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FEATURES CRESTON 4-H..................................................................................... 6 RESCUE HORSE ‘OTIE’ TO STAR IN ‘EMERALD BAY’......................... 8 OUTBACK TRAIL RIDES.................................................................... 10 UPCOMING HORSE EVENTS............................................................ 12 PASO ROBLES HORSE PARK............................................................. 14 NIGERIAN DWARF GOATS................................................................. 16 SADDLE MAKER FORGES A NAME FOR HIMSELF........................... 18 TEAL HEALING................................................................................. 20


Savannah Shoemaker pets her two Nigerian Dwarf goats, Oreo, left, and Peanut, right, in their temporary home on the lawn of the Shoemaker’s Atascadero property. - Read more on page 16.

Photo and story by NICHOLAS MATTSON

BREEDING MANAGEMENT...............................................................22 HERTHA WOLF-AREND: THE POWER OF BELONGING...........................................................23 JACK VARIAN: I OWE MY SOUL TO THE PACIFIC, GAS AND ELECTRIC STORE.................................24 LEE PITTS: FAMOUS COWS.................................................................................25

Cover Photo Courtesy of Outback Trail Rides In the summer, Outback Trail Rides offers coastal rides with some stunning views. - Read more on page 10. Story by ALLYSON OKEN.

By the end of the three hours, this young student was leading the horse with Heather Green assisting. - Read more on page 20. photos and story by ALLYSON OKEN


News Media Corporation/California Edition Published in conjunction with Paso Robles Press, Atascadero News, South County Newspapers and Register-Pajaronian. •


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This year the Creston 4-H Club was out in mass to deliver warm coats to the needy. All 85 members gave up an entire Saturday to do this for their community. Photos Courtesy of Tom Bordonaro




n four years the Creston 4-H Club has gone from zero to 85 members and is offering the full gamut of activities for youth. Under the direction and joviality of leader Tom Bordonaro, this club has come a long way and are now beginning to host events again. Bordonaro said, “This is the largest membership we have seen since the 1990’s and we have some really wonderful kids and parents participating to make this club what it once was, great. We have 85 members, it is really nice.” This year the kids are working on a number of projects. 4-H is not just about animals said Bordonaro it is also about leadership and building life skills. They offer kids ages 5 to 18 the opportunity to learn and get hands-on experience in shooting sports and safety, public speaking, livestock judging, horticulture, horse groups that ride and compete, cooking, beef group, swine group, sheep, goat you name it they raise it. “We have kids from the four different school districts in our area that have joined our club


Creston 4-H members learn to raise animals to show at fairs.

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Showing livestock at the fair is just one of many things a Creston 4-H’er will learn. It is about developing the entire person so they do it all. and they are doing it all,” he said with pride. “My twin sons have been in since age 5. It is a family tradition; even I was in 4-H when I was a kid. It is a very rewarding program.” These kids are also known for their efforts in community service. They donate time during the holidays to the Food Bank, collect canned goods and seek clothing donations. In the spring, they help by donating their time to the Creston Bike Race. They are also the only group in the county that donates their time to keep the Creston Cemetery clean and looking good. Bordonaro said it is about developing the whole person. 4-H is a national nonprofit organization for children that offer the opportunity for them to develop powerful skills to launch them into their futures successfully. To join the Creston 4-H, visit

Creston 4-H Club donates time to cleaning up the Creston Cemetery.

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Monte the horse and horse trainer Donna patiently wait for direction from director Todd Fisher while the film crew at Hollywood Motion Picture Experience conducts a film test at Templeton Farms prior to the beginning of filming for “Emerald Bay.” The film crew tests for lighting and camera set-up in order to be well prepared when they go into full film production in mid-spring. Photos by Beth Bolyard/Equine Enthusiast




tie is a rescue horse. At one time, Otie, a 12-year-old thoroughbred blood bay, was a track horse whose annual winnings were enough that his owners put screws in his fetlocks to keep him racing after an injury, a salvation virtually unheard of in the horse racing world. Otie’s time racing did come to an end, and, after years of racing, he retired before eventually


becoming a rescue horse. The plight of unwanted animals in United States has been a growing issue, especially for large breeds like horses, and the recession of the past decade has only worsened the problem. “I don’t know too many people who would want a 12 year-old thoroughbred gelding with two screws,” Donna Cheek, horse master for the movie “Emerald Bay,” said of Otie’s audition. “But for me he was absolutely perfect.” Cheek, a semi-retired equestrian rider and competitor, was hired onto the film crew of

Hollywood Motion Picture Experience in Creston to cast, train and do make-up for all of the horses on the film, including Otie. Eight horses were auditioned for the role of the rescue horse Emerald Bay, but in the end, with his great temperament, quiet disposition and kind eyes, Cheek decided Otie was perfect. “I was hired for the position of horse master to coordinate and cast,” Cheek said about being asked by director/producer Todd Fisher to join the production team for the upcoming film. “Otie had the rescue look as an underweight thoroughbred.”

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Now, Otie is being well taken care of on the Fisher’s Creston ranch and he has been gaining weight in the weeks leading up to filming. Cheek cast four horses total for the film, a challenge she thought would be daunting, but the timing couldn’t have been better for all of the horses involved. Each horse will either play a different aspect of Emerald Bay’s personality or a different stage of his life including a well-kempt grand prix, a jumping grand prix, a rescue horse that is a little unkempt and slightly underweight and a horse that could react to a non-existent fire that will later be replaced with a CGI fire. Cheek’s role during production of the film will move from casting and training to horse make-up application, something she has to do herself because of the trust she created with the animals and since she will already be on set for liability purposes. The story of Emerald Bay is one of triumph, loss and redemption as a little girl and her family rescues an old, carriage horse from a life of misery. “The relationships between animals and people are paramount and I see that as a very powerful image,” Fisher said of his decision to make an equine movie. “Not everyone can rescue a horse, but they can rescue a cat or a dog or a person.” As for Otie, once his star acting role as Emerald Bay is finished, he’ll go back to grazing in his specially made pen on the Fisher’s ranch. “He is Otie Fisher now for life,” Cheek said, “and he has it made.”

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Otie, a rescue horse, lives comfortably at the Fisher’s ranch in Creston. Otie will play the pre-rescued Emerald Bay for the upcoming film of the same name.

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Owner of Outback Trail Rides Mick Harper is a talented rider who happily shares his love for the Central Coast and its riding trails. Photos Contributed by Outback Trail Rides




rom the beaches of Cambria to the vineyards of Paso Robles, Outback Trail Rides owner Mick Harper offers riders the full trail ride experience to see the Central Coast at its best. See pristine views that would not be visible if not on horse back. Ride the winding vineyard trails and see the full valley. It is all part of the experience that Harper creates. Mick is no stranger to riding as he was born in Australia where his family owns Brahman Cattle and Stock Horses. So he has been riding since he could walk and has competed on the international circuit, bull riding and showing livestock. He said that starting Outback Trail Rides was something he had always wanted to do.


“It was a dream of mine, really something I have always wanted to do,” he said with a natural zeal. “When I moved to the States from Australia I started working in Parkfield, Calif., training horses. I found the Central Coast and just fell in love with the views and a local girl who I married in 2001. We started Outback Trail Rides in 2009 with about six to seven horses and have since expanded. It has been a great experience and we really enjoy sharing the incredible views with our customers and give them a real taste for life out here.” Last year Outback Trail Rides expanded its operation to Paso Robles and soon after relocated to the area. Now they are offering trail rides yearround, with rides in the vineyards from fall to spring and then coastal rides and beach rides in the summer. Currently Outback Trail Rides is offering trail

Outback Trail Rides offers some amazing views of the Central Coast for riders.

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rides as well as wagon rides at Calcareous Vineyard. The season runs from April to October and is available to customers Wednesday to Monday upon request. The maximum group size is up to 6 guests for ages 6 to 70 years with a weight limit of 240 pounds. This is to make sure that the horses and humans will not be over taxed when riding the trails to allow for the optimum amount of fun. Mick said, “At Calcareous, the views are amazing. We are offering trail rides there as well as wagon rides and for those that book six or more in the wagon will be given a complimentary bottle of Calcareous wine to enjoy. This is something new we are doing and hope to expand to a few more winery locations this summer. Now that we have the 12 horses and the wagon it is a natural expansion. It is such a great trail to ride and really features some of the best views in the county in my opinion.” The best part about this trail-ride experience is that you don’t have to be tall in the saddle or any sort of a master horseperson to ride. Mick has had many new riders as well as experienced riders up on the horse to ride and said that for those that are experienced he allows them to trot or canter a bit. Outback Trail Rides offers something for the entire family to enjoy. To learn more about trail rides, locations and times, visit outbacktrailrides. com. The Outback Trail Rides wagon rides at Calcareous Vineyard are a great way to spend the afternoon with Mick Harper at the reins.

Mick Harper of Outback Trail Rides and his horses are ready to take riders on the trails of the Central Coast.

Mick Harper does it all from riding the trails to shoeing the horses.

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Photo by Tarmo Hannula


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HORSE EVENTS UPCOMING AT SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS The Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville will host a number of equine-related events in the coming months.

Photo by Tarmo Hannula

The Gold Coast Arabian Horse Association of California’s 2015 Coast Classic show will be held June 5-7 at the fairgrounds. The event will feature Purebred and Half-Arabian classes for both the professional and amateur, Trail Classes, an Adult lead-line class, and various High Point awards. June 6 will host a pie and ice cream social for exhibitors and friends. New this year is a costume class for exhibitors to dress up as their favorite super hero or villain. The 2015 Show Premium is now available for downloading. Entries close May 21. For information, visit Fox ‘n Horn Horse Shows will present its Summer Show at the fairgrounds June 13-14. The event will feature the 19th annual 3-Phase Equitation Challenge, as well as the Father’s Day Leadline. It will return to the fairgrounds for its August Aloha Show from Aug. 15-16, with the Annual Hunter Derby, Walk Trot Medal Finals and Sugar Plum Fairy Memorial Hunter Challenge. For information, visit

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Paso Robles Horse Park during construction in early 2015. The green grassy Fairway Field is on the left and the LD Hays arena is under construction on the right. Photos courtesy of Paso Robles Horse Park.



Situated in the oak groves of northern Paso Robles, the Paso Robles Horse Park’s 67 acres of equestrian showground melts into the landscape of the surrounding rolling hills. The Park, which broke ground February 2014, now has permanent office facilities, a 500-space parking area, a 28-space RV area complete with hook-ups, a bathroom and shower facility for contestants and guests, a hay barn, and 224 permanent horse stalls. The venue is at 3801 Hughes Parkway, southwest of the Paso Robles Municipal Airport. With the first two major events set for May, the final touches on the Park facilities are coming into sight right on schedule. Park Director Amanda Diefenderfer has been watching the final developments of the project since she was brought onto the team in January 2015 and has been excited to see the well-laid plans finally come to life. “We are in the final countdown in the most exciting ways,” Diefenderfer said of the Park’s quickly changing landscape. “Everyday we turn the corner and there’s something new; it’s really fun to see.”


Diefenderfer, a horse rider from a young age, merged her marketing skills with her love for horse riding in her new position as director and is glad to be part of a facility the community can embrace. The first event, a community-minded kickoff show, is slated for May 9 and 10 and will be open to local horseback riders of all ages and experience levels. The owner of the Paso Robles Horse Park, Linda Starkman, felt it was important the community feel welcome to the new venue and created the Kickoff Show to be an official welcome to the community, inviting local participants and observers to attend. Starkman, involved in horse competitions since childhood, was originally inspired to bring a quality horse park to the Central Coast after years of riding, breeding and training award-winning hunters and jumpers in the national and international circuit. Starkman believes the Kickoff Show will be the “perfect first show for beginners,” and a “great intermediate step” between local shows and bigger shows for local riders looking to compete. “I can’t wait for the Kickoff Show to arrive so we can officially welcome the local community to share the excitement of the opening of the Paso Robles Horse Park,” Starkman said. The Park also plans to expand the Kickoff Show

into a series of events throughout the year for local participants. The Central California Memorial Day Classic, the second major event on the Park’s agenda slated for Memorial Day weekend, May 20-24, will bring in around 500 horses and will be a great opportunity for locals to see a top-end Grand Prix Jumper Class and Hunter Derby. Fairway Field, the main, grass field named after one of Starkman’s top-level show jumping horses, will be split into two competitive, turf rings with an aisle and seating down the center. Visitors can also watch competitions at any of the sand arenas or from lawn seating on the berm adjacent to Fairway Field. “Footing” for each of the sand arenas was specially created for the Park and is made from sand that was been tested for water retention and drainage rates and is mixed with specialty German Geo Textile fibers for a fluffier, springier consistency. The mixture is the very top-end of show jumping arena footing currently available, according to Starkman. The turf on the field has also been rigorously tested, as park manager Chet Voss and his son, Ben Voss, conducted numerous turf tests with several outside horses to test for durability, good grip and resiliency.

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The Paso Robles Horse Park hay barn sits adjacent to the permanent 12-by-12 horse stalls. Up the hill on the left are the restroom facilities and Park offices. Photo courtesy of Paso Robles Horse Park.

Paso Robles Horse Park in the midst of construction in early 2015. Spectators can sit on the grassy slope and watch competitions on Fairway Field. In the background, the three sand arenas will be used for competitions and warm-up. Photo courtesy of Paso Robles Horse Park. The Voss team has also ensured the water consciousness of all the grass on the property, and has used a water-friendly hybrid-Bermuda grass that goes dormant in the winter. Starkman’s vision for the Park was to create a facility that included the best of the numerous show facilities she had visited in her years as a competitor and owner, and included a few ideas of her own to create the best, multi-use facility available. Diefenderfer explained the Park was Starkman’s “dream come to life” and exclaims the Park’s close vicinity and ease of use as one of its many benefits. “Everything is close and cozy in a good way,” Deifenderfer said, “it’s not a long walk from one ring to the next or back to the barns.” One special aspect of the Park is the 224 horse stalls, each measuring 12-by-12 feet for ease of movement with Dutch-style stall doors to benefit the social nature of the horses; a traditional horse stall at shows measures 10-by-10 feet. Though the Park is geared toward horse use and is perfectly set up for horse shows and competitions, Diefenderfer stated that another goal of the park was to be available as a multi-use facility, stating that the park could host such events as dog shows, wine and food festivals, weddings and other private events as long as the event fits with the idea of the

park. “This is a very versatile facility,” Deifenderfer said, “it can be mixed and cut and shaped however it needs to be.” The property also has no asphalt or curbs for safety of horses and riders and the parking area is made up of decomposed granite that will be marked with chalk to distinguish parking lines. The curb-less appeal makes it a permeability of facility that allows water to drain the way it was intended and owners will not have to worry about water runoff or possible horses accidents on any asphalt. The beige tones and intricate landscaping of the parking area along with natural wood fencing of the competition rings fits perfectly with the look and feel of Paso Robles, with rolling hills and oak tree as the background for each arena. “Each detail of the Park has been intentional,” Starkman said of the intricate execution of the park’s plans. “From the grass to the sand arenas and the barns to the lack of asphalt and cement, every decision was made with the horses and competitors as the top priority.” For more information about the Paso Robles Horse Park upcoming events or how to book an event, visit

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A pile of “footing” that will be used in the sand arenas is made up of high-quality sand and German-Geo Textile fibers for a fluffy, springy consistency.


Atascadero resident Savannah Shoemaker holds Nigerian Dwarf goats Oreo, left, and Peanut, right, at the Shoemaker’s house in Atascadero. Photos by Nicholas Mattson/Equine Enthusiast




miniature breed of an African dairy goat, the Nigerian dwarf goat, was originally brought to the United States to serve as a meal for large zoo-kept cats such as lions and tigers, but their easy-going demeanor and friendly nature has carved out a niche as an off-the-beaten-path domestic pet, and Atascadero resident Savannah Shoemaker, 10, has been raising a pair of males — Oreo and Peanut — since they were only 2-daysold. “I read about them in a book,” Savannah said, “and I like how they are smaller. They will grow to be about 40 pounds.” The Shoemakers found the goats in Creston through a connection at a local Farm Supply, “[Savannah’s father ] George and Savannah went to just ask questions about goats, and what we need to know before we get them,” Savannah’s mother


Kelly said, “and they happened to have a couple of pregnant goats.” The Shoemakers were looking for “bottle-babies” to raise from infancy, and the mother was not producing enough milk for the pair of newborns, so it was a good match for the Shoemakers and the goats. “That was almost six weeks ago,” Kelly said. Since then, the goats had their horns disbudded, which is a generally common practice among Nigerian goat breeders at about two weeks. When the family agreed to take the goats as pets, Savannah was tasked with the parenting duties including the several feedings per day, and keeping the goats from eating the family’s landscaping and flowers. “They are constantly trying to eat leaves and other things,” Savannah said. “They really like flowers. They are eating all our flowers. If you let them out, and you go after the one, the other one is eating half the flowers.”

The hungry pets had been bottle fed from infancy, and at 6-weeks-old are transitioning to solid foods. “I start by putting out their grains and oats at 7 in the morning,” Savannah said. “Then I go to school and come home and feed them at 1 o’clock, then put out more food [in the evening]. They don’t eat lots of grain, just a little bit. And they are getting used to the alfalfa.” The goats will begin to wean off the bottle over the next couple weeks as they continue to mature. As a part of the parenting process, Savannah also learned about the history of the breed. “They originated from Africa,” Savannah said, “and they were originally all black, but they have been bred to have different colors. They were brought over to feed big cats, but they are really good pets.” In a world of cats and dogs, goats do not have the reputation that the more common domesticated animals do, but Oreo and Peanut are doing their part as ambassadors for the Nigerian dwarf.

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“I didn’t expect them to be so affectionate,” Kelly said. “Part of that is wanting the bottle, but I think they are very affectionate, very sweet, good-natured. I’ve loved watching our dog with them. She is a sweetheart and has companions, so that works for her.” The Shoemaker’s dog, a boxer named Ginger, has taken to the goats, playing mother to them as well. “Ginger really tried to mother them,” Kelly said, “and she still does. They tried to nurse off her every time she walked by.” The kids are growing fast, and Savannah is learning what it takes to care for a maturing animal. “They have lots of energy,” Savannah said. “They really like to jump and play. They want lots of attention.” Savannah’s mother has gotten to watch her step up into the roles as they transition from one stage to another. “I have been really impressed with Savannah’s mothering skills,” Kelly said. “It is a lot of work, to take them at that young of an age. They were very needy, and the process of learning how to feed from a bottle took a couple of days. That was a lot of work, and long nights. But very quickly, they were sleeping through the night. I’m glad we had two. We were told to get two. The one would be very lonely without the other.” Both Oreo and Peanut are black and white,

with Oreo having black shoulders and black hind with a white stripe around her center, creating the classic Oreo cookie look. Peanut has a slightly more random, and more contrasting, black and white pattern. According to the Nigerian Dairy Goat Association, the Nigerian goat is the only true miniature goat breed of dairy type and character, with a soft coat, and conformation similar to that of larger dairy goat breeds. In show goats, disqualifications can range from being over-sized, having curly hair, or evidence of myotonia — a characteristic of fainting goats. Full breed descriptions can be found on the NDGA website, at ndga. org. Nigerian dwarfs are characterized with a gentle demeanor, as Oreo and Peanut displayed as they scampered, pranced, and ran around the Shoemaker’s yard, down to the nearly completed future home of the goats. Savannah’s father George is nearly finished with an enclosure, which provides the needed shelter, and a large fenced area that allows them to exercise. Oreo and Peanut are both males, so if the Shoemakers decide to breed the goats, they will need to find a local doe to help. Due to the popularity of the Nigerian dwarf goat as a pet, there are many books and websites available, including the ndga. org.

Nigerian Dwarf goats Oreo, left, and Peanut, right, roam around the driveway of the Shoemaker’s residence in Atascadero.

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Shamss Bennadja poses with one of his original handmade English saddles at his saddlemaking shop, Gravity, in Aptos. Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Equine Enthusiast

Tools in the trade of saddle-making.




hen he was a young man growing up in France and searching for his place in the world, Shamss Bennadja took a job with a saddle company as a way to put himself through engineering school. So it was that he mastered the tools and learned to shape, sculpt and bend the leather, wood and other materials of the trade. Bennadja, 47, also discovered the art in intertwining the needs of horse and rider while creating products both functional and elegant. It wasn’t long before he realized his search was over before it had begun: in embarking on his journey to become a master craftsman, he had already found his place in the world. In 2003, Bennadja launched Gravity, his own brand of English saddles he makes by hand and sells from his small shop in the heart of Aptos Village. He also offers repair and readjustment services. The name Gravity, he said, is an homage to the balance every rider must find, and the battle they must win, as they master their horsemanship. “We all the time work with gravity,” he said. Bennadja, whose parents immigrated to France from their native Algeria, said his name — Shamss — is Arabic for sun. Indeed, with a quick smile and a friendly bearing he exudes a warmth and humbleness that immediately makes visitors feel welcome.


After his introduction to the trade in 1989, he honed his skills over 14 years working for such notable French saddle makers as Devoucoux and Hermes. In that capacity he traveled to the U.S. to repair and restore saddles for the companies’ clients. It was here he discovered a market for custom saddles larger than anything possible in Europe. Seeing the high demand for his work, and a growing base of people demanding his services, he also realized he had the skills to set off on his own. He moved to the U.S. seven years ago, first to Sonoma to tap into the large population of horse enthusiasts there. In 2003 he relocated to Aptos, near the confluence of Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties where an even larger population of ranches, farms and stables assure a strong customer base. It also helped that he met his future wife here. He and his wife have a 3-year-old son and are expecting their second child. As other specialty sports have adapted through the years to use carbon fiber and other high-tech materials, the equestrian world has largely retained Old World methods and materials. Most saddles are still fashioned from leather, and many of the best are made by hand, Bennadja said. But that is precisely why he loves his craft, he said. Bonny Doon resident Jennifer Joslin said she began using Bennadja’s services at the suggestion of her trainer Matthew Brown, who owns Petalumabased East West Training Stables.

Her choice to do so was a large vote of confidence from Joslin, who said she has a saddle business of her own. “I have very high standards,” she said. She said that Bennadja has an intricate knowledge of the biodynamics of horses, and added that he is “incredibly nice” to boot. “There are a lot of saddle makers out there who don’t take their work as seriously and who don’t listen to their customers like he does,” she said. “I’m a huge fan.” Bennadja’s philosophy is a simple one. He designs his saddles based on each customer’s needs, their style of riding and on their horses’ measurements. “Nothing is generic,” he said. More importantly, although sublimely elegant, his saddles are not meant to be “gems.” “I see a saddle as a tool,” he said. “My goal is to make the combination of the rider and horse perfect. They should forget the saddle is there.” •••

Gravity is located at 8040 Soquel Drive in Aptos. Prices start at $3,470, and include assistance and repairs the first year. Customers should expect five weeks for turnaround. For information, call (831) 325-3013, email or visit

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From Left to Right: Bev Dewitt-Moylan, Heather Green and Bill Moylan tie a horse up to the post. Photo By Allyson Oken




ealing energy, using light, color, sound and touch, applied to the care of animals is not a common trade in the horse world. At Teal Healing, owner, healer and director of horse education, Heather Green takes these Eastern philosophies and applies them to horsemanship training and horse and animal health. Green began her career healing humans in 1995 as both a nurse and counselor. She has a bachelor’s in nursing and was awarded a master’s in counseling psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in 2007. In 2002, she said she started to find her calling in energy healing, saying she felt like something was missing from her life. “I started to dream about horses when I was working with people and just felt them calling out to me,” she said with conviction. “I started slowly and learned to ride and took horsemanship. I felt at that point that I had a very natural and strong psychic connection with horses. I began to pursue an education in energy healing and now I am here doing what I love. It was quite a journey.” Over the course of nearly 10 years, Green has published a book that tells the story of how she came to discover her love for horses and started a career as an energy healer for animals and humans, started her business Teal Healing and helped people


make valuable connections with not just horses, but their family pets, as well. She and her Husband work together at their new location in Templeton to provide education and a healing environment for animals and humans. Green explained that she is able to feel what animals and people are feeling, saying that when she is tuned in to the situation the healing becomes intuitive. “I will see a color in an aura that is very strong and know that that’s what the person or animal needs to get better and just focus intent and energy from my body to the problem areas,” she said. “I work with horses, have helped dogs with behavioral issues, cats with territory issues and people with severe to moderate health problems. I have seen the results and, though some are skeptical of these practices, if you are open to trying it can really help.” Green also offers horse education programs for adults and children, helping people connect and communicate with horses through her natural ability to commune with animals and people. She also teaches horsemanship and riding activities, including summer camp. The people that come to her class in general have never even seen a horse close up let alone touched one. It is a very rewarding experience for these people, who start with basic grooming, walking the horse around and really just getting to know them,

she said. “It is really about making the connection with the horse in the beginning that allows for the person and the horse to get to a level of comfort with each other that allows them to work together,” she said. “We start people out with our most gentle horses and by the time the four-course class is done the students are ready to get up and ride.” Green has a passion for all things living and a unique perspective to share. Though her style of horse training and healing may seem to be out of the ordinary, it is a practice that has been around for centuries. Many different cultures around the world practice these techniques and have for generations. In Chinese medicine, they call energy Chi, in Japan Qi, and in India it is called Ayur, the system of life, and veda, the knowledge. Many cultures practice these techniques through chakra manipulation, meditation, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Reiki, and other natural medicines. There are so many cultures that practice these techniques with success that many groups in the West have taken up the banner to promote these Old World techniques. Green is one such Westerner that saw an application in her life with equines, humans and other animals and ran with it. To learn more about Teal Healing, classes, summer camp and more, visit

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What are the normal reproductive parameters of a healthy mare? Horses are seasonal breeders with peak fertility, in both the stallion and the mare seen in mid-summer when the length of daylight is 16 hours. A normal heat cycle in a mare consists of 21-23 days; 5-7 days in heat (Estrus), in which only one follicle out of the whole follicle population ovulates, followed by 16-18 days out of heat (Di-estrus). Mares that exhibit this heat-cycle pattern, and ovulate a follicle of 35 mm or larger can expect a pregnancy rate of 70 percent on one heat cycle when bred to a normal healthy stallion.

The figure below depicts the ovarian physiological dynamics at the various stages of a normal heat cycle. LH = Luteinizing Hormone FSH = Follicle Stimulating Hormone PGF2 = Prostaglandin (Type F2 alpha)

What are the normal reproductive parameters of a healthy stallion? A normal healthy stallion can be collected twice daily, but most stallions are collected every other day – especially in artificial insemination programs. Normal reproductive parameters of a stallion include 70 ml (range 30 to 250 ml) ejaculate volume, 120 million/ml (range 30 to 600 million/ml) sperm concentration, typically 7 to 10 billion total sperm per ejaculate, greater than 60 % progressive motility and greater than 60 percent normal morphology. With a minimum semen dose of 500 million progressively motile sperm required to inseminate a mare, the average stallion will produce enough semen to breed at least 8 mares per ejaculation.

How can the fertility of a stallion be affected? Similar to the mares, there are certain factors that can affect stallion fertility which include: o The transition from the non-breeding season (winter) and the optimal breeding period, mid-summer. Stallion’s that have not shed out at least 50% of their winter hair coat (indicating their body does not consider the summer breeding season is at hand) will generally have lower fertility. o Infection or inflammation of the reproductive tract o Timing of breeding in relation to the timing of mare’s ovulation o Musculoskeletal pain that interferes with the physical act of breeding.

Can we improve the breeding output of a stallion and mare? The following techniques can be helpful in improving the breeding output:

How can the fertility of a mare be affected? There are certain factors that can affect mare fertility which include: o Irregular, split and extended heat cycles associated with the transition from the non-breeding season (winter) and the optimal breeding period, mid-summer. o Mares that have not shed out at least 50 percent of their winter hair coat (indicating their body does not consider the summer breeding season is at hand) will generally have lower conception rates per heat cycle. o Uterine inflammation or infection. This can be associated with poor anatomical conformation of the Lance Griffith reproductive tract, infection from fungi, Predator Slayer or bacteria, or scar (805)458-2082 tissue within the lining of the uterus.

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• Rectal palpation and ultrasound exams. Required to determine the stage of the heat cycle for optimal breeding times. • Uterine cytology, culture and sensitivity. These procedures are used to identify the presence of bacteria or fungi, to which medications these pathogens may be sensitive, and also cytological evidence of other abnormalities such as inflammation and even uterine cancer. • Uterine biopsy. Less commonly used, but in situations where a mare repeatedly either fails to conceive, or conceives and aborts, a uterine biopsy can be useful in determining both the uterus’ ability to conceive, and also carry a pregnancy to term. • Artificial insemination. This is the act of breeding the mare artificially when ovulation is near. This is usually performed 1-3 times per heat cycle. • Hormone therapy. A variety of medications may be used in the breeding process. Some are to aid in the time of the ovulation and breeding, and others are pro-gestational medications provided to help establish and maintain the pregnancy. • Stallions should have at least 2 semen collections taken 1-2 hours apart to determine their sperm numbers, progressive motility and also survival over time. • Semen culture and cytology. Performed to identify any potential venereal infections and sperm abnormalities. • Stallions that will be used for transported and frozen semen breeding will also benefit from analysis with different semen extenders and dilutions, sperm centrifugation, and differing durations of time when semen is frozen or cooled to determine the optimal progressive motility.

For further information, visit the website of The Equine Center or call at 805-541-6367.

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s a horse person, you know that horses are herd animals. They love to have their position in the herd where they feel safe. Horses, like humans, are relationship animals. A sense of belonging is essential for their well-being. What can we humans do to feel safe and find our place in the herd that is in the community or society? First of all, I invite you to switch roles with your horse and find out what it takes to blend in. I sometimes enter my herd of horses when they are grazing on the hill. I approach the herd calmly and silently. I follow my intuition to find a place where I feel comfortable and safe. I breathe the fresh air and look around, pretending I am one of them. Finding my place in a herd of horses delivers a sense of peace. The effect on my body and mind is soothing and at the same time very powerful. I am calm and I discover more and more what it is like to look at the big picture when I am part of the herd. Like the horses, I can see far. My senses are open and alert. I understand what it means to be in the moment. The passage of time seems to slow down. Of course, it is me who is slowing down, and by doing so I am more open, more aware of my surroundings and more aware of my inner state and feelings. Spending just a couple of minutes with the herd seems like hours, and the effect of this practice is lasting through the rest of the day. When we relocated from Germany to California about 10 years ago, I was searching for a sense of belonging. I had left my home country behind and was having problems adapting to my new life in California, which at that time did not seem like home at all. What helped me to find where I belong? Zarewna. She is my mare and has been part of my life for over 17 years, well before I could ever imagine moving to another continent. Zarewna came over about three months after we arrived, and she showed me how to adapt to the new environment. My horse comforted me and guided me to find home just by showing me that belonging is not an insurmountable hurdle but a question of connecting with your inner self and your surroundings. A sense of belonging can be achieved by spending time with yourself and your environment until you find the space where you belong, your place in the herd. If you feel a lack of belonging after relocating, a separation, divorce or a death among your family or friends ask your horse for advice and support — or better, connect with a herd of horses. Let me guide you through the practice that can help you to belong:

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After a couple of minutes, enter the herd with the only purpose to find your place. Let your body guide you, not your mind. Walk with a slow pace until you find a place that feels right to you. Take slow and deep breaths and look around your environment. What do you see? What do you feel? What do you smell? Be in the moment and breathe in everything you sense, that affects you in that moment. Look at the birds and the flowers. Look at the other horses and observe what is happening. Don’t judge, just acknowledge and stay in this position until you are feeling a deep relief and a sense of safety and comfort. Ask yourself if this is the place where you belong? If yes, stay in the moment for as long as you wish. If not, move on and try the same procedure again from a different place. Maybe by moving you can release tension or pressure or maybe by resting you find a position of calm and peace. Maybe like the horses, you rest for a while and move for a while. There is no roadmap, no plan and no strategy. You simply follow your intuition. Where your body carries you is where you belong and neither you nor anybody else knows where that will be. This is a very simple practice that you can include into your daily life. It will help you to listen to your body when it comes to finding the place where you belong. We can learn from our horses, these Hertha Wolf-Arend is a certified business purely sensual animals. Humans often believe that coach and a certified equine guided educator. answers must be found through solutions of the She is also the author of the book “Be a woman mind. We think that intelligence or cognitive skills and act like one. Succeeding in business and are essential to find answers, but this is not always life’’ and she writes a blog for women with true. There are no smart solutions for happiness. the same title. Hertha offers leadership and There are no words that can fix your problems of being lost. Instead learn from the horses, discover team-building training as well as personal non-verbal cues just by being with them while training with horses for men and women at they are grazing. This can teach you more about her ranch near Paso Robles. She combines her belonging than you can learn from any book. My livelong passion for horses with her coaching trainer Arianna Strozzi talks about developing skills and with her management experience. horse-time. I call it being in the moment with your For more information, contact her at 805-234horse. Learn to listen to yourself and whatever 6454 or email nature and your environment is telling you. If you want to learn more about this LUV ME TENDER FARM practice and other has several wonderful Miniature Donkeys for sale: ways to connect with yourself, please attend one of my upcoming workshops. You will find information about upcoming events on my website, or you can contact me directly. 6268 Hog Canyon Rd.

Observe the horses grazing on the pasture from the fence line. Be silent with your eyes open. Acknowledge any thoughts that are coming in, but then send them off and get back into your body.

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ennessee Ernie Ford was a very popular singer back in the 50’s and 60’s and turned the song “16 tons” into a number one hit. The song tells a story about a coal miner who loads 16 tons of number 9 coal, and what does he get for his labor? “Another day older and deeper in debt, Saint Peter don’t you call me cause I can’t come, I owe my soul to the company store.” That’s what I feel like when it’s time to start irrigating our pastures for the summer months. I can always tell when my 100 horse power electric motor reeves into action at 9 p.m. Every evening our house lights will flicker and my PG&E meter will start spinning at supersonic speed, much to the delight of the PG&E bean counters. Well not this time PG&E, for the solar generation is coming to my rescue. This is a new option for all of us that somebody has invented. It’s a way to take light (photons) from the sun and trap them with a solar panel made of silicone that converts these photons into electrons (electricity), for at least 25 years and probably 50 years after that. Our state and federal government, wanting more electricity to be generated using

solar power, sweetened the pot with some attractive incentive like a 30 percent reduction in the tax that I owe to the U.S. Treasury. Then add in some depreciation credits, and my bank savings accounts earning a Big Whoop-de-doo 1 percent. Solar makes a lot of sense as a better place to invest. My return on my investment will be between 8 and 12 percent. So for all of the above reasons, I’m at this very moment building a 90 Kilowatt generating facility to stanch the bleeding from my PG&E meter that is spiraling out of control from a severe case of oppressive meter gluttony. If this is something that any of you readers might want to pursue, then get prepared for a process, where in my county it will take longer to address all the rules, regulations and some Green Backs, than to build it. Makes a person sure want to look at his hole card before starting to construct a solar farm. But for me, I still think it’s worth the effort. First, I want to clarify that my solar farm is really not a farm in the real sense of the word. For there is no real farmstead, only 109 posts in the ground that will be the frame work to mount the solar panels to. They are cemented down to a 35 inch depth because to be at a 36 inch depth would require another archeological study for possible artifacts below 36 inches. Next, I find that I’m in a flood zone.

But a topographic map shows that in a 100-year storm the floodwaters would breach the opposite bank. That’s not good enough. OK, OK, I’ll hire a surveyor to tell the planning department that what the U.S. Geological map clearly showed was true. In case of a flood, waters would indeed go in the opposite direction from my solar farm. You need a Civil Engineer to draw plans showing a rectangle that evenly spaces out the 109 holes that will receive the posts, which will then marry to the solar panels. Earthquakes were a consideration but the planning department decided to wave that requirement. They felt it was unlikely that anybody would want to live under a solar panel. Well, the day finally arrived and I hired someone to do all the leg work, like going to the planning department and hiring the different experts, to give their blessing to my 109 post hole extravaganza. I now find my bank account is light $10,000, but the good news is I now have a building permit that allows me to put 3 inch pipe posts in all 109 holes and fill them with concrete. It’s a good thing the county doesn’t require a permit to build cattle corrals with all their gates and pens, because there would be nothing left to buy the cattle to put in said corrals. I’m going to sign off for now, but will write again when a PG&E representative says we have joined up, and I’ll be all smiles.

See ya, Jack Jack Varian is the owner of the V6 Ranch in Parkfield. His blog can be found at http://

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hen I grow up I want to be curator of the Cow Hall of Fame. The only problem is I don’t think there is one. There’s a Hall of Fame for roadkill, roller derby, croquet, fish, bowling, robots, polka, hot dogs, candy, mascots, dogs, even insurance, for gosh sakes. Yet no Hall of Fame for cows! Sure, there’s fantastic Hall of Fame for cowboys but there’d be no cowboys if there were no cows. So where is the cow’s Hall?

This is a pet project of mine I’ve thought about for years. It’s not right that for most Americans their only interaction with a bovine is when they eat a Whopper. A Cow Hall of Fame would change that. And when I say Cow Hall of Fame it’s just because it sounds catchier than Bovine Hall of Fame. My Hall would be for all cattle regardless of sex. Heck, I’ll even take Holsteins. I’m thinking lots of hides on the wall, a gift shop that sells cow mugs and plenty of interactive displays that sing the praises of the common cow. Or uncommon, in this case. There’d be an exhibit of things found in cow stomachs, weird cattle tools like burdizzos, and one on the evolution of the squeeze chute. (I’d donate mine as the oldest known.) I’d include a petting zoo of the American breeds and a display of all the things that come from a cow, from oleo to prophylactics. There’d be photos of the 800 breeds of cattle in the world, a live Longhorn with

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huge horns and a team of oxen pulling tourists around the grounds in a Conestoga wagon. For humor there’d be great cow cartoons from Ace Reid, Jerry Palen, Mad Jack, Earl, Rubes and the Far Side. For the kids there’d be a collection of cow mascots including Benny, the mascot for the Chicago Bulls, and Bevo of Texas Longhorn fame. Oil paintings would line the walls, only instead of people like you see at the Saddle and Sirloin Club, these paintings would be of cows. There’d be a section for make-believe cows like Ferdinand the Bull, the Cow that Jumped Over the Moon, the Wall Street Bull, the Laughing Cow found on cheese, Babe the Blue Ox, Clarabell (Minnie Mouse’s best friend) and Elsie, the Jersey spokescow for Borden whose real name was You’ll Do Lobelia. By the way, I met Elsie one time, or at least a cow pretending to be Elsie. But the experience left me cold. If you’ve seen one Jersey you’ve seen them all. My first class of Hall of Fame cows would include Mrs. O’Leary’s cow who DID NOT start the Chicago fire as we’ve been led to believe. (That idea was popularized in a movie.) Daisy the Limousin who gave birth to live quadruplets would be in the Hall as would Little Witch who holds the world’s record for fastest time in the mile in the World Wide Cow Racing Association’s Udder Race. (A race for guys who get a kick out of big swinging udders.) There would be cow royalty including

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Maudine Ormsby, a cow elected Homecoming Queen of Ohio State in 1926, and Pauline, the last cow to live at the White House. Ella Farm Ollie, the first cow to fly in an airplane would be hanging from the ceiling and we’d have five copies of Amy, the first cloned cow. There’d be a counterfeit painting of the “Angus” steer that won Denver who turned out to be a Charolais when the dye faded. I think one of the most popular features would be Holsteins with interesting color patterns including “Hi” Cow, so named because that’s what it says in black and white on one side of her hide. Our Hollywood section would feature Norman the steer who starred in City Slickers. The only problem I see in getting my idea off the ground is where the Hall should be located. When the Cowboy Hall of Fame was built the contest boiled down to Colorado Springs, Dodge City and Oklahoma City, and some sore losers complained that Oklahoma oil millionaires paid a ransom to hijack the Hall. I see nothing wrong with that. In fact, I’m willing to sell my Cow Hall of Fame concept to the city who will pay me the most cash. Let the auction begin.

For more of Pitts’ writing, visit www.

Call Don Lane 805-459-0399

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