Sometimes, you just have to be silly.  I love opportunities to volunteer and make my own small difference, especially when they’re fun!  Today, swing into your local Walgreens, pick up a red nose, make it a great day for you, the people who see you, and help support the charities that deliver basic necessities to children living in poverty.  We can all give something!



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With the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio on my mind, I wondered about the process of transporting our equine athletes overseas.  It’s not that different from human travel as it turns out, but does require a bit more careful packing…


Since horses generally travel for work rather than leisure, in the US, it’s all managed by the FEI (FÉDÉRATION EQUESTRE INTERNATIONALE).  Per their requirements found here:

https://www.fei.org/fei/horse-health-and-welfare/passports-and-id and here:



“To apply for a new passport; (1) the horse must be life recorded; (2) all owners must be active members of the USEF; (3) the owner must be
a US citizen. Non-citizens may only apply for FEI Passports with the permission of their own National Federation. Although not required to
be USEF members, non-citizens must be members of the National Federation in the country of their citizenship and the horse must also be
recorded with that Federation.
Passport applications can be downloaded from our website, http://www.usef.org, or an application can be sent out from USEF by fax, mail or
email. The application must be completed legibly according to the directions and mailed or faxed back to USEF. A passport cannot be issued
unless the owner is an active junior or senior member and the horse is life recorded. Once all information has been verified, a passport will
be issued to the horse. The passport will be sent along with a packet of information for you and your veterinarian explaining how to complete
the passport. FEI Horse Passports cost $300 and USEF National Passports cost $50 payable by check, MasterCard, Visa, or American Express
which must be submitted at the time of application. Please allow a minimum of four to six weeks from start to finish for the passport to be
validated and ready for competition. Please see the Passport Expedited Service Form for information about rush processing.”


“Clear identification of horses is essential, particularly when competing at an international level, to facilitate the movement across borders and to ensure that the relevant health requirements are satisfied.

The FEI passport and FEI-approved National passport (with a recognition card) are based on the specifications and requirements of the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) and are mandatory when competing in most FEI events. The FEI passport or recognition card serves as a record of the FEI events attended, medication controls and of vaccinations administered.To learn more about vaccinations, please click here.

In order to access an FEI event, the horse has to be positively identified from its passport, its vaccination status must be correct, the passport and the FEI validation sticker accurate and all other relevant details correctly entered into its passport. This includes the owner’s signature accepting the conditions of the passport when the horse is examined on arrival. Should the above information not be correctly entered, the horse may be prohibited to enter the event site.

In addition to the passport, horses are being increasingly microchipped. This is already compulsory in some countries (such as those belonging to the European Union). From January 2013, all horses newly registered with the FEI must be microchipped, with the intention that, in time, this will become compulsory for all horses competing at FEI events.”  And that’s just the paperwork!


horse_passport Equine%20Passports


Once they’re cleared for takeoff, the horses are shipped in specialty cargo jets, typically two to a unit (with individual stalls), and their “seatbelts” are basically crossties.  They do have the benefit of travelling with an entourage, grooms, vets, and other handlers, to make their flight less bothersome, and to step in should a horse become upset.  Some horses, depending on their travel habits, even have a “glass or two of champagne” for the trip (just enough safe sedative to keep them from becoming upset during flight).


Research has found that most horses fall into two distinct groups, as they’re often susceptible to jet lag just as we are.  They either need to travel about four days prior to activity and be ready to go, or arrive in up to two weeks in advance, to acclimate themselves to the area.  Horses are creatures of habit after all, and interrupting a routine days before a competition like the Olympics could be disastrous.


Once airborne, they’ll receive in-flight snacks and beverages, designed to keep them content and well-hydrated.  Lights are usually kept dimmed as well, to aid in their comfort.  Some flights encounter longer delays due to the efforts made to travel around potential bad weather.  I think it’s safe to say that our four-legged athletes are better cared for and catered to when travelling than we are!


Best wishes and safe rides to the 2016 USET competing in the Summer Olympics in Rio!









As an avid reader from childhood (thanks Dad!), when a friend asked me to join her book club a couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance.  It was during a particularly challenging period in my life, and the opportunity to have regularly scheduled adult time for me was pretty appealing.  Sure we joke about it being more of a drinking club for literate ladies, but at the end of the day, we are still reading and discussing books so it can’t be all bad!


When I was younger, I had to rely on others to tip me off to a new horse book or movie.  Our family was friends with the local video rental store owner, who always called when he got a new horse movie in.  For reading, I was usually limited to what I could scavenge from the school library or “Book Bus” that visited from the local public library.  Imagine my disgust to find (as a kid) that every book with a horse on the cover was not always a horse book.  Damn you Harlequin Romance!


What’s great about “horse fiction” as it’s now searchably known, is that more often than not, the books work well for most ages of readers.  Thanks to website like www.goodreads.com, it’s easy to find lists of titles to placate your horse fiction tooth.


You can view a great list here to see what you’ve read and what you need to add to your waiting list:  https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/horse-fiction

Here are a few that I’ve crossed off that list…


Riders, by Jilly Cooper


Jilly has actually authored a few books in the horse fiction genre about different disciplines.  They’re the perfect combination of good horse writing, and “smut” as Grandma used to call it.  A view into the dirty underbelly of the different horse circuits and what’s really going on behind closed trailer doors.


The Horse Whisperer, by Nicholas Evans



Novel loosely-based on the actual “Horse Whisperer,” Buck Brannaman and stories of his experiences.  It was adapted for film in 1998 by Robert Redford who played the character “Tom Booker.”  As in most film adaptations, I usually feel it disappoints a little, but (*spoiler alert for the last few people who haven’t read or watched) the accident scene is heart-stopping.  I suspect the human mind protects itself a bit when reading so you can’t fully imagine what it might have looked like, until you see it in the movie.  You’ll fast forward past that scene if you watch it again.


Horse Play, by Judy Renee Singer



Cheeky and fun.  This was a light, easy read.  Not the best book I’ve ever picked up, but not a total waste of time.  Find a cheap, used copy and kill a couple of hours on a rainy day.


The Mystery of Pony Hollow, by Lynn Hall



Admittedly this is one from memory, somewhere in later Elementary school I believe, but still an enjoyable story.  More supernatural than mystery, and a little emotional if you connect with characters like I do.  I’d forgotten about it until I started my search, then found a whole chat thread of others like me who would read it again as an adult.


Riding Lessons and Flying Changes, by Sara Gruen

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The author of Water for Elephants was reaching a bit to carry the story in these.  It’s rare for me to just give up on a book, so I compelled myself to get through these, but it wasn’t without it’s challenges.  The characters, for me, were too much.  Whiny, self-victimizing, making little to no effort to improve their situations.  I don’t have time for that.  Put on your big girl breeches and get on with your life already!


I’m always looking for recommendations, what have you read that you connected with, or surprised you by how good it was?



Back in the day, my show horse was one who barely kept a short coat longer than three months out of the year.  That meant every fall for Quarter Horse Congress, I either had to show a fuzzball, or get him shaved.  I paid for the service once and watched closely, then bought my own clippers and never looked back.  Buddy was a fairly decent client (except that one time I thought surely he couldn’t stand on two feet, and it resulted in a black eye for me…), and Dad usually helped, but our well-turned-out clip jobs were boring by comparison to my interviewee’s.


My Uncle sent a link to an article recently that I’m seeing pop up more and more now.  A young woman in the UK has taking body clipping to the next level and beyond.  I reached out to her and had a fun chat about her art.  Meet Mel, “the clipper woman.”


-You started at a young age, and do to the needs of your own horse, right?  How did that inspire you to turn an ordinary clip job into a work of art?

Requests from friends and friends of friends and it grew from there!




-Do you still offer standard clips as well, or are all requests for your creativity?

Yes I still have a wide range of clients who strictly request traditional clipping, some people are quite conservative and I like to cater for these just as much as the creatives… it’s equally good to cover both aspects as I take my work seriously and I understand people have different drives and motivations in the equestrian industry.


-What has been your most popular design?

It’s split between The Castle Clip and The Armour De L’amore definitely! The Castle Clip and the Armour De L’amore have had the biggest responses so far. The Castle is important to me as it kick started the larger scale custom clipping and gave me something to really work at. It got me a lot of attention. This season my favorite has been the Armour De L’Amore clip as its on my personal horse Romeo and I have worked over time to build him up and now he stands un-haltered with compete trust while I work which has been a challenge as he’s was a very nervous character and still is but he trusts me and its a great feeling. I have a wide range of blades and clippers – I have blades and clippers to suit pretty much every situation, and ever breed as well as coat type. No stencils have been used to date or CGI’s here – all hand crafted. It’s very much like a craft to me that only comes with experience and practice. 


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-What has been the most memorable response to seeing one of your clip jobs?

Somebody responded to the Armour by saying she needed to see it on the day she did, she was very low and up against the world and seeing my work accompanied by the Game of thrones quote,  (‘Never forget who you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength . Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it and it can never be used to hurt you’ – Tyrion Lannister ) made her feel like she could carry on during a really low point in her life. This stands out to me. And when people say i inspire them, its all i could ever wish for! 




-Is there anything you know now about grooming/clipping that you wish you’d known when you first started?  What advice do you have for someone who wants to try this at home?

To anybody wanting to try their hand at clipping My main advice would be to exercise patience, persistence and perseverance – don’t give up before you start – don’t be afraid to make mistakes, this is only way to perfect a craft and clipping is very much a craft learned only by experience. Get to know your area if interest and read about it too, learn about your equipment and most of all listen to the horse stood in front of you.

Great advice, Mel, and thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me-so I can share with my readers!


See more of her work here…https://www.facebook.com/JMCequestrian/