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Kristen Kovatch

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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 TheHorseBay.com 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!

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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.

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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!

Best of HN: Drama Llamas, a Horse Writer’s Observation

Original photo Pixabay/Olichel/CC, with photo editing by Maria Wachter. Original photo Pixabay/Olichel/CC, with photo editing by Maria Wachter.

I’ve been a writer for Horse Nation for about a year and a half. I freaking love this job. I get to write and I get paid to write! How cool is that?!

I have found out over my 18-month stint with Horse Nation that out of all the articles I have written for them, the ones that get the most views are either funny articles/lists (10 reasons why equestrians do this or that, etc) or pieces that invite discussion. People love that stuff!

Sometimes the comments are even more amusing than the articles themselves. If you don’t believe me, read the satirical post Highly Scientific Report: The Budweiser Clydesdales Are Fake. Then read the comments. Oh my, was that a blast to read! I also love the fact that half the comments were from people who didn’t even read the article. They just “assumed.”

My informative articles, on the other hand, don’t get read much at all. I get it, we LOVE drama and we LOVE to laugh and we LOVE to stir the pot. Look at the nightly news, for example: they stay in business because of all the drama they create. It also seems that people who say “I can’t stand drama” tend to be the most dramatic of them all.

Here’s the truth: social media has become a great tool for people to get their drama fix.

For example, if you post a picture of you riding your horse on the trails and get a through-the-ears shot, you’ll get a couple of likes and a couple of nice comments. If you put a pic up of yourself riding in the wrong bit/saddle/tack; riding without a helmet; riding a slightly chubby/slightly skinny horse; or being a little overweight yourself, your post will go viral with plenty of out-of-control comments.

Here are a few things people love to go off on:

  • barefoot vs shoes controversy.
  • anytime anyone rides without a helmet, especially if the rider is under the age of 18.
  • any time anyone rescues a horse and asks for advice.
  • saddle and tack questions
  • training suggestions — such as how to stop a bolting horse
  • bad horse trader deals/stories (by the way, we’ve all been burnt before)
  • posting x-rays of your horse’s feet
  • anything related to the Budweiser horses
  • horse abuse stories
  • anytime a horse is for sale for under $200 — because the kill buyer will buy it.
  • riding with your dog
  • horse racing
  • “but I thought I bought a horse that was beginner safe!”

I could go on and on.

Basically if it’s on social media, it’s fair game. You better come prepared with your big girl panties and a bucket of popcorn.

Watch out for posts that start like this:

  • I’m looking for an honest opinion (trust me, they are not)
  • I’m not looking to start drama (they actually are)
  • Let me tell you what I think (after I got my emotions and a bottle of whiskey involved, even though I wasn’t there and I only know one side of the story)

So, readers of Horse Nation, now that the winter months are upon us, most people will be house bound instead of being outside doing stuff to keep them busy. You will come across a lot more drama in these next couple of months –horse people just can’t stay away from it.

Snuggle up, grab your favorite snack and indulge in your own reality show type of drama right on your own social media of choice. Shoot, bust out the liquor if your day is especially boring. You can deny it… but you know you love it.

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Best of HN: Horse Nation’s Most Read of 2016

As we start 2017 as a fresh canvas, it never hurts to look back at the previous year — here are the top three most-read pieces from our sister site Horse Nation.

3. Isabel Werth’s David Bowie Freestyle

2016 certainly seemed to take way more than its fair share of celebrities, didn’t it? In January, David Bowie passed away, and we shared Isabel Werth’s goosebump-raising David Bowie freestyle dressage test.

“In honor of wherever you’re headed next, Mr. Bowie, we’d like to take the liberty of dedicating Isabell Werth’s killer Grand Prix Dressage Freestyle with El Santo at the Central Park Horse Show to your awesome afterlife adventure. It’s infused with some of your danciest hits, and we hope you’re doing a lot of that in the Avant Garde Ether.”

[Full article and video]

2. An Open Love Letter to Lani, the Weirdest Race Horse Ever

This year’s Triple Crown didn’t give us the kind of beautiful fairy-tale story we loved in 2015 — but it did give us plenty of unique characters, not the least of which was Lani. This gangly, quirky underdog from Japan captured our hearts and Lorraine Jackson’s open love letter to the horse was loved by lay racing fans and racetrackers alike!

“You got shipped out to Japan, which isn’t altogether unusual with the burgeoning racing and betting universe that exists there. You had some predictable starts, as well as some less predictable ones, like the time you won two races six days apart at the end of your 2-year-old year.

“Then your connections were like, ‘I know! What if we ship him to America, but we stop on the way (NOT REALLY ON THE WAY AT ALL) in Dubai and catch a race on the World Cup card, and THEN go to America!’ and everyone thought this was a great idea. But since you’re the weirdest horse in the world, you didn’t think this was weird at all, and went ahead and won the United Arab Emirates Derby.”

[Full article]

1. A Clydesdale April Fools

Longtime Horse Nation readers know that April Fools Day is one of our favorite days of the year — and we think we really outdid ourselves in 2016. Our very-clearly-a-spoof article about the beloved Clydesdales going missing only to be found surrounded by empty beer kegs was our most-read story of the year!

“The police report states that Budweiser long-haul driver Ed Murphy stopped in Colby, Kansas on Monday night at a planned layover location before finishing the drive to an event in Denver. The team was unloaded and moved to a secure turnout facility for the night, and when Murphy returned for the horses in the morning, the gate was wide open and the horses were gone.

“Anyone in the Midwest region is encouraged to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, and report anyone offering to sell a Clydesdale gelding. All eight of the horses are between 17-18.2 hands, have four white socks and white blazes, and answer to the names Bud, Buddy, Bud Light, Buddy Light, Bud with Lime, Boo Natty, and Craft Beers Suck.”

[Full article]

Happy New Year! Go riding.

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Get Ready to Cry Tears of Joy Over Purina’s Christmas Commercial

That was your official warning. Also, if it’s any consolation, I’m sitting here crying right along with you. Again.

Remember that time I counted down all the horsey things that made all equestrians cry every time? Those seven moments were a mere warm-up act to this video from Purina. Everything about this ad is perfectly written, shot and edited to be a giant sob-fest from beginning to end, whether you’re ugly-crying with sadness or joy.

Grab your tissues. You’re going to need them.

What an emotional roller coaster. Sure, we suspected we knew the ending from the moment it began, but that doesn’t diminish the wringer we just put our hearts through. We hope that, once you’ve dried your tears, you might be inspired to help horses in need yourself: volunteer for your local horse rescue, make a monetary or equipment donation to a rescue in need or maybe even adopt a rescue horse into a permanent, safe home.

Purina sponsors A Home For Every Horse, which is a program designed to help find safe, loving, forever homes for rescued horses. Through A Home For Every Horse, Purina has donated over $425,000 to participating shelters, which equates to over 800 tons of feed.

Thank you, Purina, for your good work in helping rescued equines in need!

Best of HN: An Equestrian Christmas Carol Collection

Photo via Pete Markham/Creative Commons Photo via Pete Markham/Creative Commons

It’s a time-honored Horse Nation holiday tradition to gather ’round the tack room, dole out the eggnog and partake in some Christmas caroling — equestrian style. Here are a few of our favorite tunes:

O Come All Ye Horse Poor

(to the tune of “O Come All Ye Faithful”)

O come all ye horse-poor

Broke and without money

O come ye, o come ye and look at your bills.

Come, let us count them, figure up the total:

O here is your board bill

And here is your farrier

And here is your vet bill,

The greatest of all!

(Full lyrics here)


George Morris Is Coming To Town

(to the tune of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”)

You better watch out

You better not cry

Better not pout

I’m telling you why

George Morris is coming to town.

He’s watching your horse

And checking it twice:

You’re gonna find out if

it’s really that nice.

George Morris is coming to town.

(Full lyrics here)


What Shoe Is This

(to the tune of “What Child Is This”)

What shoe is this which I have found

out in the muddy pasture?

It must have fallen off someone,

which means the hoof’s a disaster.

Why, why must you play all day

And rip your shoes off all the way?

Now, now I must find the one

who’s left this shoe behind them.

(Full lyrics here)


Bed the Stalls

(to the tune of “Deck the Halls”)

Bed the stalls with bales of shavings!

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Even though your back is aching

Fa la la la la, la la la la

When you’re done, the horses will poop

Fa la la, la la la, la la la

Just one more thing for you to scoop.

Fa la la la la la, la la la la!

(Full lyrics here)


Gray Show Horse

(to the tune of “White Christmas”)

I’m dreaming of a gray show horse

Because I bathed him yesterday.

The show’s today,

so will he stay

as clean and bright as I pray?

(Full lyrics here)


Horses Loose

(to the tune of “Jingle Bells”)

Dashing through the snow

With a grain bucket in my hand

Down the road I go

This ain’t what I had planned!

The hoof prints lead this way

I hope I’m on the trail

Was that a distant neigh?

And a flash of waving tail?

Oh, horses loose, horses loose

Horses over there

Oh what fun it is to chase

Your horses everywhere!

Horses loose, horses loose

Horses can’t be found

Oh how much I love to chase

My horses all around.

(Full lyrics here)


It Came Completely From Nowhere

(to the tune of “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear”)

It came completely from nowhere

That giant, enormous buck.

And now I’m lying here on the ground —

Yes, this would be my luck.

My horse was schooling oh so well,

just perfect in every way.

But then he arched his back and bucked

And left me here to stay.

(Full lyrics here)

Wednesday Video from Kentucky Performance Products: #PonyProblems, Christmas Edition

Santa Claus' reindeers should be Ponies !

#WinterTale | PegaseBuzz

Et si les rennes du Père Noël étaient en fait des poneys ?
/Share if you think that Santa Claus' reindeers should be ponies !

Posted by PegaseBuzz on Sunday, December 1, 2013

We literally have zero idea what is going on in this video but we love it.

Somehow, the concept of ponies alternately saving Christmas and wreaking havoc on the holiday makes me think of the minions of Despicable Me: they’re small, cute, hilarious, wicked and wildly destructive. Come to think of it, perhaps minions were inspired by ponies in the first place??

Either way, this bizarre video set to “Christmas Time” by The Darkness is pretty adorably destructive, just like almost every pony we know and love.

Astute internet pony trend followers will recognize these plucky fellows as the same little guys who starred in the #DancePonyDance commercial put out by Three, a UK-based mobile network. That moonwalking pony basically burned down the Internet when the video was first released, and we’re sure this herd of Christmas steeds are headed in the same direction.

Go ponies. Go Eventing!

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Wiser Concepts supplements are available only through your veterinarian. Learn more at KPPvet.com.

Best of HN: 11 Signs Equestrians Are Easy to Please, Winter Edition

Shout-out to Rossy Morillo for inspiring this list and providing sign #3!

For all the fuss and bother we equestrians make about things being absolutely just the way we want them — yes, I love when family members come help me do barn chores but seriously I hang the halters exactly that way for reasons I can’t explain to you and it drives me up the wall when you change it — we’re really not that hard to please.

In fact, the more we think about it, the more the weirdest things make us completely happy, especially in the high-maintenance season of winter. And to be totally truthful, winter is such a struggle for horse owners that we’re simply pleased just when things are going normally. Here’s a list.

1. When the blanket comes in from turnout with the same number of straps it was turned out with.

2. When the ice berm on the arena roof stays intact for your entire lesson.

3. Going out to the barn at 6:30 on a cold morning and finding that the buckets AREN’T frozen.

4. “He didn’t buck me off today!”

5. Opening the sliding barn doors on the first try without having to chip them free of ice and snow.

6. When the ice balls accumulated in the shoes pop free on the first twist of the pick.

7. When the hose surprisingly isn’t frozen into a giant crinkly curlicue.

8. “He finally pooped!”

9. When you realize you actually remembered to put a block down for your trailer jack back in the muddy autumn.

10. When you successfully made it to the manure pile with a fully-loaded wheelbarrow without slipping on the ice.

11. When you forgot to plug in the diesel but it starts anyway.

Go winter. Go riding.

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Thursday Video & Photo Gallery: Thank You, Valegro

Photo by Kit Houghton, courtesy of Revolution Sports and the London Olympia Horse Show. Photo by Kit Houghton, courtesy of Revolution Sports and the London Olympia Horse Show.

Arguably the greatest dressage partnership of our time, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro danced for the final time last night under the spotlight at the Olympia International Horse Show for Valegro’s retirement ceremony.

What is there to be said about Valegro that hasn’t already been stated a thousand times or displayed on the international dressage stage for all to see? His partnership with Charlotte Dujardin is a true fairy tale, a lucky combination of circumstances that became pure magic and elevated the sport of dressage to its highest levels, raising the standards of horsemanship for all equestrians.

Team Valegro — that is, part-owner Carl Hester, rider Charlotte Dujardin and groom Allen Davies among others — has always made it clear that the horse’s needs were the top priority. With nothing left to prove to the world, the decision was made to retire Valegro at the peak of his game, to let him gracefully waltz into retirement on his own terms. It’s not truly the end of his performance days — he’ll still appear at demos and exhibitions, but his competition days are over.

Last evening at the Olympia International Horse Show, Valegro formally retired before a packed crowd who came to see the final dance.

Go Valegro.

This post was originally published on Horse Nation.

Best of HN: 11 Signs of Winter by The Idea of Order

Presented by:

ideaoforderHN graphic NEW2016

No matter how much I resist, kick, scream, and complain, somehow winter still comes. Jerk. It’s only just December but I can fully assure you that I am ready for June. I seriously think next year I need to plan on a month in Florida (so any of you down near Wellington hit me up!)

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Go Riding…preferably back south where it’s warmer!

Morgane Schmidt Gabriel is a 33-year-old teacher/artist/dressage trainer/show announcer/ who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. A native Floridian, she now lives in Reno, NV, where she’s been able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless. Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She was recently able to complete her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently working on her gold. Generally speaking her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, a now beastly 5-year-old Dutch gelding, and Stormy, her friend’s nearly all white paint gelding with a penchant for finding every mud hole and pee spot in existence. Visit her website at www.theideaoforder.com.

SVE 15 For Willie 4002

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SmartPak’s ‘If Horses Were People’ Is Going LIVE at 11 a.m. EST

Imagine for a moment that SmartPak‘s “If Horses Were People” video series and the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway got together and had a kid … that kid would be “If Horses Were People” going live today on Facebook at 11 a.m. EST!

Yep, that’s right: Sara and Sarah will be hitting Facebook Live today and acting out your live suggestions! If you have a favorite weird horse activity that you always wished the SmartPakers had acted out in their most popular video series, here is your chance — simply navigate to SmartPak’s Facebook page and watch the live video at 11 this morning.

Want to rewatch some of your favorite IHWP? New to the series? We’ve included a few of our favorites below, but you can watch the entire playlist on YouTube by clicking here.

Go SmartPak. Go Eventing!

Best of HN: The Equestrian Wine Pairing Guide

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Agne27 Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Agne27

Horses and wine … it’s a kind of chicken and the egg scenario, isn’t it? (Okay, a quick Google search did reveal that the discovery of the process for creating wine predated the domestication of the horse by about a thousand years, but you get the idea.) As long as there have been equestrians, there has been wine, both for celebratory and consolatory purposes.

There’s no denying the easy elegance of a bottle of wine as a charming holiday gift. To help you select just the right bottle this year for your equestrian party hostess, hardworking trainer or horse-loving friend, we’ve put together a helpful pairing list. Salut!

Chardonnay: a medium or light-bodied white, notably crisp and moderately dry
Pairs well with: celebratory occasions such as a relaxing trail ride on a warm afternoon; consolatory purposes such as yet another hoof abscess on the day your trail ride is scheduled.

Riesling: an aromatic white which can range from semi-dry to semi-sweet depending on origin
Pairs well with: celebratory occasions such as the OTTB’s first successful XC schooling where no one got run away with; consolatory purposes such as the OTTB’s third XC schooling where he completely ran away with everyone including the trainer.

Pinot Gris: a full-bodied white sometimes described as “spicy”
Pairs well with: celebratory occasions such as making it successfully through a dressage clinic without bursting into tears; consolatory purposes such as the spare tire on the trailer ALSO being flat while running late to the dressage clinic.

Sauvignon Blanc: a crisp, dry white, notably refreshing
Pairs well with: relaxing at the end of a hot, dusty show day, no matter how well the day went. Also pairs well with flopping on the couch after trying to load your reluctant Warmblood for four hours straight.

Merlot: a medium to full-bodied red with tannns of rich, ripe fruit and chocolate
Pairs well with: No-Stirrup November.

Cabernet Sauvignon: a full-bodied red, known as dry with vegetal notes
Pairs well with: celebratory occasions such as the barn holiday party; consolatory moments such as realizing that you do in fact have way too many saddle pads.

Pinot Noir: a medium-bodied red with fruity or sometimes meaty notes
Pairs well with: celebratory occasions such as scoring a truly excellent deal on a barely-used Devoucoux; consolatory occasions such as your horse trashing yet another expensive 1200 denier turnout rug.

Shiraz: a full-bodied red known for fruity and spicy notes
Pairs well with: celebratory occasions including your horse cleared for work after a long lameness; consolatory occasions such as your horse turning up lame… again.

Malbec: a slightly-dry red known for intense color and a noted plummy flavor
Pairs well with: the satisfaction of knowing your horses are well-fed, all tucked in for the night and comfortable despite the blowing snow. Also pairs well with falling off thanks to blowing snow and cold temperatures for the fourth time this month.

Go drinking. Er, riding.


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Updated: Flint Ridge Farm in Alabama Takes Direct Hit From Tornado

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Photo by Victoria Tripiano

Deadly storms tore across Alabama on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Flint Ridge Farm of Huntsville took a direct hit. The farm has hosted Tennessee Valley Dressage and Combined Training Association shows for many years, and in true eventer fashion the local horse community is banding together to rebuild.

“A tornado dropped between the house and the barns,” confirmed Flint Ridge boarder Victoria Tripiano. “The main barn roof is completely gone and there’s damage to that barn. The second barn is half blown away; what’s standing is missing the roof. The indoor arena is completely demolished.”

Fortunately, all of the humans and horses on the property survived the storm with remarkable resilience, though three horses, Batman, Dempsey and Thea, are currently receiving veterinary treatment, boarder Natalie Weil confirmed to EN.

“The most severely injured horse, Dempsey, is fortunately expected to fully recover to enjoy his retirement,” Natalie said.

“The third injured horse, Thea, belonged to a boarder. She is able to remain in a stall in the roofless main barn in order to protect her stitches. The three horses injured were the only three that were turned out, as they are pasture boarded. The other horses were all locked safely in their stalls.”

Photo by Victoria Tripiano

Photo by Victoria Tripiano

The property also sustained major damage to fencing, and the pastures are littered with debris. The farm’s collection of jumps is nearly completely gone. Victoria shared this video with us to show the full extent of the damage:

In the true spirit of the horse community, more than 60 people arrived at the farm yesterday to clean up debris and start repairs. “We were able to clear enough of the pastures to be safe for the horses, and we put up many temporary fences to keep the horses away from the debris that is difficult to clear, like glass from the mirrors in the indoor arena,” Natalie said.

“The barn aisle is now completely clear, with the remaining ceiling removed and ready for new roofing. The local roofing company, Dudley Brothers, came out as soon as they could yesterday and ordered and delivered some of the material needed to start repairs. The work on the roof has already started today.”

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Photo by Victoria Tripiano

Flint Ridge Farm has started a GoFundMe page if you are able to make a monetary donation to help the farm clean up and rebuild. The farm’s most immediate needs are hay, grain and shavings.

“We had a fresh delivery of hay from our local supplier delivered on Monday before the tornado hit, and many of those bales are now peppered with shards of glass,” Natalie said. “Due to the drought, we are having difficulty finding hay to replace what was lost, and we are trying not to stress our supplier too much. He was one of the people there helping repair fences, all with a broken leg!”

Flint Ridge Farm is also active on Facebook, where you can follow for more updates about the storm recovery. Our best wishes go to Flint Ridge Farm in the recovery and clean-up process.

“Heidi, and her mother Diana, the owners of the farm, are doing an excellent job of keeping it together for everyone,” Natalie said. “We are all shaken by the reality that sometimes there is little you can do to protect what you love.”

If you are local to the area, Jim Graham is hosting a fundraising dinner during his show jumping and dressage clinic next Wednesday, Dec. 7, at River Rock Stables in Harvest, Alabama. All proceeds from the dinner and raffle will support Flint Ridge Farm’s recovery efforts. Click here for more information.

Jenni Autry contributed to this report and has an editor’s note to add: One barn cat is still missing in the wake of the tornado. Please join us in sending positive vibes that the sweet kitty is just hiding and will return home soon.

Update 12/1/16 5:26 PM: Natalie Weil of Flint Ridge Farm provided Nation Media with an update on conditions at the farm. Two of the injured horses have been transported to the local veterinarian; both are expected to fully recover. The third injured horse belongs to a boarder and is able to remain stalled in a roofless barn to protect her stitches. All three of the injured horses were pasture boarded; the horses inside the barn did not sustain injuries.

“Yesterday we had over 60 people, many of which we did not know, came to help us clean up and repair what we could,” Natalie noted. “We were able to clear enough of the pastures to be safe for the horses, and we put up many temporary fences to keep the horses away from the debris that is difficult to clear (glass from the mirrors in the indoor arena, siding, walls, etc.). The barn aisle is now completely clear and the remaining ceiling removed and ready for new roofing. The local roofing company came out as soon as they could yesterday and ordered and delivered some of the material needed to start repairs. My dad is there today, he let me know that they have already begun work on the roof!”

The farm insurance does cover the barns, shed and house on the property, but unfortunately the indoor arena was not covered. Additionally, there is immediate need for hay and shavings, as much of what was stored on the property is now peppered with shattered glass. Compounded with the drought in the southeast this year, the farm is having a difficult time finding hay. The GoFundMe page linked above is raising funds to help defray of these new materials, as well as to help replace fencing and the indoor arena.

“Heidi, and her mother Diana, the owners of the farm, are doing an excellent job of keeping it together for everyone,” Natalie added. “We are all shaken by the reality that sometimes there is little you can do to protect what you love.”

#NoStirrupNovember: We Made It!

No-Stirrup November: We came, we rode, we conquered! If you toughed it out without your stirrups for the whole month, we bet you’re probably pretty sore and tired — but we also are willing to bet you’re feeling pretty unstoppable right about now and your equitation has never been stronger!

Here’s our final gallery of No-Stirrup November moments.

Last day to do this so #nostirrupnovember A photo posted by Alex (@alex_equestrian.13) on

no stirrups, no bit, no problem ❤️#ottb #tizawinner #nostirrupnovember A photo posted by Camille Byrd (@camibyrdbrain) on

so my legs hurt a bit… #nostirrupnovember A photo posted by @pony.prints on

How did you fare during No-Stirrup November, EN? Share your story in the comments below.