“Evan” – December’s GOOD HORSE
Dec04

“Evan” – December’s GOOD HORSE

By Subscriber/Contributor Sarah Phillips Sarah has won a generous Gift Certificate from the World Famous Calabasas Saddlery where Julie and her expert team have no trouble finding you the perfect gift for the horse person in your life.   I bought Mr. Evan several years ago as a jumper.  While I loved his personality, I found that I did not enjoy riding him.  He was difficult off of your leg, he didn’t like to go into corners, and you couldn’t have any sort of consistent contact.  I started to think about selling him to someone with more skill than I. On a whim – I decided to try one last thing: dressage. I told my two girls that I was sending Evan to boarding school. Jackie Stoutenburg, my trainer, has not only changed his life, but also mine.  All that I asked was to have a more ridable horse, and last month we competed in our first dressage show!  Not only is he now very responsive to my leg, but we are learning all of these cool new moves (to someone who has never studied dressage) – side passes, shoulder in, haunches in, and he’s even started to learn some passage. I have to say, I’ve never had so much fun learning and riding. A dream came true and last month I got to move Mr. Evan out of his training barn, and to my home where he hangs out with my two geldings, and retired mare. I wasn’t sure how he was going to like the home life, but he has been nothing short of awesome. We trailer to meet my trainer 4 days a week – and even get to go out on trail several days per week.  He has turned out to be the “a bit of everything” horse that I’ve always dreamed of owning. Happy Holidays and Happy horsing! Sarah    ...

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REC RIDE 2017
Nov13

REC RIDE 2017

Photos courtesy of Julian Watkins Located at the Calabasas and Malibu Border, the Rec Ride, co-founded by horsewoman Ruth Gerson some years ago, is an annual event hosted by Malibu Valley Farms Equestrian Center. The ride is almost always held in October and attracts different riders through out Southern California. The beauty of this ride is you don’t have to be a horse owner although there are plenty of those that attend (including yours truly.)  You DO need to be a horse enthusiast though and have a profound love of nature as there are three different rides in this event: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. All three rides feature beautiful,  scenic views and at least a couple of hours of great horsing! Rental Horses are provided for non-horse owners by Rocking K Ranch every year to encourage the public to get out and horseback ride. Every year Ruth Gerson honors someone who has a served in the effort to preserve the environment we all hold so dear and our horsey life style here in the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains. This year’s honorees were Mr. Richard Bruckner, Former Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning, and Ms. Nicole Englund, Chief of Staff for 3rd District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. The day may start with the ride but ends with a Barbecue/picnic  provided by Calamigos and a very generous raffle with plenty of good loot! For next year’s ride, contact Ruth Gerson ruthgerson@aol.com  to find out in advance how you can sign up, but be aware that the beginner ride which takes place at King Gillette Ranch is the easiest and most well-rounded. The intermediate and advanced rides head into Malibu Creek State Park and on to the Reagan Ranch; both are fast paced and more for advanced riders and the gaited horse community. See you next year!...

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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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“Spanky” November’s HOM for 2017
Nov12

“Spanky” November’s HOM for 2017

Editor’s note: For sure Spanky is no turkey and we give thanks for horses like Spanky who are faithful companions and make for a reciprocal friendship between owner and horse.  For submitting Spanky, Sarafina Topolsky receives a generous gift certificate and horse treats from the forever friendly Agoura Feed, in Agoura Hills CA. “Spanky is a 17 hand Percheron cross. I will never forget the first time I saw him. I was 12 years old when I got him and I was originally looking for something smaller to start eventing on. When I first laid eyes on Spanky I have to admit I was not too happy we took the drive to see this GIANT horse. As soon as I started interacting with him the bond began to form. When I got on him it was a done deal. I was in love. The first lesson he taught me was to never judge a book by it’s cover.  Spanky isn’t like other Percherons.  His athleticism never ceases to amaze me. From eventing and dressage shows to riding double on trails he has the heart to do it all.  We’ve jumped up to 3’10 and schooled third level dressage. Now Spanky is 19 and we enjoy our semi retired life.  I continue to do dressage and we love to toodle on the trails.  He truly is my once in a lifetime horse. “ Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Horsing!...

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Lovely Lola – The GOOD HORSE for October
Oct09

Lovely Lola – The GOOD HORSE for October

                                  Jasmine and Lola received a very generous prize from the Calabasas Saddlery. Julie and her well-trained team always take such good care of their customers and are so involved with the local horse community. Julie offers many events and opportunities for small business folks and vendors to be part of what she does. Julie is definitely a one of a kind horsewoman.  “Lola” is a very cute Appaloosa pony (almost tall enough to be a horse) and her owner Jasmine writes about her. “Lola is my Appaloosa mare and her registered name is ‘Nemepoo Shufflebunny’ She comes from the great state of Montana. My family and I just call her Lola. Lola’s a little over 13 hands and is ten years old.  Her  favorite adventure is trail riding. She is also an excellent jumper, but Lola loves trail rides more than arena work which happens to be my favorite too. She has a wonderful canter and prefers to canter uphill which is great as long as the footing is good. She is my first horse and such a good friend. I am fortunate because after school, I can walk to the barn and Lola is always so happy to see me. She is my favorite horse ever because she always protects me when I ride her. For example, if I am ever off-balance in the saddle Lola stops dead in her tracks. She eats mostly orchard hay and gets a bucket of timothy pellets daily plus carrots and an occasional apple. Lola is such a good little pony/horse and I love her so!” Happy Halloween and Happy Horsing!...

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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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