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New Mexico

14 JUL/AUG 2018





Convenience and Peace of Mind at home and on the trail Ask about our frequent buyer program



Positive solutions. Positive motivation. Positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement training creates extraordinary communication between you and your equine partner. Shawna Karrasch EVALYN BEMIS PHOTOGRAPHY

Now there’s a special place you can go to learn these concepts and skills based on proven science and practical application. Terra Nova Equestrian Training Center in Santa Fe, NM, is proud to be the new home of legendary positive-reinforcement trainer, Shawna Karrasch. A pioneer in using reward-based methods to train horses, Shawna can unlock joy and enthusiasm on both sides of the partnership, turning “problems” into fun, and horses into willing participants. Dressage and eventing trainer, and barn manager, Gilly Slayter brings her years of coaching and competitive experience to create the perfect combination of positive equestrian pursuits with outstanding boarding care at Terra Nova. For clinic, training and facility information, visit our website and sign up for our newsletter at!

Gilly Slayter 47 Ranch Road, Santa Fe, NM, USA Mailing Address: 7 Avenida Grande, #B7-504, Santa Fe, NM 87508 EVALYN BEMIS PHOTOGRAPHY





FEATURES 20 Safety In Numbers

14 ways to ride smart with a group

24 Common Trail Injuries

What they are and how to prevent/treat when you are are far from home

26 Beauty And Our Beasts

A photo essay showing New Mexico in all its trail riding glory

30 How To Start Trail Riding

A horse trainer shares what it takes to hit the trails

32 Leave No Trace

Six ways to tread lightly on fragile landscapes

36 Feed Right

How to determine and stick to a feeding regimen when camping and packing

38 Keeping Our Trails Clear

Learn how you can contribute to clearer trails



43 Horse Services Directory 46 Vacation Directory

41 Try Eventing And Learn To Fly

47 Upcoming Events

44 Fit & Form

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.

You can enjoy flying on your horse with this fun discipline What makes a great trail saddle and a great trail saddle fit

Horse Around New MexicoŠ2018. 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.

New Mexico

I have been trail riding in New Mexico for nearly seven years and want to share with you what I know for sure. New Mexico is the best place in the country, maybe even the world, to ride. There are nine million acres of National Forest and 13 million acres of BLM land. We rank fourth in the US for plant and animal biodiversity. You can ride in five diverse ecosystems: desert, riparian (cottonwood), plains/mesas, juniper/scrub and alpine/conifer. This means you can ride at about 3,000 feet elevation in the southeast part of the state, to over 13,000 feet on Wheeler Peak near Taos. You can ride year-round including spring in the Gila (base camp is Woody’s Corral), summer in the Pecos (Jack’s Creek), fall in San Pedro Parks (Resumidero) and winter in the Guadalupe Mountains (Lonesome Ridge). To get started, you must buy the book Saddle Up New Mexico, the trail riding bible that got me hooked. The areas I mentioned are all found in the book. However, after driving around to all corners of the state to ride the trails in Saddle Up, I realized there are many more places to ride. Caballo Lake State Park, south of Truth or Consequences, is one of my favorites. Camp in the Riverside Campground along the Rio Grande, (cross the river and head east onto BLM land that has a minor mountain range, old mines and solitude). I also enjoy Rowe Mesa near Santa Fe, and Bottomless Lakes State Park near Roswell. This park is a good, horse-friendly winter destination. And if you long for more and more places to ride, well, keep reading this magazine! Know that, as you try diverse trails, you will improve your skills and pinpoint what you really like. I started riding Arabians at distances of about 5-10 miles. Then I rode quarter horses, and now I ride gaited horses and enjoy going about 15-20 miles. I went from day rides to horse camping to horse packing. And finally, I know for sure that as you explore on horseback you will become even more infatuated with our state. As you ride through ponderosa forests, step across crystal-clear creeks, and see vistas like the majestic interior of the Pecos Wilderness from Trailriders Wall (also in Saddle Up) you will become devoted to protecting the gem that we have. Volunteer with the Forest Service or organizations like New Mexico Wild or Back Country Horsemen to keep trails open so we can keep riding. Consider this: We have horses. We live in this state of ridiculous beauty. So therefore, we have it all! This I know for darn sure.

Cecilia Kayano When you start trail riding, you never know where the journey will take you. Pecos Wilderness photo by Mack Talcott.



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 Health & Wellness appear at New Mexico outlets on September1, 2018. The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2018. The deadline for ads is August 1, 2018. For information contact Cecilia Kayano, HANM Editor, 505-570-7377, HorseNewMexico@,

Need more trail riding details, horsey events and equine inspiration? Check out our expanded Facebook page. Make sure to like us! COVER PHOTO: Henry Jimenez rides his Kentucky Mountain gelding Suave near Jawbone Mountain in the Carson National Forest. See more photos of the area in the article starting on page 20. Photo by Cecilia Kayano. | Jul/Aug 2018 | HORSE AROUND




NOW LOCATED IN TAOS, NM Rudy Lara, Jr. was born and raised in New Mexico and has been involved with horses his entire life. He started training horses for the public in 2009. He specializes in colt starting, Doma Vaquera, ranch roping and working with problem horses. Rudy and his family will be moving to a Taos horse training facility this summer. Staring June 1st he will be accepting horses for training. The facility offers indoor/outdoor arenas, and a horse barn and covered stalls for boarding. If you are looking to start your horse, or fine tune its movements, Rudy can help. He will put a solid foundation on your horse that will help it excel in any discipline.

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EQUINE BODY BALANCE Informed by Equine Ortho-Bionomy, Equine Positional Release: a non-force bodywork approach – addresses acute and chronic injury patterns, structural, visceral, fluids, soft tissue, circulation that may manifest in lameness, illness and behavioral patterns. MOUNTED BODY BALANCE The application of Equine Body Balance techniques for the horse coupled with Ortho-Bionomy for the human, mounted or unmounted sessions. Focus on deriving the best possible outcome for horse and rider by working with the strengths in each. ORTHO-BIONOMY Non-force bodywork for the human, based on Osteopathy, that addresses all body systems: acute and chronic injury patterns, structural, visceral, fluids, soft tissue, circulation – with focus on self-correction.

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THREE HORSE EXPERTS Cameron Veterinary Clinic, in Eldorado, Santa Fe, offers three veterinarians totaling over 50 years experience. All eight clinic staff are horse owners who participate in pleasure riding, rodeo, race horse breeding, and training. Andy Cameron, DVM, owns 3 horses for mounted search and rescue and wilderness packing.

Stuart McCall, DVM, owns 3 horses for cow work and fox hunting.

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







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A basic rule for group riding is to know your horses and riders before departing on a ride, especially if it is longer and has unknown sections, like this one near Jawbone Mountain in the Hopewell Lake area. This group was comprised of experienced riders and their gaited horses who liked to move out.


s a trainer teaching riding groups, from Back Country Horsemen to Pony Clubs to 4-H, how to lead and organize trail rides, I was surprised how often the same questions kept coming up, no matter how old, seasoned or experienced the riders were. It led me to try to develop basic “rules for the road” for better, safer trail rides. These suggestions will be helpful to any trail riding group, whether it’s just a few friends or a larger organization.

20 HORSE AROUND | Jul/Aug 2018 |

14 ways to ride smart with a group ARTICLE BY SCOTT THOMSON PHOTOS BY CECILIA KAYANO

2. The ride starts much earlier than you think

Most people think the ride starts when you mount up, but in reality, the ride starts the minute you put the halter on and lasts until you take it off and put your horse away. The majority of accidents and frayed nerves happen in the trailer, or when tacking up, mounting or dismounting. You need to practice good techniques and be aware of what is going on with all the other riders as they get prepared. If you hop on your horse and head down the trail a bit, it may cause another horse to think he’s being left behind, and then he becomes agitated and difficult to mount for his rider. Now you have a mess and you haven’t even left the parking lot.

3. Ride every stride

Group riding can and should be a fun social event. But that doesn’t mean you can lose touch with your horse. You need to check in from time to time, ask him to do something, make sure he’s still listening to you. A group of horses is “wired” like an old string of Christmas lights – if one goes off, they all go. Don’t let yourself or your horse “zone out” as you look at the scenery or chat with a friend. Some horses seem capable of going to sleep at the walk, but horses can wake up with a bang when quail take off from underfoot.

4. Forget peer pressure and speak up

1. Trail riding is the ultimate team sport Not only do you have to ride and be responsible for your own horse, but you must be aware of how what you’re doing may affect all the other riders and horses. When you trail ride, you’re part of a herd. If you change gaits or speeds without telling the rest of the group or because you can’t control your horse, you could cause other horses to do the

same without a rider being prepared. If you decide to pull out a jacket or slicker without communicating beforehand, you may cause another rider to have a very exciting ride. Way too many accidents happen when people act without thinking about how other horses or riders might react. Every rider in the group must be willing and able to ride to the level of the slowest horse and the least experienced rider. If this is a problem, then the group needs to reorganize for future rides.

If you need the group to slow down, stop or help you with something, let them know it. If the terrain makes you nervous or you know your horse has a problem with something, say so. There is nothing to be gained by staying silent and riding in an uncomfortable situation. Trail ride leaders should be checking in with riders as well.

5. Try to leave time for teaching

If a member of the group has trouble on the trail, try to help the person teach their horse a more permanent fix rather than just “get through it” so you can keep going. It will really help the group on future rides. | Jul/Aug 2018 | HORSE AROUND


8. The fastest horse should not always go first

I have been reading some interesting studies about the stresses on horses in a group ride situation. They have actually wired horses up and monitored heart rate, respiration, etc. and found that the lead horse can show significantly more stress. This makes sense as a group ride creates a herd and horses have specific roles or positions in a herd. The lead horse in a herd should be the most equipped emotionally and physically for that role, the one the other horses are willing to trust and follow. Evaluating and knowing every horse and rider in your group will help determine which horse is best suited for that role, and this will help all the horses feel more comfortable.

9. Ride side by side carefully

Riding next to a friend is one of life’s great joys. However, do it only when terrain and conditions are right. Many of our trails are single tracks where staying in line is safer and easier on the environment. If you’re in an area where it seems safe to ride side by side, remember that when a horse spooks he usually goes sideways, so stay in touch with your horse. There was a point on this ride that there was no obvious, horse-friendly way ahead. The group rested on an outcropping and got a feel for how each rider wanted to proceed. Everyone decided it was best to turn around and look for another route.

6. Give new members a simple test

I hate to say it, but people with horses have been known to stretch the truth about their riding ability or the quality of their horse. It’s the old, “I’m an experienced rider because I rode as a kid, even though I haven’t been on a horse in 30 years,” syndrome. As I’ve said, this is a team sport, operating under a herd mentality that brings with it potential risk. The group needs to know what a new horse and rider can do. Frankly, asking for a simple demonstration of basic competence should not offend anyone. If it does, then the person probably doesn’t understand horses, herd behavior or how to get along in a group.

7. Have a trail riding or obstacle “play day” in the safety of an arena

This is a great way to figure out how horses will get along, how people deal with basic obstacles, and how riders will perform in a group. Practice riding in a line, changing places, having a rider or two move away or change gaits, and notice the tendencies of the riders and the horses. It will give you the opportunity to help less experienced riders or horses with the kinds of things that might happen on the trail. It will also help you plan for future rides. Find this stuff out in the safety of an arena first, not on the trail.

22 HORSE AROUND | Jul/Aug 2018 |

10. Choose rides that suit the group

The physical condition of horses and riders varies greatly. It is never a good idea to push a horse or rider beyond what they can do physically, so plan accordingly. You may have to split the group or plan routes that can be shortened or lengthened, but this is better than risking lameness or a fatigue-caused mistake.

11. Get in the habit of looking behind you

When you ride you should always be thinking forward and going someplace as this is comforting for the horse. However, you also need to be looking behind to make sure another rider or horse is not having a problem. We don’t hear behind us very well, especially when in the saddle, so use your eyes. I’m amazed at how often people forget this, then

wonder where Charlie and Old Paint disappeared to.

12. Do horse PR if you get the chance

Don’t assume if you meet hikers or bikers that they know anything about horses or are even comfortable meeting up with them on the trail. A group of horses can be intimidating. If you think a little education is in order, like, “Please don’t hide behind a tree and stay silent because horses get worried by that,” then take the opportunity to give some friendly advice. You may help the next rider or hiker that comes along.

It is a good illustration of what’s going on in the horse’s mind when on a group ride. Make sure everyone in your group understands the power of herd behavior and factor it into your riding and planning, and you should be safer and have more fun.


Scott Thomson lives in Silver City and teaches natural horsemanship. He can be reached with comments or questions at hsthomson@msn. com or (575) 388-1830. Thanks to Back Country Horsemen, Santa Fe and North West Chapter members, for "posing" for the photos: Joan Lattner, Lisa Diven, Stacy Diven and Henry Jimenez.

13. Be aware at the start and the finish

Many trail riding problems happen at the start of the ride or the end, especially during seasonal changes where numerous factors (temperature, wind, humidity, angle of the sun) can get horses pretty amped up. The group leadership should look for signs of this and try to defuse things. If there are horses that are obviously high and excited, the owners need to spend more time preparing the horse from the ground before everyone mounts up and hits the trail. The same holds true if the end of the ride becomes a rush back to the parking lot. Try to fix it and bring the energy down.

Talking to hikers and other trail users is always a good idea. It keeps horses from being startled, plus increases general goodwill. You can also do a little horse education. Many people do not know that standing behind a tree and not speaking usually makes horses nervous.

14. Be willing to put your horse back in the trailer and go home

Just because you wanted to go on the ride doesn’t mean you should. If the little cowboy sitting on your shoulder tells you your horse doesn’t seem right or prepared to go, or if you’re not with it on that particular day, don’t force the issue. Go home, hang out with your horse and go on the next ride. Your friends will appreciate it. A lot of this is just common sense, but only common sense from the human’s perspective. The horse is part of this, too. If you’ve ever seen a nature show with a herd of horses going somewhere, you’ve probably seen all the things going on within the herd – kicking, biting, and reacting to changes in speed or direction. It may look like mayhem but it is all part of herd dynamics.

This photo shows typical herd dynamics, which will happen in every group. The horse in the lead wanted to be out front the entire way. On the return trip, the paint horse decided she wanted to lead the way home, making the former leader a little disgruntled. His rider had the skill to keep him in check, and teach him that being in a different herd position is not the end of the world. | Jul/Aug 2018 | HORSE AROUND



Celia Cook checks in with Fahil after a long pull up to the Santa Barbara Divide, Pecos Wilderness. Photo by Cecilia Kayano. 24 HORSE AROUND | Jul/Aug 2018 |


or those of us who like to get away from things on horseback, whether for a day-long trail ride or a week-long pack trip, having some knowledge of horse first aid is a necessity. Things can go wrong on the trail where the barn, the medical kit and the veterinarian’s phone number are not within reach.

Lameness, lacerations, and colicky episodes are some of the common ailments our trail horses can suffer away from home. Knowing how to deal with these problems until professional help can be found is a necessity. Your horse is your partner and teammate on the trail. Don’t ever ask your horse to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself, like work through an illness or injury. Be ready to walk your horse out if an injury should occur on the trail.

First aid basics

Knowing your horse’s normal physical parameters is important so that you can recognize when they are abnormal. Rectal temperature: 99-101.5 F Heart rate at rest: 28-40 beats per minute Respiratory rate at rest: 10-16 respirations per minute Mucous membrane color: pale pink (paler than people or your dog) Capillary refill time (CRT): 1-2 seconds Intestinal (GI) sounds: varies- listen to your horse’s gut often to know what to expect You don’t need anything special to get this information. Your vet can teach you how to get a pulse (heart) rate with your hands. You can get a respiratory rate by timing the chest moving with breathing. A digital rectal thermometer is a small, inexpensive piece of equipment that you can carry with you. Your ear to the horse’s flank is all you need to hear GI sounds. Practice getting this information at home, at the trailhead and on the trail so you know how your horse responds to different situations and to exercise. Then when something is not normal, you will know it right away. Since many trails are far from veterinary care and even cell service, carrying first aid equipment and medications is prudent. You may want to break your kit into two

parts -- one that you carry with you on the trail and another that you leave at the trailer.

Common items to have

You don't have to carry a pack horse worth of supplies to reduce the risk of your horse getting hurt or exacerbating an injury. Here are the basics: • Banamine • Bute • Duct tape • Roll cotton • Horseshoe nails • Fencing tool • Triple antibiotic ointment • Shoes/Boots • Stethoscope • Thermometer • Water • Electrolyte paste • Vetrap/Elasticon Telfa pads • Quilts/polo wraps • Gloves

Conditions you may encounter

Lameness: Lameness on the trail is a serious issue, and a rider should always be prepared to walk their horse out if lameness occurs while out on the trail. Shoes can be bent or loosen in rocky terrain or be completely sucked off by thick mud. It is worth carrying trail boots and/or extra shoes and nails along with you. A fencing tool is useful, for nailing a shoe back on or tightening a loose shoe. Work with your farrier to learn the basics of how to fix shoeing problems that may arise on the trail. Your farrier may also want to fabricate extra shoes for you to carry when trail riding. Other causes of lameness include bruises, puncture wounds, sores from hobbles, tendon injuries and fractures. Treatment of these may be beyond what can be done in the field. Your veterinarian may want to prescribe an anti-inflammatory (i.e.

bute or Equioxx) for you to carry along for use on the trail if necessary. Again, do not ride a lame horse. Be prepared to walk your horse to safety. Lacerations: A variety of hazards on the trail can cause lacerations of the body or legs of your horse, from tree branches to downed fencing and even sharp rocks. Many lacerations are beyond field repair, but proper first aid can improve the healing process down the road. Wash the wound with clean water to remove debris, pack it with antibiotic ointment and, if possible, bandage it to prevent further contamination. Get your horse to further medical attention as soon as possible. Trail horses should be kept up to date on tetanus vaccinations. Colic: Colic, very simply put, is abdominal pain in the horse. It is a common ailment and can be caused by a long list of problems. First aid for colic comes in the form of pain meds such as Banamine, which can be administered immediately, followed by quick attention from your veterinarian. If you believe your horse is colicky, it’s time to cut your ride short and head back to the trailhead and veterinary attention. Signs of colic on the trail include refusing to go, trying to lay down under saddle, pawing, rolling, laying down, kicking at the belly or looking back at the sides. Horses may exhibit one or more of these, and every colic episode is different. Talk to your veterinarian ahead of time about what to do for your horse on the trail if you experience a colic far from home. There are many things that can go wrong out on the trail. These are just a few of the most common. It is important to be prepared and talk with your veterinarian, farrier and trail riding buddies to be ready for trailside problems. Being prepared will make the problem that much less bothersome for your horse and for you. Happy trails!


Dr. Andy Cameron owns Cameron Vet Clinic in Santa Fe and treats all livestock and small animal species. He owns three horses, is a member of Mounted Search and Rescue, and does wilderness packing. He can be reached at (505) 466-1540

Loal Tucker and Ruger on an excursion to provide salt to rams in the Latir Wilderness. Photo by Matt Coulombe.


Latana Jan Bernier rides her mule Diamond in the Organ Mountains.


or this photo essay, readers submitted pics of their favorite places to ride, ranging from high-desert, to just plan high (12,000 feet!) If you find these photos tempting, then do some research to find out how to get there, leg up your horse and go! For more encouragement, join a horse club like Back Country Horsemen, get the book, Saddle Up New Mexico, or check out riding groups on social media. Also, follow Horse Around New Mexico on Facebook to get tips on where to ride.

TOP: A pack trip into the Blue Range Wilderness, a lesser known wild land near the Arizona border. Photo by Libby Sills. BOTTOM: Oatis Calef and his mules on a ridge past Trailriders Wall, Pecos Wilderness. Photo by MaryAnne Maynard. | Jul/Aug 2018 | HORSE AROUND


TOP: Latana Jan Bernier and her mule Diamond Lil take a picturesque stop in the foothills of the Organ Mountains. RIGHT: Terry Flanagan on her mustang Blue and Dee Melin on Booker T riding through the aspen groves near Hopewell Lake. Photo by Evalyn Bemis.

At the time of going to press, the Santa Fe National Forest (the location of some of our favorite high-country trails) was closed due to extreme fire danger, and pending closures of other forests were rumored. There are still plenty of gorgeous places to ride. To get ideas of alternate trails, follow us on Facebook: Horse Around New Mexico.

LEFT: Riding along the Bosque in Corrales. Photo by Cedar McCrary. BOTTOM: Judith Vinyard and Pinturo in the Ojito Wilderness. Photo by Lisa Westfall.

Trail Conditions and Use are Changing Here’s a little backcountry history: In the 1960s recreational use of trails across the country began to grow. More people started hiking, backpacking and horseback riding into the national forests and wildernesses. With that increased use came a need to build, clear and maintain trails, and to find the money to pay for it all. In the mid-’90s came budget cuts, and agencies responsible for wild areas started relying more on volunteers to keep trails open. These days, people are backpacking less, while day hiking is increasing in popularity. This means the USDA Forest Service prioritizes clearing trails within five miles of trailheads. Trails further out, say 10 miles into a national forest or wilderness, are less likely to be cleared by Forest Service employees, more likely to be cleared by volunteers, or possibly not cleared at all. The next time you trail ride, notice all downfall that has been cut (by hand if it’s a wilderness!) and consider volunteering to help keep trails open. Contact your local Back Country Horsemen Association at, the USDA Forest Service at, New Mexico Wild at or your local Forest Service office.

n | Jul/Aug 2018 | HORSE AROUND


How to Start Trail Riding New Mexico horse trainer Ta-Willow Romero literally grew up on horseback. Here, this experienced horsewoman shares what it takes to get going in one of the equine world’s most pleasurable sports


o you think you want to be a trail rider? Well of course you can! Being outside riding through nature with your horse is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable experiences. This is an equine discipline that everyone can do, whether it is for “the ride around the block person” or the 100-mile endurance enthusiast. The great thing is, if you can ride, you can do it!

BY TA-WILLOW ROMERO Gail Bastian-Montoya and Dulce on their first ride in the Pecos Wilderness. They were both physically and mentally prepared to tackle the rigors of long rides, high elevation and pelting hail.

Be prepared

You and your horse should be prepared both mentally and physically. That means having a solid knowledge of horsemanship skills, along with a horse that has a strong foundation in basic training. You don’t have to be an expert But before you race out to begin your great trail riding horseman, but you do need solid, basic riding skills. Anyone can adventures, know there are some things that need to be in place. sit on a “dude” horse and follow head-to-tail, but if you want As in any equine discipline, there is a level of preparedness you to ride your own horse in your own adventures, you must be need to have for a safe and enjoyable experience. First, let me skilled. Your relationship with your horse correlates directly be straight with you. There are things that are a must: Safety, with how enjoyable and successful your rides will be. There are dedication and safety. Yes! I said the safety word twice because many variables on a trail, requiring the trust and cooperation of sitting on a 1000-pound beast without safety leads to wrecks your horse. Time spent at home or with a trainer will develop and a huge lack of enjoyment. into a safe and secure trail riding experience. 30 HORSE AROUND | Jul/Aug 2018 |

And about your horse: Unless you just adopted a 25-year-old ex-PRCA bucking horse of the year, whoever you’ve been riding should work well. Some might take a bit more time and energy to prepare, but if you are up to it, the result will be fulfilling! If you aren’t up to the task of retraining a risky prospect, there are tons of trail horses out there that will fit your bill. Some things to evaluate in your mount: Can he be tied; will he lead respectfully; does he accept new things or does he panic? These are all things you need to know to determine trail worthiness. Next, look at what level you are as horseperson. If you are unsure, seek the advice of a professional.


Don’t skimp on training

Don’t skimp on foundation training. Trust and solid leadership will be essential as you and your horse navigate trails. Your horse should trust that you will not ask him to do something that will hurt him. You should be able to trust that your horse will not lose his mind when you ask him to do something out of his comfort zone. Being a strong leader is the basis of trust. As a herd animal, your horse looks to his leader to show him safety. If he doesn’t believe in your abilities as a leader, he will look to himself or others, leaving you high and dry -- not a good place to be out in the middle of the mountains! If your riding buddies have solid trail horses, ride with them. This is always a big help to boost the confidence of both you and your horse.

Tack and equipment

The tack you use should be well fitted to your horse and in good working condition. What you wear also needs to be comfortable. (I wear a horseman’s shoe instead of my high-heeled cowboy boots.) The thought of hiking miles back to the trailer leading a lame horse should impact your wardrobe decisions. Other equipment, such as your horse trailer and truck, need to be well maintained. Being broke down on the side of the road with your horse is not fun. Learning to confidently maneuver your rig is a must, as backing a half a mile down a winding road isn’t for the faint of heart. Also, most roads to trailheads are dirt and rock, so having the ability to change a tire is crucial. I know I’ve laid out what look to be big obstacles, but in the words of FDR, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Conquer your fears! Trail riding really is for everyone and you can make it fit your skills and abilities. So jump off the couch, call a friend, saddle up and hit the trails! There is no better way to spend the day -- riding along a trail surrounded by Mother Nature and your kindred spirits. Social media has lots of groups that plan events such as trail rides, overnight camping and clinics. But nothing says you can’t just load up and make a day of it yourself. The first step is to make the commitment and get to it! There are so many sights to see and adventures to be had!


“I love the peace of mind Pharm-Aloe gives me! From my treasured broodmares and stallions to my trail and endurance horses, I know their digestive and immune systems are optimally supported.“ Andrea Pabel-Deane Pecos Valley Arabians 505.690.8426

Ribera, NM Ta-Willow Romero was raised in the backcountry of Idaho and Montana and says those early experiences sculpted her into the horsewoman she is today. She trains out of the East Mountains, specializing in training for mounted shooting, but she also helps horses and mules be better matched to their riders and abilities. She can be reached at | Jul/Aug 2018 | HORSE AROUND


Leave No


the freedom of trail riding! The wide-open spaces, the ability of a good horse to take you wherever you want to go! But as we make plans to ride during the warmest months of a year that has already been unusually dry, know that our wide-open New Mexico spaces are a bit more fragile from the stress. And as trail riders, most of us use public lands open to other users, often in areas with moderate to high visitation. In order to help preserve the landscapes we love, Back Country Horsemen of America recommends following Leave No Trace (LNT) guidelines. 32 HORSE AROUND | Jul/Aug 2018 |

Learn these 6 ways to tread lightly on fragile landscapes BY KAREN DENISON

Exploring trails that are further out is tempting. When you implement Leave No Trace tenets, you will know that you are helping to keep trails and horse people's reputation pristine. Here are six things that you as a trail The seven principles of LNT are: The concept of Leave No Trace emerged rider can do right now (even if you’re not • Plan ahead and prepare in the 1960s when U.S. Forest Service camping) to help lighten your impact on • Travel and camp on durable surfaces managers began to see the impacts of fragile landscapes. • Dispose of waste properly heavier use of wilderness areas. Since • Leave what you find then, the Leave No Trace ethic of “do no • Minimize campfire impacts (be careful harm” has been studied and refined by 1. Do some homework. Whether with fire) collaboration among lots of user groups. you’re heading out somewhere new or re• Respect wildlife Today, Leave No Trace is applied to nonvisiting somewhere you haven’t been for a • Be considerate of other visitors wilderness areas as well. while, get out your maps and make some | Jul/Aug 2018 | HORSE AROUND


Be aware of how your horses/mules are impacting the trails. Especially if the ground is wet, stay on established trails whenever possible. phone calls to try and determine what road and trail conditions will be when you visit. If roads or trails are muddy from recent rains or choked with deadfall, you won’t have a good time and you may leave damage trying to circumnavigate blocked areas.

2. Stay on the trail, and don’t make new trails. This one takes some judgment. Where there are wellestablished trails, stay on them, especially newer, multi-use trails which may have been specifically designed and built to avoid fragile areas and be more sustainable. If you encounter an obstacle on a trail (like a downed tree limb), try to clear it first. If you are forced to go around, try to choose a route which is not only safe for you and your horse, but results in less damage to the ground. And take note of the location to report to a land manager so it can be remedied. If you are in an area where you are traveling

cross-country, spread out your group so no new trail emerges, each person avoiding particularly fragile areas.

3. Tie and hobble. Stopping briefly for lunch? Try to tie up where your horse will do less damage to trees. Keep a buddy nearby to calm a nervous horse. And horses that insist on pawing should be hobbled. For longer stops, move horses to spread out their impact, or use a highline or hobble. Erase any signs of use before leaving -- fill in any pawed holes and spread leaves or pine needles over disturbed ground. It helps a lot if you’ve practiced at home, and your horse is prepared to stand calmly.

4. Pick up poop. Everybody poops, but it doesn’t have to be the first thing seen in a parking area or a favored lunch stop. Especially in arid New Mexico, a manure pile can take a long time to break down. Keep horses moving on the trail, 34 HORSE AROUND | Jul/Aug 2018 |

kick and scatter horse piles at your lunch stops, and remove manure from hardened parking areas around your trailer. For yourself, carry a toilet kit that includes a plastic baggie for used toilet paper. (Nobody likes to see “tissue blooms” and it can take months in dry New Mexico for even deeply-buried tissues to decompose.)

5. Take care with water.

Stream banks and pond edges are easily damaged. And many horses are reluctant to cross water, fidgeting and see-sawing at crossings which leads to all sorts of stream sedimentation problems. When encountering water crossings, use the well-established route if there is one, and if not, choose the firmest, shortest route. If your horse is unsure about stepping into water, prepare and practice at home. Agua es Vida, Water is Life, and as New Mexicans we should protect our water resources, even intermittent streams and ponds.

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TOP: Horse manure may not offend the horse owner, but others might not find the odor heavenly, so pick it up or move it off trail whenever possible. BOTTOM: Try to cross streams and rivers on stable entry/exit points to reduce damage.

6. Be courteous to other users. This is just the old Golden Rule applied to trail use. If you’re outdoors for the solitude, and chance to see wildlife, then be sure you’re not doing anything to ruin it for others who are doing the same (including avoiding loud conversation that can travel).

Know that every time you encounter others on a trail, you represent all horseback riders, and this is your chance to make a good impression -- or a bad one. Say hello, thank other users who have yielded, and be willing to pause and answer a question if asked. On certain trails I even keep a little bag of horse treats on hand and ask willing cyclists or hikers if they would help train my horse by offering her a treat. It helps further de-sensitize my animal and provides a good opportunity for raising some public awareness about trail riders and proper trail etiquette. For more information on leaving no trace, check out the resources on the Back Country Horsemen of America website,


Karen Denison is a former biologist and retired outdoor guide who has been involved in trail building since her student days in the 1970s. She is proud to be a member of Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico, Santa Fe Chapter.


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Sticking to a feeding regimen when camping can help avoid health problems for your horse

It's easier to relax on a camping trip if you know your horses are eating right. In this photo, Cedar McCrary keeps an eye on her grazing horses while camped near Hopewell Lake. Photo by Devin McCrary.


hat kind of feed should I give my horse to get him ready for our elk hunt tomorrow?” “Matthew, there is nothing you can feed your horse tonight that will prepare him for tomorrow’s elk hunt. You should have started feeding and conditioning your horse three months ago." Undaunted, Matthew purchases a bag of Trackmaster and a nosebag. Later I cross paths with the local horse veterinarian and alert her to the possibility of being called out on a late-night colic call. Horseback riding, camping and packing in the back country can be an incredible

36 HORSE AROUND | Jul/Aug 2018 |

experience. Scenery, wildlife and wild places, and no cell phone service are all great reasons for going. Proper planning in all aspects, especially with horse feed, can make the difference between success, and an outing of a lifetime, and a nightmare with a lifetime of repercussions. From my experience riding in the back country, I can tell you firsthand that horses will not eat as well as they do at home. Coupled with the increased activity and physical exertion, that means your horse or mule will most likely lose weight. That alone is not harmful if you start with an animal that is in good flesh or even fleshy, if he is in good shape. In a previous article, I wrote about a conditioning program for horses, so I will not rehash that here. Instead, I will

concentrate on feeding prior to and while on horse outings.

Maintain the same diet

Plan to feed your horse the same hay, grain and supplements that you feed him at home. This will minimize the chances of him not eating well while on the excursion.

Anticipate graze

You may plan on staking or hobbling your horse to let him graze to get nutrition. If you are camping in an area with a lot of good grass, providing your horse with only a grain supplement will probably suffice. Remember, you will be trying to keep the calories at a high enough level so your horse will lose as little weight as possible. Grass might be delicious to a horse, but it probably won’t supply enough calories.

Provide ample grazing time

Your horse will need several hours of grazing time per day, even if you are providing grain. He cannot get enough grass unless he is hobbled or staked on a picket line. Don’t be tempted to just turn your horse lose to graze. I wouldn’t trust any horse to stick around, especially after he has had an hour or so of grazing.

Bring certified weed-free hay Know that many areas, especially wildernesses, require certified weed-free hay. If this is a requirement, feed your horse weed-free hay a few weeks prior to the trip to acclimate him. If you are on a multi-day trip, bring more than the normal amount you feed at home.

Bring fortified feeds

Bring salt

When your horse is exerting himself, he is losing a lot of salt, especially if the weather is hot and he is sweating. You can bring salt in a few different forms. A small 5-pound salt/mineral block can be added to your pack. Or skip the block if you are bringing fortified feed and providing electrolytes. Both contain salt and minerals.

Running stream water usually does not have an off-taste, so it is rarely rejected by a horse provided they know how to drink from a stream! Some just don’t know, and others are afraid of the cougar hiding behind the rock at the watering hole. Make sure your horse is comfortable drinking from natural sources before you depart on your trip or bring a collapsible bucket and be prepared to serve your horse!

Think about weight and bulk if packing in hay

Store feed properly

If there may not be plentiful graze, consider bringing hay. Standlee Hay Company out of Eden, Idaho makes a compressed bale that is 22” long, 18” tall and 11” wide. It weighs 55 pounds. The bales come in straight alfalfa, alfalfa/ grass mix, straight timothy and straight orchard grass. They are wrapped in plastic with a handle for ease of handling and come in certified weed-free bales as well. That is a lot of hay in a small package. Compact bales save a lot of space in the trailer and if needed can be packed in.

Keep your horse drinking

When camping in established camping areas, water may be available. However, water from different areas can taste different than home and be rejected by your horse. Put a flavored electrolyte such as Apple-dex in the water at home prior to your trip and when you are camping to disguise the new taste. Another option is to haul water from home if you are camping near your trailer.

At your trailer or campsite, make sure you store feed in a safe, dry place away from the reach of wildlife or cattle. Put feed in the horse compartment of your trailer, not the bed of your truck. At campsites, wrapping the feed in tarps or mantees will keep it dry and lessen the chance of attracting wildlife and cattle.

Continue the feeding regimen at home

Keep feeding the same hay/grain at home as you did on the outing, with the exception of a continuation of weed-free feed. A horse that is fed the same feed and at approximately the same times at home as on the outing will do better than one whose routine is changed.


Thomas Garcia holds a BS in animal science from New Mexico State University. He owns Spanish Creek Performance Horses and Taos Tack & Pet Supply. He can be reached at 575-737-9798.

Even if there is plentiful water, some horses won't drink at first. Give them some time, and let them see other horses drinking. These three are used to drinking from various water sources like the Rio Grande. Photo by Matt Coulombe.

Personally, I prefer to feed a fortified feed that is balanced for the nutritional requirements of the horse rather than just alfalfa cubes, pellets or a straight simple grain. The Blue Bonnet Intensify line has a complete feed called Intensify Senior Therapy, Purina makes the Impact Professional Senior, Triple Crown makes their Complete, and Lakin Milling Company makes the Equidyne Complete horse pellet. These and others like them can be fed as a sole ration to horses both at home and on a trip. Again the key is to feed the same at home and on the trip. | Jul/Aug 2018 | HORSE AROUND





You don't have to be a lumberjack to contribute to clearer trails. Removing "belly pokers" helps make the trails safer for all. 38 HORSE AROUND | Jul/Aug 2018 |

rail riding is an awesome horse sport for lots of reasons, the fun, the views, the connection with nature, the camaraderie with your horse and fellow horse people. But trail riding in forested areas also comes with one annoying given: Downed trees and branches blocking the trail. Some trails, some seasons, it seems like you can’t go 100 feet without running into some kind of blockage.

So, you no doubt do what we all do, get around it any way you can. But being reckless, impatient or unobservant can have repercussions when dealing with blocked trails. Horses and/or riders can get injured or your ride experience can just quickly turn into an enormous hassle. Horse Around recently asked some experts for advice on how to best deal with downfall, and how we as riders can pitch in to the effort of keeping New Mexico’s horse trails clear and safe.

Common sense prevails

When faced with a blocked trail, your common sense is your best guide. First, check with the closest ranger station before heading out. They often have current information on trail conditions and can warn you if certain trails are seriously blocked. Once on the trail you’ll have to evaluate any downfall you encounter because each situation is unique. Is the tree or branch small enough to step over? Are there broken branches that might pose a puncture risk to your horse? Does the tree or branch look stable? Most horses can easily step over anything up to about 2 feet, but be prepared: Your horse may decide jumping, not stepping over, is the way to go. If you get off and try to coax your horse over, stay out of his way. Being in front puts you right in the flight path of a horse that decides to jump. Don’t forget not all dead fall is on the trail. Broken trees and branches can be lodged above the trail, and you need to take a good look before riding under them. Do they look stable? Can you and your horse clear? Resist the temptation to reach up and pull on dubious branches overhead; you run the risk of bringing something down on you and your horse or the rider behind you. Also, even if you ride under a certain overhang all the time, keep in mind things can shift. We were with a tall rider once who got a painful puncture wound from a large suspended branch we had all ridden under dozens of times. That day, wind or a storm had moved that familiar branch just enough to give him a nasty jab.

Make safety your first consideration and you can usually navigate small obstructions. Larger trees and blocks take a more detailed approach. Mary Ann Ende, president of the Pecos chapter of Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico, says when out pleasure riding, she will dismount to get a good look at bigger obstructions rather than just trying to ride around. “When you get to stuff like that, you need to get off, tie up and walk it so you can see exactly what you are getting into,” she says. “You’ve got to look at the slope and you’ve got to look at the downfall.” Also take into account the footing. Off the trail, the ground may be wet or otherwise treacherous. Look for the best, driest footing and the clearest path that you can find. Plot a way around, and when you proceed, “Put a good animal in front,” Mary Ann advises. A confident lead horse will make the other horses confident about the detour. Eric Roybal, who was a guide in the Pecos for 25 years, seconds that idea. “There’s no sin in getting off and walking around something. People say stuff like ‘I’ve got a mule. I can get through it.’ But just remember if you get injured, depending on where you are, it could involve a helicopter or a team of 20 to 30 people to walk you out.”

This compact "chainsaw" can be easily added to your day pack.

If you think you can clear an obstruction, use extreme caution. Downed trees may be hung up on other trees, which can create a “spring pole” that will cause the tree to snap when moved. Something that looks simple could turn out to be extremely tricky. Richard Kingsbury, a class B sawyer certified by the US Forest Service and BCH Pecos volunteer, says your common sense is the best way to judge what you can and can’t tackle on the trail in terms of clearing a downfall. “Play it safe and make the better judgment,” he advises.

When enough is enough

Sometimes, of course, a trail just gets too complicated due to downfall. “My rule of thumb is three blocks and we turn around and head back,” Mary Ann says. Again, safety should be your guide. Downfall on steep, narrow trails is tougher to negotiate than on flatter terrain with lots of space for maneuvering. But remember, there are inherent risks in leaving a marked trail. Detours can get you lost or into other unforeseen predicaments and riding off-trail is discouraged by the Forest Service because it damages at-risk environments such as waterways. And remember, horse tracks on the trail ahead of you don’t necessarily mean it’s passable. Eric tells a story of returning from a hunting camp down a trail in the Pecos he hadn’t been on in years. There were quite a few obstructions, but he saw there were tracks heading down the trail. At one difficult point, he had to get his saddle horse and his pack horse to jump over a large dead fall, landing downhill. The tracks he’d seen led through, so he proceeded. “I figured from those tracks it would clear up pretty soon,” he recalls. But instead within a few minutes, he and his horses were corralled by downfall. “I could have gotten through there if I took about a week to saw my way out,” he says. Instead, he and his horses had to go back and tackle all those tough obstacles again, this time from the downhill side.

What you can do

As a member of the trail riding community, pitching in to keep trails clear is one of the best things you can do. Report big downfalls and other dangerous trail conditions as precisely as you can to the ranger station responsible for that area. Take a GPS point, note how big the obstruction is, including the size of tree trunks or limbs involved or, better yet, take a picture and send it in. If you don’t have a GPS, try to help the trail clearers pinpoint the location by noting distances from trailheads or trail junctions. The Forest Service has limited funds for trail clearing so local volunteer groups such as Friends of the Sandias, New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors and of course Back Country Horsemen fill in the gaps. BCH starts clearing trails as soon as they are accessible in the spring and has crews from eight New Mexico chapters out until late fall. These volunteer groups are a great way to get educated on how to properly clear trails and offer a chance to contribute to a better trail experience for everyone. If you love to trail ride, get involved! As Richard Kingsbury says, “It takes all of us to keep these trails clear.”


Cutting even the simplest looking log can be dangerous. Use caution, find an alternate route or turn back. Here Santa Fe Back Country Horsemen members Joan Lattner and Debbie Spickermann cut a log in the San Pedro Parks Wilderness. Both have learned special techniques for cutting downfall.

Tips For Safer Trail Riding Through Forests Whenever you ride through a forested area, you run the risk of being stopped by downfall. It is wise to implement these practices for a safer trip: •

Know the trails before you head out. Ask a ranger if the trail you plan to ride has been cleared. Know that even if it was cleared yesterday, there could be new downfall.

If you decide to attempt a trail that may have downfall, bring a saw or some kind of cutting tool. Bring gloves and wear footwear that will allow you to navigate slippery ground.

Bring extra water. Doing any type of clearing is physically demanding, and you will drink many times more water than if you were only sitting on your horse.

Plan your ride with the most unknown part of the trail at the beginning of the ride. If you come across downfall towards the end of your ride, you will have less daylight to clear the trail, find an alternate route, or return on the same trail.

Bring extra emergency gear. Whenever you ride trails of unknown condition, you run the risk of being out later than you plan, or even spending the night. Bring a halter and lead rope for your horse, a headlamp, warm clothing, extra food and water, a bivy sack and emergency blanket. Instant coffee (even if it's lukewarm) will help things look brighter in the morning!

Peggy Conger is the Associate Editor of Horse Around New Mexico magazine. She enjoys trail riding and can be reached at




Jumping is one part of the sport of eventing, which also includes dressage. Here Erin Kober makes jumping seem effortless at Watermelon Mountain Pony Club Horse Trials, La Boca Negra Horsemen's Complex, Albuquerque.

hat child in love with horses hasn’t looked out of the backseat window of a car and imagined riding the horse of her dreams across the landscape -- running, jumping effortlessly, child and horse melded by imagination into one creature -limitless.

Eventing does not have to be riskier than other horse activities. With the right training, equipment and shorter jumps, you can manage the risk and realize your dreams. If the dream of flying with your horse is familiar to you, then you might want to try eventing. The sport of eventing combines meticulous training in dressage and show ring jumping in a cross-country sport. Like most dreams, fulfillment takes hard work and perseverance but luckily for the would-be eventer, the current sport lets you participate as a beginner.

Easier to get started

Eventing has changed dramatically over the last two decades. While it is still an Olympic sport, its evolution has opened the sport to riders at the most basic levels. The new entry level competition includes walk, trot, and dressage tests, show jumping with “pile of poles” courses and, most importantly, cross-country courses that can be negotiated at the walk or trot with obstacles no higher than a foot. Such beginner competitions are available all over the country, with the intent of bringing everyone interested into the sport at their and their horse’s skill and confidence level.

What about risk?

So, what’s the down side? All through my 40-year involvement in the sport, I have heard that eventing is dangerous, a high-

risk sport and, yes, at the upper levels of eventing, at speed over solid, technically difficult obstacles, the smallest mistake can become a big mistake very quickly. A lot of thought and effort has gone into the safety at those levels -- training, qualification of horse and rider, course design and preparation, safety equipment -- all have been considered for the safety of the horse and rider. But at the middle and lower levels, the speeds and course challenges are much reduced, making the sport equal in risk to any riding activity involving riding outside the arena and jumping. Eventers think of themselves as risk managers not risk takers. This means your best safety equipment is your brain, so put it in a good helmet and then use it. Use it to: get the best training you can; correctly assess your horse’s and your skill level; select and use your safety equipment; pick and enter appropriate competitions or clinics, and; drive to and from the barn. (I tell my students their greatest risk is just that - getting on the highway!)

42 HORSE AROUND | Jul/Aug 2018 |

How to start eventing

If this adventure interests you, how can you get involved? There are groups of eventers from Las Cruces to Durango -- almost every urban area has people interested and active in the sport. There are opportunities to watch or volunteer in local competitions, and there are qualified instructors who welcome potential enthusiasts. So, if you were one of those kids who dreamed of riding cross-country across the landscape, there are a bunch of us out here living that dream and excited to share that passion. Hope you join us!


To get started, visit the Facebook page of Eventing X Games Series. It's 6-part series at Goose Downs Farm that offers an introductory level up through the middle levels of recognized eventing. The one-day competitions will be held Sundays, July 29, August 19 and on into the fall. Riders, spectators, and volunteers are welcome. To find out more, visit

Jeffray Ryding is a lifelong horse enthusiast and for the last five decades has immersed herself in the sport of Three Day Eventing. She and her husband, Tom Angle, and her assistant trainer, Lindsay Lechner, run Goose Downs Farm, Galilsteo.


Listed here are horse-related services provided by the July/August 2018 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 11 Morton Buildings, page 9 BOARDING Dancing Bear Ranch, page 19 CLASSES Saddle Up For The Horse In Literature, page 12 COMPETITIVE RIDES North American Trail Ride Conference, page 16 EVENTS Goose Downs Farms, page 7 The Horse Shelter’s Horse Show & Adoption Event, page 9 Turk Arabians Summer Horse Sale, page 14

CLINICS Loal Tucker Horsemanship, Inc., Buckle Series, Working Cattle Clinic, page 12 Rudy Lara, Sr., Vaquero Horsemanship, page 15 FEED Standlee Premium Western Forage, page 2 GUEST RANCHES / CAMPING Beaver Creek Guest Ranch, page 47 NATURAL PRODUCTS Pharm-Aloe, Andrea PabelDeane, page 31 Pharm-Aloe, distributors, page 35 REAL ESTATE Annette Wood, page 15 Dave Mead, page 10 Rōni Merbler, page 12 Marie-Claire Turner, page 18

RESCUE/ADOPTION Four Corners Equine Rescue, page 19 Mustang Camp, page 17 SHOEING AND TRIMMING Thilo Hoffmann, page 15 SPECIALTY SERVICES Albuquerque Pet Memorial Service, page 16 TACK AND FEED STORES Horsemen’s, page 16 Miller’s Feed, page 17 Paul’s Veterinary Supply, page 13 Taos Tack and Pet Supply, page 13 Village Mercantile, page 3 TRAINING Ginger Gaffney, page 17 Katrin Silva, page 14 Loal Tucker Horsemanship, Inc., page 12

Lynn Clifford, The Ride of Your Life, page 9 Susan Smith, page 11 Rudy Lara, Jr., page 8 Terra Nova Training Center, page 4 VACATIONS 4 Winds Equestrian Center, page 18 Starrynight Kids’ Camps, page 19 VEHICLE/TRAILERS American Diesel Service, page 10 Hal Burns Truck & Equipment, page 18 Sandia Trailer Sales and Service, page 48 VETERINARIAN Cameron Veterinary Clinic, page 11 Jeannette M. Kelly, page 43 Western Trails, page 14 | Jul/Aug 2018 | HORSE AROUND


Fit & Form What makes a great trail saddle and a great trail saddle fit ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY JOHN MCKENNA


ummer is here and Jack’s Creek beckons. Will your old roping saddle suffice, the one that Gramps won in the 1970 Tucumcari rodeo with the torn horn cap and rotten saddle strings? Can you ride your dressage saddle through the wilderness? It seems funny when you see it in print here, but all of us have saddled up ole’ Bodie with saddles that were built for - let’s face it - other jobs! Suppose how ole’ Bodie would feel with a saddle that was actually designed for the task at hand? Professional horse people only ride saddles specific to their discipline. Why shouldn’t trail folks? As a professional saddle maker and fitter, I often go to barns to fit horses and riders to specific saddles, and when I do, I always listen to the owner/rider, especially relative to his or her riding disciplines. By and large, clients are looking for affirmation with regard to a trail saddle they’ve picked out and how it fits their horse. 44 HORSE AROUND | Jul/Aug 2018 |

I have my own preferences for the perfect trail saddle, but there are some general rules of thumb that can be applied.

Fit the horse

Every horse is different! I can’t stress this enough, but that said, many horses can go in the same saddle. I’ve noticed over the years that some trail riders will devote a certain breed to their trail riding endeavors while others will use a horse, for example an off-track thoroughbred, because, “He’s all I have.” However, I would like to think that the dedicated trail rider is riding a horse that has the temperament and strength to take on the rigors of riding in the llano. This usually means more of the mutton-withered breeds or those with heavier constitutions and wider backs. The following common sense fitting technique will at least get you into the ball park of decent fit: if your horse looks fairly balanced in the withers, meaning each side of the wither just past the scapula is about the same, then throw a saddle up on his back with no pad and check to see if there is at least a three finger gap between the bottom of the gullet and the wither. Remember, a wellfit horse should feel as if he has nothing on his back!

The real issue is in the cantle

A good trail saddle should have a 4- or 5-inch cantle to support the lower back of the rider, especially where a lot of up and down riding is done on the trails. The pommels don’t really matter, and, to save weight, I make my saddles with an “A” fork. Remember, pommels were made to work cattle, and I suppose some people think that a trail saddle should have a larger swell, but the truth is that a good “A” fork will keep the rider in place if the rider can ride! I usually put a nice pad in my trail saddle seats, but as my old saddle making teacher in Montana would say, “A good seat needs no comforts!” It is true, a well-made seat is good on its own, but a little padding doesn’t hurt, either! Also, fitting loosely or tightly in the seat is up to each rider. I’ve heard people say that being snug in a tight-fitting seat

is better on the trail, but I disagree. Find a seat that just feels good, which, for you, may mean a seat that is slightly bigger. I personally like to move around in my seat, but I rope off a saddle that is a bit tight. Again, saddle seat fit depends on the discipline!

Cruppers, girths and breast collars

Just a couple of thoughts about cruppers, girths and breast collars. I only use Toklat fleece girths on the trail, because they are super comfortable for the horse. They’re not sleek and refined, but they really help, especially with a muttony, flatbacked guy that you have to cinch down tight. Regarding breast collars and cruppers, use them! Especially when carrying gear. They really help to keep the saddle adjusted on the horse, but, like the old cavalrymen, run the breast collar leathers through and around the swell. Horses spook on the trail occasionally or stumble and fall, and this keeps them from breaking rings off the saddle. Remember, side-to-side saddle movement comes not so much because you might be heavy in the stirrup on one side, but because your heavy gear is on one side of the saddle! Balance your gear!


Please remember, with a good saddle or a custom saddle, less is more when it comes to pads and blankets. A bunch of pads usually means a poor-fitting saddle. I use a thin, all-wool, cut-back pad to give my horse better movement in the shoulder when traversing hilly terrain.

What I ride on the trail

Just like any sport, to ride in a saddle made specifically for trail riding will increase your comfort and safety. There are several aspects of a trail saddles that make them different than others.

War re-enactor. It gave me deep insight into real trail riding. And so I’ve used the McClellan as a template, taking the best elements of that military-style saddle and combining it with modern saddle technology. The McClellan is essentially a “skeleton” saddle tree covered with attachments and a “center fire” rigging assembly. The saddle is very lightweight. This is crucial, because, depending on the time spent on the trail, especially in camping situations, gear needs to be packed in. Remember, your horse has to carry you, your saddle AND all your stuff ! So, the weight of the saddle is not just about the ease of throwing it up on your horse, but all the gear the horse has to carry.

I’ve designed a trail saddle based on my training and trail experience, and I suppose most saddle makers who make trail saddles have done the same. But I John McKenna of is have a little different take based on my a maker of both Western and English saddles extensive experience with the model 1858 and is a certified fitter/flocker. He and his McClellan US military saddle. I started blue heeler, Red, split their time between their riding a McClellan because of my love saddle shops in Nyack, New York and Santa of mounted military history as a Civil Fe, New Mexico. 45 | Jul/Aug 2018 | HORSE AROUND



Riding Vacations Bluewater Lake Lodge, Prewitt: trails, full hookups, small cabins, 505-290-2699, Burnt Well Guest Ranch, Roswell: working cattle ranch, large ranch house, cattle round ups, 575-347-2668, Chaco Lodge Hacienda, Cuba: bed and breakfast, lodge and suite, horse corrals and trails, 505-252-7488, Copper Penny Ranch, Alamagordo: RV hookups, arena, round pen, ride out, 575-439-0276, Concho Hills Guest Ranch, Magdalena: trail riding, ranch activities, cowboy shooting, historical tours, award-winning accommodations, 575-772-5757, Cow Creek Ranch, Pecos: fly fishing,horseback riding in the Sangre de Cristos, 505-757-2107, Creek Ranch, Santa Rosa: all-inclusive horseback vacations on 82,000 acres, genuine working cattle and guest ranch, Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch, Winston: all-inclusive guest ranch in the Gila Nat. Forest, ride spectacular canyons, 575-772-5157, Gila Hot Springs Ranch, Gila Hot Springs, outfitting, rental horses, 3 apartments, hot springs, corrals, hookups,(575) 536-9314,

Double Y Ranch, Santa Fe: hot Quinlan Ranch, Chama: RV hookups, guided rides, lodge and meals, 575-209- walker, RV hookup, 602-320-7136, 1618, www,

Slash M Slash Ranch, Grants: horse motel, indoor riding arena, roping arena, bunkhouse, 505-290-7836, 505-290-2645;

D S Horse Motel, Grants: next to an RV park with full hookups, 505-240-2544, Socorro Rodeo & Sports Complex, Socorro, full hookups, 98 covered stalls, arenas, big rigsn OK,, 575-835-8927 El Tanque Viejo, Galisteo, paddocks with sheds, trails, round pen, water, Tuli Horse Hotel, Tularosa: 3 RV hookups, electric, guest house, 505-490-3337 Taos Horse Getaways, Tres Piedras: 25 stalls, round pen, arena, BYOH; houses, cabins, RV space; 16 acres to ride, 575-921-1105 575-758-3628, Hacienda De Caballo Ranch, Edgewood, bed & breakfast, full Western Drive Stables, Tucumcari: 575Twin Willows Guest Ranch, Ocate, near hookups, large pens w/2-acre turnouts, 461-0274, 575-403-8824, 15 amp power/water, large rigs OK, Angel Fire: log house for 8 for rent, 505-204-9677 BYOH, 575-666-2028 Trail Riding Operations J Bar C Horse Motel, Roswell: arena, Two Ponyz Ranch, Mountainair: Acacia Riding Adventures, San Acacia: 2 RV hookups, 575-347-2742, guest house, BYOH, 505-847-0245, 575-517-0477, 575-626-5296, 575-626-5294, Bishop’s Lodge Stables, Santa Fe: U-Trail’s Horseback Adventures, J.P.'s Horse Motel, Mentmore (Gallup): Glenwood: guided pack trips to cliff arena, 505-979-1192 dwellings, day rides, lodge, gourmet Broken Saddle Riding Company, Cerrillos: meals, 575-519-8569, gaited horses, 505-424-772, Kiss the Moon Equestrian Center, Moriarty: easy I-40 access, indoor Vermejo Park Ranch, Raton: Ted Turner-owned luxury resort offers guided arena, easy access for bigger rigs/ Cedar Crest Stables & Country Cottage, horseback rides, haulers, 505-975-3567 Cedar Crest: mountain riding, cottage for rent, 505-281-5197, Kiva RV Park and Horse Motel, Wolfhorse Outfitters, Gila/Aldo Leopold Wilderness: Native American Bernardo: 14 stalls, large pens, Cieneguilla Stables, near Taos: trail rides round pen, trails, 505-861-0693, guide service, 575-534-1379, and “saddle and paddle” combo trips, 575-751-2815 Starrynight Ranch, Llaves: all-inclusive, children’s camps, guided rides, guest cottage and rooms, BYOH or ours, 575-554-0577, 575-638-5661,

Overnight Stabling/ B&B 4 Winds Equestrian Center, Estancia: RV/trailer sites with electrical hookups, small travel trailer, arenas, nearby riding in the Manzanos & Sandias, 505-384-1831 Arrowhead Ranch, Santa Fe: multiple arenas and trail access, 505-424-8888,

Gillespie Ranch, Mayhill: large pens, gift shop, cozy cottage, RV hookups, 575687-3732,

Broken M Ranch, Albuquerque: large arena w/lights, barrels, round pen, wash rack, dry camping, 505-877-9433,

Justyn Brynn Enchantment Equitreks, Edgewood: all-inclusive horseback riding adventures offering day rides, weekend, 5-day, 7-day and 8-day packages, 575430-7514;

Caballos de los Estrellas, Rodeo, 12 runs with cover, 12 stalls, two turn outs, arena, round pen, riding out on dirt roads,​, 575-545-5426

Los Pinos Guest Ranch, Cowles: lodge and gourmet meals, 505-757-6213,

Caballo Lake State Park, Caballo: four large pipe corrals with cover, tack room, water, trails, 575-743-3942

N Bar Ranch, Reserve: surrounded by Gila National Forest, BYOH or ours, rent entire ranch, cabins, corrals, trails, 575-533-6253,

Carter’s Stables, Farmington: guest house, one full hookup, 505-330-3066,

Las Cruces Horse Motel, Las Cruces: Corralitos Trail Rides, near Las Cruces: 5 minute trail ride to Rio Grande, RV working ranch riding, 575-640-8184, hookups, roping arena with cattle, 575- 644-3518, Enchanted Gaits, Tijeras: smooth, LazyKo Ranch. Deming: horse motel, gaited horses, 505-281-2226 hookups with open range for riding, 575-202-2876, Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu: 505-685-1000 Linda Vista Stables, Galisteo, easy access to Galisteo Preserve, Santa Fe and Madrid, nearby B&Bs. Covered pens, secure facility. 505-466-8930

Grindstone Stables, Ruidoso: guided trail rides, sleigh and carriage rides, 575-257-2241,

Inn of the Mountain Gods Riding Stable, Loal Tucker Horsemanship, Inc. Stables, Mescalero: 575-464-7424 Santa Fe/Eldorado, huge indoor arena, outdoor arena, ride out, 505-466-3961, New Mexico Horse Adventures, Albuquerque: BYOH or rent, 505-3010917, MacArthur Quarter Horses Boarding Stables, Taos: 1 covered and 2 outdoor Red River Stables, Red River: ride, fish, arenas, close to Taos, 575-758-8366 or view wildlife, 575-747-1700, redriverstables. 575-613-5347, com

Open Heart G Farms, Anthony: located Rio Grande Stables, Taos & Questa: on 25-acre pecan orchard, indoor box hourly plus multi-day rides, 888-259-8267, stalls, hookups, bunkhouse, 915-920575-776-5913, 5169, Runnels Bonita Stables, Nogal: Ride near Rancho de la Angostura, Algodones: Cassetta Critter Care, Tucumcari: Bonito Lake, no reservations needed, NAN Ranch, Faywood; rent rooms/ easy trail access, power available, horse motel, roping arena, trailer hook 575-354-2778 cabins in the HQ of national registered arena and round pen, 505-280-4849, up, 575-403-6227, 603-798-5033, historic 1870s ranch in the Mimbres River Santa Fe Western Adventures, Santa Valley, corrals, BYOH, campers welcome, Fe: ride on private ranch and Lone Butte 575-288-5368, Rancho Siesta, Edgewood:dry camping, Mountain, 505-473-9384, Crossroads Ranch, Anthony: 60-acre spacious corrals, 505-450-3165 race horse training facility with track, Nancy Burch’s Roadrunner Tours, round pen, stalls, turnout, RV parks Stables at Tamaya Resort, Bernalillo: Angel Fire: overnight camping/packing nearby, dry camping OK, 575-882-5533 Rocking Horse Ranch, Moriarty: huge 505-771-6060 excursions, trail riding, 575-377-6416, indoor arena, 505-832-6619, 505-301-3772; Diamond Arrow Ranch, Deming: 5 RV Vision Quest, Las Vegas: private, catered hookups, ride out on BLM land, big rig rides, family activities, 505-469-8130, 46 HORSE AROUND | Jul/Aug 2018 | Roy-El Horse Hotel , Espanola: friendly, 575-546-1115, 480-332-8265, 505-603-6016,

UPCOMING EVENTS July 7 Solidifying & Expanding Your Lateral Work with Lynn Clifford Nizhoni Ranch Cerrillos....See ad page 9 July 7 & August 4 Volunteer Orientation/Ranch Tour Santa Fe...See ad page 9 July 7, 14, 21; August 18, 25 Volunteer Projects, Barn Tours Four Corners Equine Rescue Aztec....See ad page 19 Wednesdays July 11-August 15 Saddle Up for Equine Literature with Anna Sochocky Community College Continuing Education: 505-428-1676 Santa Fe....See ad page 12 July 14-15 Ranch Versatility Buckle Series Loal Tucker/Josh Armstrong Trainers & Judges; 505-466- 3961 Lamy....See ad page 12 July 14-15 & September 8-9 Vaquero Horsemanship Through Classical Riding~Rudy Lara, Sr. 505-259-9704 Edgewood....See ad page 15 July 20-21 5th Annual Gimme Shelter: Trainers’ Rally for Rescues Santa Fe...See ad page 9

July 21-22 NATRC Region 3 Ride Chicken Creek Mancos, CO....See ad page 16

August 4-5 NATRC Region 3 Ride Island in the Sky~Grand Mesa National Forest; Cedaredge, CO....See ad page 16

July 27 Meditation with Horses with Lynn Clifford Arrowhead Ranch Santa Fe....See ad page 9

August 18-19 NATRC Region 3 Ride Hartsel Springs Ranch CTR Hartsel, CO....See ad page 16

July 27-29 Laying Your Positive Foundation with Horses ~ Shawna Karrasch Terra Nova Training Center Santa Fe....See ad page 4 July 28 Pony Bones Equine Anatomy with Susan Smith Arrowhead Ranch Santa Fe....See ad page 11 July 29 Riding Club Trail Ride Loal Tucker Horsemanship, Inc. 505-466- 3961 Lamy....See ad page 12 July 28/August 25/September 22 The Art of Trail Riding Series with Ta Willow Romero Estancia....See ad page 18 July 28-29 Eventing X Games Series Goose Downs Farm Galisteo....See ad page 7

August 18-19 Ranch Versatility Buckle Series Loal Tucker & Josh Armstrong ~Trainers/Judges 505-466- 3961 Lamy....See ad page 12 August 18-19 Eventing X Games Series Goose Downs Farm Galisteo....See ad page 7 August 24 Meditation with Horses Arrowhead Ranch Santa Fe....See ad page 9 August 25 Summer Sale ~ Turk Arabians Las Vegas, NM....See ad page 14 September 6-16 New Mexico State Fair Albuquerque September 8-9 NATRC 31st Annual Colorado Trail Competitive Trail Ride

Buffalo Creek, CO.....See ad page 16

September 8-9 Working with the Equine Limbs with Susan Smith Arrowhead Ranch Santa Fe....See ad page 11 September 14-15 The Inner Equestrian Seminar with Lynn Clifford Nizhoni Ranch Cerrillos....See ad page 9 September 22-23 NATRC Region 3 Ride Chokecherry Canyon CTR Farmington....See ad page 16 September 22-23 Confidence/Horsemanship Clinic Loal Tucker Horsemanship, Inc. 505-466- 3961 Lamy....See ad page 12 October 27-28 Working Cattle Clinic Loal Tucker Horsemanship, Inc. 505-466- 3961 Lamy....See ad page 12 October 27-28 Eventing X Games Series Goose Downs Farm Galisteo....See ad page 7 December 1-2 Ride Smart On the Road Clinic with Craig Cameron 505-466- 3961 Lamy....See ad page 12 | Jul/Aug 2018 | HORSE AROUND


CONVENIENT LOCATION - EASY ON/OFF I-40 20 minutes from Alb., 1 hour from Santa Fe 75 minutes from Santa Rosa


1435 Route 66, Edgewood, NM 87015 Tues-Sat 8:30am-5pm, closed Sun., Mon.

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Horse Around New Mexico, July/August 2018  

Our most popular issue of the year, Trail Riding! Find out where to ride in our spectacular state, and ways to be safer and more skilled.

Horse Around New Mexico, July/August 2018  

Our most popular issue of the year, Trail Riding! Find out where to ride in our spectacular state, and ways to be safer and more skilled.