Boarding, training and lessons for the English enthusiast. Lessons for absolute beginners and up. School horses available. Fun, horse loving community!
Operating as usual
Super helpful horse buying info!!
We’ve helped hundreds of horses find new best friends over the years... But more so, we’ve answered thousands of inquiries. I’ll say it again like I say every year, in case someone out there needs to hear this...
HOW TO FIND YOUR “UNICORN”
1. PARAMETERS: Sticking to your “parameters” is only hurting your search. This is like when you have a friend who says they’ll only date a guy over 6 feet tall. Would you turn down meeting your soul mate because he’s 5’11”? I’ve learned from many good Horsemen over the years and the saying is true: God never made a good horse in a bad color. The number of times that people are looking for a precise height or a precise color and I think I have the perfect match for them to fulfill all their dreams, but they won’t budge 1 inch on height in either direction. I can tell you that my current 17 hand horse feels much smaller than my current 15.3h horse. It’s much more about their barrel and their neck set and then the height of their withers. Stop looking for the horse that is “5-7 years old 16.2-17.0h bay or grey gelding.” You are only sabotaging your own search here.
2. WRONG QUESTIONS: When people call about horses, I tell them what kind of rider he needs and what the horse wants to do for a living. Why does NO ONE ever ask that?! They ask how fancy his trot is or how his dressage score was last weekend or how many ribbons he has or how tall he is. They don’t ever ask, “Will he tolerate my mistakes? Will he make up where I’m lacking? Can I handle this horse? Does he have the same goals that I do?”
3. WRONG PRIORITIES: I always teach my students this lesson. My “keeper” horse as a 4yo was the worst mover in the barn. Choppy trot, canter like a tractor trailer on ice, pads on his feet, and some seriously unimpressive knees. If I pulled him out of the stall for you at a sales appointment at 4 years old, you would tell me to put him away! Then he won 3 events at 5yo. At 6 he’s a dream to ride because we’ve put in serious sweat equity for three years. I’m going to burst your bubble here. Unless you’re trying to literally win the Olympics, you don’t need the best mover in the barn. Find the horse that makes you SMILE, that you want to ride every day, the one you can train. Beyond that, you can teach it to win the dressage if you work hard enough. Heck, the worst mover I’ve ever owned won a dozen upper level events and got our Bronze Medal in dressage, and if you saw him today you’d swear that was the best canter you’ve ever ridden. When you’re shopping, don’t buy for the fancy trot. Find the horse that makes you smile.
4. MAINTENANCE: The number of people who put in search ads, “absolutely no maintenance“ or ask me if he has to wear shoes. So you’re telling me if I can find you your perfect unicorn that will make you happy for the rest of his life and you have to give him hock injections once a year, you wouldn’t do it? Because that’s about what you’re spending on your Starbucks this month. If you find a horse that will take care of you, you need to take care of it. Period.
5. VETTINGS: It’s been said by a million people so I’ll keep it brief. Vettings are a fact finding mission, not an attempt to rule out every horse you meet. No one can predict the future—-I’ve had upper level horses that would have failed as 4yos who never missed an event in their lives. I’ve seen vets give two thumbs up to horses who dropped dead a week later from a heart problem. Vets are our greatest resource, but they aren’t fortune tellers. Any good vetting WILL find something. Have your trainer help you understand what is realistic when the vet jargon sounds scary.
Here’s hoping that this list helps someone searching somewhere. Because I know over the years in my career, if I had stuck to my parameters and broken my rules, I would not have bought any of my eventual upper level horses. I would have missed out on so many special horses in my life, because I didn’t want a 3yo or I didn’t want him to be 15.3h or his ankles aren’t pretty.
When you find a horse that you like to ride and it makes you happy, that’s really all that matters. ❤️
Photo by Canter Clix
Devine Revelation, an OTTB that came off the track as a 9 year old, is the horse of a lifetime for his rider Amy. Amy has been a student of mine for a dozen or so years and has had her heart broken by the last two horses she owned. When she tried Revel to see if she’d like to half-lease him from his previous owner the beauty of their match was so obvious that that owner offered to sell Revel to her right then and there. Amy contacted me to ask if she should buy him and, having already known him for a year, I said “YES!!!”. Amy and Revel completed their first official show year together at Intro with wins at Spring Gulch I & II and at the fall Mile High Derby. I’m beyond proud of them and feel even more happiness over the fact that these two came together. They are a perfect partnership!
horsetalk.co.nz Overall, novice riders showed a more chaotic muscle distribution in their riding, researchers reported.
ceh.vetmed.ucdavis.edu Takeaways Unhealthy air containing wildfire smoke and particulates can cause health problems in people and animals. Particulates from smoke tend to be very small, which allows them to reach the deepest airways within the lungs. Wildfire smoke can cause respiratory issues for horses. They may experie...
This horse was a 4* horse.
He had jumped round Badminton and Burghley.
He had more starts eventing than I’d had hot dinners.
He was a well seasoned professional.
Yet here we are jumping around an unaffiliated 80cm.
Because although HE had jumped all the big tracks, WE hadn’t.
I’d jumped him around courses at home a few times, but we didn’t know each other very well and I wanted a track that I knew I would be 110% confident jumping.
Once you’ve clicked with a horse, worked out each others quirks and habits, everything falls into place and the size of the fence becomes irrelevant.
But before that, you have to allow room for error and miscommunications. Trust is not born overnight, it takes time to build.
So I entered the 80 and jumped double clear with a big smile on my face, instead of skidding round a 1.10 by the seat of my pants because I had no idea how this horse liked or needed to be ridden.
Never feel the height of a fence is a reflection of you or your horses ability. Equally, just because a horse has done it all, doesn’t mean the next rider has to start where they left off.
Do what you need to do. Run your own race.
This is how you do it, people. Just buckle down and keep trudging along. Work hard, work correctly, and push through the struggles.
The saddest thing I’ve ever seen…
Is a woman on a horse
that does not believe she is good enough to be there.
Do not compare yourself. There is only this moment, this horse. Your hands, seat, voice and leg, define the parameters of the entire world for this horse.
What anyone else is doing, or has ever done, does NOT matter.
Whomever it is that you look up to — or feel less than —
Is in turn, looking up to another rider, wishing to aspire to that level. So be content where you are… You are blessed!
YOU are your only competition… Just be better today than you were yesterday. Try hard for this horse you ride and try hard for yourself. Most of all, enjoy this time; Every moment. Every stride. Every cue that is answered with a response.
Cherish this partnership…
Know, that you are exactly where you are supposed to be…
Photo credit Lee Willis
This horse. We are blessed by every horse that comes to us, to teach us what we need to learn every time. Sometimes we are blessed in a different way by the horses that come into our lives. Because each one is different from the next. This guy, Ferdinand, blows me away. He is not confident. He harbors eons of past nightmares. He is a senior rescue, and he will never go to the Olympics. This guy, Ferdi, can’t keep it together if someone new walks into the arena and sits down to watch. But he’s amazing. He tries. Beyond any and all reasons to try. He gives. Beyond any and all reasons to give. His heart is humongous and wins. Every time. Ferdi is different than any horse I’ve ever worked with. He has changed me because of that. Thank you, Chapstein Sarah, for trusting me with his fragile soul and his big body. He’s come such a long way. 💕
Inside Track Eventing
𝙄𝙩'𝙨 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙥 𝙨𝙖𝙮𝙞𝙣𝙜 "𝙤𝙣𝙡𝙮" 𝙖𝙣𝙙 "𝙟𝙪𝙨𝙩".
"𝘐'𝘮 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘥𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 80𝘤𝘮 𝘤𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘴"
"𝘐'𝘮 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘵 𝘗𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘮 𝘭𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘭"
"𝘖𝘩 𝘐'𝘮 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘢 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘐 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘥𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘸 𝘭𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘴"
How many of us have said something similar to the above?
I have uttered every single one of these phrases, and then some.
The worst one was when I won a 80cm SJI Championship - I felt so proud, and then this small voice in the back of my head said "𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘥𝘰𝘦𝘴𝘯'𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵, 𝘪𝘵'𝘴 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 80𝘴".
Today I'm here to tell myself and everyone else that we need to stop saying "only" and "just" when we talk about our efforts and achievements.
We work damn hard. We show up in the early mornings, late at night, in rain wind and hail. We worry about our horses' feed, we get physios vets and farriers to mind and monitor them. We read everything on the internet to better educate ourselves, and we get lessons to become the best we can be.
We care deeply about our horses and work hard to ride them the best we can. We ride and compete at a level that we are capable of, and that is safe for us to have fun and be competitive at.
So no, we are not "just" doing a certain level or class. We worked hard and we have every right to be proud of the journey it took to get there, and of our achievements.
There is no threshold for qualification to be considered a "real" rider or competitor.
If you enter an arena at A and proceed down the centre line, you are doing dressage.
If you enter an arena and jump a course of fences, you are showjumping.
If you do a dressage test, jump a course of fences, and go cross country, you are eventing.
Do not diminish the work, love and care that you put into this sport. Do not minimise your accomplishments, or belittle what it's taken you to get to where you are today.
When you say "just" or "only", you don't just minimise your own accomplishments or put yourself down, you also set an example to others that they too are "just" and "only".
You are not "just". You are not "only".
So go do it. Enjoy it. Smash it ❤️
Ok students, how many times have I told you this?
To improve the position and forward aspect of your hands...
"Imagine home base for your hands as a square in front of your saddle that is even with the width and height of your hips. Always keep your hands in the home-base square with the feeling that you are pushing a shopping cart forward." —Melissa Allen
🎨 Illustration by Sandy Rabinowitz
Share away guys this is going to be a fun day!!
Sweet Squirrel - just look at that face! He is a once in a lifetime, amazing little quarter horse. He’s my go to school horse and has taught the absolute beginner up through experienced dressage and event riders. Every single person who has ever ridden him has felt how much he loves us all back. This little man is priceless and every time I work with he and his student I feel such a deep sense of gratitude. If I could ever clone one horse I’ve ever known it would be Squirrel.
Have to brag on my amazing students! Amy and Revel won Spring Gulch AGAIN! This time they finished off their score of 23 (best dressage score of the division and the whole day!!) in dressage! And Chris and Audra both rode their horse Churchill and they both won their First level dressage tests at the show they went to!!! I’m so proud! 😍🤩🐎
I highly recommend the desensitizing clinic offered by Heath Marshall Horsemanship! We worked from tents and tarps, lawn mowers and chainsaws, bikes and motorcycles, to bull whips and gunshots! I worked with my 2 year old Isabella and although she started out very worried and jumpy (got the picture of the year!) she finished up absolutely confident and relaxed. She didn’t even flinch by the time the guns were firing (within feet of her)!
I love this awesome picture of Carrot stretches. Notice how the entire spine is stretching not just the neck. How many of you do carrot stretches with your horse?
Thank you Gillian Higgins from Horses Inside Out
What is your favorite photo of you eventing?
This is Ebony (The Black Pearl) and I competing at Training in the incomparable Abbe Ranch Horse Trials in 1998.
Share your favorite eventing pic with the hashtag #eventingpicsforpositivity - we do this sport for moments like this!
Happy 2nd birthday to my beautiful Isabella! Thank you, Dany Denehan, for taking her on and teaching her the ways of the world!
Tamarack Hill Farm
Changing horses, as a way for a rider to move forward, "upwards and onwards", can be either a new beginning, or just same old, same old.
Because if the rider doesn't change as well, if the rider uses the same tactics that didn't make the prior horse a success story, why is it likely that this new match up will be any better?
I have found, through many years of watching others, and trying myself, that there are basically three areas of change.
Physical change---The rider becomes stronger, fitter, more agile, more able to ride well.
Mental change---The rider, through study, reading, videos, lessons, has learned more about training and riding.
Emotional change---The rider has become more patient, more empathetic, more willing to be calmly consistent.
Some riders grow, some regress, and some stay about the same, and the new horse will usually be a mirror of that. If we want the new horse to be a better beginning, and not just a new beginning, look inwards. Ask the hardest questions----Have I made meaningful change? Am I willing to make meaningful change?
It is more about us than it is about our horses.
I love biomechanics stuff.
Last year I attended a dressage clinic as a spectator. I witnessed and heard several things I liked and a few things that made me wince.
One thing that caught my attention was when the clinician said, “When a horse has a dip in the neck, just in front of the wither it is a sure sign that a horse has been ridden incorrectly.”
If you look at the photo, you’ll see I have circled the area the clinician was referring to and it is clear the horse has a dip in its neck exactly like it was described.
My take on the claim that this anomaly indicates incorrect riding is that I agree and I don’t agree. In other words, such a dip in the neck can be a sign of a riding problem, but its appearance can also have no relation to the riding.
Let me explain. If you are not into the biomechanics of horses and movement, don’t worry. I’m going to try to oversimplify the structural details to avoid putting you to sleep.
The dip is normal in most horses. If you observe lots of horses you’ll see the majority have some degree of depression in front of the wither. You’ll see it in foals, broodmares, trail horses, paddock ornament horses, barrel racers, dressage horses, eventers, retirees, polo horses, plow horses, etc. It’s super common. All but one of my horses exhibit it to some extent.
In the most simple terms, it is the result of the relaxation of the muscles that position the base of a horse’s neck. This causes the base of the neck to drop.
(Note: the base of the neck is that region of the spine column in the neck that inserts between the shoulders of the horse and before the withers)
When this happens the spinal column is pushed down at the point it inserts between the shoulders. At the same point, the muscles on the top of the neck get dragged downward. The muscles that are pulled down is what you see when you look at the dip in front of the wither. In essence, it is the result of horses crashing on their forehand during movement. It’s caused by horses not being in self-carriage.
If you think of the dip in those terms, since most horses spend their life with the base of their neck in a downward position it is perfectly normal for a horse to exhibit a dip in front of the wither. It is only horses that are ridden regularly with the base of their neck elevated that are likely to show no dip because they will have developed the correct musculature to prevent that from occurring. It takes quite a lot of specific work, increased gradually over time, for a horse to develop the strength to carry themselves correctly for long periods. So it is not surprising that so many horses have a drip in their top line.
The bottom line is that the presence of a dip in front of the wither is a sign of under-development of a particular set of muscles that aid in self-carriage. It can be caused by riding that jams the base of the neck down or it can be caused by a lack of work or by work that does not require the base of the neck to elevate (eg, endurance riding, camp drafting, games, plowing, jumping, etc).
It is not possible to point at a horse that has a dip in its neck and conclude it is caused by incorrect riding or training. It may simply be because the horse only gets ridden once a week or is a world champion endurance horse.
Jumping to conclusions can sometimes lead to a fall.
Enjoy the Rocky Mountains on Horseback! We offer guided horseback rides up in the mountains through Pine forests, aspen groves, green meadows and creeks.
At Academy Riding Stable, we offer wrangler led rides through the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO.
The center offers a professional and enjoyable experience for children and adults in private and small groups for one hour and half sessions, with PATH International Certified Instructors