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Kristen Kovatch


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SmartPak: If Horses Could Text, Episodes 1 & 2

Sara and Sarah, our favorite SmartPakers, are BACK with a new video series that’s sure to become a classic. Introducing the first two episodes of “If Horses Could Text.”

I’ve definitely found myself wishing on more than one occasion that my horses could text (okay, maybe I’d settle just for speaking!) Wouldn’t it make life so much easier for checking up on them, making sure they’ve got everything they need, or asking them which foot hurts this time?

And then I watch these videos from SmartPak, featuring our favorite creative equestrian video stars Sara and Sarah, and I decide to be careful what I wish for.

Yep. Yep, I take it all back. Let’s never give horses the ability to text.

For more videos — both entertaining and educational — check out SmartPak’s YouTube channel!

Go SmartPak. Go Eventing!

While You Were Watching Badminton: HN’s Kentucky Derby Report

While it is a non-scientifically proven fact that nine out of 10 eventers don’t really give a crap about the Kentucky Derby, especially with Badminton happening simultaneously, we thought you guys might want to have at least a cursory understanding of what went down at Churchill Downs on Saturday. You know, so when non-horse people ask you what happened (because “you’re a jockey, right?”) you have a slightly more educated response than a cold, blank stare. 

Here’s Kristen Kovatch from EN’s sister site, Horse Nation, with a synopsis of the race. And if nothing else, you MUST read her post on this year’s conscientious Derby objector Thunder Snow, whom she argues is “the real hero of the Kentucky Derby and Equestrians everywhere.” 

From Kristen:

Always Dreaming, winner of the Florida Derby, took a clean trip on the rail to cruise to a sloppy but triumphant Kentucky Derby win at Churchill Downs on Saturday evening.

Despite the bright sun and warm temperatures today in Kentucky, the track at Churchill Downs was still sloppy thanks to drenching rains at the end of the week. With a full field of 20 horses with limited experience in the mud — only Classic Empire had ever won on a sloppy track, and many in the field hadn’t ever even run in those conditions — the Derby remained a wide-open race.

Almost right out of the gate, Thunder Snow, the Godolphin-bred colt who flew in just a week ago from Dubai, appeared to react strongly perhaps to the surface and went rank, bucking as his jockey pulled him up. He was held in the paddock as the race continued, with initial veterinary reports stating there was no indicator of any major injury. He walked back to the barn where he will continue to be monitored.

State of Honor set the pace early on while Always Dreaming took a space-saving route on the rail. Half a mile in, jockey John Velazquez moved Always Dreaming to the outside and took over the lead, soon threatened by Battle of Midway and Irish War Cry. Always Dreaming repelled the charge, and in the final stretch, with one last charge by Lookin At Lee, the Florida Derby winner dug deeper through the mud and cruised home to win by two and three-quarter lengths.

Always Dreaming was the 5/2 favorite, giving trainer Todd Pletcher his second Kentucky Derby win. The horse is owned in partnership by MeB Racing, Brooklyn Boyz Stable, Teresa Viola, St Elias, Siena Farm and West Point Thoroughbreds.

Complete results:

1: Always Dreaming
2. Lookin At Lee
3. Battle of Midway
4. Classic Empire
5. Practical Joke
6. Tapwrit
7. Gunnevera
8. McCraken
9. Gormley
10. Irish War Cry
11. Hence
12. Untrapped
13. Girvin
14. Patch
15. J Boys Echo
16. Sonneteer
17. Fast And Accurate
18. Irap
19. State of Honor
DNF: Thunder Snow

We’ll be eagerly anticipating the Preakness Stakes in just two weeks — after a grueling, sloppy Kentucky Derby, who will contest the second jewel of the Triple Crown? Fresh horses such as impressive Arkansas Derby runner-up Conquest Mo Money will be potentially racing, making for a fascinating brand-new field.

Best of HN: Here’s How to Actually Make a Unicorn Frappe

Unicorns are having a moment.

Seriously, every time you turn around, there’s some dewy-eyed glitter-pooping rainbow-shaded magical horselike creature with a horn on its forehead prancing around, whether it’s on the hipster kids’ ironic tee shirts or cute Pinterest dessert ideas or car decals. Anything that shimmers, comes in rainbow print with glitter or shifts metallic colors with the light is deemed to be “unicorn.”

I actually fielded my first request to attend a toddler’s birthday party with a horse in tow so he could have a horn glued to his head and be the resident unicorn. (We politely declined, with visions of the horse mowing down a group of small children before crashing through the cake table replaying over and over again in my head, my fear manifested in breathy, hysterical laughter over the phone. Horse owners, ye be warned.)

The latest buy-in on this unicorn trend, of course, is global hipster trendsetter Starbucks, famous for its expensive coffees (ironic, isn’t it, because no one requires coffee like horse people and no one has less expendable income on luxuries like fancy coffee like horse people). The luridly-hued “Unicorn Frappe” hit participating locations near you on Wednesday, and will be available through the 23rd.

Apparently it changes color, or something, and flavor, or something. Because #unicorns, or something.

But Starbucks, we in the horse world have seen unicorns. We’ve met unicorns. Perhaps we’re even lucky enough to own a unicorn. And we’re here to tell you, and the rest of the unicorn-loving hipster world who have appropriated our favorite mythical creature, that you guys have got it all wrong.

Our unicorns come in many shapes and sizes, any breed or color or height or age or level of beauty. Our unicorns might not have come with a very big price tag — if any price tag — but they are worth their weight in gold. Our unicorns have taught our newest lifelong equestrians how to ride; they’ve helped us recover our confidence after a bad fall. They do not have horns, but the biggest hearts.

The term “unicorn” is also used in the horse world to describe the world’s fanciest-moving 3′ packer with plenty of chrome, auto-changes and show experience, and costs $5,000, but we’re not talking about that kind of unicorn.

We’re talking about the everyday unicorns, the creatures that possess all the magical qualities you could desire in an animal, a creature of fantasy that every day we convince ourselves is just a lucky dream until we’re holding them in our arms, breathing in that sweet dusty smell, wrapping mane around our fingers, realizing all in one moment that unicorns are very much real and walk among us.

The author’s unicorn. Photo by Kristen Kovatch.

There is no glitter. There is dust, and manure, and plenty of muddy messes. There are no rainbows, but there is plenty of hard work and sweat. Unicorns come in ordinary colors, like bay and chestnut and sometimes, yes, an almost-iridescent gray that might glisten like polished pearl in certain lights — before they roll in the pasture and undo all of your hard work. Their magic is in the everyday moments, the soft touch of a muzzle or the gentle cadence of a balanced walk.

So, Starbucks, here’s a better recipe for a unicorn frappe:

  • One pound of patience — it goes a long way
  • A pinch or two of spirit, to rider’s taste
  • Four gently-rocking gaits, until you feel like you can fly
  • A velvety-soft muzzle that fits just right into your cupped hands for treats
  • Two ounces of stubbornness for a challenge
  • One shoulder to cry on
  • A dash of loose horse hair and dust, sprinkled over top

Blend well and serve in whatever receptacle seems appropriate — the 17-hand hunter, the 14-hand cow pony, the height-doesn’t-matter-nor-does-coat-color old school master. That’s how you make a unicorn.

Go hug your unicorns, and go riding.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Laine Ashker Ocala CCI2* Helmet Cam

Even Laine Ashker admits that this helmet cam is pointed a little low — but for a good idea of what she’s doing with her hands and exactly what it looks like to tackle a big cross country fence head-on, it’s actually a perfect perspective!

Go for a gallop under the Florida sun with Laine Ashker aboard Flagmount’s Spartan, a 2008 Irish Sport Horse co-owned by Laine and Tera Call. Spartan (and sometimes “Sparty”) is a rockstar cross-country mount with a great gallop, and you’ll be totally rocking and rolling with his stride as the video progresses.

We love helmet cam perspectives that show us how a rider prepares for each fence, as well as demonstrate the relationship between horse and rider when out cross country — there’s plenty of guidance from the rider, but just as much if not more praise for the horse for seeing them safely through.

Laine and Spartan conquered the Ocala International 3-Day Festival of Eventing’s CCI2* cross country with a double clear, making this a fun pair to watch.

Go Eventing!

The feeling you get when you watch your child ride.

It’s why we do what we do.

It is why we search high and low for the perfect childproof horse.  It is why we give up our Saturday afternoons to cheer them on at a horse show. It is why we spend hours getting stains out of their show clothes. It is why we teach them to hang a fan up on the stall in hot weather. It is why we make sure they learn to keep TWO full buckets of water in the stall. Here at Kentucky Performance Products it is why we developed Summer Games® Electrolyte that will keep the horses in your life hydrated and healthy.   It is why the horse that matter to you matters to us. Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? We are here to help. Contact us at 859-873-2974 or visit our website at

Best of HN: Let’s Discuss: Social Media and Horse Sales

As Facebook rolls out stricter adherence to its policy banning the sale of animals through sales groups, some horse traders are feeling the pinch. How much has our reliance on social media changed the horse sale scene? Horse Nation editor Kristen Kovatch gives the issue some thought. 

Social media has become our “everything” in this day and age — we share our life events, we keep in touch with distant friends and relatives (or, let’s be honest, just “like” posts and photos), we track our fitness. A large number of you will read this post because you saw the link on social media, be it Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest or others. And for lots of us in the equestrian world, social media has become the way we do business: we post horses for sale, we inquire about ads that interest us, we share our tack and equipment.

So when Facebook started strictly enforcing its “no sale of animals” policy in the past few days, many sellers were left feeling like their biggest resource for sharing horses for sale had suddenly slammed shut — though the policy had been in place for a long time, at least in regards to Facebook Marketplace. Marketplace is Facebook’s sales feature, allowing users to post items for sale in a group with a listed price; interested potential buyers can contact the seller directly via the ad. This feature was rolled out in October of 2016.

Marketplace has always prohibited the sale of animals within groups according to its Commerce Policy — however, the rule seemingly had not been enforced heavily, as equine sales groups have been helping facilitate connections between buyers and sellers for years. This week, however, sellers are met with messages such as the following when they attempt to post an ad:

Screen shot courtesy of Kait Schultz/Thunder Crest Performance Horses.

“I only post in horse sales groups,” describes Kait Schultz of Thunder Crest Performance Horses, who buys, trains and sells horses, specializing in off-track Thoroughbreds as well as warmbloods. “I always uncheck the ‘post to Marketplace’ option because it won’t let you post an ad, period, if you select that option. Some of my ads are still going through, but some are not, and I can’t figure out what the difference is between the groups where I’m posting.”

Screen shot courtesy of Kait Schultz/Thunder Crest Performance Horses.

It’s unclear why Facebook is suddenly cracking down on enforcing its policies when a thriving e-marketplace for horse sales has been helping connect buyers and sellers for years. Some animal rights activists are viewing this apparent change as a good thing, believing it will help reduce backyard breeders and puppy mills by taking away their sales space; horse traders are pushing back with online petitions with claims that losing their sales space will increase the dumping of horses at auctions. Both arguments seem specious, but the fact remains that this policy is affecting lots of horse owners, traders, breeders and even rescues seeking to adopt out their animals.

However, all of this discussion raises a key question: what did we do before Facebook?

Sure, having your social media and your horse shopping available through one app at your fingertips is certainly convenient, but before the advent of social marketing people still managed to buy and sell plenty of horses. Just how critical is having Facebook’s Marketplace service for horse sellers? The jury is still out.

“At this point, I use Facebook mostly for the ‘why hasn’t this horse already sold’ ads, for horses that I haven’t already placed through my connections and networking,” Schultz states. “On the other hand, Facebook helped me build that network in the first place.”

However, less than a decade ago, equine sales sites were the standard: “I sold one of my first OTTB projects from, and that ad brought traffic to my website where I soon sold a second horse thanks to a phone call,” Schultz adds. “Originally, when you started selling horses on Facebook, it seemed like buyers had some sort of agenda — I had a lot of people asking me ‘why is this horse for sale?’ and asking if I was just trying to ‘flip’ horses. Now, it’s totally the norm to list your sales on Facebook as a trainer.”

For professionals like Schultz who have built a network of connections with that intangible but extremely valuable word-of-mouth reputation that helps bridge more contacts, losing Facebook’s sales option may hinder their efforts. For other trainers trying to get their operations off the ground, a lack of social media marketplace may seriously hurt their business. Will we see a return to the equine sales sites? Or will Facebook relax its policies again?

Weigh in, readers — share your thoughts in the comments section!

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Tryon 2018 World Equestrian Games Trailer

Our friends at Horse Nation got the scoop on the schedule, venue, new logo and of course the adrenaline-pumping new trailer to get you amped up for the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina!

When news broke last July that Bromont in Quebec would no longer be hosting the 2018 World Equestrian Games, fans all over the world immediately began speculating (and, admittedly, maybe panicking a little) about who would be able to host the massive competition on such relatively short notice. When the dust settled after all of the negotiations, Tryon, North Carolina took over as the 2018 destination, September 11-23.

It’s no easy feat hosting the World Equestrian Games: not only does a facility need to be able to accommodate eight different disciplines in two weeks, including both competition and warm-up space, but stabling for hundreds of horses from all over the world with the surrounding infrastructure to house and feed the riders, grooms, coaches, various attaches as well as event staff and volunteers, judges and other officials. And we’re not even going to get into the sticky wicket of where to put all of the spectators.

Fortunately, it does appear that Tryon is rising to the challenge — albeit in perhaps some creative ways. Our sister site Jumper Nation reported from the World Equestrian Games press conference and meeting held in Omaha at the World Cup Finals last weekend, where officials from both the FEI (the governing body of horse sport globally) and Tryon International Equestrian Center shared updates.

Housing for athletes: Tryon is building what’s been called a “mini Olympic village” on its premises with modular cabin-style housing for international athletes, similar to what is already on the grounds.

Parking and traffic control: Tryon has hired a private traffic/parking control company to help manage the thousands of vehicles that will be headed to its grounds in September, including setting up shuttling services. There are even plans underway for new exits off of I-74 to accommodate traffic to the show grounds.

Lodging for spectators: If you were expecting to grab a hotel room just a few minutes down the road, think again and definitely plan ahead — over two thousand rooms have already been booked within a certain radius of Tryon for event staff, and officials are recommending that spectators look for rooms as far away as Charlotte, Ashville and Spartanburg. Some of these cities are 75 miles from Tryon, so significant travel time should be expected. Tryon is simply “in the middle of nowhere” but relatively close to a lot of bigger city centers.

Schedule: This schedule is still tentative but should give you a good idea of what to expect.

September 11 – Opening Ceremonies
September 12 – Endurance, Reining, Dressage
September 13- Dressage, Eventing Dressage, Reining
September 14 – Eventing Dressage, Dressage
September 15 – Eventing (XC), Reining
September 16 “Super Sunday” – Dressage, Eventing Stadium Jumping
September 17 – Rest Day
September 18 – ParaDressage, Vaulting
September 19 – ParaDressage, Vaulting, Show Jumping
September 20 – ParaDressage, Show Jumping, Vaulting
September 21 – ParaDressage, Driving, Show Jumping
September 22 – ParaDressage, Driving, Vaulting
September 23 – Driving, Show Jumping, Closing Ceremonies

The new logo: Taking the #TwoHearts aspect, part of the FEI’s latest publicity move, the new logo illustrates the partnership between horse and rider, which is truly the heart of all equestrian sports whether you’re thinking dressage, reining or combined driving.

And, of course, the trailer to get you all fired up:

Learn more at the World Equestrian Games 2018 website. Go riding!

The feeling you get when you watch your child ride.

It’s why we do what we do.

It is why we search high and low for the perfect childproof horse.  It is why we give up our Saturday afternoons to cheer them on at a horse show. It is why we spend hours getting stains out of their show clothes. It is why we teach them to hang a fan up on the stall in hot weather. It is why we make sure they learn to keep TWO full buckets of water in the stall. Here at Kentucky Performance Products it is why we developed Summer Games® Electrolyte that will keep the horses in your life hydrated and healthy.   It is why the horse that matter to you matters to us. Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? We are here to help. Contact us at 859-873-2974 or visit our website at

Best of HN: Still On a Rotational Deworming Schedule? Check This Out

As a relatively recent convert to the fecal egg count and targeted deworming strategy, I realize that I may be preaching to the choir — but for any readers who haven’t switched to this deworming method and are curious to learn more, I hope this article helps illustrate why rotational deworming should be rotated right out of practice. How does a fecal egg count work?

The process is fairly simple: a fecal sample is gathered and a specific weight or volume of the sample is mixed in a flotation solution, then examined under a microscope. The eggs of parasites in the intestinal tract are then counted and the veterinarian or lab technician can then calculate how many eggs per pound of manure are generated by the individual horse and by which types of parasites. The veterinarian can then develop a targeted deworming program with the owner to specifically work on the parasites each horse contains.

Ideally, a fecal egg count (FEC) is paired with a fecal egg count reduction test (FECRT) — the second test is taken 10 to 14 days after the horse is treated with the targeted deworming product to make sure that the product was effective. If you can only test once, test prior to deworming. Samples should be tested in the spring before horses are turned out on pasture and again in the fall.

The FEC measures the amount of eggs shed by a horse — which is not necessarily to say that the horse is “infested with worms.” A high shedder can and most likely will continue to look like a healthy horse at good weight with a shiny coat, all the while he continues to shed a high amount of eggs into his pasture to be picked up by his herdmates.

But rotational worming has worked for so long. Why shouldn’t we keep using rotational products?

Rotational worming — the traditional method in which horses are treated every two months or seasonally with a different class of dewormer — worked when over-the-counter deworming pastes first came on the market. However, the biggest threat has changed from large to small strongyles, and many parasites are now developing resistance to dewormers thanks to a constant use of these products. Targeting a deworming program for the type of parasite and amount of eggs shed can help prevent the over-use of medicines and increase the overall health of a herd and pasture. It also makes sure that owners are treating with the correct dewormer — not using a product that doesn’t even target the kind of parasites the horse might carry.

My horse looks healthy and he’s been on a rotational plan. Why change?

A fat, happy and shiny horse can still be a high shedder, and is continuing to release eggs into the pasture. All a rotational product does is band-aid the problem for a few months, rather than manage the parasites in a targeted fashion.

Here’s a visual that really drove home the point for me: I’ve been using a free traveling clinic that comes to our area in the fall and the spring to have fecal egg counts performed. I followed the attending veterinarian’s fall protocol with my six horses, and this spring got my father-in-law on board with his four horses, who live on a separate farm just a mile or two down the road.

My father-in-law’s horses, wormed with on rotation, are the first four horses on the list photographed below (Randy black, Chuck, Derek and Tyrone). My six horses follow after that (Winston, Red, Randy brown, Dutch, Skip and Rocky). Note the difference in egg counts after just one rotation of the prescribed protocol versus a rotational program:

Photo by Kristen Kovatch.

Seeing these figures side-by-side like this really drove the point home for me: what a difference can be made by changing tactics. Change can be hard, but it’s important to make these decisions based on what is truly best for your horses’ health.

Parasites can live in pasture for a long time — the presiding veterinarian told me up to a year; some sources state as long as a decade. It’s important to manage manure at home as much as it is to target the dewormer, but now both of our farms are on their way to managing parasites from an evidence-based perspective rather than long-standing common practice.

Further reading:

A Cowgirl in Ireland

“All right, Smiley?”

This question, I had learned, was intended to be a normal greeting in Ireland rather than an acknowledgement that you were in distress or danger. To be fair, given that I was sitting on a spirited little native-bred mare that I had just met that morning out on a cross-country course leaping over obstacles that I never imagined I would be facing, it was a valid question in any context. Oh right, we were in Ireland as well, home to some of the most courageous (if not reckless) riders in the world. Just take a look at their foxhunting.

But I was more than all right—I was having the time of my life. Oliver Walsh’s Flowerhill Equestrian Centre definitely understood how to show a girl a good time. I earned my new nickname about three combinations into our morning jumping session with my ear-to-ear grin—what my equitation might have looked like I’d rather not think about, but fortunately no one seemed to notice.

My mount, a sturdy brown Irish-bred mare called Classic, knew her job well and carried me over a variety of obstacles with ease, ranging from simple logs and stone walls to rollers, banks, drops into water, hedges and all sorts of interesting things painted to look like fruit. My companions—a mixed group of students from our equestrian program and my coworkers—were similarly mounted, piebalds and draft crosses (and piebald draft crosses) common among their horses. Every horse in the stableyard, regardless of size, shape, breed or color, jumped willingly and honestly, a true testament to the minds of these Irish horses since they were rented out by the day for people to bomb around with on the cross-country course.

Classic, the little unstoppable mare.

Having worked at a dude ranch for five summers, I could appreciate these animals, as well as our fantastic guides. We were under the care of a young woman from the UK named Mel, who led us all over the course on a plucky little Appaloosa and watched each of us jump, calling encouragement, praise or suggestions (more than one among our party expressed a desire to get a recording of Mel yelling “Good girl!” to replay in our day jobs.) The flat-only riders in our traveling party were led by a number of different staff, undaunted by the task of leading out eight riders on unfamiliar horses for a good canter in an open field.

While I managed to adjust to Classic’s jumping style within a few fences, it took me considerably longer to figure out how to actually get to there. From a year of schooling equitation horses over indoor courses, I had learned to canter in the half-seat—these horses, however, were accustomed to a deeper driving seat and more than once Mel had to remind us to “really sit down and DRIVE to the next fence!” in order to get there.

On my second mount, a very flashy piebald gelding called Monsoon with the typical long Irish face and a mane that stuck up in every direction (giving me plenty of handles to grab in midair) I had no choice but to sit down and drive: he carried himself quite upright like most of the Irish cobs and if I had any illusions of a half-seat we probably would have collided heads. Many jumps later, I was finally getting the swing of things, adjusted to Monsoon’s higher carriage and easy jump, wasting no time or energy over the fences.

The loudly-colored Monsoon.

Between the morning and afternoon rides, we relaxed in Oliver’s enormous manor-style house, situated at the end of a very long and very narrow driveway bordered by the obligatory tall hedges. The view from the windows of the dining room where we enjoyed lunch by the staff cook included part of the sweeping emerald-green pasture where his horses enjoyed grass overnight or during the day if they were not working. In addition to hiring out cross-country or hacking horses, Oliver also bought and sold horses and foxhunted regularly, keeping kennels of hounds behind his stables.

Oliver took his hounds out for their daily walk on our second day, appearing around the corner of the yard on a sturdy-looking bay horse, his whip in hand and his horn hanging at his side. The dogs frolicked all around him as he hollered encouragement, swarming down the lane like a tidal wave of white and brown, all happily panting and tails swinging. With a few seemingly-random notes on his horn, they were off over the course, iconic and unabashedly authentic.

For our fourth and final session on the afternoon of the second day, I was reunited with Classic and we thundered all over the course, exploring both familiar obstacles, including my favorite combination involving an enormous log, a bright painted-wood banana, some surprisingly deep water (according to the eventer among our party, much deeper than a normal American course) and a leap out over a hedge, and new obstacles, culminating in a thrilling final combination of five fences set up like a jumping lane between a hedge and the river. On our cool-down walk back to the yard, I looked around me and tried one last time to take it all in—where I was, what I was doing, how far I was from home. Truthfully, there is no way to recreate the sensation, and all I can hope to do is to return and do it all again.

Walking back to the stable after our fourth session at Flowerhill.

Go Riding.

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: Valegro’s Rocking Horse

Dean Golding might get a gold star for being the most thoughtful horse husband (well, technically, fiancé) of all time.

When the horse girl in your life is none other than Charlotte Dujardin, the typical suggestions for “gifts for equestrians” are probably a bit superfluous. When your lady throws a leg over a horse like Valegro, wins a bunch of Olympic medals and rewrites the record books, giving her a gift like a dressage-themed iPhone case or a personalized saddle pad just doesn’t quite feel like the grand gesture such an equestrian perhaps deserves.

So Golding set out to find the ultimate gift for his fiancée — something unique that would immortalize a once-in-a-lifetime horse while showing the rider in his life that he not only understood the place horses held in her world but accepted it as part of her identity. Golding’s solution: a one-of-a-kind custom heirloom-quality rocking horse, handcrafted in Valegro’s image by the masters of the craft, Stevenson Brothers Rocking Horses.

The final product was unveiled at Olympia as a surprise for Charlotte as she, Carl Hester and the rest of Team Valegro formally retired the superstar horse.

Well done, Dean. Hats off to Stevenson Brothers for their impeccable craftsmanship in creating this exquisite rocking horse to memorialize the incredible Valegro, and we hope the model will continue to rock for generations to come.

Follow Stevenson Brothers on Facebook for more unique rocking horse creations.

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Best of HN: Texts and Calls Only Equestrians Receive

We have our own lingo in the horse world and often if the real world were a part of our equestrian conversations, there would be quite a bit of confusion. Here are a few things that we wouldn’t be able to explain to our non-horsey friends…

Bowel Movement-Related Messages

(Because horse people are OBSESSED with poop…)

“What does her poop look like?”

“Did she poop today?”

“We have poop!” (With a photo for proof, of course.)

Equine Nutrition Facts

“Don’t give the gray horse anything. He is on a diet. He will act like he’s dying but I think he ate another one of the ponies…”

“Did he have his beer with breakfast?” (For a horse with anhidrosis)

From the Medical Perspective

“You used ALL those enemas?”

“Your herpes test is still positive.”

“I just sent a check for semen and have never been more excited!”

“Your girl is pregnant!”

“Does this look normal?” (Usually accompanied by a photo; bonus points if it’s a photo of genitalia).

“When I was in high school, I thought my horse might be pregnant so I just rode her down the street to the vet clinic to have her tested. She ended up being pregnant. The vet later left a voicemail on my house phone that said, ‘This is Dr. Dalmy calling to talk to Morgan about her pregnancy test today.’ My mother heard this message and freaked out thinking I was pregnant.”

“I think your girl horse is sick. She is chasing the boy around and squirting him with her butt…”

Auto-Correct Wasn’t Correct

“Meant to ask my friend how much her hock x-ray was… autocorrect stepped in and changed hock to something that rhymes with hock and starts with a C.”

“Was using talk to text to tell a client to go get my horse Petey ready… talk to text thought I said to go get a certain part of the male anatomy ready….”

Pure Randomness

“Pat her on the butt and tell her good job”

“Who is this horse and why is she here?”

“Do you want a sheet on him or should I leave him naked?”

“My boyfriend wanted to give my horse a treat, so he texted me a photo of two horses in a field and asked which one was mine. The answer was neither…”

Share your own weird equestrian texts in the comments section! Go riding.

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Monday Video from Tredstep Ireland: Baby Mustang’s First Cross Country

Hey, Elisa Wallace fans — there’s a new mustang moving up the ranks in her string! Come along for “Baby Mustang” aka Emit’s first cross-country trip of his career.

Emit, affectionately known around Wallace Eventing as “Baby Mustang,” was rounded up in Oregon as a two-year-old and selected by Elisa Wallace. His palomino coloring and build aren’t necessarily standard for what most people imagine when they think of the American Mustang, so he serves as a great ambassador for his breed and shows people just what a mustang can look like — and more importantly, what a mustang can do.

Emit tackled his first cross country course in the Novice Horse division at Rocking Horse Winter II H.T. in Altoona, Florida. Watch his adorable golden ears prick forward for each new challenge and flick back to listen to Elisa’s encouragement all the way around.

Good job, Emit! Congratulations to the Wallace Eventing Team. We can’t wait to see where Emit will go next, both as a competitive eventer and as a mustang ambassador. As Elisa Wallace has showed us with her multi-talented string of mustangs, anything is possible.

Save a horse — ride a mustang!

Best of HN: What Does Your Favorite Girl Scout Cookie Say About Your Horse Life?

In the middle of February, just when winter is starting to look like it will never end and that we’re trapped in an endless cycle of freezing and thawing with mud on every single surface (including, somehow, the INSIDE of your horse’s blanket) a little ray of sunshine comes to help cheer us up: the Girl Scout cookie, those little brightly-colored boxes (that seem to grow somehow smaller every year) containing rows of addictive little pastries with cute names. Science* proves that Girl Scout cookies don’t have any calories at all. (*alternative science)

You can’t avoid them this year — even if you’re like me and have somehow successfully dodged every adorable wee Scout with her sign-up sheet so you too can mainline cookies right to your face (the perks of working from home with the horses at the family farm), there is in fact an APP this year that lets you order them direct. I’m going to do you a favor and not link it right now.

Okay, we’ve established that we’re all woefully addicted. But what does our favorite Girl Scout cookie variety say about us as equestrians?

(This list is 100% fiction and based on the same “science” as described above. Read this with a grain of salt.)

Thin Mints: “Crisp wafers covered in chocolaty coating. Made with natural oil of peppermint.” You like to pretend that you have expensive taste, as evidenced by your love for the darkest and most decadent cardboard box cookie that good money can buy, even though deep down you know you’re just as horse-poor as the rest of us, as evidenced by your filthy car and duct-taped paddock boot. All of your horse equipment is in your “colors” and despite the fact that your horse has only one lead and spooks at his own shadow, he is arguably the best dressed, best turned out and most matchy-match horse in the ring.

Samoas: “Crisp cookies, coated in caramel, sprinkled with toasted coconut, and striped with dark chocolaty coating.” NOT to be confused with samosa, a delicious fried dumpling filled with spiced potato and lentil. Your love for exotic, tropical fruits like the rare and hard-to-find toasted coconut mirrors your appreciation for experimenting with new disciplines, much to the chagrin of your fellow boarders at your exclusive hunter-jumper barn. In a given week, you and your horse might dabble in dressage, western trail, pleasure driving and liberty work. The lesson kids still gossip about the time you brought in a live goat so you could practice heel catches like a real cowboy.

Tagalongs: “Crispy cookies layered with peanut butter and covered with a chocolaty coating.” You binge-eat an entire box of these that one of your lesson moms brought in to share with everyone and chased it with another cup of bottom-of-the-pot jet fuel coffee, because you are the overworked riding instructor or working student who secretly wishes that these cookies would grow a pair and finally turn into the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups they’re trying so hard to emulate. Here, please take another box. You deserve them.

Trefoils: “Delicate-tasting shortbread that is delightfully simple and satisfying.” No one actually likes these. Move along.

Do-si-dos: “Crunchy oatmeal sandwich cookie with creamy peanut butter filling.” You genuinely enjoy volunteering at horse shows, helping pick up around the barn, horse-sitting for other boarders out of town on vacation and all the nasty chores like scrubbing out the field waterers on a 40-degree day. People who don’t know you might call you a brown-noser but you also make wickedly-good guacamole and bring plenty of wine to barn parties to ensure that you’ve bought everyone’s loyalty.

Savannah Smiles: “Crisp, zesty lemon wedge cookies dusted with powdered sugar.” The only kind of equestrian who could possibly call a lemon cookie their favorite has to be the kind of rider who is all business at the barn, keeping their personal areas tidy and well-organized. Your horse is a nondescript bay who, rumor has it, you paid a good five figures for, and he is every inch the professional under saddle or on the ground. You’re not all that engaging, but when you got into some of Do-si-do’s wine at the last barn party you did tell some pretty hilarious stories that got everyone’s attention.

Toffee-tastic: “Indulgently rich, buttery cookies with sweet, crunchy golden toffee bits.” (Also, gluten-free.) You are retired or semi-retired from some incredibly high-stress job like air traffic control, riot police or heart surgeon, and to relax and unwind in your newfound down time you bought a hot-headed Thoroughbred or auction rescue with a dubious past and ride circles around all the young folk on their well-broke animals, egging them on with just the appropriate level of friendly trash-talk and sassy older-person banter as your horse does gymnastic tricks in the corner because he’s “feeling a little fresh today.”

Girl Scout S’mores: “Our new crunchy graham sandwich cookies with creamy chocolate and marshmallowy filling (YUM!) are one more delicious way to support her next adventure!” These cookies are apparently brand new for this year, so the only way that they could be your favorite already is if you are always trying the next new thing, from fancy bits to magical saddle pads, air-ride horse boots and holistic remedies. You still haven’t found the particular combination of bit, saddle pad, boot and supplement that works well for your horse, but you’ve certainly accumulated a wealth of knowledge as well as half a tack shop overflowing out of your locker. You’re a favorite in the barn because you’re happy to lend any of this stuff out or sell it at cost before you head out to try something new.

Go cookies. Go riding.

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Roof Torn from Texas Eventer’s Home in Valentine’s Day Tornado

On the morning of Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day — severe weather moved through the area of Houston, Texas, with five tornadoes touching down between 8 a.m. and 8:45 a.m, according to the National Weather Service. One of these tornadoes tore through the property of Alayna Gnagy, an Area V eventer, destroying her home and damaging her barn and fencing.

Fortunately, Alayna had safely tucked her horses and donkey inside the barn before leaving for work that day, which may have ultimately saved their lives and kept them from harm. While the barn sustained damage, the horses weathered the storm safely. Alayna’s home, however, was not so lucky. The roof was torn off the house, somehow leaving Alayna’s dog “Jake From State Farm” unscathed inside.

Alayna's dog, Jack From State Farm, was thankfully uninjured in the tornado.

Alayna’s dog, Jack From State Farm, was thankfully uninjured in the tornado.

Alayna’s good friend Alyssa Walker explained the damage. “She is left with a ton of damage to her property, including downed pasture fences, debris littered everywhere, damage to the barn and her horse trailer and most importantly, no house or roof over her and her boyfriend’s head.”

The damage to the home — considered a total loss — is not covered by insurance.

Alayna competes her horse When Hoofbeats Echo at Training level at horse trials throughout Texas. A highlight of their partnership was competing at the 2015 Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships.

“Alayna took a $300 barely broke rescue horse and brought him up the levels of eventing,” Alyssa said. “She is a tough woman but I can’t even fathom the amount of stress she is under trying to get her life under control with nowhere to call home.

“Alayna is a humble person who does not ask for help on her own, but she is the first person to step up when someone else is needing.”

If you would like to assist Alayna in rebuilding her home and her property, please visit the YouCaring page set up in her name. The estimated cost for demolition of the existing home is $2,700. Any other funds raised will go towards a down payment to rebuild a new house.

Needville Feed and Supply also has an account in Alayna’s name for feed donations and fencing supplies.

Our thoughts are with Alayna and other families affected by the Valentine’s Day storms in Houston.

Jenni Autry contributed to this report.

Tuesday Video from SpectraVET: Winter at Marbach

Julien Guntz produces beautiful visual and auditory journeys for horse lovers to experience unique locations all over the world, and his latest masterpiece is one of our favorites yet. We visit the German state stud of Marbach, steeped in 500 years of history and making winter look absolutely exquisite.

While eventers best know Marbach as the host site to one of Germany’s key spring CIC3* events, the stud is hugely influential from a breeding standpoint. Throughout its history, Marbach bred the finest horses to help influence local stock, depending on need: heavy breeds were introduced to bolster working horses, followed by general-purpose breeds suitable to both farming and carriage work as well as riding, to post-war sport horses.

The farm is now recognized as the establishing base for the Baden-Württemberger (which is the breed of the one and only La Biosthetique Sam FBW), as well as host to a herd of fine Arabians and the Black Forest draught, all of which appear in the video.

Marbach hosts breed inspections and offers boarding opportunities; another farm campus at St. Johann offers retirement for aged equines. Marbach has become synonymous in Europe with fine breeding as well as education for both the rider and the breeder; the farm also welcomes thousands of tourists each year.

We’re big fans of the work of Julien Guntz and we think you’ll agree that his stunning videos provide an up-close-and-personal look at some of the biggest and best places our horse world has to offer. You can view a full list of his works by clicking here.

Why SpectraVET?

Reliable. Effective. Affordable.

SpectraVET is committed to providing only the highest-quality products and services to our customers, and to educating the world in the science and art of laser therapy.

We design and manufacture the broadest range of clinically-proven veterinary therapeutic laser products, which are represented and supported worldwide by our network of specialist distributors and authorized service centers.

Best of HN: 9 Times the Lady Gaga Super Bowl Halftime Show Summed Up Equestrian Life

Lady Gaga is 100% a performer, through and through, putting her heart and soul into every single note, dance move or death-defying leap off of the top of a stadium. Sound like anyone else you know?

When you take the green horse down his first bank:

Lady Gaga's FULL Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show | NFL

When your horse is playing hard to catch:

Lady Gaga's FULL Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show | NFL

Getting all the barn girls together for a photo…

Lady Gaga's FULL Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show | NFL

…and then trying to get the horses’ ears up so they look cute:

Lady Gaga's FULL Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show | NFL

Friends, family and responsibilities trying to get you to leave the barn:

Lady Gaga's FULL Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show | NFL

Trying to polo-wrap your antsy horse like:

Lady Gaga's FULL Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show | NFL

On your way back to the stabling area after winning a big class:

Lady Gaga's FULL Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show | NFL

Trying to navigate the warm-up ring:

Lady Gaga's FULL Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show | NFL

When you know you’ve just laid down the best pattern/test/course of your life:

Lady Gaga's FULL Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show | NFL

Go Gaga. Go riding.

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American Pharoah’s Full Brother Was Born Last Night & He’s Adorbs

Hot off the internet presses: a full brother to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah has been born at Summer Wind Farm in Kentucky!

Sired by Pioneerof the Nile out of Littleprincessemma, this little bay colt was born overnight. Whether they go on to win racing’s “Grand Slam” or retire off the track to start a second career as sporthorses, every Thoroughbred starts out the same: a wobbly-legged little foal sticking close to his mother’s side.

Littleprincessemma just had a full brother to American Pharoah. She delivered a beautiful bay colt by Pioneer of the Nile at approximately 1:40 am. Mare and foal are doing well. Welcome to the world little one! #summerwind #americanpharoah

Posted by Karen Bailey on Wednesday, February 8, 2017

One of my favorite sayings, "fall down seven times, stand up eight!" Life is full of ups and downs, even when you are American Pharoah's full brother. Moments like this make it all worthwhile. ❤️ #littleprincessemma

Posted by Karen Bailey on Thursday, February 9, 2017

Littleprincessemma and the full brother to American Pharoah. #inlove #obsessed

Posted by Karen Bailey on Thursday, February 9, 2017

Obviously there is no guarantee that lightning could strike twice and that this colt is destined to inherit his brother’s incredible legacy… but wouldn’t it be great if it did? Until we find out, best wishes to this little colt and his connections.

Go riding!

As seen on…

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Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: White Thoroughbreds

True white Thoroughbreds are very rare. Grey horses that turn paler and paler with age are fairly common, but true white Thoroughbreds come from a genetic mutation and are uncommon indeed. One more white Thoroughbred has been added to the ranks with the birth of a filly by Revolutionary out of the white mare Beautiful Devil. She arrived during the Super Bowl!

It was believed until recently that white Thoroughbreds were a variation of the sabino pattern, essentially presenting as one giant body-wide white spot. However, recent research indicates that these white horses are genetic mutants, which can present in a number of different ways all referred to in a group as “dominant white.”

The Patchen Wilkes horses are perhaps the best-known example. The filly in this video is from a white damline including Beautiful Devil, Spot of Beauty, Patchen Beauty and White Beauty.

Another recent example of a rare white Thoroughbred was the colt born last February at Rockridge Stud in New York. His white coat coloring came from another family; his dam is a daughter of the famous Airdrie Apache, who boasts a mottled coat and is dual registered as a Paint.

Have you ever seen a white Thoroughbred in person? Let us know in the comments below.

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Best of HN: Great-Grandmother, Age 62, Rides Winner at Tampa Bay

Sue Martin is #goals. Not only is she still actively riding at age 62, she’s still riding as a jockey… and winning to boot. Aboard Blue Haze of Fire, Martin won a claiming race on Sunday at Tampa Bay Downs, marking her first win since 2014. Since Martin’s only riding a handful of races these days, that’s not a bad record.

Martin rode her first race in 1973 in Idaho. Also in the mid 1970s, she married trainer Wayne Martin; it was Wayne who trained her mount on Sunday. Amid the usual rough-and-tumble jockey life, Sue Martin also made time for having a family, with seven children, 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

According to Martin, there are no plans to retire any time soon. We salute you, Sue Martin, and wish you all the best in your continued career!

If you’d like to watch a replay, click here to open Tampa Bay Downs’ replay site — select Sunday, January 29 and watch Race 4. Blue Haze of Fire and Sue are the 7 horse.

Go riding.

[Great-Grandmother Rides $53 Winner At Tampa Bay Downs]

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Best of HN: Every Budweiser Clydesdale Super Bowl Commercial Since 2002

As we count down to the Super Bowl, join us in reliving the magic of the best marketing campaign known to equestrians.






(Editor’s choice for second most likely to make you cry)



2009 (bonus: there were two this year!)





(Editor’s choice for most likely to make you cry)




Tell us which is your favorite in the comments section below!

Go Clydesdales.


Best of HN: The Netherlands Has a Place Called PonyparkCity & It’s So Kitschy & Wonderful

PonyparkCity is weer geopend! De sfeer zit er goed in op de verwelkomingsochtend in Lucky Town!

A photo posted by PonyparkCity™ Official Account (@ponyparkcity) on

There’s a video going around social media about the wonders of the Netherlands (yes, in response to recent political events in the United States) that makes just the briefest, most casual mention of this fantastic place that is truly the stuff that dreams are made of. After spending half of my afternoon gleefully clicking around the website for PonyparkCity while audibly squealing, I have to agree — this is a true wonder, Netherlands’ finest gift to the world.

It’s like the Dixie Stampede meets Disney World meets Westworld but without the psychopathic robots and with a LOT MORE PONIES.

Basically, you come to PonyparkCity, stay for a week with your family and live in a cabin THAT COMES WITH A PONY. Like a fully-stocked hotel: clean towels, complimentary shampoo, pony.

Okay, I don’t really think the pony is necessarily tied to the front porch awaiting your arrival, but just know that when you book a cozy cabin at PonyparkCity you get your own personal pony for the week. So essentially your most basic need is covered right from the get-go.

Additional ponies do need to be hired per family, so if you have brought more than one tot along (read: smuggled in ALL of your friends from Horse Nation who are all pretending to be under the age limit of 12 to ride) you will need to make sure you book the appropriate number. Because nothing spoils a pony vacation faster than having to share your pony with your sibling.

Once you’ve hooked up with your pony, the world is basically your oyster — there are a number of arena spaces as well as organized pony trail rides into the woods and countryside around PonyparkCity. You can also sign up for free riding lessons from a professional instructor as well as participate in the pony show, including the intriguing “Miss Pony” competition which requires a costume. I bet parents absolutely LOVE packing for this trip.

Helmets are required, and are available for free loan for the week. All riding is bareback, but stirrups are available to borrow as well if your pony jockey requires “more stability.” It’s up to the kids to catch their pony from the giant communal barn, groom and care for their pony every morning — this is no groom-for-hire operation but a real hands-on pony wrangling experience. For anyone fearing a hundred sets of tiny hands yanking on ponies’ mouths, rest assured — it looks like all of the ponies are ridden in halters.

Okay, the pony part is great, but what is there to do the rest of the time? (I mean, let’s be real, if there’s a pony, who even cares, but in case there’s a non-horsey kid in the family, we’ll take a quick tour around the rest of the grounds.)

Perhaps you might enjoy bowling…

… or panning for diamonds (I’m not positive this is how diamonds are mined but we’ll go with it) …

… or hanging around with this sheriff with his suspiciously real-looking firearm.


Zo, die boef zit gevangen! #cowboyshow #PonyparkCity


A photo posted by PonyparkCity™ Official Account (@ponyparkcity) on

PonyparkCity truly has it all: there are a number of restaurants around the grounds, all decorated with the same cartoon-colored American Wild West decor and offering dishes like “authentic American BBQ” or Tex-mex as well as a fully-stocked grocery store in case you want to spend the night in.

There’s also a completely-indoor Western town complete with pony performance arena and seating for a thousand, an evening revue show, the quintessential Cowboys and Indians show, miniature golf and all sorts of family-friendly activities. Mom and Dad, we’re holding out hope that there’s an authentic Western saloon serving plenty of whiskey down some side street somewhere.

The rates page mysteriously does not translate into English so we’re not entirely sure how much a week at PonyparkCity will set you back, but WHO CARES because there are literally hundreds of ponies here waiting for you to snuggle them all.

  Ponypret! Ps. Check PonyparkCity op Facebook voor het hele filmpje#PonyparkCity   A video posted by PonyparkCity™ Official Account (@ponyparkcity) on


I can’t even.

Check out PonyparkCity online, and follow their Instagram at @ponyparkcity for a nonstop dose of pony goodness.


Best of HN: This Extensive Sales Video May Blow Your Mind

This sales video for a Missouri Fox Trotter named Walter is SO straightforward and dry that it’s hard to tell if trainer and seller Zackery Stevens is just that much of a straight shooter or a total genius or both. We can’t decide if we should laugh, marvel, take this man seriously or buy him a beer. Or maybe all of those things.

Let’s just establish before you watch this 20-minute sales video (the man is nothing if not thorough) that Walter appears to be perhaps the greatest horse that has walked this planet. We promise, this is worth the 20 minutes just to listen to this guy talk about his horse in the driest voice you’ve ever heard from someone trying to sell something.

As a side note, we took a peek at the online auction page for Walter, whose sale ended about a week ago. If the page is reporting accurate information, Walter sold via online auction for $50,000. Well done, Walter. And well done, Mr. Stevens.

Thanks to Horse Nation reader Lynn for the tip!


14 Things You’ll Find in Any Equestrian’s Car

As seen on EN’s sister site Horse Nation! Check it out for equestrian news from around the world, plus plenty of first-rate ridiculousness to help get you through your day.

That better not be a judgmental look I see on your face, little dog. Photo by Kristen Kovatch.

That better not be a judgmental look I see on your face, little dog. Photo by Kristen Kovatch.

Some time a few years into my first job as a full-time professional horseperson, I opened my car to drive home from the barn on a cold winter night and sat down to immediately realize that I had achieved a certain benchmark status: I had an equestrian car. I didn’t realize how much this moment meant to me until it happened, nor how long I had been unwittingly working to develop that certain blend of aroma, dust and random equine detritus, but when it happened, I knew that for the present moment at least, I had “made it.”

Now that I’m managing my own horses at my own property, the situation has perhaps gotten even worse. Or should that be “better”? I can’t decide.

Chances are, you’ve made it too. Here’s a list of things you’ll find in any equestrian’s car.

1. Boots. Or perhaps a full set of riding clothes. If you go right to the barn from your day job, you might store a day’s riding apparel in your car. In my particular scenario, I’ve stashed a pair of riding boots in the backseat since I’m now wearing knee-high muck boots for the winter to get around.

2. A lead rope. Mine was serving as an emergency dog leash and I just never bothered to take it back out and put it in the tackroom. But I might legitimately need it someday to rescue a loose horse in the neighborhood or something… or I’m just lazy and it blends in to the floor now.

3. Sacks of feed. I only have room for so many pounds of feed in my collection of metal trash cans, but I like to buy enough feed that I’m not constantly driving up to the feed store to stock up, so the extra bags accumulate, sagging in the backseat like unattractive passengers or providing a foundation for more stuff to be piled on top of them in the cargo area, totally forgotten until I run to the feed store again to discover I already had two bags lurking in the back.

4. Actual tack. Headstalls, spare sets of reins, saddle pads that you keep meaning to take home and wash but will forget about until the first warm day when your car smells like a sock… perhaps an actual or saddle or two…

5. Double-ended snaps. You never can find one when you need one, but there are like four in the glove compartment or the cup holder.

6. Speaking of cup holders, lots of empty drive-through coffee cups. Pick your poison, but in my neck of the woods I’m a Tim Hortons fan.

7. Extra bulk jugs of vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar, or other things you bought at the grocery store for the barn. I go through a single spray bottle of ACV, oh, maybe every two months? But I had to buy a gallon jug at grocery store so that I had one on standby, where it has been rolling around on the floor in the back of my car since September waiting for me to notice.

8. Unmatched gloves, likely all for the same hand. So you can’t even put them together to make a full pair.

9. A completely scentless dried-up air freshener. From that one time you made a legitimate effort to clean out your car and make it smell appealing, two years ago.

10. Old invoices and receipts from farrier visits gone by. Because filing things in your home office would be both responsible and also let your family see how much you’re spending.

11. Hypodermic instruments, either loaded or used. This looks really good when you get pulled over. I had to drive to a satellite farm for a few weeks to hand-walk a horse on long layup and had a loaded needle of ace floating around in my car “just in case.” I never used it but it was quite the shock when friends or significant others would open the glove compartment and I would remember its existence.

12. A barn dog. Bonus points for this one because they bring their own wake of loose hair and general filth with them. If my border collie has gotten particularly friendly with the cattle on a given day, she seems to come back with molasses lick stuck to her which is its own special variety of delight.

13. Broken things you fully intended to take home to repair. Blankets that need patching, leather that needs stitching, a wide variety of things that just need some cleaning and duct tape… someday, when you remember that you threw them into the back.

14. A fine patina of dust, dirt and hay chaff on pretty much every surface.

What’s floating around in your car? Let us know in the comments section! Go riding.


Product Review: SSG Winter Training Gloves

I'd give these gloves two thumbs up but it's really hard to do that AND take a picture. All photos by Kristen Kovatch. I'd give these gloves two thumbs up but it's really hard to do that AND take a picture. All photos by Kristen Kovatch.

Some equestrians are lucky: they can keep on working all winter long in any variety of glove they find, from your basic horse-friendly models to the dollar store one-size-fits-all knit variety, and their hands are always toasty warm and ready to rock and roll.

Tragically, I am not one of those people: After years of trying to figure out exactly what combination of silk ski liner, Hot Hands and glove I needed to NOT turn my hands into two ice blocks, I basically gave up, wore a wind-breaking thin glove layer so my knuckles didn’t dry and split and accepted the fact that I was never, ever going to find a pair of gloves that actually worked whether I was riding, driving or doing barn chores.

And then I found the SSG Winter Training Gloves. My only regret is that I did not find them years ago.

The Winter Training Gloves are all leather, lined with fleece and Thinsulate and include a knit storm cuff. These features combine to make an insulating, cozy glove that also looks nice without picking up “barn gunk” easily, meaning that I can actually wear them out for general public as well and not need to go crazy buying multiple pairs of gloves for one winter. The leather offers water resistance, and generally the gloves are so well insulated that the snow doesn’t stick and melt. While these gloves do add just a bit of bulk to my fingers, I still had plenty of dexterity to do up buckles, measure supplements in their tiny scoops and maintain feel on my horses’ mouths.

Glove back, including detail stitching.

Glove back, including detail stitching.

I’ve used these gloves so far in the following applications:

  • Snowshoeing in single-digit temperatures with wind chill factor below zero
  • Driving my team with temperatures in the mid-20s
  • Barn chores in conditions ranging from the 20s down to single digits

Even for driving the team, where I’m sitting fairly still with my hands extended and relatively stationary — typically a recipe for freezing your fingers into solid little ice cubes, isolated so far away from your core — my hands were comfortably warm, which is such a new sensation for me after years of driving weekend winter sleigh rides with numb hands that I had to tell everyone in our party about how awesome these gloves were.

Glove palm and knit storm cuff.

Glove palm and knit storm cuff.

SSG Gloves has long been respected as one of the best manufacturers of equestrian gloves for working, training and showing. Browse the entire line of winter gloves here, and check out all of the categories to find the perfect pair for you!