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Posts Tagged ‘Colorado’

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.

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At our recent Denver Queen City Show, my pals and I scratched our heads. We enviously watched juniors and 20-somethings mount their Saddlebreds to compete and wondered, where are our young folks? 

At 37, I was the youngest Peruvian exhibitor there. And while I’m thrilled to be considered sprightly, the sad truth is I’m waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay closer to the privileges of AARP membership than I am to the proud day I earned my horseback riding badge in Girl Scouts. 

I know our horses are a great option for achey Baby Boomers. But I also know I got hooked on the smooth ride when I was 22. I was drawn to the welcoming community, the trail riding, exhibitions and shows. And I’m even a Texas native who grew up with the unofficial state breed — Quarter Horses. 

I also wonder why our breed doesn’t have a more prominent presence on the competetive trail circuit. I know there are several breeders who make a proud showing at those events, but I think those are mostly Peruvian owners who find the sport rather than competitors who find our breed. Here in Colorado, there’s no better way to enjoy the stunning beauty of our state than on the back of a Peruvian. But I’ve never come across one on hikes or rides. 

So how do we expand our breed’s popularity? More exhibitions? A competetive trail team? An ambassador program to do exhibitions at multi-breed shows? I know this is going on in pockets across the country already, but do we need a more organized approach, and who’s going to step up to lead that? 

I also firmly believe we need to be more aggressively pursuing new riders via social media. We need to follow the example of the Quarter Horse folks whose tweets I follow and whose Facebook page has more than 100,000 likes.  Or the National Reining Horse Association with their 800-plus Twitter followers (at least our club has a custom background) and more than 7,000 likes on Facebook

I’m always on the lookout for more Peruvian nuts out here in cyberspace, and I’m so glad the National Show and several other clubs have Facebook pages. If you have a Twitter account, Facebook page,  YouTube channel — whatever — please send me a link. Building our reach isn’t a quick or easy process, but I really think it’s key to sharing our fantastic breed with an untapped audience.

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I’m quite bummed to report that this year’s Peruvian Horse Show at the Colorado State Fair has been canceled.

We really appreciate all the hard work that went into the show and the folks who registered, but we just didn’t get enough entries to justify the show from the fair’s perspective. They’ve offered us a spot during the actual fair next year, which is a good thing. Some exhibitors told us they only wanted to show during the actual fair. This year, we were scheduled for the week before the fair. Typically we can only snag a time during the actual fair every other year.

I also heard from folks who said they were willing to travel to Colorado from out of state once, but not twice.  We had a great turnout at the Denver Queen City Horse Show, and several ranches promised to return next year.

So we’ll see how things pan out for next summer. I’d love to hear feedback that would help us plan for next year.

Out-of-staters: What would bring you to Colorado? Would you come to two shows in Colorado? If you only come to one, would you rather show in Denver at the National Western Complex (indoor arena/nice facility, joint show with Saddlebreds, larger city), or in Pueblo (no indoor but covered outdoor, less expensive classes, cash payouts for winners)?

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I’ve written before about my horse as my therapist. For me, that means the world’s a little clearer, happier and easier after barn time. It’s an intangible but perceptible difference.

So I’m fascinated by truly therapeutic riding programs like HorsePower, which operates out of Meadowbrooks Farm in Castle Rock, Colo. Back in my student reporter days in Chicago, I shot a story on a similar adaptive riding program at the barn where I was taking lessons.

I could not believe the change that came over highly autistic, wheelchair-bound kids when they came into contact with the horses. These were kids who didn’t speak, walk or even make eye contact with anyone. But when they were led out to the horses, it was like a light came on.

Just a few months with the horses brought amazing changes to children who were so far inside themselves, even the parents didn’t think they’d ever find them. But these kids found and followed the hoof beats that were gently leading them out of their solitary worlds. Kids were starting to walk and talk after years of other therapies failed. There was something about connecting with horses that profoundly changed these children. Their parents teared up as they talked about the progress and the hope they’d found for their kids.

So I’m looking forward to the June 19 fundraiser for HorsePower in Palmer Lake. The food will be great, the entertainment will be fun, and the cause couldn’t be more worthwhile. I know I’ll see at least a few Colorado Peruvian peeps, so I’m guaranteed a good time.

If you can’t make it, I know the HorsePower folks would appreciate any kind of donation you can manage. It’s money well-spent.

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Wow. I don’t know a damn thing.

That’s a conclusion I came to recently in a riding lesson, and last weekend just drove it home even harder. The more I learn, I realize, the less I know.

We had a fantastic clinic up here taught by Kim Montee Cavataio. She covered all kinds of things — tack, gait, conformation, showmanship — but she opened with strong words encouraging us to always be learning, to always work be better horse people.

She talked about how we need to raise the level of riding in our breed, how we have a lot to learn from reiners, dressage folk and others. She encouraged us to find a good instructor who can improve our equitation, and through that our horses’ performance.

I was on the verge of becoming really frustrated. I grew up with horses. For almost my entire adult life, I’ve been in lessons, to include the last two years with Wonder Pony. We’ve definitely come a very long way. But the way to come seems to stretch on forever.

I guess that’s really the point: There’s always more. I don’t ride and train just for ribbons. Don’t get me wrong — I LOVE to win. Few things in life feel better than being part of a barrida. But I only compete maybe twice a year. That’s just a few days out of a full calendar. Every other day presents all kinds of opportunities to do more, be more.

I think that’s a lesson we should all take to heart.

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Between crazy Colorado spring weather and family obligations (Really? I have to go to TX and NOT ride horses?!), Sican the Wonder Pony has been woefully neglected. For 10 days, I couldn’t get out to the barn and into the saddle. 

But Sican was not the one suffering — I was. Actually, everyone around me was probably hardest-hit.

Not long after I got Sican two years ago, I told my friend Cheryl Aldrich — his breeder — I needed to change his name. But I couldn’t decide if his new handle should be Zoloft or Jesus, because this gelding is both my anti-depressant and personal savior (cue laugh track).

I understand why heroin is nicknamed “horse.” They’re equally addictive. And I was definitely going through withdrawal. I was snappy, impatient, not sleeping well and generally unpleasant. 

Sorry, kids. Sorry, DH. Sorry, world.

But once I finally got my fix, the world went back to rights. It was like that scene in “The Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy stops out of the black-and-white ruins of a farmhouse into her technicolor dream world.

My blood pressure lowered, my temper cooled, my chest loosened. Later that night, my sound sleep came back.

Ding, dong, the witch is dead.

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First and foremost, I’m a horse person. Cats follow second. Dogs…not so much. But that’s just me. I know I’m anomaly, especially in canine-crazy Colorado.  Just about everyone out here has a four-legged shadow, especially among my fellow horse nuts.

But when I saw this video today my pal Sharon Greenleaf LaPierre sent me, it made me pine for my last pooch, a remarkable dog I couldn’t keep up with as pregnant toddler mom. (Bailey the border collie went to live with good friends here in town; everyone is delirously happy and we can see her whenever we want.)

I love that despite the inevitable end to the story of Skidboot and David, David focused on the joy and love this amazing dog brought him.

We all know when we bond with a creature whose life cycle will likely end before ours, there will be pain. My husband calls pets “a tragedy waiting to happen.”

I disagree. Anyone who has ever found what I call an “animal soul mate” knows the benefits are worth the grief. The unconditional love, the calming affection, the complete lack of judgment are hard to come by in human companions. I’ll take it wherever I can get it, even on borrowed time.

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