Yesterday I spent the day with another horse nut who was eager to learn more about Peruvian horses. Sandra and had I connected on Peruvian Horse World (if you’re not on there, you should be), a social networking site for Peruvian enthusiasts. She’s a lifelong horse lover who’s in search of a smoother ride and new adventures.

It’s been a very long time since my first ride on a Peruvian. It was way back before Wonder Pony, my other two geldings, my kids or even my college graduation. But I still remember the thrill of it, and I felt it all over again when I watched Sandra break into a huge grin as Speedy Gonzalez took up the paso llano.

For most of us, that first ride is a game-changer. If you’ve spent your saddle time rising to or bouncing from the trot, that ground-eating glide amazing. It still is for me (unmentionable) years after the first time I set my foot in a wooden stirrup. I hope Sandra can say the same (unmentionable) years from now.


Extreme Fun

Just got back from a fabulous weekend at La Estancia Alegre, where Barbara Windom and Mark Bolender designed and built an amazing trail course in the bosque. I was lucky enough to snag a spot in the first  extreme trail cinic. They added a second clinic due to demand; it filled up in two days.

It was such a great group of people — most from Colorado — who were determined to have fun with their horses. I was particularly proud that my friends Stacey and Latina conquered their joint fear of water crossings. Latina accepted the lesson so well, she ended up leading another horse through the winding, shoulder-deep stream.

Stacey and Latina had a come-to-Jesus meeting with running water. Mark was so patient, Latina finally volunteered to stand quietly in the stream.

Wonder Pony finally conquered his wooden bridge phobia after a lot of standing on the bridge and a couple of acrobatics off the side. He also developed a much better tolerance for waiting, something very contrary to his Speedy Gonzalez nature.

I first watched Mark work with horses two years ago at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. I was impressed with his patient, emotionless approach to helping horses and riders build their confidence through trail challenges. For Mark, it’s not about making a horse do a 360 on a suspension bridge, it’s about convincing him he can and letting him work it out.

It’s his approach with riders as well, and it’s just as effective.

Thanks to Mark, his better half Lee, Barbara and all the new and old friends who made the trip so magical.

Our friend from CASHA, Stacey Kipper, is up for a top photo award, and she needs our votes.

Please go to The National Horseman website and take a moment to vote for Stacey and her fantastic Saddlebred, Callaway’s Ariel. It’s a beautiful photo — we wish them the very best luck.

We’re looking forward to seeing Stacey and more Saddlebred pals this July when we join them once again for the Denver Queen City show July 19-21, 2012. Till then, thanks for your help on this contest.

Need a break from the frosty winter weather? Head south next month for the NAPHA Annual Conference in New Orleans Feb. 24-26.

Discussion topics include marketing, funding, member engagement, making the most of your volunteers and more. There’s also a special judge’s panel planned to discuss trends in the show ring, gait, conformation and other good info.

You can sign up for the  2012_Conference via that PDF, or call Arlynda Castro at  707-544-5807.

Picture This

No, I did not forget to send you a Christmas card this year. I just forgot to make Christmas cards important enough to get them done. If I catch a magic shot of my kids with my horses over the next few days, I might get some out. But I’m not holding my breath. I know me too well.

But I will share some of my favorite seasonal shots of Peruvians:

DB Romance Joven — or Jr., as his friends call him — is doing a great job putting up with his owner Emily Knight’s Christmas spirit.

Here’s a fun one of Lisa Bialy’s horse — I believe that’s Vista del Dragon. Scroll through and see some other fun snowy pics from Rancho Paso Fuego.

This is my favorite. I love the way the horse is framed through the wire — never seen anything quite like it. It’s from Mer-Girl Gardens, which grows fabulous organic goodies alongside the horses of La Estancia Alegre. You can see more beautiful shots from LEA here.

Happy holidays, everyone!

‘Tis the Season

Fall is my favorite time of year. It’s one of three seasons I missed growing up in the endless summers of South Texas. So I get positively giddy over the changing leaves and cooling temps.

I’m also thrilled that so many of us are getting out there and enjoying the wonderful weather, our fabulous horses and our good friends. The CSPHC had a great time in September as guests of Terri Miller and Amanda Speaker at their family homestead near Buffalo Creek. There’s also a ton of great pictures from the group who enjoyed Dawson’s Butte Oct. 22, and the Rio Grande Peruvian Horse Club had more than a few Colorado folks in their ranks that same day as they rode along Rio Chama.  Several of us are looking forward to a ride in Cañon City on Bobbi Taylor’s ranch on Oct. 29. And if you’re a Facebook friend of club member Emily Knight, you’ll see fabulous new trail photos just about every week.

Garden of the Gods is one of my favorite spots to ride in Colorado Springs.

At the moment, our first real snow of the year is coming down hard enough that I didn’t quite make it out to the barn this morning as I hoped I might. But it will be gone before we carve our pumpkins, and we’ll have more scenic trail shots to share.

Send me yours or links to your albums if you’d like to add your photos to our site.

Take that, Mary

She only had a little lamb follow her to school. Kerry had a little horse, and he was way more fun that a bag of wool.

My daughter’s first-grade class has been studying Peru, so I loaded up Wonder Pony, donned my whites and did a quick demo for the 96 small people who brought their chairs outside for a quick lesson on our breed and a little Spanish for good measure.

Thanks so much to The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs for being cool enough to welcome us. We had a blast.

Happy Trails

I like to tell people that Peruvians are the original American trail horse. Before quarter horse folks jump down my throat, note I did not say North American trail horse. Plus, our breed predates the fabulous quarter horse by a few centuries, so I think it’s a fair title.

And one of our very own Colorado Peruvians is competing for the top spot on America’s Favorite Trail Horse, a show on HRTV. Bobbi Taylor and HHF Nevado of Cataloochee Ranch in Guffey, Colo., were picked from thousands of competitors to vie for the grand prize:  $25,000.

And there’s a second palomino Peruvian pair in the finals, Me Llamo Altanero and Jody Childs of Vista, Calif.

Bobbi’s and Nevado’s episode is Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. MT on HRTV (Dish Network 404). She’s hosting a viewing party at the 8 Mile Bar and Grill in Cañon City, Colo.; call Bobbi, 719-837-3011, or email votenevado@aol.com to RSVP. You can vote one time per email address for 48 hours following the episode on ACTHA’s TV website,  www.actha.tv. Nevado is No. 256 from episode No. 3.

No matter who walks away with the check, both these teams helped us secure a fabulous bonus prize:  exposure for our breed. Everyone watching will see these ladies and their geldings maneuver all kinds of obstacles with ease. Hats off and good luck to both of these competitors.

Here's a shot of Bobbi and Nevado when they were competing for the final cut of America's Favorite Trail Horse.

Well, by the time I hit “publish,” this won’t be the latest. I signed up for email updates from my vet, I’m wearing cyber tracks into Google and haunting the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s site. Friends send me updates — some legit, some questionable. So I’m doing what I can to stay informed and to share what I know.

And I’m doing what I can to keep my horse safe. Even before my barn manager here in Colorado Springs decided to quarantine the animals, I decided to leave Wonder Pony here rather than trailer him down to La Estancia Alegre for this weekend’s clinic. (Thanks so much to Barbara Windom for offering up her horses to those of us who can’t bring our own.) I’m canceling next week’s vet appointment — teeth floating and Coggins can wait at this point.

But I’m also not freaking out. Six infected horses — two euthanized —  in Colorado is concerning, for sure. But I’m grateful that the flow of info is so quick, so thorough and so constant. I’m optimistic that this has been caught early, and the measures horse owners and professionals are taking will minimize the disease’s impact.

Here’s hopin’.

Just want to say thanks to everyone who participated in and supported the Southwest Peruvian Horse Show. I enjoyed fantastic horses, exceptional people and nonstop laughs for the entire weekend. It was great to catch up with old friends and make new ones down in Glen Rose, Texas. Check out some of the great photos here.

I’ve decided I definitely want to be a ring steward when I grow up. My first time down there on the arena floor was a phenomenal chance to learn more about our breed and see the show from the judge’s perspective.

It was also helpful to see the inner-workings of a well-established, well-run show. Hats off to the entire show committee, volunteers and Southwest Peruvian Horse Club board for all their hard work. And special thanks to Judge Nazario Villafuerte to putting up with and answering my nonstop questions. I know I talk too much.