January Rider of the Month – Lorraine Stubbins

Lorraine Stubbins riding her mare, Keira. What a view!
Lorraine Stubbins riding her mare, Keira. What a view!

Lorraine Stubbins’ mare, Tabby’s Keira, is a seven-year-old Irish Sport Horse that she bred herself. Keira’s sire is an Irish Draught/TB cross, a show jumper named ToBeSure from Vancouver, British Columbia. Keira’s dam is a thoroughbred mare.

Lorraine explains, “Keira is 16.2 hands and a really nice horse. She is returning to Arizona this winter with us where we are going to be camping in the desert and trail riding around the state. This will be her fourth trip in her short life. She is a very good traveler and a pleasure to be around.

“I have shown her a little at local riding club level shows, jumping and dressage and western dressage. I used to be an eventer years ago, but we have decided not to do any more competing and just to enjoy the trails now, from this year onward.”

Lorraine has always ridden her mare bitless in a Lindel Side pull and she goes barefoot – she has never been shod. Lorraine is a barefoot trimmer following the methods of Cheryl Edwards-Henderson of ABC Hoofcare and the Oregon School of Natural Hoofcare.

“It seemed a perfect fit for us to expand our natural journey to include a Barefoot Barrydale Saddle,” Lorraine continues. “We are in our first week with it and so far we are really enjoying it. Tonight I did a long fast gallop in mine and it felt great.

Lorraine riding in her Barefoot Barrydale Treeless Saddle, and Bill in his Barefoot Tahoe.
Lorraine riding in her Barefoot Barrydale Treeless Saddle, and Bill in his Barefoot Tahoe.

“My partner, Bill, just started riding in a Barefoot Tahoe this week too. We found it second hand and ordered it for me, but it was too big and happened to be a perfect fit for Bill. He rides a nine-year-old gelding, an Akhal-Teke/ Hanoverian cross called Andre, bitless, barefoot and now treeless!  Bill keeps telling me how comfy his new saddle is and I think he sits very correctly in it.

“We are all four – two horses and two riders really enjoying our Barefoot journey. Thanks for carrying such nice quality well-engineered tack!”

November Action Rider of the Month – Rosemary Crowley


RosemaryCrowleyHalloween Show
Rosemary Crowley riding her Andalusion, Chispazo, at a Halloween Show.


November’s Action Rider, Rosemary Crowley, bravely took on the project of starting a young Andalusion to saddle and bridle.

“I always was infatuated with the Andalusian breed, but after looking at several older horses I realized that I could only afford a very young horse. I found Chispazo on Dream Horse and began a correspondence with Nancy LeNau about him. He is a P.R.E. and his sire was Silver Solamente and his dam was Belina PWG, Nancy’s mare. His birthday is July 4 and apparently was born during his mother’s anxiousness about the fireworks that night!

“When I saw him, I liked his curiosity as I played with him. I decided to take a chance. I brought him home in a stock trailer as a 15-month-old colt. Once I got him home it became apparent that I should geld him. He spent all his turnout time with my lovely older gelding, Spock, some sort of Spanish/Quarter horse cross, that he adored. Spock allowed him to be a little spoiled, but it was always obvious that they had a very special relationship.

Rosemary Crowley’s Andalusion, ‘Pazo.’



“After I gelded Pazo, I spent a lot of time leading him out and about and just playing with him. He seemed very immature and I waited until he was over 3-years-old to back him. Circumstances and his lack of maturity led me to cautiously proceed with his training. I had an injury during his 4-5 year-old stage and once I started back with him in the spring of 2014, he was really ready to ‘go on with’ -as they say.

“I decided that I had to go to a facility so I could continue to ride him through our sometimes severe northeastern winter. I found a wonderful facility and we developed trust and started real training. He was very spooky and I was timid after my injuries, so it took a while for us to find our stride.

“Now, we have participated in a couple of intro dressage shows and we are working on balance, trust and trying to balance at the canter. I just love his spirit and he is finally developing into a wonderful partner. He is curious, incredibly smart and a pleasure to be around.

“In hindsight, I probably made the well-known mistake of taking on such a young horse as a project, but I wouldn’t do anything different if I had the chance. He is such fun and I have made sure that he is not over faced and appreciated for the character that he is!

“The P.R.E. horses are wonderful, smart and sensible, although he is a hot horse. I have learned to trust that he wants to be my partner and I have to be his leader. It has taken a long time because I am an amateur rider but this shows how forgiving he has been, at least for me. There were many times that I thought I was over faced, but we are doing great. What a wonderful journey!

“The photo in costume was at a Halloween show and I took pains to make sure my handsome boy had a costume which showed him as wonderful and elegant as he is to me every day. I was very proud of him and did the best I could to hand sew an outfit we could be proud of. I think he loved showing off!”



Why use Saddle Pad Inserts? Which Inserts are Right For Your Horse?

Action Rider Julie Campbell and her horse Kalena riding in a treeless saddle with EquiPedic foam inserts. Happy horse, happy rider.
Action Rider Julie Campbell and her horse Kalena riding in a treeless saddle with EquiPedic foam inserts. Happy horse, happy rider.

The choice of saddles pads is diverse enough to make your head spin. Saddle pad design and function with inserts is a specialty all its own. But it’s not rocket science. Basically, saddle pads with inserts are for when you need extra wither, spine and back protection. Inserts are always recommended with treeless saddles because it gives you extra insurance that the saddle is not going to press on the spine or withers. But they are also used with treed saddles for impact absorption and back support as well. The inserts are placed on either side of the spine, leaving a clear spine channel for its protection.

The foam material used to make the inserts generally falls into two categories – open cell foam and closed cell foam. Open cell foam, like the EquiPedic Conforpedic foam and Viscool foam is softer and squishier. It can be perfect for many situations like

EquiPedic ConforPedic 1" Open Cell Foam Inserts
EquiPedic ConforPedic 1″ Open Cell Foam Inserts

filling in the back, a slight sway back, or an extra buffer from the impact of your weight on your horse while riding long distances. There were many EquiPedic Saddle Pads with 1”Conforpedic Inserts under all types of saddles at the 100-mile Tevis Cup Endurance Ride, for example. These quality open cell foams can help distribute the weight of the rider under the saddle, reduce impact from the rider, while not creating pressure points. It will form somewhat to your horse’s back and movement.

Barefoot Regular Closed Cell Foam Inserts
Barefoot Regular Closed Cell Foam Inserts

However, at times, the 1” EquiPedic foam is too much. It lifts the saddle too far off the back, especially on round horses causing the saddle to be unstable. So, there are other thinner, denser, closed cell foam inserts that can provide excellent back protection and shock absorption like the Barefoot Regular, Barefoot Heavy Duty, and Matrix Ultra Pro inserts. These closed cell inserts are dense enough that you cannot pinch your fingers entirely together. It’s like rubber. These are very good for when the rider weighs 165 lbs and over, long distances, jumping, or whenever you need back protection. It provides a closer contact with your horse under the saddle.

And there are also inserts that combine open cell foam with closed cell foam like the Matrix Ortho Inserts. You get some squish and some firmness in one insert. They are also not as thick as the EquiPedic inserts. They are excellent for impact reduction and can contour to your horse’s back more than just closed cell foam alone. When needed, you can also use two inserts, closed cell and open cell foam together to achieve the same result.

Inserts do not last forever, and need to be replaced depending on how much you ride. Sweat, salt, moisture and heat will help the deterioration process, so it’s best to keep your saddle pads washed and stored in a clean, dry place. It’s much less expensive to replace the inserts than the whole saddle pad. If you ride many miles, you may have to replace the inserts every 1 -2 years.

Finally, saddle pad inserts cannot fix a saddle that does not fit, especially with a treed saddle that is too narrow. Inserts function as added safeguards and protection to your horse’s back. They are a great tool to keep your horse happy and comfortable while he provides you with years of riding enjoyment.

October Action Rider of the Month – Cassandra Olds

Action Rider Cassandra Olds is such a great treeless saddle success story, we had to share it. Read on.

Cassandra and Tell after a ride in the Black Forrest Shasta and Dr Cooks Bitless Bridle.
Cassandra and Tell after a ride in the Black Forest Shasta and Dr Cooks Bitless Bridle.

“I had always read about horses with behavioral issues that were as a result of poor fitting tack but I just assumed it was an all or nothing deal. It was a good fit or bad fit. I didn’t realize that even though the tack may fit, the horse may still not be comfortable. This is what my journey with Tell has taught me… Comfort matters!

“Tell is an 11-year-old quarter horse cross. When I took him on I noticed that he bucked furiously for the first five or so minutes when lunged with a saddle. He also flat out refused to go up any hill when hacking out, instead he would slowly wind his way up. It was put down to being lazy or having too much energy depending on the day.

“He is the gentlest creature on the ground with excellent manners so it didn’t add up. I had a hunch that he wasn’t comfortable with the saddle he came with so I did a lot of research on saddle options, treeless saddles specifically and decided to give it a go. At the same time I switched out his snaffle bit for a bitless bridle, having found that he pulled against the bit relentlessly.

“Since then we have done a four-hour mountain trail ride very comfortably as well as a number of shorter rides and I feel happier knowing that he is comfortable again. From a training perspective, it has been amazing to see how quickly he is learning now that we can focus on the lesson.

“Perhaps the most exciting moment for me was when coming back from a short ride in the arena; we approached a road going up a steep hill beside the barn. Normally we just walk straight to the barn, but on this particular day, Tell seemed to want to go up the hill (there are two horses at the top which he wanted to introduce himself to I guess). Knowing our past experiences with hills I decided to see what he would do if he had the choice, go to the barn or carry me up steep hill with him, which would he pick? Much to my surprise, he energetically walked up the hill! Changing the bridle has also made a world of difference, almost immediately he became very responsive to the lightest aids and no more pulling! Needless to say I am looking forward to find out what else he can do!”

My Tevis Experience by Stacy Motschenbacher

Stacy and Jim at the finish line of The Tevis Cup 2015. they did it! Photo credit: Bill Gore Photography
Stacy and Jim at the finish line of The Tevis Cup 2015. They did it!
Photo credit: Bill Gore Photography

About four years ago I realized that I actually had a bucket list. I was driving down the road in my car, listening to the radio and they were talking about Bucket Lists. Up to this point, I didn’t think I had one. But as I drove, the first thing that popped into my mind was Tevis. The more I thought about this, the more I wanted to complete one of the toughest (if not the toughest) endurance rides in North America. Holy Cow, I have a Bucket List, I better get on it. But of course I can’t complete my Bucket List on a horse that would make sense to complete it on…in other words an Arab. I wanted to complete this on a Mustang. I got a horse 2 months later that I had hoped would fulfill my newfound bucket list item. I worked him for 7 months and realized that HE had NO desire to fulfill my bucket list. A year after my epiphany, I found Jim. The ad said “Forward Mustang”. Forward and Mustang aren’t two words usually used in the same sentence. So I purchased him. In the first 5 rides, he took off on me three times. Yep, he was forward! To this day he will pull something like that at almost every ride…including Tevis. All the horses went left, he thought right was a better direction (because it was East-he always wants to go east) and off we went. More on that later.

Fast forward three years. Now he is a solid endurance horse. He looks like a plow horse on steroids. Starting last Winter I really focused in on this goal. It is amazing how consuming this became in my life. What became a nice surprise was when I did a conditioning ride with my friend, Gina and found out she also planned on Tevis. Riding together, sharing ideas, and having someone with the same goal were priceless. She called me one day and told me we were going to be sponsored by Action Rider Tack. What?! A sponsor?! I was thrilled, humbled, and scared all at the same time. I went into the office at Action Rider Tack and thanked Carla Winkler, the owner, and told her that I was now scared because my chance of finishing this ride was about 33%. I didn’t want to blow the sponsorship. She was so gracious. She understood and wanted to support us in our effort. I can’t thank Action Rider Tack enough for that. From them I received support, sponsorship, but no pressure. It doesn’t get any better. Well it does, but more on that later.

Three weeks before Tevis, Gina had a gut feeling that her mare may be suffering from ulcers so she had her scoped. The Vet found ulcers and that crushed her dream of going. We had not planned on riding together at Tevis, but to share so much with her in our dream of Tevis, I felt her pain like it was my own. I was heading down without her.

Two weeks before the ride, I was making myself crazy with doubt. I told my husband Mike that if I didn’t finish Tevis this year, that I would go back next year, AND I would get a puppy. It is so funny because those were the first tentative plans I had AFTER AUGUST 1st. For a year, AUGUST 1ST was IT. Nothing existed AFTER AUGUST 1ST. It was such a stress reliever to see past that date, and to have something silly to think about after that date. I doubt I would have gotten a puppy, but it was such a fun thought in a time frame AFTER the ride, that it took much of my stress away.

I shouldn’t have been stressed; I had the most amazing crew. Crew Chief, Patty Surowski organized a 50 page 3-ring binder for the rest of the crew. (I don’t know if it was actually 50 pages, but it looked like it.) My husband, Mike Motschenbacher, and dear friends Lisa Schram and Christine Karas were my other crew members. It was the most perfect crew because Mike, Lisa and Christine are all pretty laid back and easy going-which balanced out with my Crew Chief Patty that had everything organized to the minute detail. Patty’s biggest challenge was to herself not to overwhelm the rest of the crew. But that 3-ring binder was priceless. At Robie Park, when Mike started to realize he didn’t really know how to get anywhere, Patty had him turn to page 3 of the notebook, where the map from Robie To Forest Hill was located, and explained in detail (with a color map as a back drop) how to get there. To top it all off, because Gina couldn’t come, I also had Carla Winkler and Sarah Crampton from Action Rider Tack as crew members. Interestingly, I needed EVERY member. They were all running around and had priceless jobs that needed to be done.

I did a pre-ride with Beret Meyer on Thursday. We had such a great, relaxing ride up to No Hands Bridge and back. It went very quickly and cemented the finish in our minds. We decided that if we could, we would start the ride together.

That night at Robie Park I think I slept better than Mike did. He was so worried about getting out of Robie and getting to Forest Hill. The plan was to drop the rig at Forest Hill and if he could, hitch hike to Robinson Flats. He just didn’t know if logistically he could do it. I finally suggested that he just go to Forest Hill and stay there. I had FIVE crew waiting for me at Robinson; I would be fine without him.

We both fell asleep and missed the bear going through camp that kept up poor Carla and Sarah in their tent. The alarm went off at 3:30. I had a great breakfast and got ready and suddenly realized that I was kind of late tacking up. I get Jim tacked up and left my crew and trotted toward the start. There is Beret and we talked, laughed and had a pretty relaxing start. I was shocked. There was one horse that was dancing around a bit, but otherwise every horse was ‘all business’ going down the trail. Now I was fairly close to the back of the pack, but it was very uneventful.

At about 2 miles into the ride I felt my left stirrup slowly slide down my saddle. I was trotting along with a large group of horses and it felt like my left leg was on an elevator going down. I told Beret I had to stop. She offered to stop with me, and did. I pulled off and sure enough my fender had broken on my saddle. I asked Beret to keep going, and reluctantly she did. I pulled out the duct tape and I could see where the stitching had come undone so I duct taped the crap out of it. What I should have done… and didn’t… was check to make sure the stirrups were level before I had done this. It wasn’t even close. I crawled back on by 15.3HH horse on the ‘off side’ and off we went. I was so afraid to put much weight in that stirrup, which wasn’t a problem because it was about 3” longer than the other.

Amazingly, I was still riding with people around me, so I said screw it, I can ride that way, and I did until I got past the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. A little side note here. I am not a spectacular rider. I have had enough dressage lessons that the trainer doesn’t deny I have ever been there. Riding on that trail, over hwy 89, up past the ski lifts for 10+ miles without stirrups made me want to kiss that dressage instructor on the lips.

Along the trail I pulled out my phone and texted Patty that my stirrup broke, and called Mike and told him he had to take the extra set of fenders and that he DID have to go to Robinson. Good luck, I love you, good bye. Poor guy.

Before the ski lifts was Jim’s great opportunity to go East and he took off on me. I couldn’t dig down into my stirrups to turn his head but got him turned anyway. Go core! There were volunteers, water and green grass past the ski lift and I hopped off and reinforced my broken fender with more duct tape and twine that I had in my saddle. I wrapped, knotted, wrapped the other way, knotted, and wrapped and knotted one more time so that I could actually use the stirrup. BUT, alas, I made the stirrup too short this time. I get on and said screw it, I can ride this way. After a mile I came to my senses and had to undo the many, many knots I had made in the twine.

At this point of the ride I was on survival mode. The feeling I got in my gut when that stirrup fender broke was “There goes the ride, but at least I get a puppy.” So now my goal was just to ride on as long as I could until I was overtime. At squaw I heard one volunteer asking another if I was the last one. He said “No, there are about 15 more.” When I was undoing my amazingly knotted twine, most of those riders passed me.

It is funny how things work out, because I was by myself from that point until Red Star. Jim drank out of every bog, he went at his own pace through the technical rocks, and he grabbed a bite to eat some of the high mountain grass. I never expected to be by myself on Tevis. But Jim and I do well by ourselves, and usually he prefers it, so it was such a pleasure just experiencing this trail just the two of us, at our own pace. There was a rider off his mule before Red Star. He had a concussion and a couple of riders were tending to him and didn’t need help, so I continued on. I trotted into Red Star and was shocked at how many horses were there. Because Jim had tanked up at the bogs, and everywhere else, we quickly got through Red Star and continued on. Those wonderful riders that had tended to the down rider passed me and I was by myself again for most of the way into Robinson. My poor crew, I got there so much later than I expected. I got there at 11:38 and cut off was 12:00. Little did they know this would be a theme with me and that they would stress and worry for only 17.5 more hours.

What I didn’t know until later is that Mike got to Forest Hill, parked the rig and tried to hitch hike to Robinson. He went out on the road and stuck his thumb out. Cars just kept going by, and nobody stopped. He went to the entrance and stood there for a while with his thumb out with the same results. He went up to a volunteer and told her that he was trying to get to Robinson Flat, that my saddle broke, and he had the piece to fix it. She yelled over at another volunteer and told him that he HAD to take this guy to Robinson!!!! His rider’s saddle broke and he had the piece to fix it!” The other volunteer dropped what he was doing and drove Mike up to Robinson.

My crew was better prepared than an Indy 500 Pit Crew! It was priceless having Carla and Sarah from Action Rider Tack there because my saddle needed a major overhaul, and they know this saddle well, they sell them, so they were on it! Christine grabbed the saddle, put it in the cart and she, Lisa, Carla and Sarah were off with it. They fixed the saddle, resupplied food, water and elytes in my bags, changed the pad, etc. Patty and Mike stayed with me and made sure Jim was comfortable.

When I got to my crew spot it was a hive of activity and Jim happily munched, Lisa massaged his backend where she found a knot in his muscle and I sat and watched it all. There was no chaos, they didn’t bother Jim, they just did their jobs and made everything work again, including me. Carla had to wait in the long line for the green blood draw card. Poor girl, but having her take on this job took so much stress off of me. All of those little details that the crew took care of made my ride easier. When it was 3 am and I still had the energy to keep going, I really think it was because I didn’t have to worry about all of the little things they took care of.

Jim and I had done the section of the trail between Robinson and Forest Hill at the Tevis Education ride. It was so interesting how much happier he was on sections he knew. We passed many people through here. I got off and hand trotted him down the canyons. We loved playing in the American River. At every stop the volunteers were so amazing.

We came into Forest Hill at 8:12. Cut off was 8:30. Yep, I like to keep my crew guessing. Again, they were rock stars taking care of Jim and me. I was on Jim at 9:10 and waiting for my time to leave and it was dark already. I left Forest Hill and there are more volunteers guiding me thru half the town. It was VERY quiet going through the other half of Forest Hill in the dark. I got off and hand walked him on the pavement. At this point I had done most of the ride by myself. I don’t mind riding Jim by himself and I had been so concerned that at Tevis we would never be by ourselves. Well that certainly wasn’t an issue, and at this point I wanted some company. Well I found it. I got in with a group of riders once I got on the trail and we had a great time. It was the first time I had a conversation with riders, finding out where they were from, what was the story with their horses, etc. It was great. Jim loved that section of trail and led a good portion of it. There were riders close enough ahead that we could tell where the switch backs were. I think that was the most fun we both had.

We got into Franciscos and again it is chaos and there are so many horses everywhere! Jim and I get up to the vet quickly but I had lost my time-in slip. At this point my mind was not working well because I was tired. I went and got another slip and vetted him through. I wanted to get him vetted while there wasn’t a line, so afterwards I then could let him eat and relax. I was fumbling around, probably talking to myself when a volunteer came up and took over for me. He could tell I was functioning at the level of a 5 year old and he did everything but hold my hand in the porta potty. This gentleman made me eat, made me drink and directed me to the porta potty. He walked Jim up to the mounting block so I could get on. We had 15 miles to go on the ride, and I am still so close to cut offs that I hadn’t thought I might actually get this ride done. I was just going until they told me I had to stop.

As I was getting on Jim, the volunteer said “You know you are going to finish this ride.” I was mid-mount and just stopped. “I am?” I am dumbfounded that he said that. “Why do you think that?” It hadn’t dawned on me that I might finish. That moment in time will be forever emblazoned in my mind. That volunteer has no idea what affect those words had on me.

So I left the vet check feeling pretty darn good. Now we were on the trail by ourselves again. Jim was going along, but he was now on a section he hadn’t done before and he didn’t like it. He did a pretty impressive Western Pleasure Jog, complete with head down sniffing for ‘his people’ that he had gone into Francisco’s with. I didn’t know we had left before them. We had 3 riders come up and we all trotted along then he pulled off to go pee. He had no interest in catching back up to those riders, he didn’t want NEW people, he wanted HIS people. So we rode into Lower Quarry by ourselves.

At Lower Quarry I had a real scare because I had to represent him. He had intermittent lameness on left front. It went away when he trotted faster than his newly loved gait ‘The Western Jog’. So we continued on. I was pretty darn paranoid at this point. Who needs caffeine when I have been chasing cut offs all day and NOW a vet saw an intermittent lameness. My crew is at No Hands and I guess I acted a little zombie-like and scared them, but my mind was so focused on Jim. At Robie Point I got off and walked all the way down until it started climbing again. NOW Jim’s people are passing him, and he isn’t happy about that. I tried to get on and couldn’t because he was jigging and I had forgotten to tighten my cinch when I had mounted at Lower Quarry. I don’t know how I had ridden with it so loose. So I got it tightened and got back on. I had people ask if I wanted them wait while I mounted and I told them no. How nice was that! Very nice! I walked him in most of the way and we crossed the finish line at 4:59.

At the stadium again he had to be trotted out twice. While doing the second trot out I thought to myself that I was so proud of this horse, and that I didn’t even care if we were pulled. He was amazing and we did the ride. I got back to the Vets and they looked at each other, smiled, and told me congratulations. I about passed out. My big old 15.3HH Mustang finished the ride. The feeling that comes over a person when they see a horse give that much is unexplainable. He just kept going. What is even more amazing is that when Gina pulled his shoes, he had an olive sized rock in his left front foot. It was embedded in the middle of his frog. That tough, tough horse continued on with that rock in his foot.

That ride is so interesting. I think some people do it and never care to see the trail again. Me, I was planning next year on the drive home. If that ride gets stuck in your head, I think it gets pretty cemented in. I have finally stopped dreaming that I am on the trail. I would wake up and wonder which check point my bedroom was at.

On one side I hope I forget this desire to go back to Tevis. On the other side I never want to forget this ride. I want to again experience every section, every check point, and every rock on this amazing trail.

Stacy and Jim’s Training Strategies On the Road to Tevis

Stacy Motschenbacher riding Coyote Jim, her Mustang gelding. To her left is Gina Rice, riding Biscuit. These two teams are both training for Tevis and sponsored by Aciton Rider Tack and Toklat, Inc.
Stacy Motschenbacher riding Coyote Jim, her Mustang gelding. To her left is Gina Rice, riding Biscuit. These two teams are both training for Tevis and sponsored by Action Rider Tack and Toklat, Inc.


Action Rider Tack and Toklat, Inc., are sponsoring Stacy Motschenbacher and her 10-year-old Mustang gelding, Coyote Jim, who are on their way to the 2015 Tevis Cup. On June 15, 2015, they participated in the Limestone Challenge near Selma, Oregon, as part of their preparation to ride the Tevis Cup, the 100-mile endurance ride.

Stacy’s comments, “The Limestone Challenge was a great 50-mile training ride. The elevation profile showed that in 50 miles, the trail went up 10,000 feet. Tevis goes up 19,000 feet in 100 miles, so this really was a good example of what that kind of elevation change looks like.”

“Jim did well,” continues Stacy. “Only comment the veterinarian at the vet check, Dr. Benson, said was he could lose a little weight! Sheesh, never had a horse that I have ridden this hard that needed to be on a constant diet!”

“I think what will be much harder about Tevis is that the trail itself is harder and the heat will be over 20 degrees hotter during the day. Plus add the stress of 200 riders at the start. Plus hour after hour of riding takes its toll. Problems that you can get away with on a 50-mile ride start to become an issue with longer miles.”

“Next on my training schedule is a ride in the heat with Gina Rice, also sponsored by Action Rider Tack and Toklat, Inc, on their rode to Tevis. I will also go to The Tevis Educational Ride, to get some tips from others who have ridden it before.”

“I am trying to give Jim some time off, but we really do need to do some rides in the heat. After the Tevis Educational ride, which will be two tough days of riding, I will be doing more heat training, while trying not to over ride him.”

February Action Rider of the Month – Patty Surowski

Patty Surowski knows the entire life history of her mare, Finnagan. It is interesting to see the “before” photo of Finnagan when she was a filly, and the “after” photo of Finnagan as a mature riding horse.

Finnagan as a young adorable filly.
Finnagan as a young adorable filly.

“The first picture is of my horse, Finnagan, as a baby,” explains Patty. “I didn’t own her then, my friend Mary McGinty, an endurance rider, did. My friend, Julie, also an endurance rider, named my little girl and provided me with the photo. I bought Finnagan in September of 2013 as a three-year-old from Mary. She’s now four and a half and looks very grown up.”


“Finnagan went to boarding school this past fall to learn how to carry herself, yield to the bit and obey the aids at Madrone Hill Ranch with Sonja Biada, a dressage trainer and rider. The other picture is of us in a lesson/training session from October 2014.”

Patty Surowski riding Finnagan.
Patty Surowski riding Finnagan, moving nicely forward and stretching to the bridle.

“Finnagan has turned out to be a lovely young lady. She returned from boarding school at the end of November. We have been working on trail riding and long slow distance rides in preparation for our 2016 endurance season. She has been a very brave girl on trail and a pleasure to ride. I bought my first treeless saddle years ago and have put 1000’s of miles on it. It is my go-to saddle and fits every horse I ride. I love treeless!”

The Most Valuable Gift to Your Horse


It’s a brand New Year! It’s the perfect opportunity to make changes that will improve your riding and your horse’s behaviors and training.

We would like to say we have the answer by selling you a product. But you already possess what you need to improve yourself and your horse. It’s the most precious and valuable commodity. You guessed it – it’s your TIME.

As much as we hate to admit it, we all know you can’t buy your way into riding effectively. You have to put the time in the saddle. There are no shortcuts. There are helpful exercises that you can do from the ground, in the round pen and on a lunge line, and these do transfer over to gaining respect and teaching some movements and behaviors. But there is no substitute for saddle time. The old cowboys had it right. If you want to ride well, you need wet saddle pads.

This is not to discount the benefits from just being around your horse. Grooming your horse gives you time to observe, bond, check for scrapes, soreness, and just assess his mood on a particular day. Lunging or round pen work can check his attitude, energy level, soundness and willingness. And yet, you just don’t know what’s what until you get on and check the steering, brakes and gas pedal.

So for 2015, make a commitment to regular, consistent saddle time. Team up with a friend and ride together. Who knows how far it will take you? I do know – you’ll enjoy the ride.

Winter Riding and Keeping Your Legs Warm

Recently, on our Facebook page, a question was asked about riding in the windpro_bootwinter.

Christine: If you’re used to riding in jeans and want to give riding breeches a try, is there a way to use breeches in the winter to stay warm?


Angie: Depends on where you live Christine. If it’s not too cold, like under 30 degree’s, I’d wear the Irideon Wind Pro 3 Seasons but if it’s under 30, I’d go for the Kerrits Sit Tight and Warm. Tropical Riders Toasties are nice too, but not sold at ART ;)

BTW – Tropical Riders Toasties can be found and purchased at http://tropicalrider.com/home.asp. Also, the Kerrits Sit Tight N’ Warm is also available with a knee patch.

Candy: Hi Christine – Riding in winter can be hard because it is so cold but Irideon and Kerrit’s have solved that problem with some wonderful winter riding wear. Kerrit introduced the new RideOutSide pant and jacket this season and Irideon has the ever wonderful Windpro pant and jacket. This riding wear is both windproof and rainproof. Both Kerrits and Irideon also offer wonderful polarfleece pants that are cozy and comfortable. Here is the link for the riding pants to see these options: http://www.actionridertack.com/c-10-rider-apparel-gear.aspx

While on the website, feel free to check out our other winter riding wear – sweaters, coats, etc.

Have fun. For me it is difficult to get out there but once up on my horse it’s heaven no matter the temperature.

Do you have any suggestions for gearing up to ride in the winter weather?


Mount Your Horse From the Left?

Remember back to when you first learned to ride. Were you taught to mount from the left? Do you know why?

Mounting a horse from the left is a long-standing tradition rooted in our history of war and the use of horses in combat. Mounted soldiers would wear swords on their left side, so in order to protect their horses’ backs, they would mount from the left.

Did you know that? I just learned it myself! But we’re not going to war, we’re trail riding!

Now, if you’ve been trail riding for a while, you’ve no doubt come across obstacles where you have had to get off of your horse and perhaps come into a situation where mounting your horse from the left was not an attractive option (especially when there’s a cliff, mud, brush or other hazard preventing you).

In addition to allowing your horse to be more accommodating to your mounting from the opposite side, alternating sides also enhances your horse’s ability to build muscle more equally across his/her spine.

If you have not ever mounted your horse from the right, getting you and your horse used to the idea before finding yourself in an awkward situation would be beneficial to both of you. Think about it…if you’re right handed, have you ever tried to brush your teeth with your left? Of course, it’s possible, but it’s awkward, not nearly as effective and I usually end up with toothpaste on my hand (looking more like a rabid dog than a person brushing their teeth).

So, start making it a habit of switching sides when mounting. You’ll both be happier when you have to mount near a trail hazard and it won’t matter which side it’s on!

Do you have any stories you could share about mounting adventures?

Courtesy of The Winged Pony of Wisdom