Life With Horses

    Adventures with horses from writer Cindy Hale.



    Cindy Hale – Life With Horses
    Cindy with Danny and WallyI was a horse crazy girl who grew up to be a horse crazy woman, and I’ve dragged my non-horsey husband along on the adventure. Whether I’m trail riding, judging shows or dealing with the challenges of backyard horsekeeping, my life is never dull. Fortunately, like most horsewomen, I came equipped with a good sense of humor.


    Monday, October 1, 2012
    Not Quite out to Pasture

    I know it’s been a while since I posted here, and I apologize. I’ve gotten more than a few queries asking, “Where’s Cindy? Is she okay?”

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    Friday, August 9, 2012
    The Bareback Diaries

    I don’t know what’s going on in your part of the country, but out here in the dusty foothills of inland southern California it’s hot. Yesterday I did my barn chores in a bare bones tank top and pair of shorts and decided that in order to feel any hotter I’d have to be on fire.

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    Friday, July 27, 2012
    A Pile of Purple Ribbons

    More things than memories fade with time. Longtime horse show competitors know that their blue ribbons eventually fade to a shade of purple that ranges somewhere between grape Kool-Aid and wilted lilac. Except for a handful of treasured ribbons I keep cloistered in a dark closet, most of my ancient first place ribbons have also gone the way of vintage violet.

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    Friday, July 20, 2012
    The World According to Ponies

    Love them or detest them, chances are a pony has contributed to your love of horses. Many of us had our first ride aboard a pony (I know I did) and experienced our first injury due to a naughty pony (me again).

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    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Five Simple Show Tips

    I recently spent a whirlwind couple of days judging a pair of shows. Saturday’s show was a laidback, in-house schooling show that offered a mix of western and English classes. Sunday’s show was much more intense. It was a county-rated hunter show with many exhibitors intent on winning equitation medals. And yet I still thought of my blog! During momentary breaks in the weekend’s activities, I decided to jot down some suggestions that might help those of you who show.

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    Monday, June 25, 2012
    An Unhappy Ending

    How long must you own a horse before its spirit finds a home in your heart? Is there a certain time limit, measured in rides or nuzzles or stall door secret sharing, that must be met before you’re allowed to say, “I truly loved that horse”?

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    Thursday, June 16, 2012
    Tough Horses Can be the Best Teachers

    “We’ll put you on Buster Brown. He’ll dump you.” I’ll never forget those words that greeted me many years ago. I had just started work as an assistant to a then-famous A-circuit hunter and jumper trainer. His barn manager, Patty, seemed determined to tarnish my crown as a respected show rider. I’m sure she viewed me as yet another hunt seat princess who looked pretty on a horse but lacked any true ability to actually ride.

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    Wednesday, June 6, 2012
    Getting a Leg Up on Summer

    Spring doesn’t last long out here. The season’s mild weather and cool mornings stick around for just a brief visit. In fact, spring always seems in a hurry to go someplace else, like a party guest who grabs a snack, sips half a drink, says a few hellos and then splits. Then the door opens and summer makes a grand entrance, complete with balmy nights, dry winds and oven-fresh heat that makes riding before noon a necessity.

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    Tuesday, May 30, 2012
    Wally’s Tree

    Many of you probably live in far more rural areas than me. Yet by southern California standards our small acreage is an untamed wilderness. I’ve encountered snakes, coyotes, roadrunners and cottontail bunnies in my yard. Either our house is situated on a crossroads of wildlife travel or our landscaping, based on native plants, attracts them.

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    Monday, May 21, 2012
    Reality TV Shows: The Horse Lover’s Version

    I’ve started a small business with my equestrian-themed mosaics. I keep a little TV turned on in the background while I snip glass tiles and glue them in place. Over time I’ve realized there are a whole lot of so-called “reality” shows. On my satellite dish (which offers the same viewing menu as cable) dozens of channels are contaminated with them. Yet there are very few that hold my interest. I believe that some of them should be tweaked to become more appealing to horse folk like us.

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    Tuesday, May 15, 2012
    No More Dental Denial

    Last year during Wally’s annual teeth floating, my vet Jennifer stopped midway, turned to me and said, “This is it. I’m not equipped to address all the problems with Wally’s teeth.” Imagining the worst, I thought, “What does he need? Braces?”

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    Friday, May 4, 2012
    The Rules According to Wally

    During the years I rode green horses I was always aware that the colts and fillies were blank slates. If I worked with them for six months and they ended up with holes in their basic training or nasty vices, there was no one to blame but me.
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    Tuesday, April 24, 2012
    Insider Tips from the Horse Show Judge

    I’ve been busy. Horse show season has begun, and that means that I’m spending at least one weekend a month judging. I had a break during my last judging assignment while the jumping course was adjusted for the pony hunter classes. I took that time to gobble my lunch (a BLT with avocado) and also jot down a few horse show tips to share here on my blog.
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    Friday, April 13, 2012
    Are You Sure You Want to Trail Ride in That Halter?

    Yes, dear readers, I have another installment of, “Trust me. You Really Shouldn’t Do That.” This intermittent series presents bad ideas and misguided tactics I witness in my local horse world. This time around I’m tackling a trend I see gaining in popularity: riding a horse on the trails in a halter.
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    Tuesday, April 3, 2012
    The Tale of a Wacky Racetrack Road Trip

    Among the pantheon of crazy old horsewomen I’ve met in my life is a wildly erratic, stormy-eyed widow I’ll call Doris. I met her when I was about 16, a time when I should’ve been fawning over the adolescent boys on the varsity football team. Instead I was purely enamored with Thoroughbred horses.
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    Friday, March 23, 2012
    Trust Me. You Really Shouldn’t Do That

    The old saying that “experience is the best teacher” is a good one, even in the horse world. Once we’ve survived a tragedy or been publicly humiliated we’re extra sure not to do that same stupid thing again. Consider them lessons learned the hard way. Unfortunately, along the way to enlightenment we’re putting our horses in danger.
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    Friday, March 9, 2012
    Your Guide to the Typical Pony

    I’ve worked with a variety of ponies in my life, each one of them memorable for different reasons. They range from sweet Amanda, who carefully carried nervous kids over the jumps, to wily Michael. If he became annoyed with the kid on his back he’d stop abruptly, fold up his legs and lie down.
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    Monday, March 5, 2012
    Hello Lameness My Old Friend

    My pals and I have a saying about horses: “Eventually they all go lame.” Fortunately, most of those stories have a happy ending. The problem is diagnosed, treated and the horse returns to use. I, however, seem to have more than my fair share of the other type of lameness: the type that doesn’t go away. Recently I’ve been stuck in that scenario with Danny.
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    Thursday, February 23, 2012
    Baking for Biscuits

    It’s no family secret that I am not a good baker. Roast a goose with homemade cornbread and apple stuffing? Grill fresh salmon marinated in whiskey and maple syrup? Whip up a batch of creamy mushroom risotto? All that I can do. But mix together ingredients that should (allegedly) result in anything sweet and delectable, like cookies? Truly, it’s much better for everyone if I just grab something from the bakery aisle at the supermarket. Everyone will be much happier and my kitchen won’t require a hazmat team to clean up when I’m finished.
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    Thursday, February 9, 2012
    Barn Pup

    This past holiday I received a warm and fuzzy Christmas gift from my husband. I’d been asking for a barn dog, something more rugged than our sweet but slightly neurotic Schnauzer, Betsy. I wanted a dog that could keep me company while I was puttering out back with the horses. What I got was a shaggy mouse-colored male puppy that looked like an elfin ewok.
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    Thursday, February 2, 2012
    Community Rescue Project

    One of my longtime pals from the show circuit, Linda Tayne, happens to own the most popular feed store in town. Besides serving as a grocery store for my horses and dogs, it’s also one of my hangouts. On any given day I can stop by and have an animated chat with Linda or the horse-loving gals on her staff. It really is a crossroads of the community, and I never know who I’ll run into at the check-out counter. Better yet, I never know what will be sitting on the counter, whether it’s free samples of hoof conditioner or raffle tickets for the 4H club.
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    Monday, January 30, 2012
    Extra Safe or Extra Sorry?

    I recently got an early morning phone call from Jennifer, my vet. She was giving me an update on the current outbreak of the dreaded neurological strain of the equine herpes virus. A gelding in my region, Riverside County, had just been euthanized. A necropsy confirmed the disease.
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    Wednesday, January 18, 2012
    A Case of Trakehner Déjà vu

    I spend most Wednesdays riding hunters for my trainer friend Sue. She served as rail-side coach for my sister and me when we were showing our own horses. Since Sue lives only a couple blocks away, it’s easy to stop by and hop on a horse. It helps her out when she’s extra busy and I get to ride a professionally schooled horse. It’s a perfect example of a win-win situation in the horse world.
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    Monday, January 9, 2012
    A Handy Dandy Diagram for Adult Amateur Riders

    Attention! Are you a “mature” non-professional rider shopping for that perfect horse? Have the half-broke critters of your youth lost their appeal? Are you hoping to spend less time in the orthopedic surgeon’s office and more time in the saddle?
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    Friday, December 30, 2011
    What Silliness Lurks Within Wally?

    Wally’s a familiar sight to the locals. He’s hard to miss with his white face, four high stockings and abundant hindquarters. Most folks see him cruising alongside the main street in town, his head low and the reins slack, as if he’s out for a nice stroll. Occasionally someone in a car or truck will slow down, lean out the window and say something like, “Your horse is so cute!”
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    Wednesday, December 21, 2011
    A Different Sort of Horsey Holiday

    In years past I spent abundant energy creating Christmas wish lists for my husband, family and friends. I circled pages in catalogs, bookmarked websites on the laptop and led thinly disguised guided tours through the local tack store, all in hopes that they’d buy my pre-selected gifts and then hand them over on December 25th.
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    Tuesday, December 13, 2011
    Hooked on a Feeling

    Someone needs to inform Danny that he is no longer a stallion. I thought he already understood this, because even though he was gelded only a year ago—after siring more than 20 foals, a fact that confounds me, given his less than ideal conformation—he is a perfect gentleman. He’s the Labrador retriever I always wanted.
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    Wednesday, December 7, 2011
    Wagon. Train.

    What goes through your horse’s mind when it sees another horse pulling a wagon? My horses can’t decide if they’re mystified or terrified.
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    Monday, November 28, 2011
    Farewell, Fuzzball

    You know it’s time to body clip your horse when he begins to look as if he’s wearing a faux fur coat. Such was the case with Danny. Though he was sleek and shiny from spring to summer, by Halloween he resembled a yak. In fact, the hair on his lower legs began to curl, to the point that I actually had someone on the trails ask me if he were part Bashkir Curly.
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    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Greetings, Mr. Lumpy

    with horses can sometimes be a bumpy road, both figuratively and literally.
    Wally’s seasonal allergy has kicked in, which means I’m greeted nearly every
    morning by a blaze-faced gelding that resembles a topographical map of the Appalachians.
    Interlocking masses of soft lumps and welts cover large patches of his body,
    primarily wherever his coat is exposed to the air. For the last couple of
    winters I’ve combated the problem by swathing Wally in horse clothes until he’s
    practically mummified.

    View Blog >>

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    More Mustang Madness

    It’s no secret that I have a high level of frustration with
    the entire American mustang issue. Or perhaps, more precisely, I have an issue
    with the way the BLM has handled our country’s herds of feral horses. Now I’m
    at the point where I’m not sure whether I should finally be rejoicing or simply
    continue banging my head atop my desk.

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    Thursday, November 3, 2011
    The Magical, Mystery Lameness Tour

    Remember how I just wrote about colic? How the slightest
    symptoms evoke a sense of dread within every horse lover? Well, I’d like to
    nominate sudden, unexplained lameness as a close second to colic. Though it’s
    not a potentially life-threatening situation like colic, discovering that your
    dependable, four-wheel drive horse has suddenly gone lame can be more than a
    little upsetting.

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    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Is it really Halloween? Wasn’t it just Fourth of July?
    Despite my muddled time
    frame, I can’t ignore the abundance of Halloween decorations. They’ve suddenly
    cropped up in the front yards that border the bridle paths. Oh joy. The
    holidays are upon us.

    View Blog >>

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Beware! You’re Entering the Ear Zone

    can certainly be obnoxious about a lot of things. For example, giving him his
    annual vaccinations requires a small army of handlers to convince him that it’s
    really all for his own good. But one thing he’s always been good about is
    tacking up.

    View Blog >>

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Colic Wars

    things elicit a sense of dread among horse owners than the warning signs of
    impending colic. We all know what to look for, whether it’s the horse with the
    voracious appetite that suddenly stops eating or the usually energetic horse
    that seems not quite right. Once the pawing and rolling begins, we’re on the
    phone to vet at the same time we’re running for the halter and lead rope.

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    Friday, October 7, 2011

    Why are you staring at me like that?

    In the past I’ve shared how I get some odd looks from
    non-horsey people. Apparently my everyday stable clothes make me look either out
    of place or marginally deranged whenever I venture beyond my little
    horsekeeping community.

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    Monday, October 3, 2011

    All Barn Creatures, Great and Small

    There’s something incomplete about a barn that houses only
    horses. Like a kitchen table without salt and pepper shakers or truck without a
    “Cowgirl Up” sticker on its rear window, a barn feels unfinished until a few
    assorted creatures take up residence alongside the horses. Often it’s a dog or
    cat that takes on the role of mascot. But it can also be a different sort of
    critter, maybe something not quite so equine. My friend Karole has a pair of
    potbellied pigs that waddle in and out of the horse corrals. As for my family,
    we had a pygmy goat named Gabby.

    View Blog >>

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Add Another Abandoned
    Horse to the List

    There it was on the front page of my local newspaper: a
    photo of a tall, bony chestnut mare, found abandoned in a weedy field. It was
    unknown how long she’d been there, picking through dandelions and foxtails for sustenance.
    She was rescued only because a herd of Herefords had busted through a wire
    fence and wandered into the same weed patch. When Riverside County Animal
    Control officials came to round up the cattle, they discovered the mare.

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    Thursday, September 22, 2011
    Politically Incorrect

    “Showing is so political.”
    “The judge was practicing politics.”
    “We’re nobodies so it wasn’t politically correct to pin us.”
    How many times have you heard those excuses when your barn buddies come home from a show, ribbonless? They blame it on politics, a reference that has nothing to do with voting parties but more with the ribbons being decided due to favoritism.

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    Monday, September 12, 2011
    Is there a Crystal Ball in Your Barn?

    The other day I was at the local market, picking up the weekly supply of carrots for my two carotene-addicted geldings. As I walked out to my truck I noticed a woman scurrying around the parking lot, sticking brochures under the windshield wipers on all the vehicles. Usually this causes me to grumble, because the last thing I need is another piece of useless paraphernalia to stuff into my garbage bin. But this time I got a laugh out of the paper flier. It was a colorful ad for a local psychic. Besides the plentiful misspelled words and incredulously bad grammar there were outrageous claims like, “Find the answers to life biggest questions.” View Blog >>

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011
    A New Home for Cowboy

    I’ve been hearing how tough it is to sell a horse in today’s rough economy, and now I’ve experienced it firsthand. My mother, sister and I were forced to accept that there aren’t many buyers shopping for a horse, especially not a barely broke youngster needing further training. Of course I’m talking about Cowboy, the three-year-old palomino gelding out of my mom’s pretty Trakehner mare. View Blog >>

    Friday, September 2, 2011
    Farrier Farewell

    I found myself in an uncomfortable position yesterday. I had to inform my farrier that I was switching to someone else for horseshoeing services. It had very little to do with his capabilities and a lot to do with a harsh reality in today’s economy: He had inched up his rates and I found someone else who could do the same job for less money. The only fact that made me feel a little less awkward was that he was on the verge of retiring, anyway. View Blog >>

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011
    Famous Last Words

    Most Sunday mornings I trail ride with my friend Barbara. She has a pretty gray Trakehner mare named Dulce who is, shall we say, a tad hyper-sensitive. So I was a little apprehensive last weekend when we met me at our usual rendezvous spot and Barbara announced, “Dulce wasn’t out yesterday, but it’s hot today, so I think she’ll be fine.” View Blog >>

    Monday, August 15, 2011
    Learn to Identify the Typical Non-Horsey Man

    We’ve all seen countless conformation diagrams of horses. They helped us learn the common features and identifying traits of our favorite four-legged beast. Well, I think it’s time we had the same sort of descriptive illustration for another creature familiar to all of us: The Non-Horsey Human Male. View Blog >>

    Monday, August 8, 2011
    Petey the Pigeon

    We’ve had a visitor this summer and truly, it’s time for him to leave. He’s over-stayed his welcome. His name is Petey the Pigeon. View Blog >>

    Monday, August 1, 2011
    A Look Back at Humble Beginnings

    In the September issue of Horse Illustrated there’s an article I wrote that’s a retrospective of riding apparel from the last few decades. According to my editor, I was the perfect choice for that assignment. Somehow during my years on the show circuit I earned a reputation as a hunt seat fashion diva. My sister and my longtime riding pals tell me this is so, as if my horse show wardrobe concerns were remarkably different than everyone else’s. View Blog >>

    Monday, July 25, 2011
    Amazing Horse Ad Photos

    Unless you’ve been living under a muck bucket you know that it’s tough in this economy to sell a horse. Competition to attract a buyer is fierce, and some of the advertising tactics seem to reflect that desperation. At least that’s how I feel after rummaging around on Craigslist, which never seems to disappoint me with its minefield of peculiar horse ads. View Blog >>

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011
    Now in Session: Kindergarten

    Summer usually means vacation time for school kids. But for young horses it’s often the season when they start school. Such is the case for Cowboy. He’s the palomino gelding that came to be when my mom and sister decided to breed the last of our family’s warmblood mares. View Blog >>

    Monday, July 11, 2011
    Bad Trainer

    There’s a movie out right now called “Bad Teacher.” A few years ago there was one called “Bad Santa.” As of yet, I haven’t seen either one, but nonetheless I think another title to add to the mix might be “Bad Trainer.” While I consider myself fortunate to have ridden with some wonderful horse trainers who were great mentors and teachers, I’ve also encountered quite a few who were nothing more than con artists with a pair of boots and a hat. View Blog >>

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011
    Jumping with Style

    Okay, show of hands. How many of you admit that you’ve taught at least one dog to jump like a horse? My sister and I certainly did. On many a lazy summer afternoon we’d come home from the barn and concoct a backyard course. We’d use improvised elements—upturned wheelbarrow, a sideways wagon, leaf rakes hung across terracotta pots—and then sweet talk our family dogs into becoming surrogate hunters and jumpers. View Blog >>

    Friday, July 1, 2011
    Letting Go

    Not long ago I wrote in my blog about my visit with Ziggy, a rascally warmblood gelding owned by my good friend Debbie. He was foaled in Debbie’s tidy backyard stable 26 years ago, and since then he’s been a prominent character in the life of everyone who knew him. His antics made him that memorable. But so did his athletic ability. Ziggy could do pretty much anything, from cross-country jumping to dressage, hunters and trail riding. He also did a lot of tricks, but he was usually the magician who conjured them up. View Blog >>

    Friday, June 24, 2011
    Tips for Trail Riders: How to Slay a Dragon in 13 Steps

    As I mentioned in my previous blog posting, my blustery, in-your-face Paint gelding, Wally, has finally met his match. And it’s a dragon statue sculpted out of rusted metal. After Wally suffered an existential crisis the first time he encountered the dragon, you’d think that I’d simply avoid riding past it again. View Blog >>

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    I believe I speak for all trail riders when I say that avoiding a Spook Fest is one of our primary goals. Fortunately, most of the time the scariest things we encounter are rather mundane, like blowing plastic bags, school buses and yippy little dogs. It might take a moment, but our horses eventually process the situation, analyze the potential threat (or lack thereof) and move on. It’s when our horses can’t categorize the object that trouble ensues. At least that’s my theory. View Blog >>

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011
    The Ladies Crossrail and Chit Chat Club

    Most people look forward to the weekends. I look forward to Wednesdays. That’s the day I tack up Danny in his hunt seat saddle and bridle, strap on my old velvet show helmet and ride a few blocks to the stable where my friend, Debbie, boards her ex-show horse. She and I ride together for an hour or so, spending just as much time on girl talk as we do on practicing our horsemanship. View Blog >>

    Monday, June 6, 2011
    It’s Only Fun Until the Rodeo Starts

    One of the problems inherent with living in a horsekeeping community is literally living in a horsekeeping community. Honestly, sometimes I envy those of you who board your horses at a rigidly supervised stable or live with your horses on a ranch out in the wide open country. Then you aren’t constantly rubbing stirrups with other riders who, for lack of a better term, disrupt your horseback riding mojo. View Blog >>

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011
    And Now, Back to the Barn Dogs

    I can’t seem to live a life with horses without also somehow living a life with dogs. Whether they’re barn dogs or house dogs wishing to be barn dogs, I always have a story or two to share. Today is no exception. View Blog >>

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011
    Seven Signs You’re Stuck on a Terrible Trail Ride

    Warm sunny weather has finally arrived, bringing with it prime trail riding weather. I‘ve noticed fliers posted around town inviting new members to a local horseback riding group. They meet once a month at different parks and campgrounds and go on all-day trail rides. At first it sounded tempting. I could see new territory, meet other horse crazy people and expand Wally and Danny’s social circle. But then I saw the notation, “170 members strong!” That spooked me. View Blog >>

    Friday, May 20, 2011
    A Dumping Ground for Unwanted Horses

    There’s an ugly side to living in a community where horsekeeping is allowed. Sure, we have bridle paths instead of sidewalks, hitching posts outside our fast-food joints and feed stores next to grocery stores. But just a few dusty streets from my house is a wide expanse of natural beauty where a river winds its way through meadows of wild oats and sunburned poppies. It’s a haven for local trail riders. But the park, officially called the Hidden Valley Nature Preserve, has a more sullied reputation. It’s the local dumping ground for unwanted horses. View Blog >>

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011
    And I Lived to Tell About It

    I am a big supporter of riding lessons for kids as well as adults. I think every rider can benefit from at least a basic introduction to safe horse handling and proper position in the saddle. While horseback riding is definitely one of those “learn by doing” sports, you can quite literally die or become permanently maimed during the educational process. View Blog >>

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011
    Just Call Me Sausage Legs

    Danny and I have a ritual. Every Wednesday I ride him across town a few blocks and meet with my longtime pal Debbie. We ride hunt seat together, spending part of our time working our horses in the arena and part of the time strolling around side-by-side, chatting non-stop as only horsewomen can. I suppose I enjoy these weekly interludes because it’s not only my chance to spend time with Debbie, but also because I get to reconnect to all those years (okay, decades) I spent riding hunt seat. View Blog >>

    Thursday, May 5, 2011
    Things Our Moms Have Taught Us

    While I was in the feed store I began browsing through the rack of greeting cards. Like most of you, I have a mom who’d be perfectly happy with a Mother’s Day card plucked from a selection that includes images of horses and wildflowers, boots and barn kitties, foals and fence posts. Our moms accept that we’re horse crazy. After all, they’re the ones who nurtured that passion since we were little kids constructing corrals in the sand box. View Blog >>

    Monday, May 2, 2011
    Judging Jamboree

    Recently I spent a weekend judging a couple of hunter and hunt seat equitation shows. I had a great time. I even got a few breaks, like during adjustments to the jumping course, where I could jot down a few thoughts and memorable moments so I could share them with you. View Blog >>

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011
    Keep Off the Grass

    I’ve learned there are certain secrets a horsewoman should keep from her non-horsey husband for fear of sending him into a tizzy of apprehension and dread. One is the date of the upcoming sale at the local tack store. Another is the advent of the vet’s truck sitting in our driveway. But the thing that drives my husband into a tailspin of turmoil is this: Wally getting loose and eating the grass. View Blog >>

    Thursday, April 21, 2011
    Horse Sale Scams Gone Wild

    The image of the shifty horse dealer is an enduring icon, given new life with Internet technology. Instead of operating out of a shantytown boarding stable, these wily purveyors of horse flesh have begun wheeling and dealing online, emboldened by the anonymity that comes with conducting commerce by computer. Fortunately, we finally caught one, and if she’s made to pay as a sort of message to other horse sale scammers, so be it. View Blog >>

    Friday, April 15, 2011
    The Willpower of Horsepower

    No matter how much we think we’ve trained our horses, a lot of the time they’re going to do what they want to do, one way or another. It’s like an ongoing battle to constantly outwit us. I’ll give you two personal examples. I’m sure you have plenty more. View Blog >>

    Friday, April 8, 2011
    The High Cost of Horse Show Clothing

    Talk about sticker shock! Have you noticed how much it costs to get yourself outfitted for an English horse show? And did I really ever pay this much for clothing I wore a few times a month? If so, why didn’t someone stop me? View Blog >>

    Monday, April 4, 2011
    Death by Emu

    Not every horse can cut it as a trail horse in my town. And that’s not just because most of our trails are set alongside neighborhood streets. Most horses, if ridden by a confident rider, can get used to cars, trucks and motorcycles. Even lawn mowers and leaf blowers become boring after a while. So what seems to cause psychotic breakdowns in otherwise lovely horses around here? It’s the prevalence of what I call “zoo stock.” These are animals that fit somewhere between typical farm livestock and exotic zoo creatures. I’ve written about some of these quirky characters before. View Blog >>

    Monday, March 28, 2011
    Five Signs You’ve Got Too Much Horse

    Have you heard the expression, “Too much horse”? It doesn’t refer to the size of the animal, like, “You’ve got too much horse for that size 72 blanket” or, “You’ve got too much horse to fit through the pasture gate.” It means you’re outwitted, out-muscled or otherwise out-matched by your carrot-crunching beast. View Blog >>

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011
    Mama Needs a New Pair of Boots

    Like many of you, I’m a horsewoman on a strict budget. The needs of my two boys, Wally and Danny, come first, and with hay prices running about twenty dollars a bale that means there’s little left over for me to spend on a whim. The “play money” I somehow manage to accumulate comes from judging horse shows, but the yucky weather out here just won’t go away. The last three shows I was contracted to judge got rained out, which frustrates me to no end. View Blog >>

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011
    Waiting at the Gate

    I had a horse put down recently. It wasn’t either of my geldings, Wally or Danny. It was an old Thoroughbred mare that belonged to a friend of mine who’d passed away. The mare was her retired show horse, a tall, athletic jumper with a sweet temperament. In her mid-twenties, afflicted with lameness and an aggressive tumor in her sinuses, the mare’s quality of life had deteriorated. Such a grand mare deserved some amount of dignity, and after much contemplation I made the decision to have her euthanized. View Blog >>

    Friday, March 11, 2011
    Can Love Conquer Fear?

    You guys write letters and emails, and I get to read some of them. As a contributing editor at Horse Illustrated and one of the writers here on Horse Channel, I’m frequently assigned to answer questions about basic horsemanship. One of the most memorable emails came from a woman—I’ll call her Donna—who is struggling to overcome her fear of riding. View Blog >>

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011
    Do You Really Know your Horse?

    Last week my cousin came out for a ride. She’s always been a horse lover but due to college and a new job she hasn’t been able to keep up with her riding lessons. In other words, she’s a tad rusty in the saddle. But I offered to let her take Wally down the trail while I rode Danny. Naturally, Wally’s notorious past had her a wee bit wary of him. View Blog >>

    Thursday, February 24, 2011
    Tales from the Dark Side

    Do you ever consider the flip side of our horses’ souls? Certainly some of them are pure angels, but there are more than few who have flirted with the dark side of The Force. Wally, I’m afraid, is one of them, and I was reminded of this yesterday. View Blog >>

    Friday, February 18, 2011
    Ziggy at 26

    Few horses have been a part of my life as much as Ziggy, a 16-hand Appaloosa/Trakehner-cross gelding. That’s quite a statement considering he isn’t mine. But I have known him literally since the day he was foaled. And now, very soon, he’ll celebrate his 26th birthday. View Blog >>

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011
    More Craigslist Craziness

    You know it’s a crummy day for riding when I resort to amusing myself by trolling through Craigslist. Rarely am I surprised by what sort of horse-related stuff is being offered for sale in my region. Let’s start with the horse ads, shall we? View Blog >>

    Monday, February 7, 2011
    Be My (Horse Loving) Valentine

    A few years ago I participated in an online forum where horsewomen were discussing what they’d like to receive for Valentine’s Day. The most memorable contribution came from someone named Horseygal2, who lived on a small farm in Virginia. She wrote, “Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a tractor.” View Blog >>

    Monday, January 31, 2011
    The Seven Stages of Aging on Horseback

    About once a week I trail ride with my good friend Debbie. We showed horses together for many years, and I’m really enjoying introducing her to the more laidback experience of trail riding. So when she called to cancel this week, I was surprised. Then she explained that she’d taken a tumble off her gelding while riding in the arena, and needed to take it easy for a few days. We were both disappointed, and together we lamented how our bodies just don’t withstand the insult of getting tossed from the saddle anymore. View Blog >>

    Thursday, January 27, 2011
    Hair Hats are So Last Season

    Remember how I said I’d body clipped Danny? I meant that literally. I clipped his body. The top of his head and his ears? Not so much. He was shiny and sleek all the way up his neck and then… poof! A forest of fuzz stood just south of his ears and encircled his bridle path. When I rode him it was like staring at the back of a coal black Easter bunny. View Blog >>

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011
    How Many Calories Did That Burn?

    Wouldn’t you like to have a dollar for every time a non-horsey person says, “Riding isn’t exercise except for the horse”? I would. Then I could afford to visit a spa to unkink and unwind after all my horse-related exercise. View Blog >>

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011
    You’d Breed Your Mare to My Horse? Really?

    I am still utterly confounded over the fact that Danny, who I acquired in October, was a stallion until shortly before I bought him. I know that “some people” (note that I use quotation marks for eyebrow-raising effect) like to keep their male horses intact because they like a certain swagger to their horse’s demeanor. But Danny was actually bred to mares! He sired at least a dozen registered Paint foals! View Blog >>

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011
    Who Let the Haikus Out of the Barn?

    I realize most of you think that us horse folk in Southern California—indeed in much of the southwest—are a bunch of wintertime wusses. You’re skidding around on frozen tundra on your way out to wave at your horses and we’re wringing our hands over some rain. But in our defense, it’s been raining a lot. And it’s dang cold. Yes, I know that elsewhere in the country January temps in the 50s are considered downright tropical. But for us? We’re bundled up in three layers of fleece and scavenging the aisles of our local Target for mittens. View Blog >>

    Read more in the Life with Horses archive >>


    1. Cindy’s column in Horse Illustrated was my favorite and I am so glad to have found her here! I love the humor she shares and it is scary the things we share in common in our lives with horses! Being born and raised in Ca and marrying a non horsey husband I can relate ! Keep it coming.

    2. I want a blog!! THat would be so cool and wow do I have some stories totell. Look for my horse Jabari Emir’s profile vote for us please.

    3. hi thats so cool what you. i tran horses to i got this one that wont go for me. i dont no what to do i never had a horse that wont go when am traing? do you no what to do

    4. love your blogs! I also make sure i read every thing you write! you have such a wonderful connection with horses I hope to have the same! You’re a totally amazing horse person. What would the horse world do with out you?!

    5. I’m not commenting on the article, but would like to thank you so much for the article you wrote about my sister, Kathy Havens, in Chapter 7 of “A Passion For Horses”. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 10 years since she left us.


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