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New Mexico February/March 2016


MYSTIQUE Learn More About This American Icon

5steps for a


Highline Hobble



Inside HIPICO Santa Fe An interview with Guy McElvain | Feb/Mar 2016 | HORSE AROUND




HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |



18 FEATURES 9 Safe Trailering

Checklist for safe springtime trailering

11 Becoming Your Horse’s Leader Learn steps through liberty training

14 Safe & Secure

Steps to Highlining and Hobbling

16 Try Showing in 2016 You might find yourself addicted!

18 5 Steps to a ‘Good Wreck’ Ways to practice to survive the next spook

20 Mustang Mystique

What you don’t know about this versatile horse



6 NM Horse News

24 Close Up HIPICO Santa Fe

32 Events Calendar

26 Horse Buying Tips for the Newbie 28 Tack for Training

36 2016 Clubs & Associations

Co-owner Guy McElvain provides insights

Horse Around New Mexico is printed six times per year: Feb./Mar., Apr./May, June/July, Aug./Sept., Oct./Nov., & Dec./Jan. Submissions of articles from all around NM are welcome! See our website or email for submission standards/ deadlines:,

34 Trainer Directory 38 Directory of Advertisers

Horse Around New Mexico©2015 All rights reserved. Horse Around New Mexico and™ are copyrighted, trademarked, and the sole property of Cecilia Kayano. All rights reserved. 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.

“You’re nuts,” said one friend about my plan to ride the Guadalupe Mountains in early December. Another friend said only, “Brrrr.” I asked several friends to join me and all gave reasons why riding at 7,250 feet in the wilderness in December was not a good idea. Although I wanted company, my desire to ride Lonesome Ridge and Dog Canyon was, for some reason, compelling. I packed up my dog and solo-ride horse, Lance, and drove first to Lonesome Ridge and then to the Dog Canyon Campground in the Guadalupe Mountains Wilderness, two miles into Texas. Riding and camping alone is a horse of a different color. There is no chit-chatting along the string of riders, no sitting around campfires drinking wine, sharing dishes of food. Instead there is lots of silent time, long stretches where the only sounds are hooves against rock, wind, horse snorting. Every once in a while I would say a fragment of a thought out loud then wonder if I actually said it out loud. Yet in the silence I was finding reasons why I had been so compelled to do this trip. The trail riding was challenging, and I saw sights I could not have imagined: rounded hills dotted with trees, six mule deer standing stone still, in line along a hilltop, ears big as flip-flops, pointed straight at Lance and I. The canyons were like none I had seen in my travels across the West: 2,000 feet straight down, river hidden at the bottom by dense forest. Being alone gave me not much else to do but marvel at my surroundings. Like all of my rides into nature, I was experiencing a kind of wisdom or healing from the earth. What had started out as a vacation was becoming more like a pilgrimage. At the Dog Canyon trail head there was a sign that quoted environmental activist Wendell Berry: “Going into the woods and the wild places has little to do with recreation and much to do with creation.” There, another reason why I must go into the wilderness. Then, when I departed Dog Canyon to head home, I received another reason. The only other camper was leaving at exactly the same time as I was, so we chatted. His name is Dennis Shepler, and he is traveling the US looking for rare birds. He came to Dog Canyon to try to see a certain owl, but it did not appear. Dennis told me he has a rare type of terminal lung cancer, and he has lived three years past his due date. He is spending his time with acute awareness of his mortality, looking for birds, often times in the wilderness. He said, “All we know for sure is that we will not get out alive.” We were silent for one moment there by his Toyota pickup. In my horse travels I have met several people like Dennis, people who have cancer or disease, prognosis good or not. Although I have no physical illness, I am still like them, venturing into nature for a healing.

Cecilia o Kayan


Lance above McKittrick Canyon in the Guadalupe Mountains Wilderness near Carlsbad.



Events Listing


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HANM * PO BOX 367* PECOS * NM 87552 OR PURCHASE ONLINE AT: Next Issue: TRAVEL & VACATION Well-written, informative, inspirational articles are welcome and subject to editing. Please include photos if possible: The next issue, the travel and vacation issue, will appear at New Mexico outlets on April 1, 2016. The deadline for submissions is February 20, 2016. The deadline for ads is March 5, 2016. For information contact Cecilia Kayano, HANM Editor, 360-239-9337,,

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ON THE COVER: PHOTO BY EVALYN BEMIS Jarratt Applewhite aboard his adopted mustang, Magic. See story, page 20.

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Liberty and Riding; What’s the Connection? March 19, 2016 12:00 - 4:00 First come, first served. Call now to reserve your spot: 505-474-5480

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Southern Santa Fe County to Have New Horse Arena

The groundbreaking for the new Stanley Cyclone Center Arena was held October 30th. The pre-engineered covered metal structure will be 41,949 square feet and is expected to be completed by May 2016. It will be located behind the Stanley Union church. Spearheaded and built by the Anaya Family, a ranching family originally from Stanley, the Cyclone name comes from the old local high school.  One of the main driving forces behind the facility is to serve 4-H youth, FFA from the Edgewood/Moriarty Schools, and Santa Fe County Schools. It will also be a venue for rodeos, horse shows, and many other equine and livestock activities operating under the Community Services Division of Santa Fe County. Eighty-five to 90% of youth who participate in the Santa Fe County Fair each year come from as far south as Edgewood and Stanley, so this new arena is a welcomed equestrian youth asset for Southern Santa Fe County. The facility has been 10 years in the making, so the groundbreaking was cause for much celebration.      

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Look for Film About Horses & Trainers This Spring Horse Shelter Diaries is a new documentary by filmmaker Donna Wells whose goal is to make the public aware that there are healthy, viable horses for adoption at The Horse Shelter in Santa Fe. The film takes place in 2014, when nine horse trainers worked with nine horses that had never been saddled, and trained them for 100 days, then competed in the Gimme Shelter: Trainers’ Rally for Rescues event at the National Day of the Cowboy celebration. Over 1200 people witnessed what a difference a little training can make in the lives of these horse. The horses were then auctioned off to pre-qualified bidders and went to their new homes. The individual personalities of the rescue horses and the role of the trainers in their lives is the focus of the new documentary. Most horses end up at a shelter because they have never been taught boundaries or skills. Wells said she was touched to see that all the trainers were genuinely invested in the welfare of the horses. “These horses are priceless,” trainer Erica Hess told the filmmaker, “and I feel like we’re just mining the gold that is in each of them.” Horse Shelter Diaries is currently in postproduction with an expected release in early 2016. For more information, contact Donna at

New Rodeo Arena for Kids & Families to Open in Angel Fire

An outdoor arena is being built in Angel Fire, a 25-minute drive from Taos, with a target grand-opening date of Memorial Day, 2016. Nancy Burch’s Roadrunner Tours is building the arena, which is about half complete. It will be 150’ by 300’ with plenty of space for barrel racers to stop. Ms. Burch wants it to be a family-friendly venue, and is aiming to attract high school rodeo competitors, young team ropers, and 4-H members. The business now offers trail riding, overnight horse camping, and outfitting. For more information, call Nancy at 575377-6416, or visit:

HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |

2016 Gathering

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Presented by Buck Brannaman and Carolyn Hunt

Carrying on the Ideals of Ray Hunt & Tom Dorrance Colt Starting Horsemanship Cutting Ranch Roping Dressage Jumping Overcoming Problems Building a Partnership with the Horse

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March 11, 12



with Mindy Bower ▪ Buck Brannaman ▪ Reata Brannaman ▪ Nick Dowers ▪ Susan Hopkins Jaton Lord ▪ Ricky Quinn ▪ Wayne Robinson ▪ Jacob Schwarm ▪ Mark Schwarm and more

Classes ~ Demonstrations ~ Trade Show ~ Silent Auction ~ Horse Sale Tickets at: Benefitting a Legacy of Legends Scholarship Program | Feb/Mar 2016 | HORSE AROUND


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HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |

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With the spring season approaching, we will start using our trailers more. This is an important time to check things for proper operation. Here are six things to check: 1. Check the trailer lights. Plug the electrical cord into your tow vehicle. Turn on the lights and walk around the trailer to make sure they are all working. Did any mud daubers nest in some of them? If there’s any that are not working, try tapping on them. If those light up, it’s probably the ground connection. If nothing happens, then it’s probably the bulb. 2. Brakes. With the key on, have someone move the spring-loaded lever on the brake control and listen for a humming noise coming from each wheel. If you hear it, then your brakes are at least getting the necessary electricity. They use electro-magnets for engagement and that means they’re getting the juice they need. You can always test your brakes this way even when you’re rolling by moving the spring-loaded lever on the brake control. They all have it. 3. Check the floor. Did you pull the mats last fall and wash it out? What shape was the it in? Damage such as rot, cracking, etc. to a wood floor will be obvious and must be addressed. If it’s an aluminum floor, look for areas where it’s turning white. Often times, you’ll see where the aluminum is getting thinner and kind of pock-marked. If so, grab a screwdriver or an awl and poke those areas hard. You’re trying to force it to go through the floor. If it can, that must be fixed. That’s usually the result of urine being left on it too long and eating the aluminum up.

4. Wheel bearings. If they run cool and without noise, that’s a good sign. You can jack up each wheel and spin them to check for noise and also grab the tire at the top and push in and out. If there’s a lot of play and a different feel, then the bearings need to be looked at. Since there’s no odometers on trailers, it’s just a crap shoot on how often to have them serviced. One should start out yearly. If there is lots of grease on the bearings, then you can usually get about another year out of them. But keep checking. They are the most important trailer component to check for safety. 5. Check and lube your hinges and door latches. WD-40 works well on aluminum and won’t attract lots of dirt like oil. Run your hands along walls, dividers, latches, tubing, etc. to see if there’s anything that catches you, such as cracks, gouges, maybe a peeled back area, or a screw backing out. These can also catch on the horse and maybe cut them. Often times you’ll see horse hair on places like these. Make sure you fix them before your horse is injured.

6. It’s a good habit to check for excessive heat from the wheels while traveling. Whenever I stop, I automatically put my hands on the tires to check temperature. No, not the exact degrees, but to make sure they’re reasonably warm and that they all feel like they’re running the same. Once you get used to the feel, you’ll be able to tell if you’ve got a low tire (a little too hot). The same goes for the metal center of the wheel. Is the metal on one or more too hot to touch? DO NOT CONTINUE TOWING. That’s more than likely a wheel bearing issue. To keep towing with worn bearings is very dangerous.

I can go on and on. My passion is trailers, and keeping horses and owners safe while on the road. Remember, keeping your trailer safe is one of the most important steps in keeping your horse safe. ________________________________ Morey Liebling is the owner of Sandia Trailer Sales and Service in Edgewood. His shop sells trailers, does safety checks and repairs, and offers custom fabrication. Contact Morey at 505-281-9860. 9 | Feb/Mar 2016 | HORSE AROUND

10 HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |

Becoming Your Horse’s Leader

This horse is walking with trainer Joost Lammers “at liberty” using only the cord of connection.



t the Heart of the Horse Sanctuary, our way of finding leadership with horses is about developing a connection with them through liberty training, horsemanship, and dressage. Here are some insights we have gleaned over many years dedicated to understanding the art of horsemanship. We often say: “We want my 88-year-old mother to be able to lead this horse with dental floss.” In other words, we want our horses so connected to us that there is no need for a lead line. We want them to “vote for us,” look for where we are and where we want them to go, how fast, which rhythm, transition from one gait to the next, by our thought, our intention, our body as an interface and our breath as the facilitator; no matter if we have our feet on the ground or in the stirrups. If this sounds complicated, here is some basic philosophy and some specific steps: What is the rider/handler’s part? Try to remember your favorite boss, team leader, or supervisor. What are the qualities of his/her leadership that still inspire you? If the leader was a bully, did he/she make you anxious? If they micromanaged, did you feel insecure?

Can you recall the feeling of satisfaction at completing a project from start to finish, having had clear guidance and lots of praise for a job well done? For our horses sake, we want to be able to calmly and clearly ask for our desired rhythm, tempo, and direction. Then we need to let the horse carry out the instructions and check in with us for guidance and support along the way. What is the horses’s part? Horses are natural followers. In the wild band structure there is a leader, most often a mare, who tells the band when to eat or drink, when to leave, where to go, etc. And within the band, there is a hierarchy that needs to be observed and challenged. This is my grazing spot, move! If there is no immediate response there is a correction: MOVE! enforced with either teeth or feet. When a newbie arrives they touch noses, exchange breaths, say hello, and figure out quickly where each belongs in the hierarchy -- who moves whom determines leadership. And when that structure is established, the herd returns to calm order.

and asking for it with simple clarity. But confusion often rules in the horse/human relationship. When we look at a new horse we often ask if he leads. What we really mean to ask is: does this horse know how to follow a leader? And when we lead this horse, are we actually clear on where we are going, how quickly or slowly we are going to get there? Or are we still busy with our workday, the next item on our to-do list, our new car, our partner, our bank account, or our horse wreck so many years ago? When this is the case, guess what: our horses start acting up because there is too much clutter in the air or static on the line. When we are busy, tight, and tense, our horse will be busy, tight, and tense. So our job as leader needs to come from the inside. We need to take our temperature first and gauge the pressure in our system before we handle our horse.

What are first steps in liberty training? In liberty training an important exercise is called “Sharing Territory” and it is literally that; time for us to just be, sit, breathe, How do we develop leadership? clean the slate, and not even interact with Leadership all boils down to being the horse until there is a calm sense of present, knowing what the next step is, unity and connection. 11 | Feb/Mar 2016 | HORSE AROUND

These two horses are clearly seeking trainer Erica Hess’ leadership and asking, “What do you want?” In horsemanship circles we often hear: “Make the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy.” Why not just make the right thing easy? What we mean is implied in these words from Tom Dorrance; feel, timing, and balance. We need to have the right energy and timing for our requests. When we ask our horse for something, we always want to ask first in a whisper, but be willing to increase our energy until the horse understands and responds. One clear correction at just the right time does way more than ongoing nagging, begging, or bribing. We have to be in balance in and with ourselves, so that the horse can be in balance with and under us. We don’t need to hold the horse’s head up by the reins and the bit; quick half halts (a signal to slow down and re-balance) help the horse to carry its own head. Consistent maintenance of rhythm and tempo in us will help the horse carry it themselves. We need to feel where we are and where the horse is in relation to us. Do we get the horses attention if we ask for it? If not, HELLO! When I ask my horse to go forward under saddle and I get a, “Well, maybe manyana,” do I dare say, “MOVE!” or am I actually scared of the horse moving? Was my request to move a half hearted request like: “Well, maybe we can move now, but not too fast please. Remember how I fell off a year ago and I do not want to repeat that”? Thoughts on Leadership from the Liberty Perspective I love horses deeply and passionately, but as a woman I know the pitfalls of being impeded by my emotions. Leadership is not masculine or feminine, but draws from the best parts of both qualities which exist in everyone. Your grounded leadership is the best gift you can give your horse, so do him a favor and believe it. Leave the emotion out of all of it; effective leadership is about creating a working bond. It is sensitive and exquisite, not mushy or needy. Getting your horse to vote for you - the most critical piece! If your horse is not looking for you, that is where you must begin.

Colts like this one can easily be started when their mind is curious and focused. They are at ease when they accept and desire our leadership.

TRY THIS: If your horse looks at you from his paddock, toss a carrot to him then walk away. Take him out of his stall and feed him his grain and then put him back. Give him opportunities to be with you in completely nourishing activities without work associations. Let your imagination go wild with this and add on to this list indefinitely. It will do nothing but improve his hopes of happy and fulfilling time spent with just you – his one-and-only person – his leader. Step back when feeling fear If you are afraid, you need to take a step backwards in your program. Go back to something that felt safe and find a request to make that you are confident about. Otherwise your horse will rightly sense your fear and find it necessary to take the leadership role himself. Sometimes we are better off taking baby steps. Praise him and reward his efforts Praise helps him understand what we are looking for. It is so important to know what really sends your horse over the moon, be it a treat or a scratch in that special spot. While we are rewarding them, everything good that is happening to him is helping to wire in a new neuro-pathway in his brain! These interactions create an important connection between you. Neurons that fire together wire together! Horses seek safety first and foremost, so help him to feel safe in your presence. This needs to be a thread that runs through every interaction you ever have with him. Safety to him is not the same as petting. TRY THIS: Feed your horse along with another horse. Give your horse something special to eat and then defend his space while the other horse tries to figure out how to get it. Do not attempt this if you are not comfortable moving the other horse. Feeding TRY THIS: Ask your horse to leave your space as you approach him with food. Don’t let him crowd you at any point while you are preparing his food. When he is a safe distance away looking at you with ears forward let him approach and eat.

12 HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |

Catching and Haltering If your horse does not stand and offer to be haltered, there are ways to get him to agree to be haltered. TRY THIS: Ask him to walk away from you and calmly follow him. In this way we are moving the horse the same way they move each other. It is the language they understand. When you feel a change between the two of you, stop your feet and he will stop as well and face you. Then you can halter him. Moving Your Horse Who moves whom is equine logic and defines the leader in each moment. This is always true on the ground or on his back. TRY THIS: Ask him to take a few steps back from you and praise him. When you are riding, ask for a slightly different momentum (either slower or faster) than the one he has chosen. Horses don’t like to be wrong or confused so keep it simple. Remember to move forward in small increments that make sense to you and to your horse. __________________________________ For The Heart of the Horse Sanctuary is located in Santa Fe, 505-474-5480,


Safe & Secure

Practice Highlining and Hobbling at Home To Pave the Way for Horse Camping


I’ve spent many nights high in the wilderness camping with my horses and have found there’s something special about sitting around an evening campfire with your stock nearby that really connects you with days gone by. Whether you envision pioneer and mountain man days or some of the great westerns with John Wayne, Gene Autry, and the like, you’ll most certainly enjoy the serenity of the moment…..that is if you can relax and not worry about your horses running off! Having a mount that is comfortable both on the highline and in hobbles is essential to your peace of mind when you find yourself far from civilization.

Start with hobbles

Introducing your horse to hobbles, like any other training, should be done in a safe and controlled environment. Fully understand how the hobbles buckle beforehand. Some hobbles buckle independently on each leg, while others pass through a loop then back to themselves and only have one buckle. I prefer to start in an empty arena with no loose objects around such as barrels, ground poles, jumps, etc. I like to put out a flake of hay to keep the horse occupied and somewhat stationary while I put

the hobbles on for the first time. The horse should be haltered with a lead rope attached. Remember to always work from the side of the horse, not the front. Avoid reaching across to the far leg and instead take the time to walk around from one side of the horse to the other. The straps should go around the pasterns of the front legs and should be snug but not tight. Buckles should be positioned to the front and the outside of the legs. Once you have both legs secured, stay by the side of the horse and pet him a little bit. Ensure he’s relatively calm, drop the lead rope, and walk away. Here’s the most important part, stay away! Most horses will rear, hop, stumble, maybe even fall down while they try and figure out what’s going on. The best thing you can do during all of this commotion is nothing at all! Without human intervention, they will figure it out. Once the horse has settled and is standing still, approach calmly and pet him some more. Do not attempt to remove the hobbles until the horse has fully figured out that his movement is limited and he’s standing relaxed. I will typically leave them on for at least 10-15 minutes the first time around, and then shorten up the sessions and give a treat or reward after I’ve safely removed them. Preferably the next session

14 HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |

will be done in an area where he can graze. This will allow him to figure out how to get where he wants to go, but also give him a reason to not want to leave. After a few sessions, the horse should recognize you as the savior of his limited movement and stand patiently while you attach or remove the hobbles. Keep in mind hobbles only limit the horse’s movement and don’t prevent an experienced hobbled horse from covering surprisingly great distances. A great accessory to hobbles is a grazing bell, which can help locate animals that have slowly wandered off. Carrying hobbles along with you on a trail ride can give you options for restraining your horse should the need arise and nothing is around for tying.

Mastering highlines

Highlining horses is an age-old method that, coupled with a few modern techniques, will provide a safe, comfortable place for your horse to be kept while also limiting the impact a horse can have on the vegetation and environment while confined. Highlining is the one thing about horse camping that requires more training

We pride ourselves in customer service and pricing! Suggested De-Worming Schedule for Horses A variety of hobbles are available -- leather, rope, or nylon and fleece. Attach a highline at least 7 feet up the tree, preferably with a tree saver. for you than the horse. I’ve yet to see a horse that didn’t immediately figure out how to highline on a properly set up line. The assumption would be that if you’re planning on camping with your horse, your horse already loads, ties, gives to pressure, and all the other things you’d expect a good trail horse to know. However I have personally put green broke and halter broke horses on highlines successfully. Select trees that have enough girth. I prefer to use a ten-inch diameter as a minimum and larger for more horses. Don’t use dead or burned trees. Tug/push firmly on the chosen tree to make sure it’s secure. Use tree savers, which prevent the rope from digging into the tree. These can be purchased or handmade. In a pinch an old girth or even a halter can be used. I prefer 100 ft. of 3/8” nylon or polypropylene rope for the main line as it’s easy to work with and rather durable. Learning a few handy knots such as the slipknot, bowline, and half hitch will make life easier, especially when it comes to taking it all down. The trees selected should have an open span large enough to allow 10 feet of spacing for each horse and a 10-foot distance from the tree to the horse to prevent a horse from chewing or rubbing on the tree, and prevent erosion around the roots of the tree. Position the main line to be above the head of your horses. Keep in mind you will have some drop in the rope towards the center, which usually means you need to attach to the trunk of the tree at 7 feet or higher. You can use a shovel or manure rake to manipulate the rope to the desired height unless you’re proficient at tree climbing! I

recommend purchasing knot eliminators to attach the lead rope to the main line. These handy devices can be easily adjusted to achieve the proper spacing and provide a loop to attach the lead ropes. When attaching the horse to the main line, leave enough slack in the lead rope that allows the horse to reach the ground with his muzzle, but not enough to get a leg over the rope. The give of the main rope will allow multiple horse to lay down, stand up, move around, or stretch. Try and keep the area under the highline free of debris and manure as inevitably they will lie down or decide to roll. Employing a combination of both hobbling and highlining can make life easier for you and your horses while camping. Horses can be feed, watered, and even tacked up while on a highline. I do prefer to give them time off the line and on hobbles at least twice a day to move about and graze. However I always put them back on the line overnight. Good housekeeping when your stay is over is important for the image of all horsemen. Highlining will leave a scar void of vegetation, so try and select an area where damage will be kept to a minimum. Do your best to smooth out the area and scatter manure when you leave. Winter is a great time to start thinking about all the things you’d like to do when the weather gets warmer, so get some hobbles, play with some knots, and start planning that big adventure! ________________________________ Matt Coulombe is the President of New Mexico Mounted Search & Rescue. He owns American Diesel Service, 505-299-0591.

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Try Showing & You Might Just Find Yourself Addicted

Colleen Novotny rides Jake during a ‘fun show’ at 4 Winds Equestrian Center in Estancia.


ever say never when it comes to riding: Until fall of last year, I was adamant about my identity as a trail rider. Period. To me, things taking place in an arena, indeed most riding competitions, were about as interesting as watching paint dry. But then I won a ribbon, and I was hooked. It was third place in a class of three, but that little prize was a turning point. I hung it up above my desk and knew I wanted a whole wall of those things, and soon. The very next week, I entered several classes at a fun show Lia Jessen (Forever West Performance Horses) was staging at 4 Winds Equestrian Center, where I happen to live. One blue, one red, and two white ribbons later, I was really hooked. As in, thinking about hiring a trainer, watching Youtube videos of ranch riding, and even dressage competitions, and daydreaming about State Fair.

BY PEGGY CONGER For a trail rider who for six years turned up her nose at anything that took place in an arena, it was a sea change. And for a rider edging toward the other side of middle age, a tall order. But while my sudden passion was new to me, it’s something quite familiar to New Mexico trainers. Ranch riding, ranch trail and ranch versatility are some of the fastest growing areas of the show world, and middle-aged people (mostly women) are the fastest growing segment of new riders participating in all types of western showing, including Western dressage and cowboy dressage. With halter, showmanship, and trail classes that involve patterns, lead transitions, logs (or in the case of the show I was in, cavalettis), gates and bridges, ranch riding classes feel a bit like showing and a bit like trail training.

16 HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |

Judges are looking for the versatility, attitude, and movement of a working ranch horse, and how expertly riders work with their horses to achieve that. Of course, good horses and riders make it look easy. “Well that horse just came out, went over a few cavalettis, trotted, cantered, and was done! Simple!” you might think, like I did, watching my first ranch riding class at the State Fair last year. But that would be missing the subtleties, because, as a newbie, you may not even see them, let alone be able to coax them out of your horse. Improve your riding My whole teenage ribbon wall thing aside, I am finding that my interest in competition is improving my riding. One example: Trainers and friends have told me (many times and to no avail) that I tend to lean forward in the saddle. But it wasn’t until a lesson on my leased mare focusing on a proper seat that I saw exactly what I was doing. Afterward, just for grins I took my trail horse in to do the same pattern and noticed he kept speeding up in one corner. Then I got it: Every time we neared that corner, I was a little worried that Joe, no fan of arena work, might take off out the open gate, so I’d lean forward. Poor guy would speed up, just trying to follow directions. I gave him my mental mea culpas for getting that so very wrong all these years. Trying to do it right in the arena had started to fix a problem for me on the trail. World western dressage champion and AQHA World Show finalist Nance McManus says your riding improves by necessity when you show. With their multitude of distractions, shows put a lot of pressure on horses and riders. “You lose 70 percent of the horse you had (at home) when you get to the show,” she says. Figuring out how to get that back is part of the skill of competing. How to get started If you’re serious about competing, you might want to work with a trainer before you decide on a discipline or buy a horse in the hopes of competing. “It’s important to get people on the proper horse for the sport,” says Kristine Bowker, owner of Kiss The Moon Equestrian Center in Moriarty. At KTM, Bowker and Teri Klein-Rakoski specialize in starting riders in a variety of disciplines. Their advice: Set specific goals from the start.

How to do that? Nance McManus suggests first you go to shows as a spectator or better yet, shadow a friend who already is involved. “See what it’s all about,” she says. Figure out what appeals to you and decide how you are going to participate in it.

minutes, “ she says, referring to the two patterns that she did in Tulsa. But now Ruiz is working with a different horse. She appreciates the difference that experience has made: “When you learn, you get better for your next horse,” she says.

In competing, you can set your sights on large goals (national or regional competitions) or small ones (local shows or schooling shows).

The show world is huge. It encompasses everything from serious riders making real money at competition (and spending real money to compete) to beginners like myself just having fun at schooling shows.

Last year, Karen Ruiz got involved in Western dressage for the first time and competed all the way to the nationals in Tulsa -- in one season. She says the commitment and the discipline was good for her and her horse.

No matter what you’re interested in, there are plenty of resources, associations, and great New Mexico trainers ready to fill you in and get you going in the right direction. Here are a few:

‘‘Western dressage gave me a purpose, a reason to progress,” she says. “It made me have to focus on how to ride and how to ask my horse for what I wanted.” She trained with Erlene Seybold-Smythe, who is third in the world at the AMHA Grand National and world championships in western dressage. Ruiz spent many weekends preparing for competitions at Seybold-Smythe’s Roy-El Morgan Farm in Espanola. “It was a lot of work for eight

• Western dressage: The Western Dressage Association of New Mexico site lists trainers, instructors and events, • The Western Dressage Association of America, • Ranch riding: American Quarter Horse Association,

Albuquerque Pet Memorial Service APMS is owned by David and Kelly Gifford. David has over 35 years of experience in the cremation industry. He is certified as a federally recognized instructor in the process of cremation. Kelly Gifford is a registered nurse, manages the APMS office and, along with David, is an avid animal lover. She is pictured below with Rohan and Sofie. Albuquerque Pet Memorial Service is the largest cremation service provider in the state of New Mexico, in operation since 1999.

• Lia Jessen: Her Holiday of Fun Winter Fiesta training shows continue through March at 4 Winds Equestrian Center. For more information, see listing in our events calendar, page 32. • Erlene Seybold-Smythe: Roy-El Morgan Farm: www.roy-elmorgans. com • Kiss the Moon Equestrian Center: • More: For a primer on showing, check out this post -- __________________________________ Horse Around NM Associate Editor Peggy Conger is a writer, editor, blogger, and trail rider. She rides an adopted mustang and a Spanish Barb. She can be reached at

When a beloved companion dies, treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.

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• Find shows: Nance McManus compiles an excellent calendar of local and regional shows on the website

Albuquerque Pet Memorial Service provides a sensitive alternative for animal owners. We promise to treat your animal companion with the dignity and respect they deserve. We offer: •

Convenient and coordinated response when your horse or pet dies.

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In your time of need, let Albuquerque Pet Memorial Service help. | Feb/Mar 2016 | HORSE AROUND


1. Evaluate your horse’s frame of mind. From the moment you see your horse-standing in a pasture or stall, determine whether he is relaxed, worried, or stressed. 2. Relax your horse before you get on –


Steps to a ‘Good Wreck’ by Julie Phillips There is no such thing as a “bomb-proof ” horse. But by taking these steps, you will be on your way to having a more reliable mount.


aving “controlled wrecks” was introduced in the last issue of Horse Around New Mexico magazine by Matt Coulombe, President of New Mexico Mounted Search and Rescue. I agree, teaching your horse and yourself to have controlled wrecks is key to rider safety. Moreover, it might be THE WAY to becoming a better horseman. There is a lot to learn to be able to have a controlled wreck. Yet if you learn how, you are on your way to being a more skilled horseman. Here are some steps:

18 HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |

• With a long lead rope or lunge line, move your horse’s feet in order to gain respect and relaxation, not to tire your horse out or get the bucks out. If your horse overreacts to your request to increase speed or change direction, do not overreact yourself, and do not show anger or distress. Remain the same. Show your horse that no matter what he does, you will remain consistent, and he will learn to obey your request without resistance or fear. • Wait for the lick and chew response after a request (backing, bending right and left, changing gaits, stopping, etc.). Licking and chewing is a parasympathetic response (automatic, like breathing, happens without thought). When a horse goes from the flight state of mind to the thinking state of mind, this change is often signaled with a lick and chew, deep sigh, blinking eyes, you know the signs. 3. Take small steps to desensitize your horse. • From the ground, rub your jacket on your horse. Swing it about, bump it into his legs. Take your time so the horse can process, give breaks for rewards and wait for the lick and chew. • Once your horse is calm and accepting, put on your helmet and mount. Have whoever is helping you do the same things with the jacket that you did on the ground. Once your horse is calm, have the helper hand your jacket to you, nicely at first then more assertively. Maybe, have them toss it to you. • While you are mounted, try swinging the jacket around from side to side, over your horse’s head, under his belly. If it is too much for him, wad it up until he understands. And if YOU cannot do it, find someone

who can. It will make it easier for your horse. Once he is confidant, you can learn to do it, and your horse will gain confidence in you. 4. Develop a more balanced seat. • Become a better rider and do it in a more controlled environment, like a round pen or arena. • Post while you are trotting, and listen to the footfall of your horse. Posting establishes balance and builds strength. It helps your body get into the rhythm of the horse’s movement. The more you post, the more your muscles will grow stronger and develop memory, so when your horse unexpectedly reacts (spooks) your body will quickly keep or regain a balanced seat. • Ride bareback or with a pad. Again, do this in a location of reduced risk, like an arena with soft footing. Wear a helmet. Even just walking bareback will help you become a more balanced rider. Try riding bareback for 5-10 minutes after each long, saddled ride. You don’t have to ride bareback for long lengths of time to establish better balance. Plus, you get the benefits of getting in closer touch with the feeling of your horse’s movement. 5. Establish and practice a plan to handle wrecks. • Find a trainer/instructor/friend who will teach you how to handle spooks or bolts. Know the propensity of your horse and know how you will correct his spook/bolt. • While riding, practice not bracing when your horse speeds up or acts nervous. Practice body relaxation whenever you ride. Breathe deeply. Check your seat, your inner thighs, and your calves. Sit deeply in the saddle, and let your hips move with the horse. Learn to transfer this “no-bracing” way of riding to any unexpected movement. Most riders brace before, during, and after a spook. Bracing before the horse spooks gives a signal to the horse to be on alert. Bracing after the spook tells him that danger still exists. Keep your focus off the “what if ” and stay focused on moving your horse to where you want him to go. Everyone who rides will have some type of a wreck: a spook, a bolt, a rear, or a buck. By practicing how to control the wrecks, you will increase safety for yourself and fairness to your horse. Moreover, you will be on your way to being a more skilled horseman. __________________________________________________ Julie Phillips is a horse trainer and owns the Starrynight guest ranch. She trains and instructs from her guest ranch and her Albuquerque facility. She can be reached at 505-554-0577 or 575638-5661. | Feb/Mar 2016 | HORSE AROUND




of these horses are mustangs? BY EVALYN BEMIS


We rode up a valley to the point where it ended at the ridge top. We looked down the steep drop off on the backside to an arroyo and wondered if it was feasible to continue. There were no hoof prints to suggest there was a passage out. Jarratt went first on Magic, his 12-year-old mustang. There was no hesitation in Magic’s step, no problem with lowering his haunches to slide down the hillside, and finding his balance in the deep, shifting footing. We followed his calm lead around and off some boulders at the base of the hill and soon found our way out the arroyo into another great vista of Ghost Ranch. Magic’s capabilities on that 4-hour ride impressed me. I wondered if Magic was just magic or if some of these qualities were due to his former life as a wild mustang. That led me to the question...

...what is a mustang? 20 HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |


ther than having the common thread of wild heritage, there are as many variations among mustangs as there are among domestically-bred horses. Magic (pictured on cover) and his little band were captured from the Carson National Forest near Abiquiu when he was about 8 or 9. His DNA reveals Andalusian and Barb blood. Magic’s son Dreamer, now also owned by Jarratt, inherited Rocky Mountain, Gaetano, and even a bit of Haflinger breeding from his mother’s side of the family tree. Valerie Melio’s 5-year-old mustang Mac came from the Piceance/East Douglas Horse Management Area in Colorado. He has predominantly Quarter Horse bloodlines but also has some “NonArabian Oriental” and Brazilian ancestry. He is a tall, good-looking horse, with a broad chest and back. Blue is a small gray mustang rounded up in southern New Mexico, who was described as a hard-to-handle bronc until he came into the hands of a patient trainer. Terry Flanagan purchased Blue, and he has become a successful hunter, super trail horse, and all-around fun guy. Terry has not tested Blue’s DNA, but it would not be a surprise to learn there might be a little Morgan or Connemara knocking about his bloodlines. Vigor in the Genes The mixing of all these horse types creates a hybrid vigor in mustangs. To survive into adulthood, mustangs in the wild undoubtedly experience plenty of hard knocks including hunger and bad storms. They are generally easy keepers, with good feet, built for longevity and endurance. They are often small in stature but can do most anything you can think up for them, with a lot less eyes popping out of their skulls about things. After all, how can a box of flowers ringside begin to compare with a mountain lion crouching on a boulder? Magic Story Jarratt Applewhite is my go-to person for a discussion about mustangs. He adopted Magic, who had been a stallion when he arrived with his herd at the The Horse Shelter in Cerrillos. Magic was living in a large round pen where several attempts to

put a halter on him had ended in failure. In order to get him to Jarratt’s place, a trailer was parked in the pen and Magic’s hay placed inside it with the door left open. Eventually hunger overcame his fear and he learned that being inside the trailer was okay, out of the wind and weather. Once he got to Jarratt’s barn, Magic was given time to get used to the new sights and smells, and then Jarratt started ever so slowly to tame him. Magic’s initial terror at being touched by a long pole extended through the bars of the stall or having the soft end of a rope draped over his back eventually subsided. Jarratt recalled a moment when, at the end of a session, Magic laid down in his pen and seemed almost to go into a trance. A profound change occurred in him, at the deepest, neurological level, and from there forward Magic accepted comfort from “his” human. Jarratt told me, “A wild horse who has been tamed and gentled by someone skilled is much more likely to develop a special bond with humans than the average domestic horse. Their journey has convinced them that people can protect them and make them feel good whereas the average horse raised in a barn usually takes humans for granted.” Jarratt feels that a horse is 90% tamed at the point where you can walk up to it without the horse running away. He knew Magic was tamed the first time he felt Magic push back against Jarratt’s hand because the rubbing felt good to him. It was the transition from uncertainty to acceptance to pleasure. Taming, then Training Tamed, however, is not the same thing as

Magic’s son Dreamer approaches his owner, Jarratt Applewhite. Photo by Evalyn Bemis. trained. Training a horse born in the wild takes time and patience and will be different for every horse. An understanding of natural horsemanship methods is invaluable for working with mustangs. By taking slow and positive steps, you will create a responsive, capable, and well-rounded athlete that will cost you little in feed and vet bills and reward you immensely with trust and companionship. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON MUSTANGS:

• Mustang Heritage Foundation • Jicarilla Mustangs • Bureau of Land Management Photo credits: All by Evalyn Bemis except as noted. Page 20 photo, from left to right: • Mac, owned by Valerie Melio • A rider at the Caja del Rio NATRC ride


with trainer Chad u • Mirabelle Saulsbury • Terry Flanagan on Blue (photo by Flying Horse) • Unnamed mustang herd stallion at the El Rito Ranger Station • Clint Mortenson on Dreamer • Rocco Fancellu with Max

• Magic with son Dreamer

Evalyn Bemis is a lifelong equestrian who continues to learn from every horse she meets and is grateful for every opportunity to engage with them and the people who love them.


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Equine Training: Horse and rider, colt starting, equines with issues, riding instruction, all disciplines. For more info and to schedule lessons. contact NSA@qwestofÞ Or join Rudy for a lesson clinic at 4 Winds Equestrian Center. To Schedule: Click on events

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SAVE THE DATE! MAY 21-22, 2016 2nd Annual New Mexico

Trainer Showcase & Horse Expo 4 Winds Equestrian Center, Estancia, NM

The event you loved last year is coming back, bigger and better! More trainers, more horses, more spectacular events! (And we’ve put in an order for sunny skies and warmer temps!)


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Spring Center is Just Around the Corner! Time to Start Thinking about YOUR Equine Dream Check out the Lease N Learn Program at 4 Winds Equestrian Center

Always wanted a horse but worried about the cost and commitment or getting in over your head?

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TRAINERS: Call Colleen at 505-384-1831 now showcase times you want! And we welcome new trainers! Come andLease ‘N Learn is the Answer!! 4 Winds demonstrate your unique skills and abilities to New Mexico’s Give us abest call for more information * 505-384-1831 audience of horse enthusiasts. Our Program includes a limited number of the “Critically Rare” Spanish Barb Horses.....

VENDORS: We heard you! We have a brand-new layout this year BOARDING AVAILABLE*STALLS OR PADDOCKS*RIDING YEAR ROUND IN OUR INDOOR ARENA that keeps you close to the action, all day long. Bring your own tent, or take shelter under one of ours! Call Colleen at 505-384-1831, or Peggy at 505-384-3029, to reserve your space.

LOOK @ our new LOOK Horse Around New Mexico Magazine has more pages and more how-tos.

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Close Up HIPICO Santa Fe

ARTICLE BY OZANA STURGEON Photo by Ozana Sturgeon.

If you live in New Mexico and you love horses, then you’ve heard of this past summer’s  biggest event, the Summer Series hosted by HIPICO Santa Fe. You’ve also probably wondered how this Grand Prix level world class show jumping event ended up here in the Land of Enchantment? Well Horse Around New Mexico Magazine recently sat down with Guy McElvain. Together with Brian Gonzales, Guy is the owner of the new HIPICO Santa Fe.


lifelong horseman and 18th generation New Mexican and successful businessman, Brian Gonzales brings both equine and business knowledge to this equicenter operation. Brian has a deep devotion to New Mexico and the Santa Fe community. His family has been involved with ranching, farming, and raising horses for centuries in Northern New Mexico. His wife, Phyllis Mooney, has many years of experience in event management and with running an A-rated circuit show. In 1999 Brian co-founded the Caza Ladron Hunt and the Grand Prix de Santa Fe in 2004, with his friend and business partner, Guy McElvain.

Mexico horse family, which ran Rancho La Querencia in Lemitar, New Mexico. Guy began show jumping in 1995 and entered his first Grand Prix competition in 2001. Guy is also president and CEO of McElvain Energy Inc, in Denver, CO., also a family-owned business. Guy co-founded the Caza Ladron foxhunt club in 1999 and co-founded the Grand Prix de Santa Fe in 2004. Guy and his wife Sharon continue the family legacy of breeding champion Holsteiners at Rancho Corazon in Lemitar, NM, and competing across the country. They have built their farm into a first class breeding, training, sales, and foal management facility.

Guy has been involved with horses his entire life. He grew up in a prominent New 24 HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |

OS: It makes sense to have a new name for a new venture but why HIPICO , does it mean anything ? GM: Yes, it comes from the Greek word of hippodrome which was a stadium for horse sport and other athletics. It is used in Latin-speaking countries as hipico to describe a horse country club, basically. It’s a place where people who enjoy horses might go for riding, eating ,watching competitions, or competing themselves. We liked it for Santa Fe as we want it to be a community place. We want the locals of New Mexico to feel at home there. OS: Why did you choose Santa Fe ? GM: First of all, because it is our home town, both being natives and, secondly, because Santa Fe is perfect for horse sport.

The weather is perfect during the prime show season of summer and fall. There is so much to do in Santa Fe besides the horse show. People want to come to Santa Fe and having a horse show is just another reason. Also Santa Fe is a big name in the southwest and horses were so important to the historical culture and still are, so people relate to that.

for future sporting events. We want to look for other creative ways of using the venue and generating interest in Santa Fe. For instance, we think it would be a great venue for concerts, fiestas and festivals, athletic events, and social gatherings.

I have traveled all over the US, Canada, and Mexico for horse shows and everywhere I went people knew I was from New Mexico and they always asked, “Why don’t you put on a show in Santa Fe?” So something about the people who love horse sport are also drawn to Santa Fe. I think it is because the cultures cross and they identify. Additionally, when you show horses, a lot of the time you end up going to shows where the facilities are and often those are places you would never go to if they did not have that facility. Santa Fe is a big draw even without the facility.

OS: How can people get involved? Do you use volunteers? Who can a business contact if they want to become a sponsor?

OS: The 2015 Summer Series was a sold out event . Do you know now how many horses, riders and spectators the event drew to Santa Fe ? GM: For a first year event, we were very pleased with the turnout. We proved to ourselves that this idea will work as long as we keep up our bargain to work towards a world-class event. While I don’t think we have exact numbers we roughly had 300-500 horses per week, 200-350 exhibitors per week, and 3,000 spectators per week and an additional 300400 support staff for exhibitors per week. All of that had a sizable effect on the economy of Santa Fe, and we expect to have a big impact on the city and state in the future. OS: Besides the Summer Series, what other equestrian events will HIPICO host in 2016? Who do you want to target ? GM: We want to support all disciplines of horse sport, so we are looking to other local organizations to consider our venue

GM: There are many volunteer, sponsorship and marketing opportunities available. The business-to-business aspect as well as the community and regional support is very important to us at HIPICO Santa Fe.  Information can be found on our website, OS: I know in the past and last year you’ve made generous donations to local nonprofit organizations serving at-risk children and equines. Tell me more about the new scholarship offered to New Mexico students pursuing university degree programs in the areas of veterinary medicine. GM: In 2015, we began our own scholarship program for students pursuing agriculture or veterinary medicine in New Mexico.  This program was one of the beneficiaries of the Grand Prix de Santa Fe, now held at HIPICO.  We were also able to support the New Mexico Suicide Intervention Project and the Take2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program. OS: What are your thoughts, wishes and fears for HIPICO’s future beyond the 2016 season ? GM: We plan to build something exciting for the equestrian community as well as for Santa Fe and our region. Our dream is to create a community center that has a positive impact on horse sport and showcases the incredible natural beauty and culture of New Mexico. We want to blend intimate hospitality with excellence in horse sport in a unique, New Mexican way.

Sarah Invicta Williams aboard Bandit owned by Kendra Lyon at HIPICO Santa Fe. Photo by Ozana Sturgeon. OS: And last but not least, tell me about some of the Special Classes that you’ve introduced like the Ride and Drive Sandia Mini Cooper Challenge. GM: Our special classes were exciting and fun.  HIPICO is a place where horse sport can become accessible to a larger audience and community. Our Sandia Mini Cooper challenge was a great example. We combined show jumping with car racing while featuring Indy heroes from right here in New Mexico. Having the Unsers as part of our show was an unprecedented combination and a real crowd pleaser. HIPICO Santa Fe will continue to offer special classes and shows - to innovate and create events that haven’t been seen before. Competitions that showcase these amazing equine athletes and invite our sponsors and the public to be more involved are critical to our vision at HIPICO Santa Fe. We can’t wait to invite everyone to our show series this year.     SUMMER SERIES SCHEDULE 3 WEEKS!* SANTA FE WELCOME WEEK  July 27–31, 2016 SANTA FE FIESTA WEEK  August 3–7, 2016 GRAND PRIX de SANTA FE WEEK  August 10–14, 2016  Admission is Free _________________________________     Ozana Sturgeon is a photographer and writer. Find more photos of HIPICO Santa Fe at

From left: HIPICO Santa Fe co-owners Brian Gonzales and his wife Phyllis Mooney, and Guy and Sharon McElvain. Photo by Adrian Wills. | Feb/Mar 2016 | HORSE AROUND



Horse Buying Tips for the Newbie

How to Avoid Common Pitfalls & Find the Horse of Your Dreams


o you want to buy your first horse! That’s great; horses are majestic, noble creatures that can give us hours of great rides and boundless pleasure. Let’s get started and make a list of all the traits we want in order of importance--color, breed, and age -- after all, you’ve always wanted a dappled Arabian with an arch in his neck and a fountain-like tail. Whoa! Why don’t we start with the single most important thing to consider -- an honest evaluation of your abilities and skill as a rider along with your needs and expectations for this horse. Unless you are Saddle Bronc World Champion Billy Etbauer and can score a 93 on Cool Alley, then the wild-eyed buckskin in the corner is probably not for you even if you’ve always wanted that creamy color accented by a black mane and tail. Here are tips to help you buy the right horse:

usually have a lot of broke, gentle horses around waiting on buyers. Most will have already been sold. Be flexible about breed. Although there are differences between breeds in terms of suitability for more advanced levels of horsemanship and also differences in size and way of moving, the beginning rider should not concern themselves too much with these. I have seen horses of all breeds that are suitable for beginners if all other criteria are met. The traits in the bloodline are more important than the breed. Buy the right size. A horse must be one that you can comfortably mount, preferably from the ground. That horse should also be able to carry you comfortably.

Watch the agent/owner ride the horse first. I had an experience buying from a woman who told me her 14.1 hand mare was perfect for my client, an 80-year-old, but spry, gentleman. The mare had been in cutting training and then ridden on a ranch for a couple of years. “She’s dead Be honest about your abilities and broke,” were the words used to describe experience. Determine what you want her. I saddled her up ignoring a couple of to use the horse for and the qualities you signs, pinning of her ears, and a general need from your horse. sour attitude. Before I was even in the saddle, she broke in two. Now, I’ve been Get the help of a good, reputable agent/ breeding, training, and starting horses for trainer who locates well bred, goodmany years and am no amateur. Let me tell minded individuals, puts his/her personal you this mare bucked me off harder than touch on them, and matches them with the any horse ever had, breaking several ribs in right buyer. the process. Later we found out this mare had flunked out of cutting training and Buy from a good breeder. Unfortunately had been on a dude ranch for the previous if a breeder is worth his salt, he doesn’t two years and was being marketed for a 26 HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |

relative. Get the real story and watch the horse being ridden first. Be prepared to pay more for a solid, trained horse. As in most things, price is usually correlated with quality. Good horses cost money. The price of the horse usually reflects the breeding of the horse, the age of the horse, and the training and time that has been put into that horse. Younger horses with less training will cost less than an older, finished horse. If you are an experienced rider and capable of making a horse, then a young training project is a way to go. However if you are lacking skills and purchase a young horse, that horse will then have to be sent out to train and end up costing as much as a finished horse would have. Well bred horses will cost more than horses with less shiny pedigrees. Again, well bred horses are more predictable in behavior and therefore performance. Be informed when considering a rescue. Undoubtedly, there are good horses that, through no fault of their own, end up needing a home and yes, these horses need to be placed in good, deserving homes. Be aware that when you take on a rescue, you may be taking on a lot of unknowns. This is especially of concern for beginners. You may be taking on a lot of training expense, or the horse may not be ridable at all. If you are considering a rescue horse, work with a shelter that has a training program or find a trainer who has worked with shelters and rescue horses. Ask for a soundness guarantee from the seller. Have a veterinarian check the horse for good health.

Clinician Mark Rashid wrote a book, No Good Horse is a Bad Color, and I couldn’t agree more! You may have a color preference in horses, however a horse of another color should not be a deal breaker especially if it means giving up one of the important criteria (bloodlines, size, age, training) that really matter. So, in the quest for that new horse, by all means find a professional who can help. Be honest about your abilities and expectations, what can you afford, the purpose of the horse. Look at bloodlines, ask questions, and watch the horse being ridden. If you follow the steps outlined above, you will minimize the common mistakes made in horse purchases and make your riding experience safer and more enjoyable. Happy trails! __________________________________

Buying your first horse? Thomas Garcia welcomes your questions. Call him at Taos Tack and Pet Supply: 575-737-9798.

Thomas is the owner of Spanish Creek Performance Horses and Taos Tack and Pet Supply. He has been involved in horses his whole life. He got bucked off his first horse at four years of age and started his first colt in 1979. He has been breeding Quarter Horses since the mid 80s. Currently he owns16 mares, all daughters and granddaughters of world champions, and two stallions -- one is a two-time world qualifier and the other has a ROM in halter and heading.

Custom, Intimate Portraits of Your Pet Drawn or Painted by

L. Thayer Hutchinson 908-235-1037 Visit my Facebook | Feb/Mar 2016 | HORSE AROUND



ASK YOUR TRAINER ABOUT THESE TOOLS Article and Photos by Vikki Chavez


here is some controversy around the use of artificial aids. Knowing when, where, why and how to use them brings the most effective and humane results. Here are some popular training tools for avid equestrians:


Spur styles vary greatly per discipline. They assist with lateral movement, improve response to leg cues, increase speed, stride or engage hindquarters, and more. When used correctly, spurs improve performance and communication between horse and rider. Select the most humane option to gain results.

difficult to be ridden without a tie down on. Caution is also needed when trail riding. Tie downs can restrict ability of a horse to safely regain balance and carry their rider in varied terrain or poor footing. As with martingales, use head setting equipment correctly, kindly, and safely.

Elastic Rein Ends

Whether built in or attached to the end of regular reins, these gentle elastic loops are designed to soften rein-to-bit contact. They are great for novice or heavy-handed riders and for teaching horses that are not comfortable with contact to accept it.


Martingale styles include running, standing, racing, German, and 10-ring. There are various training forks and attachments used with breast collars that have a similar effect. Their role is to affect head carriage, most commonly to prevent raising the head too high. Each option provides a specific function and freedom of movement. Select the correct style for your horse and riding discipline. Used correctly, martingales can increase performance, and/or safety under saddle.

Gadget Halters

There are rubber and chain combos, cable poll, blocker style, metal tabbed slide, and other versions of correction halters. An easy horse with great ground manners who handles perfectly no matter what is going on is ideal, however, not everyone owns that horse, or knows how to correct a vice. For those working with a challenging horse, or anyone who needs to handle a difficult horse safely, these halters are great to have on hand. Used as directed, they

Tie Downs

Similar to the standing martingale, tie downs prevent the horse from raising its head too high. They are usually attached to a ring on the cinch, but may be attached to a breast collar. Common mistakes are adjusting it too tight, or using one with a heavy-handed rider. As a result, chronic head tossing occurs, making the horse 28 HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |

can stop a bad habit from becoming a vice. After a few shenanigans with unexpected consequences, many horses don’t try their goofiness again. For safety reasons, don’t hard tie or cross tie horses in these types of halters.

Tie Release

With options like blocker tie rings and quick release clips, you can avert disaster when things don’t go as planned. Select styles that allow for a partial release, so your horse can learn to relax and give to pressure. This is better than tying in a breakaway halter. Breakaways not only teach some horses that pulling harder eventually breaks them free, but your horse will be naked and gone.


A surcingle introduces youngsters to girth pressure and line direction without any weight. The multiple rings allow a wide array of rein placement options. You can use surcingles for teaching rein contact, balance, transitions, ground driving, and for warming up, reconditioning after injury, or restarting a horse with training issues. They are usually used with a pad underneath.

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Side Reins

There are many styles of side reins. Leather with rubber tubbing, elastic inserts, or flexible donuts are nice as they have a soft give to them. You can use side reins with a saddle, bareback pad, or surcingle. Adjust the reins loose enough to allow for natural freedom of movement and soft contact on the bit. Lunging with side reins at an event can provide a more focused, safe, and controlled exercise. A nervous horse is more likely to get loose off a 35-foot line in just a halter.

Specialty Pads

No matter how well your saddle fits, or how balanced you and your horse go under saddle, top lines change! Condition, age, health, training, weight loss or gain can all affect saddle fit. You would not want to run in shoes that are too small or different sizes. Your horse should not be asked to perform in poor fitting tack. Inserts, risers, shims, impact gel, memory foam, wool padding, and other problem-fit solutions can make for a comfortable saddle through changing top lines, uneven muscle development, and endless confirmation challenges.

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Leg Protection

An over reach slice can cause soreness or lameness. For turnout, lunging, riding and hauling, bell boots and/or leg boots can prevent a whole lot of problems cheaply, quickly, and easily. Whether you jump, slide, gallop, extend the trot or trail ride, add the appropriate leg boots for your discipline so you can spend more time riding, and less time talking with your veterinarian. | Feb/Mar 2016 | HORSE AROUND



A Better Way:

Why I Created Horse Side Vet Guide By Doug Thal DVM DABVP

Amy’s barrel horse, Spice, had not been right for a while. He stumbled sometimes coming around the second barrel, and his times were slower than they had been. After work, he seemed to flinch when Amy pressed on his back. Maybe he pulled a muscle? Maybe it was a saddle fit issue? Amy spoke to several friends and researched the Internet for answers. She tried a variety of supplements, had acupuncture and chiropractic performed on Spice, and even bought a new saddle and therapeutic pad. Some days Spice would have good runs, some days bad. After 3 months, he didn’t seem much better, and now he seemed lame. Amy finally called me, and I examined Spice. Turns out, Spice had a fetlock suspensory ligament injury of the right hind limb. It started out as a minor strain, but worsened over time. His back was sore from moving unevenly behind. Spice ended up requiring extensive and expensive vet treatments, and was off work for 18 months before the ligament was healed. Had we identified and treated the injury earlier, there would have been a shorter healing period, a much smaller veterinary bill, and less suffering for horse and owner. As a long-time equine vet, scenarios like this are all-too familiar to me. Misinformation (often found on the Internet-a/k/a “Dr. Google”) leads caretakers to delay contacting a vet. Of course, some horses heal fine without veterinary help. But sometimes the delay in procuring a diagnosis and targeted treatment may cause a worse prognosis for the horse and ultimately increased vet costs. Birth of An Idea In early 2011, years of drought and recession had really hit our regional horse industry. Equine owners were struggling

I made images that show you what anatomy you really need to know. Dozens of these images and instructional videos are ALWAYS on the phone, with or without an Internet connection.

against the costs of hay and fuel, and the “Fast Facts” (short, concise articles on reduced value of horses. Caretakers were almost every aspect of horse health). trying harder than ever to find answers to horse health questions on the Internet, and • HSVG includes dozens of our custhey were delaying calls to the vet whenever tom-made anatomic illustrations and possible. short instructional videos, ALWAYS on the phone when you need them, About that same time, smartphones were with or without Internet connection. exploding on the scene. When I bought • HSVG contains concise informamy first one that spring, it occurred to me tion about everything from common that this little device was going to change equine health problems to rare disthe way people did things. For the first time eases, veterinary diagnostic tests and in history, everyone would have immediate treatments, horse owner skills and access to the world of information on supplies. their phone! I wondered….. Could I use a smartphone to help horse owners make better horse health decisions?

I envisioned building a tool that would provide horse owners the key horse health information they needed, right when they needed it, on their smartphone – in the stall, at a show, on a ranch, or out on the trail. I envisioned them using this tool when they first had a question about their horse, while they were literally standing next to their horse - “horse side”. And that is how Horse Side Vet Guide was born.

What is HSVG & How Does it Work?

Horse Side Vet Guide is based on a constantly growing, online database of thousands of interconnected equine health

30 HORSE AROUND | Feb/Mar 2016 |

• Most importantly, HSVG provides helpful information from the moment you make an Observation. Observations include things like “my horse has a runny eye, seems wobbly, isn’t eating, broke into the feed room last night, is depressed, has a wound to the lower hind leg etc…” Currently there are over 660 observations in HSVG, and the list keeps growing! The list is based on my 23 years of experience as an equine vet. • HSVG also acts as a hub for thousands of reliable, important web resources for horse owners, (we call them Outside Resources) that expand upon the information we have created.

1. Currently 662 Horse Owner Observations and counting! Here are the first few of the list. 2. The kind of information contained within each of the 662 Observations, always on your phone, with or without Internet connection!


2 3. The app updates with new information from our database every time you open it. That step is the only one that requires Internet connection.



4. Newly added records are signified by the little red badges attached to the various categorical tables on the main menu screen.

What an Adventure!

When I started, I did had no idea how hard it was going to be to create HSVG. Certainly I would not have gotten far without my wife, Kristin. She supported the idea from the beginning and has tirelessly worked on it with me. When we started, we knew nothing about software development. The learning curve was steep and we made plenty of mistakes. Over the course of two and a half years, we struggled with many software development teams before finally finding the right ones. Much of the work we did in the middle of the night (every night) - since we had a baby son to care for and the veterinary practice to run. At times we were exhausted, but our commitment to HSVG was always strong. We have always been, and still are, extremely passionate about this project. Over time, we gradually defined the information and the structure that you really need when you have a question about your horse’s health.

The Future

We have many exciting improvements planned for HSVG. Our goal is to help you be the best equine caretaker you can be by providing you with reliable, relevant information, and by helping you communicate better with your local veterinarian. HSVG works best when it is used as a supplement to, not a substitute for, that important relationship.

How to Get the Horse Side Vet Guide Smart Phone App

• The Horse Side Vet Guide smartphone app is available for iPhone/ iPad and Android devices and costs a $4.99 one-time fee. See more here: • The FREE website is at . You can see the same information here as is contained in the app. But unlike the app, the website requires Internet connection and is not made for mobile use. • The app has been downloaded in over 60 countries and has stellar reviews on both stores. HSVG is widely considered the best horse health app in the world.

You can search our website for information using our equine models. This is just one of many features we will add to the app in the future.

• We have almost 50,000 interested followers on a very lively Facebook page. Join us for quizzes and case studies, horsesidevetguide

Doug Thal DVM DABVP has been a horseman his entire life. His father was a steeplechase rider and polo player. Doug grew up on a family cattle and horse ranch in Mora County, NM and has been riding and training horses since early childhood. He has been an equine veterinarian since 1993 working on a mix of performance and pleasure horses. His has special interest in lameness and surgery. Thal is board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, in Equine Practice. He operates his equine veterinary hospital, Thal Equine, outside of Santa Fe ( He can be reached at . | Feb/Mar 2016 | HORSE AROUND


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Horse around nm febmarch 2016  

Special "Get Ready" issue. Training, tack and gear. Get ready to ride!

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