Equine Benefits: Linda Ballou hits the trails in Ecuador
Nov13

Equine Benefits: Linda Ballou hits the trails in Ecuador

World travel author and equestrian Linda Ballou shares her most recent riding adventure in Ecuador. Finding the Real Gold in Ecuador  “Have you ever dreamed of galloping across the top of the world beneath the bluest of skies plumped with billowing clouds? Imagine green and gold spires poking through those clouds and a wild wind whipping your spirits as you canter- on with a racing heart. Now, breathe in crystalline air as you fall in sync with the rhythm of your horse’s hoof beat and let your mind go sailing. Thanks to Sally Vergette, this ride is waiting for you in the northern highlands of the Andes in Ecuador. Possessed of sparkling energy and deep love for the horses she provides, Sally loves sharing the less-traveled “paremo”-the unique Andean grasslands of the high country. The journey from hacienda to hacienda along the slopes of sacred Umbabura Volcano begins in the Otavalo valley, one the last strongholds of indigenous peoples famous for their weaving skills. Our group of nine equestriennes stopped at the Otavalo Marketplace where we bargained for ponchos and scarves for the ride. The scent of pigs roasting and the colorful displays of handcrafted goods, not to mention bargain prices, made for an exciting bizarre. We spent the first night at Hacienda Pensaqui, an oasis nestled among humble villages. There we enjoyed a delicious meal and local Andean musicians. Chamber maids lit warming fires in our rooms, turned down our comfy beds, and slipped a hot water bottle between the sheets for good measure. In 1540 Spanish conquistadors came to this land of extremes in search of gold. With just 2,000 soldiers they conquered the Incas and native tribes living in the tranquil valleys framed by majestic volcanic peaks. The conquerors were granted huge plots of land by the Spanish crown. Lavish haciendas with elaborate gardens, elegant furnishings, paintings, sculptures and murals sprang up across the land. After 300 years of tyrannical rule, the Spanish were ousted and Ecuador claimed its independence. Today these haciendas are being restored and serve as gracious quarters for travelers. Our first day of riding began on narrow track overlooking a gulch lined with eucalyptus trees. We climbed ever higher until the bustle of the villages fell away and we could see Lake Pablo glistening in the distance. Soon we were greeted by Santiago and his charming wife at their ranch overlooking the valley far below. We arrived 45 minutes after their mare had given birth to a foal who was struggling to take his first steps. Santiago led our band of merry ladies up still higher on a track he had cleared...

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Gillian Larson – Taking the Long Way Home
Oct08

Gillian Larson – Taking the Long Way Home

Gillian Larson – Taking the Long Way Home By Author Linda Ballou John Muir said it best. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. Gillian Larson is a dynamic young Californian who has fallen in love with the ethereal beauty of the mountains. Foregoing a professional career teaching animal science for the moment, she is set on doing long-distance equestrian rides. In 2014 at the age of 22 she became the first woman to ride solo the 2,660 mile Pacific Crest Trail from the international borders of Mexico to Canada. Two years later, she rode the trail again to gain more knowledge for the guidebook for equestrians she plans to write. Obstacles on the trail include snowdrifts, downed trees, trails eroded from avalanches, bone-chilling temperatures, acclimatizing to altitude, landslides, and rattle snakes. But, the greatest concern for Gillian was providing enough nourishing feed and water for her two horses. These challenges were met with a pragmatic and well-thought out approach that she shared in her talk at Malibu Creek State park hosted by Equestrian Trails International Corral 36. The first 700 miles of the trip from Mexico to Kennedy Meadows is on a narrow track tracing a ridge overlooking Anza Borrego desert. Water is the main concern. On this stretch of the ride a pack horse carried extra water and supplies and her mother waited for her with supplies at designated fueling stops along the way. In this same region, she stepped off her horse more than once to move rattlers off the trail with a stick. Yikes—no kidding! When she reached the High Sierra where the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest are the same for 211 miles, snow drifts were a major challenge. I was especially interested in how she handled this part of her trek as I had taken a horse pack trip into “The Range of Light” that inspired sections of my novel The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon. I suffered from altitude sickness, and temps that dropped into the 20s at night in this celestial region where spires poke 13,500 feet into azure skies. Gillian said altitude had little impact on her or her horses as it is a gradual climb from the floor of Owen’s Valley outside of Bishop. Plus, she gave her horses day lay-overs along the way. After 1,700 miles, she left California and entered Oregon where she met fickle weather and more snow. She dropped the...

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Wild Horses Roaming Free – By Linda Ballou
Sep22

Wild Horses Roaming Free – By Linda Ballou

Wild Horses Roaming Free By Linda Ballou Photos by Tony Stromberg To see wild horses roaming free across the rolling green hills of California makes my heart sing. There is a long-standing battle taking place to save the herds of wild horses emblematic of the American west from the slaughterhouse. Presently, fifty thousand horses are being held in Bureau of land Management holding pens awaiting their futures. Sadly, they will most likely be destroyed if an answer to their dilemma does not come soon. The Return to Freedom organization with two central California locations, one in Lompoc and one on a 300-acre ranch in San Luis Obispo give safe harbor to 400 wild horses. You can see from this video that they have a good life, are fit and roaming free in this bucolic setting. The plight of the wild mustangs in America is not new. The cattlemen want the rangeland owned by the government for their stock. The Bureau of Land Management contend that the wild herds are over-grazing federal lands and must be culled. They continue to use helicopters to round up thousands of horses each year. Only 32,000 wild horses out of the 2 million that once roamed the west remain. Meanwhile, the battle in congress to pass a bill that would protect the herds and provide a budget to handle the situation humanely continues. Return to Freedom is a non-profit organization provides some fun and informative ways for you to support the cause. They offer a docent guided walking tour of the sanctuary with some time for quiet observation of the herd. You will meet some of the mustangs that live there and learn about the horses as a native species with its origins in American history. They also offer a photo safari on the San Luis Obispo property On 2,000 acres of horse heaven in Central Coastal California, 70 wild horses and 16 burros roam free. Safaris last 3 hours and can be scheduled for early morning or late afternoon. Picnic basket with healthy snacks and light meal provided – end your Photo Safari with a pre-arranged picnic lunch or dinner in the hills with mountain top views to the sea! On the Return to Freedom site under “Issues” tab you can sign a petition to let your representatives know that you care about the future of the wild herds, or you can simply donate funds to this very worthy cause. Visit the www.returntofreedom for more information. Photo Credit: Tony Stromberg Linda Ballou is the author of The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon available on Amazon and her site www.LindaBallouAuthor.com Audio Book coming soon! Editor’s note: Linda is a...

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EQUINE BENEFITS – Come Celebrate THE DAY OF THE HORSE
May18

EQUINE BENEFITS – Come Celebrate THE DAY OF THE HORSE

  Day of the Horse Don’t miss this great tradition celebrating the history and culture of our vibrant equestrian community in the Conejo Valley. Day of the Horse is an annual event that is open to the public that is full of fun activities aimed to educate and spread knowledge about horses. This event celebrates fun, food and entertainment on our beautiful 30-acre equestrian park.  Our goal is to host a family oriented event that brings our residents and businesses together for an enjoyable day!   We welcome vendors! To reserve booth space, please complete our registration form www.eticorral37.org/events You may visit our website for event updates at www.eticorral37.org or Email at eticorral37@yahoo.com   Event Date: Sunday, June 4, 2017 from 10 am to 2 pm ·      Horse Demonstrations ·      Kids Corner ·      Shave-It Truck Exhibitors: ·      Foxfield Drill Team ·      Valley View Vaulters ·      Chemaine Hurtado, Symphony Dressage Vendors: ·      Animal Guardians Horse Rescue ·      Bright Star Saddlery ·      Greater LA Paint Horse Club ·      DAC Horse Vitamins & Supplements ·      Two Bit Woodworks ·      Created by Ken ·      Wrapped N Ribbons   Conejo Creek Equestrian Park 1350 E Avenida De Las Flores, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360 www.eticorral37.org...

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Equine Benefits – Baling Twine to the Rescue
Apr12

Equine Benefits – Baling Twine to the Rescue

“Baling Twine to the Rescue” Inspired by subscriber April Stock from Topanga, California. What do you do when you are at the barn and need a “quick fix” solution? Grab the baling twine. Most barns have plenty extra on hand from all the bales of hay fed everyday. Here are some “go to” uses we found but perhaps April’s is the most unique.  April’s use for baling twine – “When you forget to pack your belt for your post-work ride.” Here are some other uses around the barn –               Hanging a feedbucket                           Submit your uses at equineaddiction1@aol.com and win a gift certificate to Dover Saddlery. Happy...

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Why Horses Matter- Combating Opioid Addiction
Mar06

Why Horses Matter- Combating Opioid Addiction

            Back when then candidate Trump was campaigning, he made a promise to the great state of New Hampshire. He promised he would help them in their battle against opioid addiction. Although New Hampshire went Blue during the election, we hope now President Trump will make good on his promise. Meanwhile, well beyond the idyllic state of NH, there are groups like Stand InBalance, here on the West Coast, who along with their Equine therapists offer a nonconventional treatment approach to substance abuse and addiction. But first we need to look at the opioid epidemic and understand how we got here. Oxycodone was broadly marketed as the drug of choice for chronic pain suffers. Some would argue it hasn’t been successful in pain management at all, but instead has proven to be highly addictive. So much so, that those prescribing it were asked to scale back enormously by insurance companies and health agencies. When the legal prescriptions stopped or were seriously cut back,  some of those addicted to Oxy turned to heroin. So when you see photos of parents strung out in their vehicles, on the side of the highway, with kids strapped in car seats or a mother collapsing in a store while her two year old tries desperately to wake her, this is the opioid crisis in real time. Big Pharma to date has made an estimated 16 billion dollars since Oxy was introduced as the drug of choice for chronic pain. The death toll for opioid overdoses in 2015 has risen to 55,000, almost double from the previous year. For 2016, the numbers are expected to rise yet again. While our current President has already met with Big Pharma CEOs,  we hope he negotiates for pharmaceutical companies to invest in rehab facilities and keep the cost of such life saving drugs as Naloxone, which is administered in overdoses, down! Part of rehabbing those suffering with addiction is offering long-term therapy and follow-up. We are all wired differently and require different treatment lengths as well as therapies. Stand InBalance is one of the Equine Assisted Psychotherapy Programs fighting opioid addiction by treating patients that normally don’t respond to conventional approaches. This group has had success in providing follow-up treatment for substance abuse and addiction through their qualified human staff and equine counterparts.  Horses as therapists, to put it simply, cut right to the chase. According to one patient, “This therapy works because horses don’t judge, they don’t scheme, they are not duplicitous, they deal in the here and now and demand you be present with them.” Identifying how you feel and what’s going on with you is a large part of this kind of therapy. “Horses cause you be less preoccupied with yourself...

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