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Connection

- November 2nd, 2021

By Sheryl Lynde | Horsetrader columnist

I don’t know you, and you don’t know me.

We dress differently, we are of different ages, different backgrounds and reside in different states and countries. But for a moment, just a glimpse in time we can find a commonality. I know a place where we can connect and share a space together as we ride on the back of a horse.

Season of success

- October 1st, 2021

SCRCHA wraps up super 2021 at Green Acres Ranch event

Craig and Rosie Cowley enjoy a win shot moment after winning first and third, respectively, in the SCRCHA Limited Open Hackamore standings. (Danger Dingo photo)

TEMECULA — Smiles, great runs and beautiful weather were all part of the Southern California Reined Cow Horse Association’s final scheduled show of 2021, the September Classic.

Blenheim action at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan. (Amy McCool photo)

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Two business groups with different visions for the 40-acre Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park made respective public presentations Sept. 21 to the City Council, as ongoing discussions continued toward the beautiful facility’s future.

Reining in Paso

- October 1st, 2021

CRHA Summertime Slide enlivens Midstate Fairgrounds

Jimmy Nichols and Dreamin N Hollywood warm up at the California Midstate Fairgrounds during the CRHA Summertime Slide Aug. 27-30. (Mark Blakley photo)

PASO ROBLES — There were familiar faces and familiar horses at the 2021 California Reining Horse Association Summertime Slide, but one new item this year that had everyone’s attention was the venue itself — the iconic Midstate Fairgrounds. Steeped in history and Western heritage, the Central Coast town hosted a CRHA reining for the first time.

When fire threatens…

- October 1st, 2021

By Sheryl Lynde | Horsetrader columnist

Every time I think. “Well, that can’t happen to me…”, I then find myself in a situation where it is, indeed, happening to me.

How is your ranch’s ‘BMP’?

- October 1st, 2021

Stay abreast — or ahead — of environmental rules

By Jamie Cohen Wallace / courtesy ELCR.org

In recent years, Best Management Practices (BMPs) have essentially become standard for horse farms/facilities across the country. Meant to protect the ground and surface waters, BMPs are excellent management practices that should be utilized by every horse farm and facility to stay in compliance, regardless of legislation.

Jennifer Welch Nicholson performing in 2012. (PRCAfinalsrodeo.com photo)

Jennifer Welch Nicholson, who started at Riata ranch as a 9-year old and later navigated the organization through tumultuous times and to international renown, has been nomnominated for the Donita Barnes Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ranch on the rise

- September 2nd, 2021

WCRH continues its successful Summer Classic Buckle Series at Tucalota Creek Ranch

Special to the Horsetrader

Sabrina Smith and her horse General showed in the Green Horse division with a strong third place finish in a large Ranch Trail class on a challenging course. (Asia Joy Hunter photo)

Whitney Liu on Shiny Lil Whiz competing in Green Rider Rail Trail. This team placed first in the Ranch Conformation in their division. (Asia Joy Hunter photo)

TEMECULA — Beautiful Tucalota Creek Ranch came to life Aug. 21 for the second of three shows in the West Coast Ranch Horse Classic Buckle Series. The series is just part of the WCRH line-up of popular 2021 events, which will culminate Nov. 5-7 with the big Ranch Horse Rendezvous at Tucalota Creek.

The three shows in the summer Ranch Horse Classic Buckle Series, featuring classes in Ranch Riding, Ranch Rail, Ranch Trail and Ranch Conformation, will wrap up at the series finale Sept. 25 at Green Acres Ranch in Temecula where winners of eight series belt buckles will be determined. All shows count for points in the series, and competitors must show in at least two shows in order to be eligible for high-point and division awards.

Courtney Walters rode her horse Spirit to win both the Youth and Green Horse Ranch Riding classes. (Asia Joy Hunter photo)

November’s WCRH Rendezvous 2021 promises to be an exciting two-day event. In addition to the popular horse show with divisions for all levels and a futurity for 4-under and 5/6 year-old horses, there will be ranch horse clinics with Sami Hernandez and Cowley Performance Horses, as well as a silent auction, wine and cheese reception, vendors, and a banquet dinner with live cowboy music from Eric Gorsuch.

Adding to the excitement Saturday, Nov. 6, will be the Ranch Horse Select Sale produced by XIT Western Productions, who says 35 high quality ranch horses will be ready to be your next partner. Sale preview will take place during the wine and cheese reception at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, and the sale is scheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m.

Consignor check-in and vet checks will take place on Thursday, Nov. 4, beginning at 8 a.m.. Horses can then begin moving into their stalls and can be ridden during the open riding that evening from 4-7 p.m.

More online: http://bit.ly/09awcrh

Seven Steps for Horsetowns

- September 2nd, 2021

These keys open doors to equine-inclusive communities

By Danielle Bolte / courtesy ELCR.org

Horses bring many benefits to our local communities including economic, ecological, and aesthetic, and they enhance our general health and well-being. Plus, horses can be local economic drivers; according to the American Horse Council 2005 National Economic Impact of the U.S. Horse Industry Study, the equine industry accounted for 460,000 full-time jobs with an annual impact of $39 billion annually to our economy, generating $1.9 billion in taxes.

Clustering horse activity in a designated area has several practical benefits that can gain favor with local agencies. (Photo courtesy LAEC)

Also, horses and the beautiful scenic vistas that horse lands provide contribute greatly to our communities and our quality of life. It is important to note, though, that horses cannot provide these benefits without the land to support them. Increasingly, both horsemen and non-horsemen have witnessed open areas that were once horse lands taken over by development. According to the 2012 USDA Census from 2007 to 2012 the number of horse ranches decreased by 14% (71,146) and the horse population decreased by 11% (407,479). Poorly planned, uncontrolled development or sprawl, population growth, and a citizenry that is increasingly unfamiliar with livestock are the greatest threats to equestrians and horse land owners today.

While premier horse facilities, competition and recreational riding venues can exist close to (and even in) cities, local land use planning must purposefully incorporate them. By including horses into the land use planning process and making communities equestrian-friendly, planning departments can encourage horse owners to remain in the area or possibly move to the area for the provided amenities. Here are seven steps that can help incorporate horses into the land use and community plans.

STEP 1: Know Your Equestrian Community.

The shape of the local horse industry will determine what types of facilities are necessary. Understanding what types of equestrian uses are present in the area and where they are located is an essential knowledge base for future planning, but one that many communities are lacking. Horse owners are not a uniform body; the equine industry ranges in scale from the backyard horse owner to large show facilities and racetracks. In addition, horses are used for many purposes, ranging from companion animals to trail and endurance horses to show and race horses. For example, areas with large populations of recreational trail riders may have more need of well-maintained trail systems than areas with a high population of racehorses or gaited show horses.

STEP 2: Develop and Maintain Equestrian-Friendly Trail Systems.

Recreational and trail riding are the most popular uses of horses, with nearly 4 of the 9.2 million horses in the country used solely for this purpose. Therefore, one of the most widely attractive amenities that can be provided to horse owners is a well maintained and horse-friendly trail system.

What makes a trail system “equestrian friendly?” First of all, there must be ample space to park and turn horse trailers around. A few stalls or paddocks may not be amiss in well-used areas, especially where camping is also a possibility, but as a minimum there must be water available at the trail head, and possibly along the trail as well, depending on its length.

The trails themselves should be reasonably wide to allow for safe passage, and the footing should be natural, not gravel or pavement, to aid in traction and avoid bruising of the horses’ feet. When clearing overhead limbs from the trail, consider that a rider’s head is often eight feet or more from the ground, and clear the overhead space accordingly. Be sure trails are well-marked; pocket sized maps could be made available at the trailhead to complement marks along the route. Also, if trail systems are shared with other users, such as hikers with dogs or bicyclists, be sure that rules for shared use of the trails are clearly posted and enforced.

Maintenance of the trail system should include trimming of brush along the sides of the trail and occasional re-clearing of overhead branches. Footing should be maintained reasonably well, with washouts or other unsafe areas repaired, but the footing does not need to be maintained perfectly level in most cases.

Clustering horse activity in a designated area has several practical benefits that can gain favor with local agencies. (Photo courtesy LAEC)

STEP 3: Create Equestrian Zones or Neighborhoods.

One of the best ways to avoid complaints about odor, dust, and loose horses is to cluster the horse farms near each other. In addition to avoiding neighbor complaints, this allows for the easy development of trails and equestrian facilities within these communities. In areas where horses are a large part of the history or culture of the community, equestrian zones can also be used as tourist draws. For example, an equestrian zone or neighborhood with a large population of young or competitive riders could be grouped around a county or city show facility, which could then provide the government with additional income.

STEP 4: Protect Agricultural Lands from Development.

One of the most important resources for horsekeeping is land. The protection of open space and agricultural land, of which horse farms are usually considered a part, is therefore vital to the maintenance of an equestrian community. In addition to pasture, space is needed for trails and competition arenas. Several ways exist to help protect these open lands, ranging from Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs to zoning definitions.

TDR programs are based on the amount of development allowed in the zoning code, with one zone designated as the sending zone, typically in a more rural area, which will remain more lightly developed than allowed, and a separate zone, usually in a more urban area, designated as a receiving zone and allowed to develop more densely, for example with five stories instead of three. Once the development rights are transferred from the sending zone, they are permanently revoked from the sending property, leaving the property rural in nature in perpetuity — at least in theory.

Urban Service Boundaries and Lot Size Restrictions are zoning-based means to protect the rural areas of the community. A hard urban service boundary, outside of which public sewer and water are not extended, can limit development outside of itself, encouraging the remainder of the land to remain largely rural while promoting denser infill development within the boundary, essentially encouraging a larger scale version of cluster development. Over time, the boundary is likely to expand, but use of such a boundary can help slow the sprawl of the urban and suburban land uses. Restricting lot sizes can also be a tool to maintain open space. A community-wide greenspace plan, defining which areas will remain open, is also a vital step in protecting these areas. Without a clear picture of what should be left as open space, it is too easy for development to sprawl outwards from an urban area.

STEP 5: Appropriate Codes and Ordinances.

Appropriate codes can be beneficial to the development of an equestrian-friendly community, helping to prevent friction between neighbors, especially where equestrian uses interact with non-rural uses. Beneficial ordinances encourage creation of space in the community. For the horse industry, regulations on the minimum lot size are reasonable, ensuring the provision of adequate space for the horse’s health and well-being as well as allowing space to buffer odors and dust from the neighbors. Similarly, regulations on the number of horses that can be kept per acre, or required buffers between barns, manure piles, and other features of equestrian facilities and streams and property lines may be necessary to avoid conflict and protect surface water quality. Ordinances such as these help equine properties maintain good relationships with their neighbors.

STEP 6: Enhance Public Awareness.

Improving public awareness of the horses in the community can help make trail-sharing safer and more effective and can help develop support for policies protecting agricultural lands from development. In order for a community to be truly equestrian-friendly, the rest of the area must be aware of the role that horses play in the local economic and ecological reality. Surveys can indicate the current level of public knowledge and support of horses in the community, and appropriate actions can be determined based on the results.

City-sponsored “cross-over” events that bring together a town’s horsepeople and non-horsepeople, like the Heritage Horse Festival in San Marcos, raise awareness of horses and their positive impact in a community. This year’s 15th annual Ride & Stride Fund-raiser at Walnut Grove Park will be on Sunday, Oct. 17. (Horsetrader photo)

STEP 7: Incorporate Existing Facilities.

Create equestrian zones around existing professional farms and equestrian neighborhoods in areas that already have large horse populations. Even in transportation planning, the locations of these facilities can help determine the type of roads necessary, or the most viable locations for equestrian-friendly trails. When planning for horse-related land uses, refer back to the survey of the local equine industry suggested in step 1.

While not all of these steps will be appropriate for all communities, they do provide a buffet of options for the community planner to choose from in incorporating horses into the master plan. To truly serve the existing equestrian industry, efforts should also be made to reach out to local equestrian-oriented groups and non-profit organizations to gain their input on proposed plans or on areas in need of planning. Most national equestrian organizations, such as the United States Dressage Federation, 4-H, and United States Pony Club, have local chapters that can provide information on the equine industry and may provide a means for reaching out to the local equestrian community for suggestions. In addition, many non-profit organizations exist to encourage interfacing between the equestrian community and the planning community, including ELCR and Horses for Clean Water. Researching such organizations in your community will likely provide you the information you need to plan for your local equine industry effectively.

More online: http://bit.ly/09Aelcr

Weighty issue

- September 2nd, 2021

By Sheryl Lynde | Horsetrader columnist

When pairing a horse with a rider, consider several factors that can help ensure the rider’s safety as well as the horse’s well-being.

In previous columns, we’ve looked at the planned use of the horse. If you are looking for a good-minded trail horse, finding a horse that has been used in that capacity would be your best bet. We’ve also explored the ability of the rider and the amount of training the prospective horse has had. Again, if the rider is green, the horse needs to be well-seasoned, and if the horse is green, the rider needs to be more experienced. Also, lifestyle plays an important role. If a demanding career or family require most of your time, purchasing a young horse to start is not optimum for either you or the horse.

But, there is another factor of equal importance to the longevity of your horse’s riding career: the weight of the rider.

A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour suggests that the rider should weigh less than 15 percent of their horse’s body weight. You can have a conversation with your vet; I have spoken to many. I have found that, as a general rule, the most commonly offered advice is that the combined weight of the rider and saddle should not exceed 15-20 percent of the horse’s body weight. This means if a horse weighs 1,000 pounds, the combined weight of the rider and saddle should not exceed 150–200 pounds. If your saddle weighs 40 pounds, then the weight of the rider should not exceed 110–160 pounds. Again, this is a generality. When I lean more toward the 15 percent body weight of rider and tack, factors that I take into consideration are the horse’s age, intended use, and overall soundness and well-being of the horse.

The horse’s reaction when asked to carry weight above their physical ability varies depending on the temperament of the horse. I’ve witnessed an obvious swaying of the horse’s back, losing their balance under the rider once mounted, the horse splaying their legs underneath them in an attempt to stay upright, and bucking or bolting to rid themselves of the weight.

I understand that the horse’s health and well-being are at the forefront of the owner’s concerns. However, as evidenced every day, the path to injury is paved with good intentions.

Imagine that someone put a backpack on your shoulders that far outweighed your ability to carry it for any distance. It may cause you to fall backward, splay out your limbs to find your balance. You may lean forward into the trail only to find yourself stumbling, unable to right yourself until you eventually hit the ground.

Now, add to that the issue of balance. Try carrying a pack that pulls you to the left or the right. I’ve observed many riders that lean to one side or the other, unaware of their imbalance. When brought to their attention, unfortunately, the saddle is unduly blamed or perhaps the cinch isnt tight enough. The stirrups of the saddle are intended to rest the foot lightly. When riders depend on their feet for balance instead of their seat, they press with their strong or favored leg and foot into the stirrup, causing their saddle to shift, regardless of how tight the cinch has been fastened. Imagine the soreness and misalignment that would cause your body over a period of time. Additionally, what if the backpack didn’t fit properly? It still carried the same amount of weight, but was too small or too large for your back. Feeling a bit uncomfortable? So is your horse.

Weighing the proper weight for your horse, having a good-fitting saddle and mounting properly can save your horse’s back.

To protect your horse’s withers, use a mounting block. Hold onto the mane with your left hand while you insert your left toe into the stirrup. This is not an upper body pull, it is a lower body push. Push up off your right leg to elevate yourself enough to clear the cantle as your throw your right leg over your horse’s back and lower yourself nice and polite into the saddle

When you get on, sit in the “pocket” of the saddle, not on the cantle. Two fingers should fit between the swells of the saddle and your leg. If you can fit your entire hand, the saddle is too big. If you can’t fit a finger, the saddle is too small. It’s better to have a slightly bigger fit than too tight.

Owners openly express their aversion to particular bits or disciplines due to a perceived risk of injury. However, weight remains a sensitive subject.

How do you weigh in?

–Sheryl