GLOBETROTTING

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With Spring around the corner, a lot of us are thinking about Spring Break and making travel plans.  Not having kids in the house, we tend to lean a little more on binge-watching shows on HGTV like Caribbean Life and Island Hunters to feed our hunger for travel.  It got me thinking though, my ideal travel combines crystal-turquoise waters and white sand beaches, and horses.  With a quick Google search and the aid of a couple great websites:  Hidden Trails http://www.hiddentrails.com/index.aspx  and Equitours http://www.equitours.com/ I was able to discover that you can find horseback riding adventures on six of seven continents!  My apologies to those of you hoping for a romantic, snowy ride across Antarctica.  Not happening, there aren’t even horses there right now, just these guys…

… and they’re totally laughing at you for thinking you could go to the bottom of the world and take a horseback riding tour.

 

I’m pretty sure we’re all familiar with the adventures available in North America, namely the cattle drive and mustang roundup variety.  There are facilities that cater to all level and manner of rider, so nearly anyone can participate to a reasonable degree.  But, one I didn’t think about was exploring our Native American Reservations on horseback.  We can cover a lot of ground here in the US alone, beach rides, mountain rides, desert rides, and none of it even requires a passport!

 

 

Head south to Central and South America for latin flavor in your horse and your view.  Throw a leg over a smooth-gaited Peruvian Paso and tour ancient Mayan Ruins or tropical rain forests and jungles.

 

Due East your rides can stretch along the Scottish Highlands aboard a “utility vehicle” of a Clydesdale, native to their country.  You can ride from castle to castle in the manner of Tudor-age ladies and gentlemen, you can tour Italian vineyards, and even visit the famed Spanish Riding School in Vienna (though I don’t think they permit “guest riders?” lol)  From beaches to mountains, from lush forests to arid valleys, Europe offers numerous breathtaking options.

 

 

Keep heading East into Asia, where the first horses were tamed and used as work partners for humans.  Expeditions across mountains, world-renowned wilderness ranges and the intrigue of ancient religion combined to create an adventure-friendly tourist destination. From stunning beaches to lush forests, Asia will present you with an exciting horseback experience.

 

 

If a safari is on your vacation bucket list, Africa provides every opportunity.  You can travel for miles without crossing fence line or roadways, the wildlife you’ve only ever seen at a zoo serves as your travel companions on your trek.  As much as I love the idea of strolling through plains among zebras and giraffes, going to Morocco and sleeping in a tent under the stars like in the land of “a thousand and one nights” sounds pretty amazing too.

 

 

Travel to the other side of the world for an authentic bush-riding adventure.  Australia and New Zealand offer unique terrain and wildlife, and let’s not forget this kind of riding experience…

… just kidding!  No matter how many times I watch The Man from Snowy River, when Jim charges Denny up and over the edge of that mountain, then barreling down it’s insanely steep cliffs, my heart and lungs stop altogether.  More likely you can expect to see breathtaking images more like this in your camera roll, ones that won’t leave you clutching your chest in panic.

 

 

I didn’t research the cost of vacations like these, I hated to ruin the magic.  But one thing’s for certain, it would be worth every penny, and you’d never stop talking about it.

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REDIRECTION

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I hope you and your horse(s) and other loves enjoyed a sweet Valentine’s Day yesterday!  I spent a little extra snuggle time with the pups, and had a great dinner with my love.

 

This week I’ve needed to spend more time focused on my search for a full-time career opportunity.  It’s always interesting weighing out my skills and values against what’s available.  Interesting… and exhausting.  But, the right gig is out there for me, looking for me too, we’ll meet soon enough!

 

Have a great week, enjoy any spring-like weather you might be having, and keep spreading the love every day, not just Valentine’s Day, the world sure seems to need it right now…

 

xo

GETTING LEVELED OUT

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At the risk of dating myself, “when I was showing horses” there were only a few divisions on the Quarter Horse circuits; Youth, Amateur and Open.  The Youth was broken down by age, usually around 13-14 there was a split of over/under, but that was about it.  Once you turned 18, whether you’d been showing your entire life, or just started, you stepped right off the board into the deepest depths of competition in the Amateur world, or scarier still, Open.  The Amateur classes often packed with showmen who’s made careers of competing and who’s names you’d been reading in the Journal and show programs for as long as you could remember.  The Open classes were essentially moats filled with crocodiles, all the Trainers and their top horses intent on snagging every available point and dollar available to them.

 

I did manage to transition into the Amateur pen with minimal bruising.  In spite of not having been a “name” rider on the Youth circuit, I was able to maintain my Novice standing for long enough to get settled in and even make a nice circle of friends, many of whom I still talk to.  If memory serves, at the end of my Quarter Horse show career with Buddy, I believe I had officially “noviced out,” meaning I was in the deep end from then on with all the big guns.  Very.  Intimidating.  To be honest, until the AQHA started making changes to their division structures, that was enough to keep me from thinking I’d ever want to try showing the circuit again.

 

Luckily for me, and others like me, either very new to the show world, or perhaps after a longer hiatus than they’d have liked, the class structures are far more forgiving.

 

 

Classes are now leveled based on the points accumulated by the horse or rider, to keep them competing against those with similar levels of experience and performance.  Eligibility is based on points and awards accumulated through the show calendar, November 1 through October 31.  In addition to the levels beginning with Rookie and carrying out through Levels 1, 2 and 3, there are even additional break downs for age with the Select Amateur Division, for riders 50 and over, as well as Equestrians with Disabilities.  Their focus on inclusion grows with every passing year, and it’s great to see more and more people who might have thought they couldn’t ever, not only competing but succeeding.

 

 

The latest headlines I’m reading about in the Equine Chronicle http://www.equinechronicle.com/walk-trot-classes-coming-to-all-aqha-l1-championships/ share that Walk-Trot classes for Level 1 competitors will be available.  This is another fantastic was for those just getting their show legs under them to experience competition without feeling like they have to have every gait down pat.

 

With more and more opportunities becoming available to everyone with an interest in showing, we’re quickly running out of excuses to not try.  Okay money, yeah, that’s a big one, but it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as you’d think.  The last year we hauled for a point title on the Ohio circuits, we did it on a budget.  We didn’t haul with a trainer, we had our own trailer and Dad served as all team members; driver, groom, photographer and coach.  We never got stalls or hotels, we were veritable “nobodies” but that never slowed us down.  My outfits were store-bought pieces decorated by myself and a glue gun with the only real investments being core items like chaps, hats and boots.

 

For more information about Divisions and Levels within the AQHA, you can browse their website:  https://www.aqha.com/journal/resources/exhibitors/find-your-level/  Before you talk yourself out of it, thinking you’re not enough or your horse isn’t enough, find a local show and check it out.  You’re going to find that you actually have a place there, just like everyone else.  Even if you don’t find a class or level that feels like the right fit, give it time, there’s bound to be one for you coming soon!

STUDENT BECOMES TEACHER

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We watched the movie, “Down the Fence” this week on Netflix.  I’d only heard about it recently through social media, but it was about horses, so I was intrigued.  It’s fantastic in my opinion.

http://www.downthefencemovie.com/

The film follows a year in the career of several Reined Cow Horse trainers.  They’re all known and respected in their own rights, but what I really enjoyed was the connections between them.  One was a man who’d witnessed several decades of success in spite of a health issue that he was told would have “ended his ride” many years ago.  Another was an up and coming young woman who’d studied under other great trainers, and was trying to forge a path of her own.  In spite of horse showing being a sport enjoyed by men and women, this particular discipline has long been considered a man’s world, only adding to her trepidation of making a name for herself.

 

 

I can relate to her concerns.  Shooting and firearms are also a sport enjoyed by men and women, but you still come across the few salty old guys who express shock and disapprove of a woman doing anything but cooking, cleaning and raising the kids.  I encountered a group at a rifle camp I attended last fall.  When overhearing the men in the parking lot asking what all these women were doing there, a member of the outfit I was there with bristled up and engaged him in a verbal spitting contest.  I had to shake my head.  Because we’re establishing that we not only belong in that world, we’re equals, we have more to prove.  When I’m challenged, I’m quick to explain that there’s no need to worry, I’m not a woman, I’m just a shooter like they are.  Then I shut up and let my skills do the talking, for better or worse.

 

 

This was one of the parallels I really liked watching the movie.  Seeing the pride in the faces of those who taught the ones coming up in rank.  Vidal Sassoon once said, “if you don’t look good, we don’t look good.”  It applies everywhere.  I have a responsibility to my students, and if they fail, it’s more likely as a result of my failure than it is theirs.  If they succeed, it reflects the effort I put into their success with them.  All of this stays in the back of my mind as I prepare for my first “solo flight” teaching this weekend.

 

I think we’re all in a constant state of both learning and educating.  If you ever find yourself thinking you know everything about something, you’re probably in big trouble.  As humans, I think it’s our nature to want to pass along what we’ve learned, it is evolution.  I’m fortunate to have some great instruction in my life, starting with Papa, and with the addition of Coach, both of whom are always seeking their own new education.

 

 

Admittedly, my thoughts are a bit scattered this week.  But I keep coming back to the messages in the movie, and how they apply to my life, how far I’ve come, how I can use it to help others, and how far I have to go.  One of my favorite teachers was my Buddy, who would have been 30 tomorrow.  Wow.  I call him my true north, for always keeping me on the right path, and I believe he continues to do so from the heavens.

 

 

I think we can learn something from everyone we meet, even if it’s just what not to do.  I also think taking in all that learning without sharing it is selfish.  What fun is it if we keep it all to ourselves?

 

 

 

 

PASSING TIME

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The snow is flying, even down south, the temperatures have dropped, we’re finally well into winter and all it offers.  There are still show circuits and events going on in warmer locales, but for many of us, it’s a slower time of year.  We’re giving our horses a break, often taking one for ourselves, resting and refreshing for the upcoming year’s activities.  While we may not take the season completely off, in the downtime if affords, I do love curling up with books to occupy my time and restless mind…

 

12 Strong:  The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers, by Doug Stanton

The movie is in theaters now.  I haven’t seen it yet but I plan to.  I’m usually drawn to military/historical themes anyway, and the fact that this reminds us that horses being ridden into battle is still a very modern method, if not always in our country, it just a bonus.

12 Strong is the dramatic account of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war on horses against the Taliban. Outnumbered forty to one, they pursued the enemy army across the mountainous Afghanistan terrain and, after a series of intense battles, captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The bone-weary American soldiers were welcomed as liberators as they rode into the city. Then the action took a wholly unexpected turn.

 

Chosen by a Horse, by Susan Richards

The horse Susan Richards chose for rescue wouldn’t be corralled into her waiting trailer. Instead Lay Me Down, a former racehorse with a foal close on her heels, walked right up that ramp and into Susan’s life. This gentle creature—malnourished, plagued by pneumonia and an eye infection—had endured a rough road, but somehow her heart was still open and generous. It seemed fated that she would come into Susan’s paddock and teach her how to embrace the joys of life despite the dangers of living.

 

A Horse for Kate, by Miralee Ferrell (1st in the YA Series Horses & Friends)

For our younger audience, who in my opinion, cannot be encouraged enough to read actual books rather than whatever they’re reading on their smart devices, get them hooked on a great series to keep them busy in a great way whenever they have downtime.

A horse of her own would be awesome. But Kate figures that might be a long way away, especially since she had to give up riding lessons and move to her late grandfather’s farm. Besides, it would be a lot more fun to have a best friend to ride with. When Kate discovers a barn on their new farm that’s perfect for a horse, and a dusty bridle too, she starts to think that her dream might come true. Then she meets Tori at school, who is totally the best. So when they discover a thoroughbred that appears to be all alone, could it be the answer to her prayers? Maybe. If she can convince her dad … and figure out what’s going on with that horse.

 

The Language of Hoofbeats, by Catherine Ryan Hyde

New to a small town, Jackie and Paula envision a quiet life for their kids: a young adopted son and two teenage foster children, including the troubled Star. However, they quickly butt heads with their neighbor, Clementine, who disapproves of their lifestyle and is incensed when Star befriends her spirited horse, Comet. Haunted by past tragedy and unable to properly care for Comet, Clem nevertheless resents the bond Star soon shares with the horse. When Star disappears with Comet, the neighbors are thrown together—far too close together. But as the search for the pair wears on, both families must learn to put aside their animosity and confront the choices they’ve made and the scars they carry.

 

Any title by Cherry Hill, author of a long list of instructional books

Cherry Hill has been a well known name in the landscape of horse-related books for as long as I can remember.  Her titles offer a great variety, catering to all disciplines and levels, there’s a little of something for everyone.  If you feel you’re at a plateau with your horse or self, there’s bound to be a book she’s written to help you over the hump.

 

If you aren’t finding any new reading material interesting, there’s no shortage of classics, and new magazine issues every month to help you get through the winter months.  Make your downtime stimulating, as tempting as it might be, don’t let your mind turn into a vegetable with your body, keep both busy and keep reading!

THE BREAK DOWN

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We’re all seeing the same frantic posts on social media about how the USDOT hauling laws are affecting our horse transportation plans.  Since I never hauled with a trainer, or ride-shared with anyone driving anything larger than a dually and three-horse, I’d honestly never given a lot of thought to these laws.  My trucks, trailers, and hauling habits always fell well within allowed limited.  I have no idea how many people haul on their own v. how many have their trainers haul for them, I would suppose it could be a sort of half and half scenario.  That being said, what I gather is those of us who haul on our own, in our non-commercial rigs (anything collectively weighing in under 26,001 pounds) aren’t really bothered by all the commotion.

 

 

What does worry me, is the number of people I’ve seen over the years, who’ve managed to skirt around at the minimum, common sense and best practices.  I try to remember this, just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.  Could I jockey a deuce and a half truck and an eight horse trailer?  Probably.  Is it the best practice?  Absolutely not.

 

It seems fairly straight forward to me, if you’re frequently behind the wheel of anything that looks like this (or larger)…

 

 

… do yourself and your clients a favor, contact your local truck stop to find out when their scales are open, and do your research to find out what laws are going to apply to you now.  While I’m sure your clients don’t mind paying their share of fuel/handling costs, they probably aren’t going to be as willing to help you pay for a ticket.  An ounce of prevention is surely worth a pound of cure, in the form of getting your CDL, a USDOT number https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/do-i-need-usdot-number or installing an ELD (Electronic Logging Device).

 

The ELD (Electronic Logging Devices) Mandate, a result of the 2012 “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21) bill, mandates the use of electronic logging devices on commercial vehicles to track hours of service, including driving time and mandated rest periods for drivers. This rule impacts people who have been keeping written log books for the purpose of reporting commercial hours of service and could significantly impact the horse community due to increased scrutiny of compliance regarding these rules; horse safety and welfare during transport could also be in jeopardy.

 

I’m absolutely guilty of forgetting that horses are still “livestock” in the eyes of the law.  Horsemen and -women are encouraged to contact their Congressmen about this bill and its impact  to request a one-year exemption for livestock haulers and to develop ways to revise the law in a way that’s more appropriate to the horse industry as a whole.  Currently, operators hauling horses are subject to the ELD Mandate if they meet the following conditions:

  • Using a commercial vehicle; this is the case if:
    • Your truck/trailer is used for business
    • Your truck/trailer is used as a business expense
    • You collect payment for hauling non-personal horses
    • You can win money competing with your personal or client horses
    • You are sponsored, which might include having stickers/emblems on your trailer
    • Your vehicle has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of more than 10,000 pounds and is used for your business or the intent to make a profit, or is involved in interstate commerce (USDOT and state DOT numbers might also be required)
  • Activities fall outside exemptions allowed for agriculture and livestock transport; exemptions include:
    • Transport of livestock within 150 air mile radius from the source
      • In this case, work and driving hours are not limited and an ELD is not required. Hours of service restrictions do apply beyond the 150 air-mile radius (unless vehicle/driver meets limited exemptions, such as if it’s for no more than 8 days in a 30-day period—see fmcsa.dot.gov)
    • “Occasional transportation of personal property by individuals not for compensation nor in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise”
      • Per the FMCSA website, this exemption applies to those who transport personal horses with a commercial motor vehicle under those guidelines, provided: (1) The underlying activities are not undertaken for profit, i.e., (a) prize money is declared as ordinary income for tax purposes, and (b) the cost of the underlying activities is not deducted as a business expense for tax purposes; and, where relevant; (2) corporate sponsorship is not involved. Drivers must confer with their State of licensure to determine the licensing provisions to which they are subject.
  • Required to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) based on the weight of your truck and trailer. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is noted by the manufacturer and includes passengers and cargo:
    • Combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
    • Single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more

 

One of the key points of the MAP-21 guidelines are mandates for drive and rest periods. Under this law, a commercial driver may drive for 11 hours in a 14-consecutive-hour period before a mandatory “stop-and-rest” requirement goes into effect for the next 10 consecutive hours; a 30-minute break is also required within the 11-hour driving period (maximum consecutive driving time is 8 hours before the 30-minute break is required).

 

MAP-21 regulations go into effect December 18, 2017; a 90-day grace period has been granted, with the mandate going into full effect April 1, 2018.  Additional information can be found here:  https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/faqs

 

This is typically the show season for showing.  Use the time wisely to make sure you have everything in place for safe and legal trailering.  Whether the laws affect us or not, whether we agree with them or not, they exist and must be obeyed.

A LITTLE CRUSH

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If you know me, you know I don’t follow sports.  I’ll go to a game/match for the excitement of seeing it live, and honestly, the people-watching is usually more entertaining, but you rarely will see me sitting and watching any sport on tv.  There is one athlete though, that I’ve really taken a liking too, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  I’ve got a little crush, on Terry Bradshaw.

 

I couldn’t tell you anything about his lengthy and impressive career in the NFL.  I believe he used to, and still does occasionally, work as a commentator on sports channels.  That’s all well and good.  Terry first came onto my radar in the movie, “Failure to Launch.”  Who can forget his “nekid room?”  Not even if you’ve tried!  More recently, I’ve loved watching him in his new series where he stars alongside friends, William Shatner, Henry Winkler, George Foreman and their sidekick Jeff Dye, “Better Late than Never.”  If you haven’t seen an episode yet, you need to, it’s a breath of fresh air compared to everything else on television right now.

https://www.nbc.com/better-late-than-never?nbc=1

 

What draws me even more to him though, is his love of the Quarter Horse breed.  Maybe you weren’t aware, but ole TB went from Quarterback to Quarter Horses over 25 years ago (nice word play for a non-sports person, eh?).  Terry Bradshaw Quarter Horses has made a name for itself on the show circuits for producing and showing some of the top Halter horses in the industry.  Alongside his daughter, Erin, Terry not only breeds his own stock, but he also shows.

 

 

Their current band of broodmares is over 40 strong, and the four sires the outfit boasts, Influential, Telasecret, Initials Only, and Paint stallion, John Simon, are responsible for producing some amazing and talented offspring.

 

The sprawling ranch in Thackerville, OK is home to more than just horses.  You’ll find the usual assortment of farm life there too.  The state of the art facility and surrounding property is nothing short of stunning, and clearly caters to the highest standards of quality.

 

 

So here it is…

 

Dear Mr. Bradshaw,

I’m a huge fan of your (ahem, later) work.  If you come into town for the Quarter Horse Congress, I’ll meet you in the round bar and buy you a drink for the pleasure of your company, which I’m sure would give me stores to tell for years.  Thanks for all you do to promote and produce our beloved Quarter Horses.

Love,

K