Celebrating Hope and Horses!

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breast-cancer-awarenessHorses inspire us in so many ways! For some, they’re a regular source of strength and hope. For others, they’re an unexpected inspiration throughout a particularly rough time. In honor of hope throughout Breast Cancer Awareness month, we’re encouraging you to help pass hope along to those who need it most!

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Send in a story of how your horse helped you find hope in a difficult time. Include your name and email for contact information, as we will be picking a random entry each week to receive a $25 Action Rider Tack gift card and a special gift bagto spoil your horse!

Visit our blog to keep up on stories and photo entries. Send all entries to sales@actionridertack.com  – your story could help to inspire someone in need of a little hope!

Return to Action Rider Tack main site.

Read Entries Below:


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“This was his first trip to the beach. He wasn’t crazy about the surf, but he took good care of me nonetheless – as always.”

“I have been undergoing some medical issues the past 3 years that have left me discouraged and depressed. Throughout all of it, my Icelandic horses, Geisli, has been there for me during the toughest times and the lighter times with no thought of judgement.

It has given me hope that, with his steady presence, I will be healed. I think that all of us who share our lives with horses can feel the hope through our relationship with our equine partners, if we only give them a chance. This was his first trip to the beach. He wasn’t crazy about the surf, but he took good care of me nonetheless – as always”.

-Anonymous


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“Billy” the Haflinger – saves the day!

“I am writing to tell you about my Haflinger, Billy. He helped me write my English dissertation –

I was stuck for an idea, and spending time with him made me realize I could write about horses! I passed with flying colors, and he has a home for life with his mommy!”

-Anonymous


“I wanted to share my story of a couple rescue horses that have changed our lives forever.

My adopted daughter Katie came from social services in Tennessee. In Tennessee, once a foster child turns 17 they are dropped off at the local homeless shelter. I had only met Katie one time, and agreed to go to a meeting with her case worker. I called my husband when I saw the conditions they were going to leave her in – she was still in high school with no way to even get there. Needless to say, I brought her home.

The case worker tried to hand me her [very thick] file, stating she had “behavioral issues”. I said “no, this is her opportunity to start fresh with a family“. I put Katie in the car, and told her the same thing. I told her she has a chance to start fresh. I agreed if she finished school and kept her “behavioral issues” to a minimum, we would eventually get her a horse, as she knew I was into horses.

Katie completed her junior and senior year of high school at the same time – at the top of her class. She is a wonderful young lady that just needed a chance!

On to the horses:
This last year we rescued 2 yearlings from slaughter off the range. Katie has since found her 2 best friends. She has learned about responsibilities and how to live and care for beautiful, loving, creatures. She spends everyday with the babies. When she is having a rough day, she sits with them.

The question is: ” Who rescued who”?

The babies – Patience and Maizie, have helped Katie with a lot of sadness from her past. They know when she is having a rough day and demand her attention. She does all the ground work under my direction, and she cares for them everyday – for hours.

Point of the story:
Who really rescued who? These horses have been such an inspiration for her, and it heals her heart. I wanted to share our story of a girl that was told she had no hope, rescuing these 2 yearlings who also had no hope; becoming the best of friends, and a team of healers.

Horses are wonderful healers who love you for WHO you are not WHAT you are or what you have. They will be with us for the rest of their lives as well as Katie, my daughter, will be apart of ours.”

-Anonymous 


Beyond Endurance

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Sandy Cheek – riding, enduring, and surviving

“It was the fall of 1996. I had just bought my very own house. I had a new love in my life. I was finishing up a successful season of endurance with my horse and in general, loving life.

“My then boyfriend Guy (now husband) was snuggling on the couch with me. He found it first. I froze when I felt the lump in my breast. My mom had died of cancer ten year prior, and watching it had made me very, very afraid. I tried to be calm and not over-react and made an appointment the next day for a mammogram.

When I got the call from the lab, I dropped the phone as my knees buckled. I got to feel what abject terror felt like. I’m here to say you do come out of it, but while you’re in that hell, it’s a lonely and dark place.

The usual procedures. Consults. More mammograms. More tests. Surgery scheduled. Follow up radiation therapy. Blah, blah, blah. All the while, the abject terror hovered around me, over me, in me.

Eight weeks of radiation therapy, everyone will tell you, is cumulative. What that means is you feel fine—for a while. Then you don’t feel so fine; you feel….tired. Very tired. And kind of sick. And at the age I was—45—it was terrifying to feel so old, so weak, so vulnerable…so defeated.

Eight weeks of daily visits to a hospital. Eight weeks of being put in a cold, silent room, with people talking to you over an intercom because they don’t want to get hit with the same things hitting your body. Eight weeks of trying to keep abject terror from consuming you. Eight weeks of just trying to get by. To endure.

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I did it. Thanks to friends and family and a supportive work place, I did it. But the strength, the stamina, the ability to just put my head down and keep going? I owe that to endurance riding. I owe those 100 mile rides in the middle of the night when you don’t know where the heck the trail is and you’re beyond exhausted—and you keep going. I owe those days of being with my horse and my horse alone, trotting along for hours and hours, and feeling his strength and stamina and willingness to just-keep-going-no-matter-what. I owe it to remembering how bloody good that finish line feels like, when you’re done, and you can hug your horse and your friends and your spouse and know you’ve accomplished something really really big. Without endurance, I would have never known what it means to truly endure.

And damn it, I had to learn it all over again, ten years later. Another diagnosis of breast cancer. Same routine. But this time, it was just a tiny bit easier. I knew the drill, and I knew—I really knew—I could endure. I AM a survivor. AND I thrive.

-Sandy Cheek, Survivor 

[Congratulations, Sandy! Our first winning random-pick of the month!]


horses-and-hope-2“My story isn’t something extravagant, but for me personally, horses provide a daily dose of happiness and hope for a brighter day. I went through an abusive marriage and after getting out of it I’d lost most joy in my life. I had grown up with horses as a child and remembered the close bond I’d shared with them.

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So, when an opportunity presented itself to ride in exchange for mucking stalls, I jumped at the chance. My oldest daughter and I did it together and I was able to share this love of horses with her. After some time I realized this was something I’d missed tremendously, and I then bought a horse to share with my kids and from that time forth we have been a horse crazy family.

I believe they are truly therapy for the soul and just having the chance to spend time with them is joyous beyond measure! I believe we are able to overcome anything and we just have to look inside ourselves to find the strength to get through it!”

-Anonymous 


jenemoseley-raffi“I’m a senior citizen who grew up during WWII. As the only child of two alcoholic parents, my childhood was somewhat erratic. To escape the drunkenness, rowdy parties and loud fighting, I would sneak out of the house at night and race away on my horse – often stopping to fall asleep under a tree, far from home.

My parents are long since deceased and I’ve gotten past much of the trauma of those days, but horses are still a source of comfort and joy for me, a reminder of just how much healing peace they can bring a stressed out human being, of any age.”
-Anonymous


horses-and-hope“I rescued Sage when she was a  yearling – Found her abandoned in a field, starving and sick. She was my best friend from the start.

We learned together, from ground work right on up to trail riding the most rugged terrain Vancouver Island has to offer. She has seen me through divorce, depression, to finding myself again. She is my Heart Horse in every way, and I cannot imagine where I would be today without her solid grace to guide me.”

-Anonymous


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Action Rider of the Month – Linda Riley

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Linda Riley and Squire. Photo credit: Larissa Allen Photography

Linda Riley’s Arabian gelding is a great example of the versatility of the Arabian breed. She has adjusted her goals and activities to what was best for her horse, and fortunately he was a willing partner to her many fun adventures.

Linda explains, “Squire has been with me since 2001. His registered name is Canterbury’s Squire. He is a purebred Arabian gelding that was born in 2000. I am a young 63 years old and have been riding since I was 6 years old.

“We started out with the intentions of Squire following in the hoof prints of my last half-Arabian and become a Hunter/Jumper. It was not to be. At two years old, Squire ended up having surgery on his hocks from growing too fast. We instead decided to pursue the avenue of parades, drill team, and trail rides.

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Linda Riley and Squire on parade. Photo credit: Larissa Allen

“The Red Hats and Purple Chaps provided the ideal opportunities for that. Squire was on their original drill team and performed at the Kentucky Horse Park and many other venues during his Drill Team career. He also paraded with the Red Hats and Purple Chaps group in a number of parades including the Pegasus Parade in Kentucky and the Chicago McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

“In 2009, right before one of the big parades, Squire was diagnosed with Neurosarcoma Cancer. He underwent surgery and chemo treatment for this and has, so far, been a cancer survivor.

“We decided to settle our lives down and joined The American Competitive Trail Horse Association. This was the opportunity to compete on six miles or so of trails with judged obstacles about every mile. We earned points to qualify for certain prizes, but unfortunately, I had an accident with my shoulder that side lined that goal.

“Currently, after a couple of years of surgeries and physical therapy, Squire and I are going to just enjoy some peaceful trail riding. Thanks to Action Rider Tack we have a very comfortable saddle to do this in. Great tack that is a breeze to keep clean, and clothes from them that keep me comfy too. We might change the way we ride, but hopefully we will continue to ride until we cross that rainbow bridge.”

Are Your Reins Too Long?

We recently had a customer call to say they didn’t like the E-Z Ride Stirrups with Cage. The E-Z Ride Stirrups with Cage have been on the market for quite some time with lots of happy customers, and are designed so the rider’s foot cannot slide all the way through the stirrup, and it is considered a safety stirrup. So I asked, “Why don’t you like them?”

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E-Z Ride Stirrup with Cage

The rider had a very good reason. Her horse turned its head around and was biting at the stirrup – no idea why. While biting the stirrup, the horse actually got his teeth caught on the cage! After he ran sideways for a bit, he stopped and let his rider disengage his teeth from the cage. No one was hurt. Whew!

Safety has to be the number one priority with horses. It’s important to develop safe habits while riding and being around horses. We sometimes become a little careless, or I should say carefree, when we ride our horses. We know them, we trust them, and we know what they can handle. However, the Martians can still land – unpredictably. And when they do, train wrecks can happen.

I have ridden with trail riders who give their horses a long rein, and allow them to move their heads from side to side looking at the scenery. I’ve heard the term “wag” their heads for this behavior. While this is ok on a limited basis, basically, I feel a horse should keep its head straight and look in the direction of movement at all times. This might require continuing to correct the head position by returning it to straight ahead repetitively, but it is safer in my opinion.  It results in less tripping, and the horse can see what’s ahead, and perhaps avoid a surprise. It’s also a better way to cover the ground. A horse that is made to travel straight will stay in forward motion with less energy, it’s just more efficient.

 

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Riding with the slack out of the reins, keeping your horse’s head straight can prevent mishaps out on trail.

This horse that turned his head around to grab the stirrup had too much freedom and the reins were most likely too long. I’ve never heard of a horse getting his teeth caught on the stirrup, but I have heard of a horse catching the bit on the stirrup or other part of the saddle. This can also result in a serious train wreck. And it’s avoidable by not letting the head get turned that far around.

While we are discussing the head having too much freedom, a long length of rein also can allow the horse to grab bites of grass as you go down the trail. Then it can get out of hand as the horse is constantly reaching for the grass, stopping forward motion, and yanking the reins out of your hands at times. Too long of reins can also make it more difficult to stop a spook. When you have a proper rein length, you can often stop the spook just by re-establishing contact quickly, and preventing a 180-degree spin of a badly spooked horse.

In short, (pun intended) -keep the reins at a reasonable length. It’s a habit that can prevent an unpredictable mishap.

Are Treeless Saddles Permitted in USDF/USEF Recognized Shows?

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Treeless Dressage Saddles, like this Barefoot Lexington Treeless Dressage Saddle, are permitted in USDF recognized dressage shows and are comfy for trail riding.

The United States Equestrian Federation, USEF, is the ruling organization for the United States Dressage Federation, USDF, recognized dressage shows across the United States. We asked Hannah Niebielski, the Director of Dressage of the United States Equestrian Federation if treeless saddles were permissible in USDF/USEF recognized dressage shows. Here is her answer:

“Dear Action Rider Tack,

“Per DR121.1, An English type saddle with stirrups is compulsory for all tests and classes other than FEI tests. Stirrups must have closed branches.

“An English type saddle may be constructed with or without a tree but cannot have a horn, swell, gallerie, or open gullet. Australian, Baroque, Endurance, McClellan, Spanish, Stock, or Western saddles are not permitted nor are modified versions of these saddles (exception: competitors with a current approved Federation Dispensation Certificate). A Dressage saddle which must be close to the horse and have long, near-vertical flaps and stirrups is compulsory for FEI tests.”

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Freeform Treeless Elite Dressage Saddle
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Barefoot London Dressage Saddle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The saddles pictured appear to be permissible at USDF/USEF Dressage Competitions.”  – Thanks Hanna! So dressage riders who love treeless saddles – trot on down the center line and salute!

 

Action Rider of the Month – Jody Gular

Jody Gular owns two gorgeous Arabians and recently added a rescue Shetland pony to her herd. She lives on three lovely acres with her husband in Houston, Texas.

Jody comments, “I feel like I’m living the dream!”

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Jody Gular riding on her acreage in Texas.

“My elder Arabian mare, Dallas, a former endurance horse, is now 30 years old, and teaching my grand kids how to ride. I discovered Barefoot Treeless Saddles back in 2008 while trying to find a saddle that would fit her aging top line.

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Jodu Gular and her bay Arabian

“I ordered the Barefoot Atlanta for its good looks, comfort, and fit. Her top line actually improved with the new anatomically correct fit. We still hit the trails together, and Dallas has a steady stream of young girls in her fan club who love to exercise her for me.

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Jody’s Arabians introducing the next  generation to riding.

“The Barefoot saddle works on both of my Arabians as I can change out the pommel when my wider, flat backed Arabian, Fancy, uses it.

“I enjoy trail riding, and playing with my horses using the Parelli method of natural horsemanship.”

Action Rider of the Month – Trish Terry

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Trish Terry on a trail ride with her mustang mare, Star.

Trish Terry is married with four kids and lives in Brighton, Colorado. Her horses are kept at her home. She works for the City of Boulder full-time,  and also has her own business called 100% Mohair Horse Tack, where she hand makes custom mohair western cinches, English girths, and breast collars. All of that keeps her busy, but she makes the time to go out on trail rides every weekend. She rides in the surrounding areas of Boulder, Lafayette, Louisville, and Adams County. Colorado offers many beautiful places to ride that are horse friendly, so Trish never runs out of new adventures.

Star is Trish’s 11-year-old domestic mustang mare that has been part of her family for the past six years.  

“Star is an amazing trail horse and she has a silly pony type personality. I ride her in my Barefoot Cheyenne with an upgraded sheepskin seat, and a bitless bridle. TrishSlingwineSmithTerry,Star,BFCheyenneShe is also barefoot herself, because I try to keep my horses as natural as possible, and I use the kindest tack I can.  No bits for me, and definitely no treed saddles, and mohair all the way.

“She was a very hard horse to fit in a treed saddle, due to her barrel shape. Star is 15 hands and 1,250 lbs, and quite the easy keeper. I tried a variety of treed saddles, which she always balked at, until I finally went treeless. The Barefoot is actually my first new saddle ever! I just love it. I can mount from the ground, it doesn’t slip, and it is the most comfortable saddle I have ever used. I use a Diamond wool pad with cut out spine with it too.”

Trish continues, “Our older mare, Silky, was 38 and she just passed away last November. So we recently acquired a two-year-old black and white pinto filly named Indie. TrishTerryShortyBFCheyenneShe is in the training process right now, being ponied and saddled, and one day she will wear a Barefoot Treeless saddle too!

Action Rider of the Month – Melissa Vesterholm

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Melissa Vesterholm riding Isaiah Callaway, a Welsh Cob gelding.

Melissa Vesterholm lives and rides in Denmark. She has ridden and trained Isaiah Callaway, a six-year-old Section C Welsh Pony gelding. The Welsh Pony of Cob Type, Section C, is the stronger counterpart of the Welsh Pony, but with Cob blood. These ponies are surefooted and hardy, and used for many purposes.

Melissa is part of Russ-park.dk, a sports team in Denmark, where they train medium-size ponies for Tour-riding and Monté-riding, Trotting, Easy Dressage and Carriage Driving trials.

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Isaiah Callaway has a huge trot stride.

Melissa states, “Our latest star, Isaiah Callaway, has won ten out of fourteen starts in Pony-Monté in Denmark in 2015. Isaiah Callaway also received the award as “The Monté Pony of the Year 2015” for his outstanding achievements at the racetracks.”

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Melissa is also training several ponies for other people and chairs two clinics for disabled riders per week, where the students ride Icelandic horses.

Melissa explains, “Our ponies are all living barefoot with strong hooves and they are roaming around in Paddock Paradise the whole year in all kinds of weather. If necessary, we use Easyboot Gloves on the ponies hooves on long endurance rides.

“We coach our ponies in natural horsemanship with mutual respect and love. Therefore, they always are in top mental and physical form, but as we all know, summer and winter coats change a pony’s body shape.

“Therefore we searched, about 7 years ago, for a good treeless saddle for general purpose, and after many tests we chose the Barefoot Cheyenne Treeless Saddle, which we believe is a very good all-around saddle.

“Recently, we purchased the lightweight Barefoot Cheyenne model in the Dry Tex version, for which we are very happy, because it is a sturdy saddle in all kinds of weather conditions and has a safe seat for both beginners and experienced riders.

“In Denmark we have no tradition to use western fenders, but the Barefoot Cheyenne Saddle is also excellent with classic stirrups. Anyway, we are considering buying the new fenders with knee support to our Barefoot Cheyenne Saddle, which may give the rider more support for terrain riding and jumping.

“We have never had “saddle problems” since we went over to Barefoot Cheyenne Treeless Saddles.”