Welcome to Horse Nation, a site designed to allow crazy horsepeople to indulge their obsessions within a community of like-minded crazy horse people. You can count on us to bring you the latest in equestrian news from around the world, as well as interviews with top riders, reader essays, training tips and videos.
Time to Ride welcomes participants and kicks off its pilot year.
Most of us come by our passion for horses naturally. Whether we were exposed to them from an early age or decided to ride as adults, the love of horses seems to be in our blood. It’s something we can’t help. Time to Ride, a program of the American Horse Council’s Marketing Alliance, is working to spark this same passion in young riders.
The aim of the new Time to Ride program is to familiarize kids with horses by offering a series of six to eight lessons, which will cover everything from basic horse care to riding. The lesson opportunities will be presented through schools, youth organizations and recreational leagues. “This helps put horseback riding on a level footing with other athletic activities available to kids, and makes it easier for parents to find appropriate facilities for their kids who are interested in horses,” said Molly O’Brien, Time to Ride Program Manager.
Time to Ride recognizes that learning to ride and care for horses can benefit children in myriad ways. Doing so teaches responsibility, perseverance, patience and goal setting. Further, kids have the positive experience of building a bond that can only come from caring for and riding a horse. “The primary goal of Time To Ride is to introduce children — and their parents — to horseback riding and horse care in a safe, welcoming environment,” O’Brien continued.
In order to be considered for the pilot program, equine facilities and instructors had to meet a very specific set of requirements. Passing a criminal background check and receiving SafeSport training were among those requirements. Further, all instructors need to be certified through a recognized program such as the Certified Horsemanship Association or licensed as an instructor through the state in which they teach. Instructors also need to be current members of one or more breed or discipline organizations.
Time to Ride was astounded by the number of applications they received. “We were expecting to get 20 – 30 qualified applicants for the pilot program,” said O’Brien. “To our delight, we received over 100 inquiries and applications, and narrowed it down to the 62 selected.”
The 62 facilities participating in the new program are representative of the diversity we find in the equine industry, both in terms of geography and discipline. The facilities are spread across the United States and instructors range from AQHA professionals to dressage riders and hunter/jumpers. Their foci are on numerous breeds, including Morgans, Paint Horses and Saddlebreds. Their affiliations include Arabian horse farms, United States Pony Clubs, the Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship and more.
O’Brien said, “It’s very encouraging to see the support we received promoting the program from so many breed and discipline organizations, and the response from their members. This points to the ongoing need for a program such as Time To Ride to help lesson barns bring new kids into the horse world in a structured, supported fashion.”
The barns and instructors that have been designated Time to Ride Program Facilities are being provided with marketing tools, techniques and assistance in order to generate interest in their programs. Time to Ride is using The First Tee as a model for their program. The First Tee is a program in which school offer children a series of lessons at a local golf course. It has reached over 15 million children since its inception in 1997.
The pilot program will continue through the end of this year, at which time the results and methods will be analyzed so that any necessary changes can be implemented. The goal is to roll out a larger scale program next year.
About Time To Ride Time To Ride is managed and funded by the American Horse Council Marketing Alliance. The Marketing Alliance was founded by a consortium of equine-related corporations and organizations to encourage and support the growth of the U.S. horse industry. Current members of the Marketing Alliance include: Active Interest Media/Equine Network, American Horse Council, Morris Media Network, Platinum Performance, Purina and Zoetis. Additional support is provided by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Paint Horse Association, American Quarter Horse Association, National Reining Horse Association, Troxel Helmets and Weaver Leather. Educational support is provided by Certified Horsemanship Association, United States Equestrian Federation and United States Pony Clubs. To learn more about Time To Ride, visit TimeToRide.org.
Hailey Kinsel and her horse Sister broke the arena record at the Calgary Stampede.
July 12, 2019 — Hailey Kinsel and her palomino Quarter Horse, DM Sissy Hayday (2011 mare, PC Frenchmans Hayday – Royal Sissy Irish – Royal Shake Em) broke the arena record in the Calgary Stampede’s barrel racing competition, winning the fourth round to head into the finals.
The team had a historic week in Calgary. They tied the previous arena record of 16.99 in their first run. In the second round, Jennifer Sharp and Six French Smooches (2011 mare, Frenchmans Fabulous – Runnin Jesse Orchid – Marthas Six Moons) broke the record with a 16.96, only for Kinsel and Sister to shatter the clock at 16.93 and set a new one.
Despite their amazing showing in the fourth round, Kinsel was bested by Lisa Lockhart by only three one-thousandths of a second in the finals.
What an amazing week in Alberta, Canada. Congratulations to all the competitors. Go riding!
“Because of the plentitude and regularity of muck in my life, when the alarm rings, I know where I need to be every single morning, and I experience what is most important to me every single day.”
Photo by Mary Ann Johnstone.
By Mary Ann Johnstone
The fog slowly rolled in from the shore, sifted through the trees, and spiraled down onto our pasture in great, white, pinwheels. Sophie ambled by. Her small, quiet hooves stirring up little puffs of dust. The cool breeze carried the fog and earth and scattered it into misty rays of sunlight falling all around us.
If I weren’t mucking, I would have missed it all.
I love mucking, and so does my husband, and everyone else we’ve talked into this lowly task. After a morning with a rake and bucket, the skeptics turn into converts. It’s so satisfying, this easy chore. So uncomplicated. Fresh air. Cleaning up. The herd wandering in and out to say hello. It’s meditation at its very best.
Today I was feeling deeply grateful because I had so much muck to muck. This meant the horses were healthy and eating well. My fillies are young and losing their baby teeth, so they’ve been a tad bit fussy lately. And we have an older horse at the barn too, so we’re always counting her little piles in the morning, relieved when there are at least three.
This particular morning I was also feeling very grateful for all the effort it took for the muck to become muck.
Grateful to the farmers who had the patience and fortitude to plant seeds. And to their families who supported this long and hard labor. To the sun, wind and rain that helped the seeds miraculously grow into tall nutritious orchard grass. Grateful to the folks who harvested, baled and transported the hay 300 miles south to our feed store. Thankful to the strong and cheerful delivery men who stack those 30 bales in my barn each month. Grateful to my partner who, after work each evening, loads the hay in the cart for me, carefully dividing and bagging up portions for the young and old horses and our two goats.
And today, as I raked up one of Sophie’s manure piles and let it drop into my blue muck bucket, I was so grateful for all the vibrant life this grass has given to my beautiful young horses. Their long manes, shiny coats, bright eyes, and strong hooves. Their amazing bodies, absorbing all the nutrients they need from the grass and leaving the rest for me to pick up. If any link in this precious chain were to break, these horses (and I) would not thrive as we are.
Because of the plentitude and regularity of muck in my life, when the alarm rings, I know where I need to be every single morning, and I experience what is most important to me every single day. Mucking calms my rattled nerves and makes me human again in this crazy world. And walking and scooping and lifting in the fresh air keeps me healthier too.
In the winter, when darkness comes early, we slip on our headlamps and work under the stars. We’ve witnessed many shooting stars just by being lucky enough to be there with our rakes and buckets.
Recently, when we lost a beloved family member to Alzheimer’s disease, my friend, who was helping us care for her in her last days, showed up at the barn.
She just showed up.
It had been an excruciating month, and we were all exhausted and so utterly sad. And still, there was mucking to be done.
That morning, I heard the gate open and saw my dear friend walk in. She didn’t ask me anything. She just looked around for a rake and a bucket. She just showed up to help a friend. She just figured out what needed to be done.
After a month of mornings of her showing up to help without being asked, we recalled a Zen koan about enlightenment. “What’s to be done before enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water, After enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water.” Or in our case, big heaping buckets of muck.
We often say to others going through a tough time, “Let me know if I can help.” But the truth is, when we’re grieving, we are just too tired and too sad to know how to respond to this.
I learned so much from my friend, who just showed up and didn’t ask me anything. She was love in action. This generous and straightforward act in those unbearably sad days brought me to my knees. She never stuck around long enough to be thanked; it wasn’t her way. She did what was needed and swiftly went back through the gate.
Her showing up this way was a gift I will always remember. Some would call it mucking. I would call it love.
Mary Ann Johnstone is a Grammy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, writer, Master Coach and Master Mucker. Mary Ann recently wanted a quarter horse again, so she drove to Montana and somehow ended up with three, plus two goats. Most of her time is happily spent at the barn with her husband, Eric, feeding, cleaning and playing with their animals. She has been published in Elephant Journal and Huffington Post.
The barn is truly where time goes to die, but this seems especially true during the summer months. I guess it’s just easy to lose track of time when the sun is shining and there’s a lack of that white doom on the ground.
Morgane Schmidt Gabriel is a 35-year-old teacher/artist/dressage trainer/show announcer/ who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. A native Floridian, she now lives in Reno, NV, where she’s been able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless. Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She was recently able to complete her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently working on her gold. Generally speaking her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, a now beastly 7-year-old Dutch gelding, and Stormy, her friend’s nearly all white paint gelding with a penchant for finding every mud hole and pee spot in existence. Visit her website at www.theideaoforder.com.
Over the river and through the woods. Do you want to feel what it’s like to gallop through the trails?
Wherever you’re from and no matter what discipline you ride, we can all enjoy the scenery in this week’s helmet cam video. Who wouldn’t want to take a gallop on her majestic steed? There’s no better feeling or adrenaline rush than dashing though fields, woods and over bridges as if you’re flying…some of our flights on our horses at this speed may be unintentional. Nevertheless, this video and horse are breathtaking.
Sweat much? So does your horse. Learn some tips for keeping him cool during warm weather.
When the heat really sets in, keeping your horses fit and performance ready can be daunting. Knowing when and how much to work your horses isn’t always easy. You don’t want to risk heat stroke, but you also don’t want your horses to get out of shape so that when it is time to work them they are at a greater risk of suffering the ill effects of the weather.
Fortunately, the folks at Evention have these 10 tips to help you keep your horse cool when it’s hot outside.
10 Tips For Keeping Your Horse Cool During the Summer - YouTube
There is a grassroots Facebook movement afoot to storm Area 51 in order to “see them aliens.” Wait. What? Although we don’t get it, we can think of 51 other reasons to storm Area 51, reasons much more appealing to the Horse Nation herd.
On June 27, a Facebook event called Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us was launched encouraging folks to journey to Roswell, New Mexico in order to, as the title suggests, storm Area 51 and “see them aliens.” Although this started as a joke, the September 20 event has garnered quite a bit of attention.
With 1.2 million Facebook users committed to going and 1 million interested, the event has gotten more than just attention; it seems there’s some substance behind it. To be fair, simply saying one is “going” to an event on Facebook does not necessarily mean one will actually, physically attend. That said, the Little A’Le’Inn (pronounced “little alien,” of course), which is the nearest lodging to Area 51, is completely booked for September 20 — all 10 rooms of it. Additionally, over 60 people have committed to renting a camping spot on the 30 acres of land that is run by the same owner.
According to the event page, the way the group is going to “see them aliens” is by doing a naruto run toward the top-secret testing facility so the group can “move faster than their bullets.” For those of you who don’t know (I certainly didn’t up until very recently), a naruto run refers to Naruto Uzumaki, a Japanese anime character who runs with his chest pointing forward and his arms jutting straight back behind him.
All of this leaves us more than just a little perplexed. Remember that as of mid-July, less than a month since the Facebook event was launched, over 1 million people have said they are going to naruto run at a government testing facility to “see them aliens.” Let that sink in for a minute. One. Million. People. Even if only a small percentage of those who say they are going actually go, that’s still a lot of people.
We can think of a number of reasons to storm Area 51, none of which is aliens (okay, maybe one of which is aliens). For equestrians, an entirely different type of motivation is required to face the threat of death and promise of jail time.
So, here it is — our list of 51 reasons to storm Area 51, Uzumaki style:
To “see them horses.”
A 60% off tack sale.
Bales of high quality second cut for $2.50/bale.
A well-bred 17 hh flashy gelding that is sound, fancy broke, kid safe and totally bombproof for under $2500.
Avoiding yet another email or DM from your well-meaning non-horse friend who knows someone who knows someone who is trying to get rid of a horse. They thought you might be interested in it or know someone who is.
Seeking refuge from a prospective horse buyer who is incapable of reading your sales ad and continuously asks questions that are covered in the ad.
Also seeking refuge. This time from the prospective buyer who asks you if you’ll take $1500 for the horse you have listed for $5000 (by the way, the answer is no).
A new Devoucoux Harmonie dressage saddle.
A free showing of “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.”
A heated wash stall.
Color coordinated tack. Hangars and hangars full of color coordinated tack.
Vet bills covered for life.
Feed bills covered for life.
Farrier bills covered for life.
Any regularly reoccurring horse bills covered for life.
A free four-horse living quarters trailer… even a heavily discounted one, for that matter.
The truck to haul said trailer.
Dodging that sketchy MLM scheme on Facebook that advertises ways for horse lovers to make extra cash at home, but no details are provided and the poster only replies to inquiries by asking that you PM them. Full disclosure: we only think it’s an MLM scheme. We haven’t actually PMed anyone to find out.
Perfectly fitting cowboy hats that won’t lose their shapes or give you a headache.
A flashy pony that is actually kid-safe and bombproof, not Lucifer incarnate.
An 80 acre equestrian estate, complete with indoor and outdoor arenas, a heated barn, heated wash stalls and pastures with good grass.
A free showing of “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.”
Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken Clip - YouTube
Show shirts that are guaranteed to stay tucked into show pants (or is it just me?).
The smell of well-oiled leather. It calls to equestrians and draws them in — dare we say it? — herds.
Bell boots that won’t come off unless you take them off.
Fly masks that won’t come off unless you take them off.
Fly spray that works for more than 2.5 minutes (we’re being generous here).
Un-throwable horseshoes (and we’re not talking about ringers).
A cure for navicular.
A 100% guaranteed colic preventative.
A new teaching method that will guarantee you a perfectly square halt every.single.time.
Foals. A whole herd of cute, cuddly foals that you just want to schmoosh.
An airplane hangar full of Breyer horses.
A saddle that is guaranteed to fit every horse perfectly every time.
A free showing of “The Black Stallion” (because, let’s be honest, when we started riding, most of us thought it would be something like Alec on the beach at the beginning of the movie).
An actual black stallion. A registered, well-bred black stallion with great conformation, a great mind and a strong performance record.
An entire barn full of freshly bedded stalls.
A never-ending supply of clean polos.
A white horse that doesn’t roll in manure immediately after you wash it.
Many, many storage buildings full of fresh hay.
The NFR. All of it. Behind the gates of Area 51.
The World Equestrian Games. All of it. Behind the gates of Area 51.
Avoiding yet another horse sale ad that attempts to show how broke the horse is by featuring a picture of someone standing on the horse’s back (but… why?).
A revolutionary new technology that keeps you from ever getting hat or helmet hair.
Shiny new blankets with no tears, rips or manure stains.
A decent supply of high-quality boot socks that won’t slouch.
Self-baling and self-stacking hay.
Your barn friends, waiting for you within the compound.
Aliens, actually. But not for the reason you think. Apparently aliens make the best leather for tack — it’s self-cleaning and never dries out.
52 free Thoroughbreds.
Fleeing from yet another 52 free Thoroughbreds post barrage on Facebook.
What have we missed? What would inspire you to storm the proverbial castle — or Area 51, as the case may be? Let us know in the comments section. Go riding!
In this week’s Lessons Learned, Ainsley Jacobs takes a look at what she learned from competing in less-than-desirable weather and footing conditions.
JJ being perfect, as usual. Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing.
Although it was originally supposed to be our first Training 3-Phase, I’m happy to say that our second Training CT is in the books!
The week before, coach Lauren Turner got the flu (poor girl!) and was laid up in bed during our usual Tuesday lesson. Thinking back to the last time I suffered the same fate, I didn’t know if she was going to make it to our event that weekend (and wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t), so I mentally prepared to have to run my first Training 3-phase on my own. Not that I wanted to, but the fact that I didn’t immediately start crying and talk about scratching shows how much stronger my mental game has gotten.
Fortunately, Lauren recovered quickly and was able to give me and JJ a good flat lesson on Thursday. After, I packed my gear and trailer and headed home to enjoy a nice dinner with a good friend who had come in from out of town.
That night, one of the worst storms in recent years rolled through the area, complete with torrential rain, insane lightning and a few tornadoes. I, however, was blissfully unaware due to the fact that I had enjoyed a massive milkshake at dinner and – wanting to prevent any sugar-induced sleeplessness – had wisely arranged a meeting with my good friend Ambien.
Friday morning I woke up well rested (storm? what storm? LOL) and headed over to Beaumont Farm to hitch up. It was still raining, and I was really glad I had packed everything (including hay) the night before so I didn’t get too soaked. My lesson buddy, show partner in crime and fellow business woman extraordinaire, Mary Campbell of Mare Goods, met me there and together we got our kids loaded.
The drive to Chatt Hills wasn’t bad, I just went slow to account for the conditions, and we arrived on time. However, as we pulled in, I noticed the teeny tiny little creek that usually doesn’t even register on my radar had overflowed and had completely flooded the road to enter the facility. I thought briefly about “just going for it” but didn’t want to risk being one of those idiots who got washed away and wound up on the news – especially with the horses in the back.
Almost immediately, though, my knight in shining Kubota appeared, and one of the facility’s workers assured me that I could take a small bypass – even though it was also flooded. He had smartly marked the road with stakes so we could stay on the path, and had measured the water at only about 12″ – we should be able to clear it. So, I powered on and forded the river with my trusty Ford. We didn’t float away (or die of dysentery), so that was a plus.
The river had flooded a large portion of the XC field, so schooling wound up being cancelled. Bummer.
That’s 3′ of water, washing away my 3-phase hopes and dreams. Photo by Ainsley Jacobs/Ride Heels Down.
With the day a wash out, I settled JJ in and froze my ass off – the forecast had originally shown temps in the 70s, but it wound up being in the 50s (with 40s predicted for the overnight) and I was woefully under-dressed. And wet. And miserable.
To make life better, our River Birch Farm team had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. ‘Cause cheese dip is the remedy for everything.
During dinner, Lauren gave me a “course walk talk” and ran through every jump with me and how to ride it… because the plan, at that moment, was to still run XC. That meant I would be doing my first Training 3-phase without having schooled it first, like a recognized. Oh lawdy. Cue me wanting to throw up.
(I gotta mention: my husband, Erik, was planning on coming on Saturday to watch, but when he heard how wet and cold I was, he drove down late Friday night to come to my rescue with a bunch of dry, warm clothes so I wouldn’t have to wait on him the next morning… #herohusband)
So. The Chatt Hills team had hoped the river would recede by Saturday morning, but when we woke up, it was STILL RAINING and the flooding had actually gotten worse. They made the call to cancel XC completely and run all the 3-phase divisions as CTs instead. I was partly relieved and partly disappointed, surprisingly – I really wanted to try that Training XC course!
Anyway, with my 3-phase hopes and dreams (temporarily) on hold, we got ready for dressage. A friend of mine from the racecar world/my day job, Joe Charles, and his totally awesome daughter, Danielle, came out to brave the weather to watch. Danielle rides hunters and is curious about this eventing stuff, so it was really fun to have her there and get to show her a bit of what we do.
JJ and I headed down to the sandbox and it was, to put it mildly, not our best work (I feel like I say that a lot?). He was totally jazzed from the unexpected cold snap and the wind, and I just tired to manage it as best as I could. We had some really nice moments in our test, including a fairly decent left lead canter lengthening, and some really giraffe-y moments, including going back to a collected canter after said lengthening. G, halt, salute, celebrate that it’s over.
We had about an hour to kill between phases, so JJ snuggled in his stall and I did the same in my car. Finally, it was time to go down to jump so we could be done and go home and get dry!
The warm-up arena for stadium jumping quickly devolved into a combination shit-show thanks to the wind and the wet, and pretend hunter arena as we were all hollering “on your inside!” “taking the outside!” so we wouldn’t kill each other as we passed. It was somewhat comical. One girl had her hands full managing a clearly freaked out young horse (seriously, she did an awesome job) who was bucking, kicking out, rear-spinning, and generally actin’ a fool. At one point he tried to get JJ involved and my saintly little horse was just, like, ‘meh, that’s too much effort’ and trotted by without flicking an ear. Love him.
As we were going around, I’ll admit there was a moment where I felt really intimidated. Here were all these fancy, purpose-bred, purpose-built eventing machines with their long legs and fabulous physiques… and my compact little stock horse. I felt outclassed, like we were pretending and had no right to be there.
I’ve been working a lot lately on the mental portion of my riding, and recognized that negativity as soon as the thought popped into my head. I quickly told myself to STFU, and reminded myself that we had worked just as hard as everyone else and YES, we actually DID deserve to be there. Instead of being intimidated by them, I chose to (hopefully) believe they thought it was cool that we – the underdogs – were there, too.
After an okay-ish warmup, we parked by the in gate and waited to be called by the lovely Aly Rattazzi who was managing the chaos. The cold began to set in again, and I realized that my car accident broken foot was completely numb. Uh oh.
There was a stone wall at jump #4 that went straight towards some scary, flappy flags that a lot of horses were stopping at, so when we went in to wait for the bell, I made sure to show it to JJ – and he didn’t care one bit. We started our course and he felt really great, despite the slippery, wet footing sucking away some of his energy.
As we approached #4, he seemed okay but I gave him a crop tap on the left shoulder just in case, since he usually ducks left… but the little bugger ducked out to the right instead!! I stayed on, thankfully, and circled back to it only to have JJ go over flawlessly, like he had seen it a thousand times. Whatevs.
Despite not being able to feel a thing in my left foot, we made it through. We finished up the course with no other issues, ending with one rail, the one refusal, and some time for having to make the circle. People even said our round looked good – although I’m not sure if they were being serious or just being nice.
Overall, I was really proud of JJ. I know he is starting to max out at Training, and he really tried so hard. Despite the cold, the wind, the rain, and the less than ideal footing, he gave me a great effort and that’s all I can ask for.
We have worked hard for it, and we absolutely deserve to be here. Also, PACK ALL THE THINGS.
Date: April 20, 2019
Location: Chattahoochee Hills Eventing in Fairburn, GA
Division: Training CT
Type: GDCTA Recognized Event
Final Score: 46.60
Ainsley Jacobs is an adult amateur based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She started riding huntseat equitation when she was eight, and has tried practically every discipline since then. In 2014, Ainsley discovered eventing and it changed her life! She purchased her first horse, JJ Spot, in February 2016 and chronicles their successes (and struggles) of learning to overcome literal and figurative obstacles in her blog at www.RideHeelsDown.com.
Miniature horses are terrifying. They’re small, they’re feisty, they’re stubborn and they have A LOT of personality! But if there’s anything more terrifying than a miniature horse, it’s a person impersonating one! This impersonator is even frightening to the miniature horse he is mirroring. However, I’m not sure that the impersonator is the most terrifying part of this video. It might be his large trap muscles. Regardless of which part is the scariest, you’re bound to enjoy this video!