Yesterday marked the 100th birthday of a racing legend, known to his good friend and groom Will Harbut simply as, Big Red.  “He’s got everythin’ a horse ought to have and he’s got it where a horse ought to have it. He’s the mostest horse.”  

-Will Harbut



Man o’ War’s illustrious career in post-WWI America elevated him to hero status in the racing world.  In 1920 he was considered the unofficial horse of the year, and honored along side another sports legend, Babe Ruth, as outstanding athletes of the year by The New York Times.  His racing career was followed up by an equally successful career as a breeding stallion.  Man o’ War’s most successful sons at stud were War Admiral and War Relic, and War Relic’s branch of the male line survives today. Tiznow, Tourist, Honour and Glory, Bal a Bali, Skywalker and Bertrando are all sire-line descendants of Man o’ War.



Man o’ War was retired from stud in 1943 after suffering a heart attack.  He died on November 1, 1947 at age 30 of another apparent heart attack, a short time after Harbut died. His funeral was broadcast live on NBC Radio.  Man o’ War was embalmed and buried in a casket lined with Riddle’s black and gold racing silks.  He was originally interred at Faraway Farm, but in the early 1970s, his remains were moved to a new burial site at the Kentucky Horse Park, where his grave is marked with a statue by American sculptor Herbert Haseltine.


The Kentucky Horse Park has held a celebration in honor of “Big Red,” to commemorate his centennial birthday, including refinishing his memorial statue.


Photo credit, Jamie Newell


Springtime makes for a great visit to Lexington, KY and the Kentucky Horse Park.  Man o’ War greets you near the entrance.  Be sure to stop and wish him a Happy Birthday as you pass by!










-Winston Churchill


Writing has brough me a lot of great connections.  One of whom, Lori Cummings, CEO of Ariel Medial Group, emailed me the other day to share a story on a local equine therapy facility near her.  Even though we’ve not met in person, Lori knows this is my soft spot!


MANE (Montgomery Area Non-Tradational Equestrians) in Pike Road, Alabama is where Lori likes to spend her volunteering time.  MANE is a fully accredited Premier PATH, International facility, that caters to students of all ages and level of ability.  Program Director, Tiffany Atkinson uses her life-long equine experience and 15 years of marketing and management, to help ensure every student receives top-notch service and training.



Three instructors, and a hearty team of volunteers help round out the staff, that caters to 90-100 individuals weekly!  As a non-profit, they often benefit from local events like the Horse N Buddy Obstacle Challenge held earlier in March, and organized by Lori.



If you’ve never witnessed therapeutic horsemanship at work, you’re really missing out.  What horses and the human teams are able to accomplish with their students is nothing short of miraculous.  Whether the student’s diagnosis is physical or non-physical, there’s something in it for everyone.  The MANE website offers great detail on the benefits:


“Therapeutic horseback riding provides extremely important and effective intervention for people with cognitive, emotional, and/or physical disabilities. A rider straddling a horse stretches tight or spastic muscles throughout his or her body. Instructors and therapists use the three-dimensional rhythmic motion of the horse to reduce spasticity and abnormal movements, quicken reflexes, aid in motor planning, and strengthen muscles, joints, and tendons damaged by trauma or illness in their disabled patients. Riders with physical impairments or limited mobility can experience increased balance and muscle control; a wider range of motion; and improved respiration, circulation, appetite, and digestion. Confidence and enhanced self-esteem are positive by-products of therapeutic riding.”


That just addresses the physical benefits!  With their Horses Helping our Heroes program, the interaction with horses, even just on the ground, is sometimes enough to bring even the most traumatized souls “back home” again.  Horses have a way of understanding things within us that sometimes we don’t even fully understand, and making connections that we didn’t know were broken.



I’m so glad Lori brought this program to my attention, and I now have the opportunity to share with you.  This is something we cannot talk enough about, and need to keep the conversations going!  Do you have a therapeutic horsemanship program near you, or volunteer with one?  Tell me about it!  More information about MANE can be found on their website,









Horses are no different than kids.  This time of year, when the weather tends to not lend itself to healthy activities outside, they all get crabby and complain.  It’s a common expression used elsewhere, but it still applies; a tired horse is a well-behaved horse.  So, what can you do with a bored 1,000 pound animal?  A lot as it turns out!


Most tools I’ve come across will work in either indoor or outdoor settings, and come in a variety of sizes and colors to make them as situation-compatible as possible.  Back when I had Buddy, who got impatient when it came to feeding time (because we forgot him soooo often, of course! lol), I used a securely fastened O-ring, a trailer tie, and a stall ball to give him something to swat around.  When he wasn’t placated with that, he also took to teaching himself how to unfasten double-end snaps (thank you for making it so hard to hang a bucket already) and figuring out how to lift the stall grate off it’s hinges.  Those smart horses, they can wear you out!


Thanks to advancements in nearly everything, there are companies dedicated to helping you solve all your horse’s boredom issues, with a variety of “busy” toys for them to wear themselves out on.


Horseman’s Pride gave us the original Jolly Ball,, which is still a big seller.  They come in a wider variety of materials now, for any type of horse or use.  Horseman’s Pride also offers lick toys, pas-a-fiers, and puzzle toys that produce a treat when your horse manipulates it the right way.



The Likit Company is newer to me, but they’ve developed a line of treat-based toys to keep your horse occupied.  Toys like theirs keep your horse’s mind busy and their mouths to help reduce boredom that leads to bad habits like cribbing and chewing of non-treat/toy things (like your fences, stalls, buckets, OTHER horses…).



Shires offers a ball feeder,, great for paddock or stall.  It can be filled with treats or grain to keep them occupied.  Think about these if you’ve got a feed bolter as well to help slow them down.



The best answer is always a good workout with you, but sometimes isn’t an option.  Even the most regularly-exercised horses still get bored though, so instead of getting upset every time you have to replace boards or listen to wind-sucking, consider giving them something more productive to do.  Horses like to feel needed and busy, even if their primary “job” is as your companion.  They don’t have the luxury of smartphones to keep them entertained, or a Netflix account, or even the ability to do a crossword puzzle.  Don’t set them up to fail by leaving them alone with nothing to do, try some toys out to see what engages their mind best!





Sometimes it’s little by little, to the point that you hardly notice.  Other times, it hits all at once.  Life happens, every day all day, and feeling like you have so little control over it is pretty frustrating.


This week’s thoughts are a bit of a departure from my usual subject matter.  There’s a lot happening, just this week actually, that even as an experienced person in dealing with things, I’m struggling to sort through and compartmentalize.


I’m proud of how I’ve learned to handle myself, despite wanting to do or say the exact opposite.  It hasn’t been an easy lesson to absorb, and by no means do I think I’ve mastered the art.  So many things I mutter to myself, are just tired old cliches, but they’re rooted in truth.  This too shall pass, pick your battles, and there’s a greater plan for you.  All offer only limited comfort, but are no less accurate.


I’ll be 40 this year.  The age doesn’t bother me.  Am I where I thought I’d be at 40?  That’s hard to answer because I honestly never gave it a lot of thought.  In some ways, I’ve done more than I ever thought, and in others, I feel like I have so much more to do.  I suppose what I’m describing is fairly average.  It feels like I’ve made a few small differences over the years, I’m proud of that.  It also feels like life is just getting warmed up.


I started this blog for a couple of reasons.  One, to maintain a connection to the horse world, when I was (still am) lacking in actually being a physical horse owner.  Two, was to put my writing skills on display in the hopes that they would eventually pass under the right set of eyes, leading to a promising writing career.  While that elusive phone call has yet to be received, I remain hopeful.


In my personal life, it’s equally as balanced in being good with where I am, and looking forward to where I’ll be.  My “squad” is small and tightly knit.  I’m loved and cherished.  It’s all good.


Sometimes life feels more like a reality show, which admittedly I’m a fan of many.  There are days when I know we all could say, “you can’t make this shit up!”  The tv show on CBS called, “Life in Pieces” is a favorite in our home.  If you’re familiar, it’s broken out into four segments every episode, each with a name that seems silly when you see the title (Best-Waxing-Grocery-Rental, anyone?), but it all ties together.


Thinking along those lines, what would I call this week’s episode?  Upset-Reprieve-Resume-Recover?  Stay tuned!





Part of me laughs when I see a new article or news story on the healing powers of horses, and animals in general, but it still seems to be a new concept to so many, so let’s talk about it again.  Horses (and animals) have a way of connecting with us that goes beyond anything we can describe.  It’s a language that’s unwritten, yet universal.  When our Veterans return home, and suddenly the emotional rug is pulled right from under their boots, humans often cannot help them bridge the gap from military to civilian life.


Horses once carried our warriors into battle, now then can help them “come home” again.  We all become products of our environment.  If chaos and daily threats to our safety are the new normal, then imagine how disconcerting a quiet, orderly life feels afterward.  Add to that any physical and non-physical injuries, and it probably feels like you’re trapped in the weirdest movie, and you can’t find the remote to shut it off.  Carry that inside you, so as not to upset your loved ones for a while, and think about how you might be feeling…


Now, imagine a large arena.  You’re safe.  The only other soul in that space with you has four legs and an inquisitive expression.  You approach each other tentatively, and when you meet, the horse blows a slow puff of breath against the back of your hand.  I don’t care who you are, or what you’ve experienced in your life, that is one of the most grounding moments a human can have.  “Hello, let’s be friends.”


Working with animals, even if you’re not used to quite large ones, can take you out of your own head.  It forces you to think in different ways, it forces you to be present and alert, while still calm.  It forces you to communicate, in an intimate way, with another soul who has no judgement of you or your past.  It might be difficult, if even stressful to try to verbally share your experiences with the humans your closest to, but for whatever reason, placing your open palm against a warm, furry neck, and feeling them press their face into your chest, trusting you, being there with you.  It’s powerful.  Most importantly, it acts as both a salve to all manner of wounds, and a tap into your keg of turbulant emotions.


I’m happy to see, more and more facilities and programs are popping up.  Our Veterans need all the resources we can provide to them, to give them back the lives they deserve.  Our local paper, The Columbus Dispatch had an article this week on a facility in Blacklick, OH.  Even if you don’t read the article, look at the photos.  They speak volumes.


I don’t care who you voted for or how you feel about the man in the Oval Office.  Our Veterans need us, and there’s plenty we can do.  We can volunteer, we can make donations, and neither of those have to take much of your time, but it’s time and money well-spent.  A small price to pay for our freedom.  Please say thank you to a Vet today, but them a coffee, offer a handshake, or find a local center offering programs they benefit from and make a donation.  Every little bit can make a big impact.