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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

Few situations are more terrifying than an oncoming wildfire seemingly intent on consuming all in its path. October’s headlines spoke of the loss from California wildfires that leveled towns and took lives of both people and animals. This year’s fires were the worst in state history. Insurance data reports that from Oct. 6 to Oct. 25, eight counties in Northern California were hit by a devastating outbreak of wildfires which led to at least 23 fatalities, burned 245,000 acres and destroyed over 8,700 structures. The California Department of Insurance said that as of Oct. 26, losses reported from 15 major insurers totaled $3.3 billion.

When the heat is on, volunteers step up, using what resources are available to assist. In the case of Marcy Goodman, the longtime Project Manager for the Western States Horse Expo, that meant using all means possible to reach people who could help as well as those in need.

Even though the major fires were hundreds of miles away, Goodman knew she had to do something — quickly. Miki Nelsen, owner of Western States Horse Expo, gathered staff for ideas and immediately sent an email broachcast to the Horse Expo community, asking for help for the fire victims and their animals.

Mark Matson
Master of Ceremonies
Midwest native Mark Matson became a horse trainer after attending college in Ohio, starting out as a horse trainer’s assistant and eventually working for some of the world’s top trainers. After eight years of assistant trainer experience, Mark went out on his own in 2001, competing in the National Reined Cow Horse Association and Working Cow Horse of the AQHA. He is a founding member of the Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association and served as President of the Valley Cow Horse Association for four years. Mark trained multiple National Champions in the NRCHA and was the 2005 NRCHA Open Hackamore World Champion. Today, he owns the Temecula Carriage Company with his lovely wife, Marika, and their 3-year-old daughter, Annabel. They offer horse drawn tours through the Temecula Valley Wine Country and conduct special events throughout Southern California.
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Sister rivalry

Non Pro siblings Ingrid Vangelos and Ruth Noring may finally face off in the SCRCHA Saddle Shoot Out

- October 1st, 2017

TEMECULA – Ingrid Vangelos can remember her childhood days in the Bay Area when she and her sister, Ruth Noring, chased one another around the house with horse whips.

“We fought like cats and dogs,” laughs Ingrid. “But then, from the time we were teen-agers on, we’ve been super close. No one was closer.”

The siblings have a horse-riding history, from their first ponies and hunter-jumper action to a point after college where horses vanished for a while. They’ve come full circle after rekindling their horse lives, and now are both active competitors as members of the Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association.

Corey Cushing went 1-2 in the NSHA Open Futurity, winning $25,055 for the title on San Juan Ranch's SJR Smooth Rio (shown here) and another $16,006 for the reserve on Moonstruck Striker, owned by Wendy Dunn.

Corey Cushing went 1-2 in the NSHA Open Futurity, winning $25,055 for the title on San Juan Ranch’s SJR Smooth Rio (shown here) and another $16,006 for the reserve on Moonstruck Striker, owned by Wendy Dunn.

Stacy Judd photo

PASO ROBLES — The National Reined Cow Horse Association moved its World Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity to Fort Worth starting this year, but the cradle of reined cow horse still runs strong.

The California-based National Stock Horse Association held its biggest gathering of the year Aug. 22-27 at the Paso Robles Events Center, and the only thing hotter than the heat wave was the competition.

The payouts were downright cool, especially for Corey Cushing, who took first and second in the NSHA Open Futurity on SJR Smooth Rio (Smooth As A Cat X Shiners Diamond Girl), owned by San Juan Ranch, and Moonstruck Striker (Dual Rey x Moonstruck Cat), owned by Eric and Wendy Dunn. The impressive payouts for the Championship ($25,055) and Reserve ($16,006) along with Cushing’s other money-placing — aboard Kevin and Sydney Knight’s Maliblus Most Wanted in a tie for 16th ($1,539) tallied up to a $42,600 take-home in the class.

In the Futurity Intermediate Open, the 2016 World’s Greatest Horseman Champion, Clayton Edsall, rode Bet He Sparks (Bet Hesa Cat x Sparking Train) to the win with a 658.5 composite score. Owner K & L Phillips LLC went home with a check for $8,418, along with an additional $9,234 from their fourth-place finish in the Open.