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Meet ‘No Quit’ Sparky

- August 2nd, 2020

No obstacle, even a lost eye, could keep a determined trio — horse, trainer and owner — from reaching the 2020 NRHA Derby Open Finals

By Warren Wilson / Horsetrader staff

Trainer Marty Bales and White Tye Affair, aka “Sparky,” owned by Robert Heindl. (Shezashootingstar.com photo)

TEMECULA — Marty Bales saw White Tye Affair’s potential as a National Reining Horse Association Open Finals horse the first time she saw the yearling in a sale video. What she didn’t see—what nobody could have imagined—was the 4-year journey that would get him there, on the floor of the Coliseum in the NRHA Open Derby last June.

After a promising start through his 2-year-old year, White Tye Affair (Smart And Shiney X Cowgirl Affair) hit a series of setbacks that would demoralize most horses, not to mention their trainers and owners.

‘Making lemonade’

- May 5th, 2020

On April 10, sour moments for a mare and foal turned into something sweet

Kiskasen, a Clydesdale colt born April 9, and his adopted Quarter Horse mother, Whiz Ms Dolly, who lost her stillborn filly the same day. (John O’Hara photo)

SANTA ROSA—You’ve heard the saying, “when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.” Well, a pair of misfortunes 130 miles apart in early April led to a refreshing feel-good story about an unlikely match.

It began with the joy of two new foals about to enter the world. One was a long-hoped-for colt out of the 18.1-hand black Clydesdale mare, Nakita, and the other a filly out of a 14.1-hand Quarter Horse reining mare, Whiz Ms Dolly.

Tragedy struck both foalings. Nakita, after delivering a healthy colt, died soon after from complications. Meanwhile, at a ranch in Santa Rosa, Britta Jacobson’s mare, Whiz Ms Dolly, gave birth to a stillborn filly.

The Return is… near?

- May 5th, 2020

What will ‘the new normal’ be as we return to our horse routines, post-pandemic?

What will the shows be like? Or, what SHOULD they have in place?

Horses by nature are socially distant. A horse show isn’t much different. Perhaps some changes in spectator seating, and ways in which the concession stands are run. But no reason to reinvent how horse shows take place

Doris Lora, Tehachapi


Adhere to social distance requirements.

Cady Shaw, Fresno


Today, there are no shows/events, and there should not be any events until the Coronavirus is defeated. No matter how long we wait, we will wait healthy and alive. Ride the trail, be safe—and healthy.

John O’Hara, Petaluma

49 years ago, Debra de la Torre’s father launched an aloe industry; now, she enjoys seeing the benefits for beloved horses as head of Pharm-Aloe Equine

HT: Debra, why would I give aloe to my horse?

DEBRA: Well, if you love your horse, you want your horse to be at its very best—and at its healthiest. I got into Pharm-Aloe Equine because my little mare showed up with ulcer symptoms one day. I knew about aloe vera because my dad started the aloe vera business in 1971, so we have had a long history of aloe vera use for our horses and for people.

HT: I can imagine what was talked about at the dinner table all those years.

DEBRA: Many miracle stories, I can tell you that for sure. We have seen a lot of just wonderful effects and results from using aloe.

The Silver Artistry of Jon Peters

- February 5th, 2020

This San Diego surfer has emerged as one of the West’s most creative makers.

By William Reynolds | Reprint from Western Horseman magazine

Photo courtesy Jon Peters

The diversity of creative inspiration in the West is as wide open as its geography. And in today’s world of the cowboy crafts, San Diego silversmith Jon Peters exemplifies this creative openness. From finely engraved cinch rings, bits and spurs to mustache combs, tooled leather and saddle silver, some may call Peters a “problem solver artisan.”

Growing up Southern California’s Orange County, Jon found that school was very trying on him. He hated being “locked up in a room,” as he called it. In high school it was determined he suffered from dyslexia, a learning disorder that made reading difficult for him. Away from school he surfed the many great breaks along the California coast and did part-time work on ranches east of San Diego. He had a grand childhood growing up with a father and grandfather who were both mechanics and helped him learn the ways of tools, tool making and generally how to fix things. He found that if he were shown how to do something, he would catch on quickly and figure the best ways for him to work further.

A lifelong endeavor

- January 3rd, 2020

Excerpts from our Horsetrader Media live interview with Richard Winters

RICHARD: “I’ve had the privilege the last 40-some odd years to make my living in the horse business. I’m just that kid who grew up loving horses. I wanted to be a cowboy or a horseman—if I even knew what that meant. In all reality, if I had some job in town, I would pay to do this on the weekends. I didn’t really want to be an astronaut, or a policeman, or a fireman—I just love horses.

Now I am recognizing that there’s just so much to horsemanship. It’s a lifelong endeavor that you never stop in this thing. I mean, I got more questions about this horsemanship thing now than I’ve ever had in my life. That’s why on the side of our trailer, it says ‘Enjoy the Journey’, because I’ve kind of realized I’m never going to get to the destination. You never really arrive and say ‘OK, I’ve got it all figured out.’

The Reluctant Remedial Shoer

- June 4th, 2019

California farrier Travis Koons finds success relying on a minimalist approach in therapeutic cases


Travis Koons takes a minimalist approach to therapeutic cases, focusing on proper trimming and fit. “It’s not so often the therapeutic device that helps the horse,” he says, “but good, solid horseshoeing helps the horse the most.”

By Jeff Cota, American Farrier Journal

“You don’t want to shoe lames horses, trust me.”

Bob Marshall tried to warn the confident young farrier, but the then 18-year-old Travis Koons had made up his mind. The Hemet, Calif., youngster had printed business cards, announcing that his farrier practice specializes in pathological, remedial and corrective horseshoeing.

“Why would you ever put that on your business card?” the legendary shoer asked him forcefully. “You don’t want to shoe lame horses!”

“Yeah, I do, Bob,” Koons told him. “I can charge more money.”

Susie and Woody soaring high and fast.

Susie and Woody soaring high and fast.

Photo courtesy Susie Hutchison

SAN DIEGO — Twelve years to the day after his passing, Samsung Woodstock, the chestnut gelding who won scores of show jumping honors and the hearts of fans worldwide, received the California Professional Horseman’s Association Equine Lifetime Achievement Award.

The presentation, made to his career-long partner, Susie Hutchison, was a highlight of the Jan. 5 Awards Banquet held this year at the Manchester Grand Hyatt on San Diego Bay.

“There was never a course I walked that looked too high or too wide — that I didn’t know we could do it,” said Hutchison, who is competing at the HITS Coachella circuit.

Her first win on the 16-1-hand “Woody,” in the 1987 Derby in Pebble Beach, came just days after the German-bred Westphalian had arrived from Europe. Their final victory at the 1997 Los Angeles National Grand Prix capped a career that featured 20 grand prix wins, plus qualifications for the World Equestrian Games and three World Cup Finals, the 1990 PCHA Horse of the Year Award, and the 1992 AGA Rider of the Year honor. In 1997, Breyer Animal Creations issued the Samsung Woodstock model horse.

Five days, home

As the fallout from recent tragic wildfires continues to be assessed, writer Elizabeth Kaye McCall shares the evacuation of her beloved stallion, RajaliKa, from the Lilac Fire

By ELIZABETH KAYE McCALL - January 1st, 2018

At the Del Mar Fairgrounds duruing evacuations, trainer Manny Calvario with RajaliKa

At the Del Mar Fairgrounds duruing evacuations, trainer Manny Calvario with RajaliKa

Elizabeth Kaye McCall photo

There’s an advertisement in horse magazines that always gets my attention. It says something like, “your horse has never colicked until he does.” Something like that. It came to mind as I thought about the Lilac Fire in northern San Diego County that erupted with the same “until it does” urgency on Dec. 7, a day already infamous as Pearl Harbor Day. On a more personal level, also my late father’s birthday.

I was rushing to leave for an appointment at the Apple Store in Temecula, late as usual, when a friend from the barn called to tell me about a fire a couple miles from where I live in Fallbrook. The Santa Anas had depleted the air of any humidity a day earlier. I’d noticed my horse’s tail electric when I’d brushed it the night before. But fire? I turned on the TV as the friend suggested. It was close, but with little sign beyond the TV news coverage of getting urgent. I was packing a suitcase, already had my laptop out, and got dog and cat food ready as well as the carriers. I wasn’t really thinking about the barn at that point –only that I’d get a few things together in case. Two hours later, when a mandatory evacuation alert reached my street, I set off with a crying cat and worried dog, in the car, thinking I’d gotten things handled pretty easily on short notice.

Gibson Ranch to reopen on Jan. 15

- January 1st, 2018

A wreath brightens the bleakness of a gutted stall.

A wreath brightens the bleakness of a gutted stall.

Sarah Williams photo

SUNLAND — For decades, Dale Gibson has been among the first to hitch his trailer and evacuate horses threatened by wildfires in the Los Angeles area. In fact, he would safely stage the animals at his Gibson Ranch until the smoke would clear — which is exactly what he was doing the morning of Dec. 6 when the Creek Fire ignited. When fierce winds shifted flames rapidly toward his facility, his crew and volunteers raced to remove 130 horses — 45 evacuees and 85 of his own — before the fire eventually consumed it. All animals made it out, including cattle used in his popular team sortings.

Gibson announced recently that he will rebuild “on the shoulders of awesome people”, including friends,volunteers, and vendors like Castlebrook Barns, with a proposed reopening Jan. 15.

MORE ONLINE: Http://bit.ly/801-gibson