Friday, March 31, 2017

2017 Road to The Horse

Just in case you haven't heard about Road to The Horse (RTH), it is a colt starting competition were chosen clinicians or trainers select a ranch bred 3 year old, and start that horse in front of a large live viewing audience.

Called the World Series of Colt Starting, this event started in 2003 and is unique as the horses are started, and taken to where they can be ridden in an obstacle course in just a few hours spread over a couple days.

Past winners include many of the top hands whose names should be familiar: Clinton Anderson (2 wins), Stacy Westfall, Chris Cox (3 wins), Richard Winters, Craig Cameron, Guy McLean (2) & Dan James, Jim Anderson, and Nick Dowers.

The 2017 RTH event was dedicated to the Cowgirl therefore all four competitors were ladies - Sarah Dawson (daughter of Richard Winters), Kate Neubert (daughter of Bryan Neubert), Rachelle Valentine and Vicki Wilson. Barbara Cox, wife of Chris Cox, was chosen to participate but could not due to back surgery. We wish her a speedy and successful recovery.

Vicki Wilson, who is from New Zealand and a English and show jumper rider, selected Boon River Lad, and won the 2017 title. That's a picture of her at top right - courtesy of Road to the Horse. See the picture at left of her riding Boon River Lad through the obstacle course - photo from the Wilson Sisters.

She won even after suffering a shoulder dislocation in the first round. Putting that injury behind herself is not surprising coming from a trio of sisters (Kelly and Amanda) who are apparently well known for their work with New Zealand's Wild Horses, the Kaimanawas, as well as Australian Brumbies. You can find out more about these ladies at The Wilson Sisters - New Zealand

And, Kate Neubert won the Jack Brainard Horsemanship Award.

For more 2017 RTH photos go to: Road To The Horse Photos 2017

If you missed the event in person or the live broadcast, RFD Television may produce a televisied version or you can go to the Road to the Horse website and order the DVD.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Peter Campbell, Horseman and Clinician - Rest in Peace

My wife just told me last night that Peter Campbell had passed away, 22 March 2017. While we had never met Peter Campbell, it greatly saddened us none the less, for his families loss, as well as for students of the horse who will no longer have him in the flesh to teach.

Peter Campbell was known for his quote: “There are a million different ways to work a horse. For me, there’s only one right way, work from where the horse is at.”

He wrote a book, called "Willing Partners - Insight on Stockmanship", in which he writes about his journey as a horseman, insights gained from Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt, and all the lessons Peter has learned. Really a valuable and easy read, everyone should get this book. It's available on Eclectic Horseman's site or through Peter Campbell Horsemanship.

Mr. Campbell produced a series of DVD's as well: Colt Starting (First Touch, Ground work and Saddling, First Ride; Horsemanship - Everyday Basic; Trailer Loading; Cow Working; and Ranch Roping - Beginning/Intermediate and Intermediate/Advanced. These videos are available from Eclectic Horseman as well as from Carlos Macias at Buckaroo

Western Horseman magazine and Eclectic Horseman Magazine's Horseman's Gazette DVD servies has featured Peter Campbell. I enjoyed reading what he had to say and watching him work a horse on a video. I think most everyone else would too.

God Bless you Peter Campbell - hope you find some good horses.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Texas Panhandle Fires

The Dallas Morning News reported on Sunday 12 March that Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared six Texas Panhandle counties disaster areas after deadly wildfires there burning significant areas of Gray, Hemphill, Lipscomb, Ochiltree, Roberts and Wheeler counties.

The following information was obtained from 

Four people have died in the wildfires, including three ranch hands — Cody Crockett, Sloan Everett and Sydney Wallace — who were trying to save cattle from the approaching flames Monday. Officials say wildfires burned an estimated 750 square miles in Texas, displacing about 10,000 cattle and horses. This is the beginning of calving season and the fire, smoke and destroyed grass threatened not only newborn calves but the ability of calve to suckle as well as the mother cows to produce milk. The extent of damage, from burns to smoke inhalation, to surviving cattle won't be known for some time.

Abbott on Thursday suspended some permit requirements and transportation restrictions so hay for livestock could more quickly reach ranches. Ranchers and state agriculture officials are working to provide feed and other supplies for approximately 10,000 horses and cattle that fled the fires. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, which is helping organize donations of supplies, said that about 4,200 bales of hay would be needed during the next two weeks as ranchers recover from the fires.

The biggest wildlands fire I ever worked was just over 5,000 acres. With three BLM Cowboys, two of us Range Riders and one two man brush fire truck, we were having a hard time getting it under control and establishing a wet line around the perimeter until a U.S. Forest Service Hot Shot crew arrived. Looking at the rolling hills off on the horizon through the smoke and haze it was incredible to see a snaking line of about 20 first class firefighters class in their distinctive yellow coats approaching the northern end of our fire and breaking off into two teams to tackle the leading edge of the fire. It's important to get these fires out just as quick as you can, as high winds can push these Wildlands fires across wide dirt roads burning up section after section of grazing land and in some cases threatening or killing horses and cattle as well as the people who are trying to save them.

If you would like to donate to help the families devastated by the fires you can get information on the Panhandle Wildfire Relief Fund at the Texas Farm Bureau site.  An update from yesterday, 13 March 2017, say's Livestock Supply Points ask everyone to help get the word out that hay supplies are adequate and they are only taking names of donor contacts in case there is an surge in need in the days to come. Fencing material and financial support were the next important need or hardship they face.  They can always use money!

For general questions about donation or needs, you can call: 806-677-5628, otherwise you can go to the Panhandle Wildfire Relief Fund at the Texas Farm Bureau site and donate via the PayPal ink or get an address for donations by check.

Friday, March 10, 2017

New Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, Rides to Work on Day One

Largely from an article posted by CNBC. Well, that's one way to make an entrance. On his first day as Interior secretary, Ryan Zinke rode a horse to work. While wearing a hat. With an escort from the United States Park Police. According to the Interior Department, his ride took place from the National Mall, where the National Park Service has stables, to the Interior Department's main building, located just off the Mall. He was then greeted by more than 350 federal employees. There, a veterans song was played on a hand drum by a Bureau of Indian Affairs employee, who is from Montana's Northern Cheyenne tribe.

Also part of the welcome, former acting Interior secretary Jack Haugrud, greeted Zinke on the steps. Zinke accepted an invitation from the Park Police to "stand should-to-shoulder with their officers on his first day at Interior, the eve of the Department's anniversary," Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said. Zinke, who previously served in the U.S. House and as a Montana state senator, was confirmed by the Senate as Interior secretary on Wednesday. As a fifth-generation Montanan, born in Bozeman and raised in Whitefish, who is also the first person from the state to serve on a presidential cabinet, perhaps it should be no surprise that he's starting off his time at Interior in such a manner.

Zinke was a US Navy SEAL from 1986 until 2008, and retired with the rank of Commander. As a Navy SEAL, Zinke earned two Bronze Stars for meritorious service in a combat zone, four Meritorious Service Medals, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, and an Army Commendation Medal. He was the first Navy SEAL to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he served as a member on the Natural Resources Committee and the Armed Services Committee. As a member of Congress, Zinke supported the use of troops in the Middle East and has fought against the Affordable Care Act and environmental regulation.

President Trump nominated Zinke to be his Secretary of the Interior. Part of that selection has to be due to Zinke breaking with most Republicans on the issue of transfers of federal lands to the states, calling such proposals "extreme" and voting against them. In July 2016, Zinke withdrew as a delegate to the Republican nominating convention in protest of a plank in the party's draft platform which would require that "certain" public lands be transferred to state control. Zinke said that he endorses "better management of federal land" rather than transfer.

On Feb 28th, 2017, Trump issued an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers to rely on a 2006 opinion from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for guidance on how to determine which waterways fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the legislation under which the waters of the U.S. rule was issued. The Clean Water Act was intended to prohibit polluting discharges into the nation’s “navigable waters”, and says that the EPA can regulate “navigable waters” -- meaning waters that truly affect interstate commerce. But a few years ago, the EPA decided that “navigable waters” can mean nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer's land, giving them statutory authority to punish farmers and ranchers from collecting rain water run off, repairing or improving dirt stock tanks, and the like. In fact, in one case in a Wyoming, a rancher was fined $37,000 a day by the EPA for digging a small watering hole for his cattle.

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers lost several court cases over their zealous enforcement of their interpretation of the CWA regulation. Part of what kept the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers going back at farmers and ranchers was that there is no punishment or penalties for losing in court. Some of the EPA regulations over challenging the agencies decision relating to fining you for your stock tanks repairs or rain run off diversion was heavy application fees, long wait times all while your fines compounded.

I don't much like the idea of the Federal Government owning a high percentage of western lands but I am likely more in the Zinke camp as to not being a fan of releasing that land to the states,...just desire better management and much fairer treatment to the farmers and ranchers. I have faith in Secretary Zinke working with President Trump to curtail expansive Federal agency power and regulations and find a good balance between effective federal management and supporting freedom and property rights.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What Kind of Horseman Are You?

I have long recommended horse owners to subscribe to Eclectic Horseman (EH) magazine. Published six times a year by Emily Kitching and Steve Bell out of Elbert, Colorado, this magazine covers a wide breadth of disciplines and approaches. I offer a couple gift subscriptions in my annual Arena Obstacle Challenge. I am disappointed when riders sometimes choose hardware over the magazine. As John Lyons said, words to the effect anyway, "Buy knowledge before equipment." Not just knowledge in Eclectic Horseman magazine, but articles that will make you think. You may not agree with some of it, but again much of the content will make you think. Which brings me to the recent edition of EH, Issue No 93, January/February 2017.

One of the bigger articles in EH Issue No. 93 edition was titled - "Not 'Just Getting By': Mastery, and Why Few People Achieve It", by Deb Bennett, PhD. The Contributor bio of EH describes Deb Bennett as "she teaches unique anatomy and short courses and horsemanship clinics designed to be enjoyable to riders of all breeds and disciplines, and all levels of skill. International known for her scientific approach to conformation analysis, "Dr. Deb" has made a career out of conveying a kind of "X-ray" vision for bone structure to breeders and buyers. Her background helps her clearly explain how conformation relates to performance ability." Learn more at

Dr. Bennett's article pretty much challenges the reader to do some self introspection and see if they can find a description of themselves in the categories of riders she discusses, from people who ride for years and never get better, to the rider obsessed with getting better. On those who just aren't progressing, I know several people who would like to compete in the Arena Obstacle Challenges or events I go to, but after several years of riding and instruction they say they aren't ready. I say no time like the present and to treat the event like a training session which it is. After all, there are novice levels in about any local competition be it Western Shows or Dressage, Gymkhanas or Sorting. There are always people who will take the time necessary to make sure you are sacked out on what to do and are safe doing it. Of course, they will be people who like the idea of getting better much more than riding to get there.

She writes about competition and how some people, no matter how much they say they don't care about the results, just want to compete for the training value. Some of these will eventually get consumed by winning to the detriment of their horse.

I also liked, and found useful Deb Bennett's explanation of the learning or improvement plateaus which we all invariably face. In fact, I liked the article so much, well maybe like is not the right term, maybe 'found it educational' is a better way to describe it,...... anyway I'll be ordering extra copies of this EH issue so I can pass them out at the next event I host. There are other very good articles in this and other issues of EH as well - well worth the small subscription cost. And if you are a visual learner, Eclectic Horseman offers the EH Horseman's Gazette, which is a quarterly video with instruction from some of the best Horseman and Horsewomen in the country - also worth the nominal cost.