from the Divine. Can our time with these animals bring us, if not answers to the great questions of existence, at least joy and peace? Even more than that, when riding them in a natural setting, are we in the midst of the answers even if we cannot articulate them? Is this great gift of the horse provided as a way for some lucky humans to get closer to God?

On my third visit to the prison I told the young man that, being from New Mexico, I was partial to Spanish names so I would name him Cisco. He smiled and agreed that it was a name that fit the horse.

The Lakota word for horse

The two were together for three months, and when I went to pick up the horse I asked the trainer, who had done an excellent job, how he had come to know horses. He looked at me with surprise and said, “Grandfather trained me.” I then asked him what the word for horse is in the Lakota language. I remember that he looked at me for a second as if it was privileged information and then said, “Shunka Wakan.” I repeated it a couple of times and then I said, “So, that’s the word for horse?” He replied, “No, it actually means ‘Big Holy Dog.’”

The gift

He then explained that when the Lakota first saw the horse, it was from a distance and they thought the horse was just a very large dog. When they saw people riding them, they realized they, too, could ride them and hunt buffalo and use them for other things and so they began to see them as a gift from Wakan Tanka, the Lakota term for the Divine.

John McKenna pauses to absorb the view of gypsum formations near the Continental Divide. This area can be accessed via Starrynight Guest Ranch, Llaves, New Mexico. A young Lakota Indian horse trainer may have supplied me with the answers to these questions.

Adopting mustangs

Several years ago, I adopted six mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management Horse and Burro Program at the prison in Canon City, Colorado. I got to know some of the inmates who were assigned to train the horses I picked out.

My last horse was a thick, stout, fleabitten gray that looked like he was built more for rodeo rough stock than trail riding. Assigned to work with him was a young Lakota man from one of the northern Indian reservations. He was a tall, good-looking kid with a long black ponytail. He loved the horse I’d chosen and wanted to know what I was going to name him.

When we loaded Cisco in my trailer my young Lakota friend’s eyes began to tear up. He asked me if he could step in the trailer and say goodbye. After kissing Cisco on the nose, he stepped off the trailer and I explained that Cisco was only going down to New Mexico, that he would be well cared for and that I would be riding him all through the mountains there. He smiled, wiped back the tears and let him go. He had transformed this wild, kicking beast into a beautiful saddle horse. There we were, two American men, both of us experiencing the soul-filling quality of “The Big Holy Dog,” a gift from Wakan Tanka.


John McKenna is a saddle maker specializing in Dressage and trail saddles. Visit | September/October 2019 | HORSE AROUND




I’ve had my McKenna trail

saddle for one year, and it has

Four Corners Equine Rescue, located in Aztec, NM, has been giving horses second chances for over 13 years. Please come visit us to see our herd of adoptable horses. Check out our website to find out how you can make life better for horses by volunteering, adopting, sponsoring, or making a taxdeductible donation.

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Kathrin Hain rides Accentia, a Swedish Warmblood mare owned by Pembroke Farms. Inset: Jeremy Steinberg gives a demonstration of how he wants the horse’s legs to swing across her body as she is asked for a side pass to the right.

24 HORSE AROUND | September/October 2019 |

A Dressage clinic to remember How humor, skill and approachability enhanced learning ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY EVALYN BEMIS


comedic sense of timing and a potty mouth are not two things one normally associates with an international Dressage clinician. Nor does having a boatload of tattoos seem the usual fare. Jeremy Steinberg quickly put his riding students and his audience at ease by bringing those elements into his teaching method. Don’t suppose for a minute, though, that he’s not very serious and fully focused on helping improve the riders and their horses when he occasionally drops the f-bomb. Eleven accomplished riders brought their very nice horses to Hipico Santa Fe to work with Jeremy in a two-day clinic sponsored by Hell Canyon Farm in June. Some were repeat attendees of Steinberg’s and some were first timers. All ended their sessions with happy faces and visibly better-educated animals. | September/October 2019 | HORSE AROUND


Jeremy greets Kathrin’s second horse, Pavatea, after commenting that the mare is one he would gladly have in his barn.

Giving clear goals

As we watched a rider struggle to settle her wiggly, hyped-up horse, Jeremy explained that the consistency of energy output and steadiness in the frame equaled relaxation. The rider was encouraged to seek the “most fuel-efficient burn,” going at a good pace that feels easy. The horse should answer Yes Ma’am! to whatever is being asked of him. Otherwise the rider is supplying 40% of the work (motivation, holding the horse’s balance, etc.), while the horse is giving only 60%, and the purpose of the exercise will not be achieved.

Explaining three things a horse needs

Jeremy, a FEI High Performance rider, trainer and instructor, and former USEF Youth Dressage Coach, paid particular attention to the conformation of the horses as they individually warmed up in the first five minutes of their session with him. He explained three aspects of every horse that can be influenced by training: how they are put together, how they move and their temperament. The first two elements are the most possible to influence through correct training.

Showing how it’s done

As an example, Jeremy evaluated a horse with a long neck and thick jowl which might make it more difficult for him to carry his head on the vertical. Jeremy suggested the horse be ridden so that the crown piece of his bridle could be seen by the rider, i.e. head up allowing the nose to go a little forward. To accomplish this, he encouraged the rider to take a steady contact with the bit and to work right away in the sitting trot, pushing the

horse forward into the contact, and use a little flexing of the bit with a soft hand to invite the horse to bring his nose up and out. As the outline of the horse improved, his hind legs came more under him, increasing his ability to move in selfcarriage. With correct riding, the horse will eventually develop the muscling to be comfortable in this frame. The goal is not to look “correct” at this stage but rather to be able to easily carry the rider and be responsive to the rider’s aids as the pair train up the levels. Over time, the horse will be able to carry his nose on the vertical.

Keeping your attention with colorful comments

Jeremy made many pithy comments, such as, “I don’t negotiate with terrorists.” It would be easy to misconstrue his meaning if you weren’t watching the entirety of his coaching. For instance, in this remark he was talking to a rider whose horse tried many ways to evade staying straight on the track and steady in the bit.

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Getting results including horse and rider happiness

This was a clinic in which it was quite easy to see the effects of the training on the horse’s way of going. It was not a clinic for beginners but rather one that helped already knowledgeable riders refine the feeling they were getting from their horses and find the best means of improving them. One rider exclaimed happily that she had never felt such a round, swinging canter from her horse and she was going home excited to work on reproducing that feeling. It was also a clinic that was very useful to audit, as the connection between cause and effect was obvious. When Jeremy suggested a lot of walk/canter transitions for one horse that was heavy on the forehand, it was clear how much this taught the horse to shift weight to his hindquarters. Once the horse was in that frame, the rider could sit quietly and be more tactful with her reins, rather than trying to lift the horse’s head and neck.

The roles of conformation, movement and temperament in horse training


It has been said that the ideal horse can be split into approximately equal thirds. The most critical third is the middle of the horse, the length of its back, as measured from the high point of the withers to the high point of the croup. The head and neck, and the hindquarters, should be roughly the same length as the back. Too much of a front third will make the horse heavy on the forehand, with the effect of seeming to fall forward and down. A short head and neck can cause the horse to brace against the rider’s hand. Too long of a back will make the horse susceptible to injury and produce a bouncy trot that is difficult to sit, rather like riding a trampoline. Too short of a back can be jarring like sitting on

a rail and will decrease the horse’s ability to be supple in lateral movements. Shortened hindquarters may mean a reduced motor and pushing power and cause more strain on the leg joints.

These are general rules of thumb. Horses have defied one or more of these characteristics to become superior athletes and champions. Bruce Davidson famously won the 1978 Eventing World Championships on a horse called Might Tango, an American-bred OTTB that Bruce said would never have passed a veterinary inspection when he found him. The gelding had no jumping experience yet popped over a 5’ vertical when Bruce was trying him out. With good care and expert training, the horse enjoyed a long and successful career, and died at age 24 at Bruce’s Chesterland Farm.


There are so many factors that contribute to how a horse moves, such as breeding, prior use, injuries, biomechanical structures, conditioning and health. Suffice it to say that most horses’ gaits can be improved through proper training and exercise but will always be limited by the basic package. For instance, if you own a gaited breed such as Walking Horse, Fox Trotter or Icelandic, you can’t very well expect to perform a Grand Prix Dressage test on that individual no matter how much you might want it. But if your horse has a good, swinging walk, but perhaps a less-than ground-covering trot, it is reasonable to expect that with good training and suppling you can teach your horse to open that trot stride and increase the airtime and reach of it.


Temperament is perhaps the most intrinsic element in how a horse presents himself and the least changeable. Hot breeds such as Arabians and Thoroughbreds may pose a challenge in the limited confines of a 20 x 60 meter Dressage ring but be imminently suitable for running and jumping. A Warmblood may be the perfect horse to trail ride one day and show jump the next. Again, there is no firm rule that dictates what kind of horse you have, but as they say, knowledge is power. Good training is good training and any horse can be improved in how it goes and how it accepts that training. The more you understand why your horse moves the way he does and his attitude to the training, the more enjoyable and successful your time together will be.

Teaching with skill and humor

There was nothing particularly new to any of the exercises that Jeremy used. Rather it was having the eye to see what would best serve horse and rider in that moment of their training and the skill to convey it in understandable terms. Perhaps by being slightly uncouth and funny, and very approachable, Jeremy was heard by everyone in a relaxed way and they all got something to take home and practice before his next visit to New Mexico.


Evalyn Bemis is a photojournalist and lifelong equestrian. View her photos online by searching Evalyn Bemis Photography.

Clinic organizer Maureen Mestas warms up her Warlander gelding Apollo over ground poles to help him discover a steady rhythm in the trot. | September/October 2019 | HORSE AROUND


The Valle Vidal in northern New Mexico is home to the state's largest elk herds. This one of 250 head was spotted near La Belle Creek. PHOTO BY LURAE IVERSON. 28 HORSE AROUND | September/October 2019 |




Riding up to Clayton Camp in the Valle Vidal. THIS AND FOLLOWING PHOTOS BY CECILIA KAYANO.

hat makes a ride epic? Is it the length, the difficulty, the beauty? Recently I rode in the Valle Vidal two days in a row. The first ride was very nice. The second ride was epic. Afterwards I compared rides and tried to pinpoint the qualities of rides that make them extraordinary, rides of a lifetime. Here are two rides I consider epic and the reasons why.

Valle Vidal Clayton Camp/ La Belle Lodge

Six of us rode from Cimarron Campground to Clayton Corrals, then headed down an old road into the Valle Vidal. We stayed right and rode along a fence line to a canyon, then down another old road to the Clayton Camp. Boy Scouts were repairing the road around the house. This is where the ride turned from nice to epic.

We wanted to find historic La Belle Lodge and had spotted it in the distance from the canyon. We knew we had to ride west then north. We went off trail and found ourselves on a sweeping grassy hillside that stretched to the northwest. It was similar in feeling to the big valley, only tilted. I think when you are riding your dream horse on a huge expanse of grassland with mountains in the distance, your soul cannot help but to expand. Horse,

30 HORSE AROUND | September/October 2019 |

body and soul want to take flight. The separation between ourselves and the earth and air and heavens gets blurry. We became silent as epic-ness took hold. We could see the rock edges of the canyon we had passed through, so we knew the lodge would be ahead of us in an inset near the trees. As each possible place came into view, there was no lodge. At last we crested a hillside and there it was, not the lodge, but a herd of 250 elk grazing in the valley of La Belle Creek.

La Belle Lodge with elk herd in the distance. Earlier, on that grassy tilt, Joan had put it out to the universe, “I ask to see elk today,” and there they were. Request granted. We watched in silence broken with only the same word, over and over, wow! The elk lifted their heads when they heard us and started walking then running towards the trees. We didn’t want to make them run, so we didn’t move. They looked like a grulla-colored school of fish making its way against a current. The newborn calves needed to rest, so the elders encircled them. Calves and mommas crying—wind over grass—wow. If anything can distract you from finding a lodge, it’s a herd of elk. We could have turned back there and been very content with our ride, but then we noticed it near the tree line, La Belle Lodge. It was a small two-storied structure with a faded

red metal roof. Days after the ride Stacy said, “They called that a lodge!” Granted, it was more like a cottage than a lodge, small but captivating enough to get us thinking about had gone on behind those white walls. We didn’t spend any time at the structure because we didn’t want to further stress the elk. Our route back to Clayton Camp was new and cross country and included a steep decline. A few of us wanted to attempt a route that disappeared over a ledge, but Lisa, our voice of reason, literally talked us off the ledge and down a gentler, predictable angle. We rode past the still-working Boy Scouts then passed through a shorter canyon back to the big valley.

The History of La Belle Lodge The town of La Belle once had over 1000 residents, most of them gold miners from 1894-1910. The town had stores, saloons, hotels and a newspaper called the La Belle Cresset which published between 18941898. All the original structures are gone, but La Belle Lodge, built in the 1950s, indicates where the town stood. According to a handdraw map of the Keystone Mining District, the lodge is located near what was the center of town. If you explore the nearby woods, be watchful as there are hundreds of mining shafts and small prospect pits. There are also remains of a chimney which was most likely a cabin or house. | September/October 2019 | HORSE AROUND


Pecos Wilderness, Trailriders Wall/ Truchas Lakes

My friends from Oklahoma led me up to Truchas Lakes, a longtime goal of mine. Monsoon season had just begun, and we awoke to clouds. The trail we were going to ride would take us across Trailriders Wall, 12,000 feet above sea level. You can never predict the weather on the wall. Sometimes it’s calm at Jack’s Creek Campground with 50 MPH+ winds on the wall. I looked up and asked Bob, “What do you think it’s doing up there?” No one knows.

TOP: Clouds rolling over Trailriders Wall in the Pecos Wilderness. BOTTOM: Entering a big bowl of rocks on the trail south of Truchas Lakes. 32 HORSE AROUND | September/October 2019 |

We had boots in the stirrups at 8:00 AM then rode through low clouds to Pecos Baldy Lake. When we crested on the south side of the wall, the clouds formed a curtain concealing Truchas Peaks. On the north side of the wall, the clouds met

the earth and drifted across the trail in the distance, making our location seem more formidable. We walked in and out of the misty silence. At the end of the wall there was a marked junction with the South Azul Trail. Three times prior I had ridden to this point and looped backed to Jack’s Creek Campground using three different routes. I was keenly aware that I was riding into new territory. As we exited the wall, we were greeted by a field of shockingly green California corn lilies. Our course continued to change, from verdant foliage to dusty white talus and VW bug-sized boulders. Our horses carried us in and out of bowls filled with rocks. The silhouette of a lone mountain sheep kept an eye on us from the Truchas Ridge. The trail became gentler -- dirt single track lined with mixed conifer. In two miles we arrived at the largest of the two lakes, set in a cirque below North Truchas Peak. The clouds were lifting and the air warmed.

The blue skies held during our 12-mile ride back. Near Pecos Baldy Lake, Bob’s horse’s shoe twisted sideways. D’Anna quickly produced a Leatherman tool but could not get the shoe off, so she dug through her pack, produced a hoof boot and strapped it on. We continued down on tired horses, hardly saying a word. Back at Jack’s Creek Campground we unsaddled and put gear away. Right then the rain started.

Qualities that made the rides epic

Both of these rides were epic, and here’s why. They were challenging and had unknown elements, maybe even some magic or divine gifts. The elk grazing and running along La Belle Creek were

A field of California corn lilies with the Truchas Peaks ridge in the distance. definitely a gift from the heavens. Clouds at our fingertips and the sheep sentinel on the ridge during the Truchas Lakes ride, also gifts. Cindy, who rode to Truchas Lakes said, “Epic rides have big challenges. Our ride had the challenges of weather, distance and high elevation. Horses add an element as well. Bob’s horse was losing a shoe, and we had to get together and figure out what types of tools we had to address it. The boot came off a few times, so that added to the challenge.”

You can’t say, let’s go on an epic ride today. You never know. The rides I have deemed to be epic all had deeply satisfying outcomes, with no major injury or tragedy. The entire ride is ingrained in my heart and soul, with not just words, but with a distinct feeling. Although I ride so many times a year on different trails with different people that most of the details of the rides get jumbled or forgotten, I can vividly remember every aspect of epic rides. They are indelible, grand stories worthy of being told over and over.

The word epic is derived from the ancient Greek adjective, epikos, which means a poetic story. In literature, an epic is a long narrative poem, which is usually related to heroic deeds requiring unusual courage and unparalleled bravery. Cecilia Kayano is the editor of Horse Around New Mexico magazine. She can be reached at | September/October 2019 | HORSE AROUND


We returned on the same trail, but because the clouds had dissipated, it looked brand new. There was a moment on the wall that my Kentucky Mountain Horse, Lance, just had to do a slow canter. D’Anna joined me on her Rocky Mountain Horse, Maverick. Our flight on top of the wall was brief but exhilarating.



Paige Brandon rode her horse, Grey Goose, in the Galisteo Basin Preserve. They stopped for water at a trough near the Cowboy Shack Trailhead. Goose not only had a long drink of water, he enjoyed a bite of grass. PHOTO BY PAIGE BRANDON.

34 HORSE AROUND | September/October 2019 |

f New Mexico is known for anything, it’s the sunshine all year around -- 350 days of sunshine with fewer than ten days of rain! It’s beautiful! But that can cause problems like heatstroke and other ailments. Equestrians throughout New Mexico have problems fighting the sunshine in order to ride. I’m a high school student and have been working/interning with Enchantment Equitreks (an Edgewood-based trail riding business) for a couple of years now. When we take clients out on the trails in the sunshine, we must be extra careful to keep everyone safe. Here are some of the tips I’ve gathered along the way:

• Wear layers. I know that your instinct is to wear as minimal clothing as possible when it’s hot out. However, layers protect your skin from direct sunlight and ultimately keep you cooler. They keep you warm when the sun isn’t up yet but can easily be removed to cool you off. Cowboy scarves, long sleeved, cotton or breathable shirts and jackets are the perfect items. • Wear a hat, sunglasses, lip balm and lots of sunscreen. If you are riding a palomino, gray or white horse, put sunscreen on their sensitive areas. • Bring lots of water with you. Pack a couple insulated water bottles to keep your water from getting hot in the sun and drink from them often, before you get thirsty.

• Go on shorter rides in the early morning or in the evening, instead of all-day rides. • Ride alongside a river or creek like the Rio Grande, the Pecos or the San Juan. • Ride trails around Sandia Peak, the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, the Gila Forest and other mountainous areas. They offer higher elevations and shaded trails. • Ride in an indoor arena. The Cyclone Center in Stanley offers open riding almost every Tuesday and Thursday during the heat of the day. • Snack on water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. Your horse also receives water through food, so allow him to graze during your ride. • The minute you don’t feel good or feel woozy, take a break under some shade. If you think you have heat stroke and are near water, get in the water to cool off. If you don’t start feeling better, call a friend to pick you and your horse up.

• After you have finished your ride, offer your horse a bucket of water and let him drink until he stops. Take a break yourself, drink some water and rest under shade. • Before you load up make sure all the vents and windows in your horse trailer are open.


• Watch the weather. Check to see which day is the coolest and keep an eye out for heat advisories or dangerous temperatures.

Paige Brandon is a 16-year-old junior in high school. She is active in the National Honor Society, competes in the New Mexico Rodeo Association circuit and works for Enchantment Equitreks. Her family owns four horses, including her barrel horse, Goose, and her Tennessee Walker filly, Gilly. Paige enjoys training her young horse and competing in barrels. Paige has goals of becoming a freelance journalist for the horse world. She has been published in a few magazines, including Horse Around New Mexico. | September/October 2019 | HORSE AROUND


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Listed here are horse-related services provided by the September/October 2019 issue advertisers. They are experts in their fields. Many of the business owners are also horse owners and enthusiasts. They are the reason Horse Around New Mexico magazine exists and why the magazine is growing. If you enjoy this free publication, please show your support by supporting our advertisers. BARNS/CORRALS Ironhorse Pipe & Steel, page 22

NON-PROFIT INSTRUCTION Learning Through Horses, page 7

SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS Santa Fe Chapter of Back Country Horsemen, page 6

TRAINING FACILITY/CLINICS Terra Nova Training Center, page 2

BED AND BARNS Wind Horse Rancho, page 37

ORGANIZED RIDES Competitive Trail Rides, page 22

CLINICS Soft Riders, Soft Horses, page 23

RESALE STORES The Horse Shelter, page 37

SPECIALTY SERVICES Albuquerque Pet Memorial Service, page 36

VEHICLE/TRAILERS Hal Burns Truck & Equipment, page 36 Sandia Trailer Sales and Service, page 40

NATURAL PRODUCTS Pharm-Aloe, Mark Meddleton, DVM, page 3 Pharm-Aloe, distributors, page 19 MASSAGE & BODYWORK Masterson Method, Karen Evans, page 23

RESCUE/ADOPTION Four Corners Equine Rescue, page 22 SILVER AND SADDLES John McKenna Saddlery, page 22 Mortenson Silver & Saddles, page 36

TACK AND FEED STORES Horsemen’s, page 19 Miller’s Feed, page 7 Paul’s Veterinary Supply, page 23 Taos Tack and Pet Supply, page 39

VETERINARIAN Cameron Veterinary Clinic, page 7 James Travers, DVM, page 37 Western Trails, page 18

TRAINING & INSTRUCTION Heart of the Horses Sanctuary, page 18 Lynn Clifford, The Inner Equestrian Program, page 19

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See your ad in the next issue of Horse Around New Mexico.

It's the "Best of New Mexico" issue and will showcase your holiday gift items to thousands of horse lovers. The deadline for ads is October 1. Visit or call 505-570-7377. 38 HORSE AROUND | September/October 2019 |

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