A Christmas Carol

Turn an “earworm” into a giggle.

Turn an “earworm” into a giggle.

Let’s be honest here: I really don’t care for Christmas carols. (Try having your name be part of one!) And I reeeeallly don’t care for cold, snowy weather, which can turn a normally very pleasant task – like feeding horses – into a chore.

But in both cases, I’ve found that the best way to deal with it is with a good dose of humor. Annoying Christmas jingle stuck in your head? Have some fun with it … own that carol! Like this (to the tune of “Up on the Rooftop”):

Out in the pasture, horses pause
Waiting for good old Santa Claus
Through the gate with loads of hay
All for the little ones
Christmas neighs

Whoa, whoa, whoa!
Why is there snow?
Whoa, whoa, whoa!
Why is there snow?

Continue reading “A Christmas Carol”

In the December America’s Horse

You’ll meet amazing horses and amazing people.

You’ll meet amazing horses and amazing people.

In this interlude between Thanksgiving and Christmas, people seem ready to count their blessings. As it works out, our December America’s Horse celebrates the spirit of the season perfectly. Horse people, who know the sometimes-cruel whims of Mother Nature, also know how to truly appreciate the good things in life – such as our families and our four-legged friends. Here’s a look at some of the highlights in the lastest issue:

  • AQHA Professional Horsewoman Stacy Westfall has had amazing success in freestyle reining, and she recently starred in the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. But did she write about any of that in her regular column? No, she wrote a touching piece about her relationship with a very average horse. “Popcorn” won’t likely win any world championships, but he has the key to Stacy’s heart, and she appreciates him for what he is.
  • AQHYA director Edwin “E.” Gaffney is described as an overachiever (in the best possible sense of the word), and he usually excels at whatever he attempts. But when he showed his horse, “Sir Avery” at Project Cowboy, their performance was less than stellar. But there’s a story behind that story. The two had been paired up for only five months, and before that, Sir Avery was so distrustful of people that he actually attacked his handlers. Viewed in that light, E’s performance at Project Cowboy was nothing less than amazing; he had won the trust of this horse and forged a great partnership. Continue reading “In the December America’s Horse”

A Hat With a Higher Purpose

How a generous raffle winner “paid it forward.”

How a generous raffle winner “paid it forward.”

Frances and John Boevers with Crissy Keeton.

Here’s how the story started: As part of the excitement surrounding the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, AQHA and Shorty’s Caboy Hattery raffled off a nice felt cowboy hat autographed by the highly decorated Team USA reiners.

Crissy Keeton of Shady Point, Oklahoma, was the lucky winner, and she was ecstatic.

“I am so excited to get this,” Crissy said immediately after the win. “I have been needing a hat, and now I have one with some awesome signatures! I can’t wait to get it!”

But then I saw a Facebook post from Crissy, saying that she’d given the hat away. Say what?

I messaged her to find out more, and what I heard was a story of friendship and generosity – stuff that’s way more important than any old hat. See if this doesn’t put a smile on your face.

Crissy says when she first received the hat, “I loved it. I showed it off to everybody. I put it on and took a few pictures.”

But then she realized that she’d likely leave it sitting in a box or maybe hanging on the wall, and this hat was meant for better things. Continue reading “A Hat With a Higher Purpose”

Here’s to the Horse People

Meet some of the people in the November issue of America’s Horse.

Meet some of the people in the November issue of America’s Horse.

Yep, it’s a horse magazine. For those blog readers who aren’t AQHA members, America’s Horse magazine is the membership publication of AQHA, and it has always got nuggets of wisdom on horse training, horse health and stable management issues. Horses are, obviously, the common thread. But it’s the horse people in the magazine that make up its heart and soul.

Annie Bianco-Ellett

The November issue of America’s Horse is a great case in point. In these pages, you’ll meet:

  • “Outlaw” Annie Bianco-Ellett and Reggie Howell, two of the many cowboy mounted shooters who came together to raise money for an armed services charity. Annie’s brother is a career Army man, and Reggie’s son is a Marine who recently shipped out to Afghanistan. “Everybody has a story,” Annie says. “The military charity’s tie-in really  hits home with a lot of our (Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association) members.” Thanks to a recently expanded partnership, AQHA points will be available at select CMSA competitions in 2011.
  • The historical figures behind Texas’ Spade Ranches, which won the 2010 AQHA-Pfizer Best Remuda Award. The story involves the inventors of barbed wire, an 1872 skirmish with Comanche Indians and a long history of good ranch horses — 123 saddle horses in 1908, according to a ranch inventory. Today, sons of cutting horses Peptoboonsmal and High Brow Cat sire the hard-working, high-performing Spade-branded horses.   Continue reading “Here’s to the Horse People”

Reflections on WEG

Covering Quarter Horses and beyond at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Covering Quarter Horses and beyond at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

AQHA and the American Quarter Horse got an amazing amount of exposure at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Here, our sign on the main road to the stadium (in the background). Note the famous "floating Land Rover" in the pond.

Today, I’ll admit it: I’m tired.

Since September 23, when I flew into Lexington, Kentucky, I’ve been running on adrenaline and caffeine. No matter the amount of walking — and there was a lot — no matter the long days and sometimes-short nights, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, held for the first time in the United States.  Zero complaints here.

As part of AQHA’s sponsorship of the Games, the Association loaned a staff member (me) to the WEG press office, so as such, after reining was over, I was put to work covering dressage, show jumping and vaulting. Especially with vaulting, I had a big learning curve, but the good news is that horse people, no matter their discipline, l.o.v.e. to talk horses and horse sport, so I had no trouble finding knowledgeable people willing to fill me in. Plus, the vaulters’ enthusiasm was contagious, and you can now count me among the sport’s fans.

Throughout the 16 days of the Games, there were so many amazing moments. I’ll list a few:

I was wowed to see some of the dressage and jumping horses in the flesh. These warmbloods are much bigger than you realize when you see photos of them, and their incredible talent is wrapped in some very tightly wound muscles. I actually had to follow Dutch team dressage gold medalist Hans Peter Minderhoud on his way back to the stables (there were journalists waiting to interview him who were afraid he was “escaping”), and he was very gracious as he answered some questions while holding the gorgeous-but-antsy mare, Exquis Nadine. I’m impressed by the level of horsemanship it takes to channel that energy and electricity … and I’m also very appreciative of my Quarter Horses! Continue reading “Reflections on WEG”

Stolen Horses

We all think it’ll never happen to us — but we may have another think coming.

We all think it’ll never happen to us — but we may have another think coming.

Nate Priefert and LSS Drygen Cody

A couple of years ago, I met Debi Metcalfe of Stolen Horse International at an equine expo. At the time, I was impressed by her passion — fueled by the theft of one of her own horses, Idaho — and her commitment to helping educate and empower other horse owners. Her group’s website has a ton of information on how to protect yourself from horse thieves and what to do if thieves strike. Stolen Horse International also sends out e-mail “Idaho Alerts” on stolen horses and a “Net Posse” e-mail newsletter. It’s a lot of work for the bare-bones all-volunteer staff.

So, I wasn’t terribly surprised to learn yesterday that Debi was working instead of relaxing on her vacation. She’d had another report of a stolen horse — this one from a high-profile family in the horse industry — and she was trying to spread the word, hoping that the notoriety would A. Help bring this horse home; and B. Provide a little publicity for both her group and the issue of horse theft in general. We’re happy to help with both those goals.

Continue reading “Stolen Horses”

Time Crunch

How do you make the most out of your time at the barn?

How do you make the most out of your time at the barn?

I hear there are people out there who take long, leisurely walks, linger over good books in their neighborhood coffee shop and even complain of occasional boredom. I am not those people.

For me, life is a rapid-fire succession of things that have to be crossed off an ever-growing to-do list. With family, work, cattle and horses all making demands on my time, you can bet that I don’t get many extended periods of time to lollygag around.

But that’s OK. While I don’t exactly get a lot of leisure time, I find a million small moments during the day — mini vacations if you will — that remind me to be appreciative of the blessings around me. It’s not exactly stopping to smell the roses … it’s more like horse sweat and alfalfa hay.

I’ve also learned to milk the most good out of my allotted hours. Like so many busy people, my lunch hour is often spent running errands or catching up on work that’s piling up. But on those rare lucky days when work is caught up and errands are either done or can wait, you’ll often find me at the barn.

It’s a move I’ve copped from a friend of mine who is fortunate enough to board her horse not far from her workplace. And it does have its own set of skills. After all, we’ve all been told not to put time constraints on our training — it takes as long as it takes, and that might or might not be within the limits of a 45-minute block of time. So it’s important to bite off only small chunks. This isn’t where I’d introduce something new or tackle something a horse is having problems with. Continue reading “Time Crunch”

A Quarter Horse Wins the Triple Crown?

He’s one of the equine actors who plays the title role in the upcoming movie “Secretariat.”

It only happens in the movies … but it sure makes for a good story.

We doubt this is Copper Locks (he only appeared in selected racing scenes), but he's supposed to look just like this! Photo credit: John Bramley/Disney Enterprises Inc.

The movie “Secretariat” won’t open until early October, so don’t pop the popcorn quite yet. But from all reports, it’s a movie that horse lovers won’t want to miss.

Now, you might be wondering why, exactly, a blog published by the American Quarter Horse Association is crowing about a Thoroughbred movie. Secretariat, of course, is the 1973 Triple Crown winner who was owned by Penny Chenery, a woman who took over her father’s stable and had to fight for respect in the male-dominated industry of the 1970s.

AQHA member Rusty Hendrickson can help explain. He served as head wrangler on the movie, which means that he provided horses and then managed them on-set.

“A good horse movie can sort of transcend the breeds,” Rusty says in a recent interview with America’s Horse. “I love Quarter Horses; that’s my favorite. But it’s sometimes fun to tell a story when it’s just a horse story.”

And Reason No. 2? There are a number of American Quarter Horses in the movie, including one of the horses who played Secretariat. Rusty was looking for a horse with enough speed to zip around a pack of racehorses – and he knew for that quick burst of speed, he’d better look for a Quarter Horse. Continue reading “A Quarter Horse Wins the Triple Crown?”

Back to School

Cowboys vs. the Sooners, Part 2

Cowboys vs. the Sooners, Part 2

"Sooner" sports an orange -- orange! -- OSU Cowboys cap, entertaining the veterinary students who helped in her treatment.
On the way home, she looked much more appropriate riding in her Sooner trailer! (Yes, it's pulled by a Ford truck. And no, I don't get a commission from those AQHA Corporate Partners ... I just appreciate their good-quality stuff!)
... The only problem was, the Sooner trailer (with Sooner on board) was parked in front of this gas station: an OSU/Cowboy mecca! You just can't escape it!

If you’ve been following The Gallop Report, you know about the irony involved when I had to take my mare “Sooner” to Oklahoma State University for treatment of a rare fungal infection in her lymph system. The good folks at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital got a laugh about treating the namesake of their arch in-state rival — the University of Oklahoma Sooners.

Well, she had a recent followup visit. And the laughs keep coming!

Happy riding! (And happy rooting for your favorite college team … football season’s just around the corner!)

This Month in America’s Horse

This is definitely a glass-half-full sort of issue!

This is definitely a glass-half-full sort of issue!

In the August issue of America’s Horse magazine, mounted shooter Denny Chapman remarks that he’s a lucky cowboy. He loves his job as a Wild West entertainer. He has a great hobby competing in the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Assocation. And he got some fantastic publicity as a contestant on The History Channel’s “Top Shot” reality show.

Unfortunately, he was eliminated from the competition on Sunday’s night episode, after making it through eight of the 10 weeks. But never fear; he’s also a glass-half-full sort of cowboy. On Denny’s Facebook page, he wrote: “Just a note to thank everyone for their support during my participation in ‘Top Shot!’ I have been a mounted shooter for more than a decade, and I am very grateful for the sport that plays such an important role in my life. It helped me get on the show, and I hope the publicity I gained will help the sport grow even further. Thanks again for all the encouragement!”

Even though his time on the show is over, you’ll still enjoy reading about his behind-the-scenes experiences. And the August America’s Horse also gets more in-depth with another mounted shooter: AQHA Professional Horsewoman Stacy Westfall, who is a phenom in the reining pen but is now broadening her horizons to take in mounted shooting. Continue reading “This Month in America’s Horse”

A Close Family

The Ohio Quarter Horse Association pulls together to help one of its own.

The Ohio Quarter Horse Association pulls together to help one of its own.

Trey and his roping/speed-event horse, Bar Dee Boy 036, aka "Scooby." Photo courtesy of Tow Pal Inc., which sponsors Trey.

By all accounts, 14-year-old Trey Schwab has a wonderful, supportive family. But outside of his biological family, he also has an amazing network of unrelated kinfolk – connected by a common love of horses – who have rallied around him in the wake of a terrible accident. At the AQHA Region Four Championship in Columbus, July 15-18, this family was kicking it in high gear.

May 22, Trey and his family had been driving to a horse show on Ohio’s Interstate 71 when their left front tire blew out. As Paul, Trey’s father, slowed down to pull over, the truck shot abruptly across the median and into some trees. The trailer disconnected from the truck, and one horse ended up dying. Cindy, Paul’s mother, bled profusely from a severed carotid artery, and Paul sustained head injuries. Cindy also suffered several broken bones and is now in a wheelchair, although a full recovery is expected. Trey remains hospitalized, and the extent of his brain injury is not yet known. He blinks to answer “yes” or “no” questions, and he knows that his best horse, “Scooby,” survived.

At the accident scene,  “there were angels everywhere,” says Ohio Quarter Horse Association youth director Kelli Diaz – from a passerby who stopped and helped stanch Cindy’s bleeding, to another one who happened to be driving by with an empty horse trailer; she transported the horses to a nearby vet clinic.

Today, it’s Kelli and others at OQHA and neighboring affiliates who are filling that role. Continue reading “A Close Family”

“Last American Cowboy”

An Animal Planet show introduces ranchers to the American public at large.

American public, meet the ranchers!

Bill Galt. Photo courtesy of Animal Planet/Audrey Hall

It’s pretty cool when legitimate ranchers and their western lifestyle are spotlighted on the Animal Planet channel, giving the American public an insight into what it takes to put that hamburger or steak on the table. And it’s even better when two AQHA life members are involved, so they can give us a look behind the scenes.

Here, Lisa Tanzer, a co-executive producer, and Bill Galt, one of the featured ranchers, talk about what it was like to make “Last American Cowboy,” which airs Monday nights (8 p.m. Eastern) on Animal Planet.

Lisa, who has ridden since she was 5 and has shown reining horses for the past several years, says she loved being able to visit the three Montana ranches, and she even got to do some camera work from horseback. She also spent time in the edit bay in Los Angeles, going through the 5,000 hours of film that were recorded from calving season in March through October, when the calves were sold.

“I thought it was an amazing glimpse into ranching,” she says. “I’ve had so many people say, ‘I can’t believe that even happens.’ ”

Continue reading ““Last American Cowboy””