Safe Keeping at Camp

Those of us who routinely horse camp often invest quite a bit of thought toward the safe keeping of our horses while camping overnight.  Many facilities provide stall leasing or have available paddocks to keep overnight horse guests.  For some, leaving home without such accommodations may prove a deal breaker for a ride or event we'd like to participate in, or at the very least my prohibit us from staying overnight.  However, with a little forethought, planning and courage, we can learn to manage our horses overnight quite well, without any accommodations at all.  The tremendous advantage to this is freedom and a well earned sense of independence.  It's not as intimidating as one might imagine, you just have to approach the idea with an open mind and give yourself a chance to get the hang of it.

Generally when you are horse camping, you have the opportunity to tap into the experience and wisdom of other available campers who may share their own tips for overnight keeping, or even be willing to double check your set up until you feel confident on your own.  This is one of the great things about horse people, we love to share knowledge and learn.

High Lining
Of all the overnight camping methods for horses, high lining between two trees is likely the most safe and convenient method.  With this method, all your overnight equipment for your horse can be easily packed into a single bag lightweight bag.  You can even pack your high line equipment and carry it with you on the trail, trekking off into the wilderness to camp anywhere your heart desires, and the law allows.  Now that's freedom!

Instead of wrapping the rope around the trees, use Tree Saver Straps to prevent the trees from being girdled and dying.  This is a good piece of equipment to become familiar with as many wilderness areas require them.

If tying to a tree and your trailer, be sure your truck is hooked on to stablilze the trailer.  Many who do tie between a trailer and a tree report that sleeping is disturbed if camping in living quarters (better to consider that before losing that night's sleep!).

The following is a fantastic instructional video from

It is rarely ever a good idea to tie your horse to the trailer overnight.  There are simply too many opportunities for injury, including slipping under the trailer (yes, it really happens).   When no other option is available, it is better to house your horse over night inside the trailer, rather than tie to the outside of the trailer overnight.

Trek Hoof Boot Review

In the equine world, there is nothing more fashionable than a product which greatly benefits the horse, its health, safety and well-being.  That being the case, there is absolutely nothing more fashionable these days than the new Cavallo Trek Boot for horses.

Designed to be used by barefoot horses while on the trail, the new product boasts a tremendous upgrade to the boot's closure system.  We love the new single sturdy and replaceable velcro strap.  Each package of new boots comes with a free replacement, ensuring a long time of wear, additional replacements can be ordered at any time.  The new closure requires no 'keeper' to hold the strap securely in place.  The industrial strength velcro is mighty, and with a little clean-up after each ride, brushing or hosing any debris or dirt away, the quality closure is sure to last a long time.

Another bonus to the new closure system is that it is possible to snugly fit any variation of hoof size, providing a sense of security while on the trail in muddy or rugged terrain.  That being said, it is crucial to properly fit each horse so that the best sole size and shape accommodates each hoof.  This is true with any hoof boot.  With a proper fit, one can expect Cavallo Hoof Boots to remain securely in place throughout even the longest ride.

The boot's upper matierial is made of Ultra flexible Pro Mesh and is molded to the shape of the hoof.  This new material is simply fantastic.  It has a slightly rubbery feel to it, and seems to fit in a more tidy fashion around the horse's hoof, not appearing so much like a pair of clunky tennis shoes.  The look is tidy and the fit is great.  The upper material is highly flexible, moving with the horse's step, reach and flexion.  At the same time, the material is extremely sturdy and durable, naturally springing back into shape around the horse's hoof, providing a clean, comfortable look.  The material seems quite forgiving, providing support and freedom of movement simutaneously.  Just like the velcro closure, it is easy to clean with a brush or hose, and simply air dry after each ride to increase the longevity of your boot.

Other great features include the ability to use the boot on either foot, right or left.  The boots are sold singly, so if one needs to purchase only one it can be done so with ease.  Purchasing the boots singly also benefits the cases where one hoof may require a different size or shape than the other.

The new Trek Boot takes advantage of the tried and true, well known soles of the Simple and Sport Hoof Boots.  In the past, those preferring to boot all the way around have frequently had to wear two different styles of boots, Simple on the front and Sport on the rears.  Now with the new Trek Boot, one may purchase the Trek Regular (for the more rounded/square shaped hooves) for the front, and Trek Slim (for the narrower hoof) on the rear hooves.  Not that all horses require this type of fitting, but for those who do, having the Trek on all four hooves is a great alternative that just looks smart!

In conclusion, we can enthusiastically state we LOVE the new Cavallo Trek Hoof Boot and recommend it highly to everyone.  The benefits are almost too numerous to list in an article, but the bottom line is you can trust Cavallo Hoof Boots to provide optimal protection and comfort in any terrain for the barefoot horse.  Review the many benefits and uses for yourself listed on their website:

By Laurie Harris, Baron Fork Ridge Horse Camp, Arkansas
Laurie has used Cavallo boots for her horses exclusively for over 6 years.

1,000 Rides - $1 Million Dollars - In ONE Month

Throughout the month of March! 
Riders - Ride Hosts - Sponsors - Horses 
Working Together for One Vision

What Are We Doing – ACTHA, with a lot of help from you and industry partners is working to hold 1,000 Rides, $1,000,000 in one month. We’re looking to bring a national awareness about the benefits of therapeutic horse programs, brought to us by Path International for over 40 years and the over 850 professional centers and over 4200 instructors to mainstream America – to the non horse community as well as to all corners and disciplines of the horse world. More than 7,400 Path, Intl members help 56,000 children and adults with physical, mental and emotional challenges find strength and independence through the power of the horse each year.
It'll take a village to accomplish this monumental effort, we're in need of event hosts, volunteers, riders, and sponsors to make the dream a reality. We're asking everyone, near and far, to help spread the word by using your professional and personal network of friends and business contacts to give recognition to this national effort. Chances are good that there's a local Path Intl center in your hometown, and everyone has a friend or family member that could benefit from the many activities they offer. So please, tell your friends, post it everywhere on social media, use all your resources to spread the word... We need your help to make it happen!
There are many ways to get involved - Help where you can!
SPONSORS - Some wonderful sponsors have been serving PATH INTL. for years. They can't do it alone, as great as they are. Join us and them! Already ACTHA partners are stepping up to help promote the event, some are providing prizes, others are providing networking and publicity. We're asking everyone in the equine industry to do what they can to help make the dream a reality for PATH International and thier community Centers. There's no effort that is too small or unappreciated to help with this undertaking. There's one in your hometown and everyone has a friend or family member that could benefit from the many activities they offer. For so many, it's personal, and it's good for all of us. And there's even a hidden bonus! Our noble friend, the horse is also being served with great proud jobs. Over 8,000 of them currently.
RIDERS - Visit our Events page and find a Trail Challenge or an Arena Obstacle Challenge near you and join in on the fun. You'll enjoy the day, help your local therapeutic riding center, and help with ACTHA's mission of putting horses back to work. Remember, you don't have to be a member in order to ride! Check out the calendar (, find a ride, find a friend, and we'll see you both there!
News flash! This just in...Cavallo has pledged $15 per rider donation for the first 500 riders to sign up for PATH INTL event that agree to show up sporting their Cavallo Boots! This $7,500 will be contributed to PATH INTL in all your names by Cavallo. In addition anyone associated with the rides, whether as a rider, volunteer, judge, contributor etc. will recieve a 25% discount on anything in Cavallo's store from NOW UNTIL THE LAST RIDE OR 3/31/14!
EVENT HOSTS: Consider hosting an event. Hosts across the country are stepping up to hold events in support of the Shamrock Path 2014 effort. Whether it's one of our Arena Obstacle Challenges, held in any arena, ring or field, or our Competitive Trail Challenge, over a 6 mile course, we've got the resources to help you bring riders, volunteers and prizes to your event. We provide the liability insurance, and you are given personal assistance by one of our dedicated Ride Coordinators. If you can host a party, you can host an ACTHA event! We provide you with all the resources, special prize boxes, training, and knowledge gained by putting on almost 2,000 events just like yours. You provide the local boots on the ground, a few volunteers and some time planning and organizing. You'll need a location to hold your event, on public or private land, and a place to park 15-25 trailers. To learn more about the benefits of hosting an event, click ( or email
This is much bigger than any one organization and we are honored to be the conduit to a greater awareness of Path International and YOUR LOCAL CENTERS. We'd love to talk to you in more depth about what we're up to and how YOU can be involved.

Email - or call at 434-989-1437.

There are so many ways you can help -
Sponsor. If you can't sponsor, Host. If you can't Host, Ride. If you can't Ride, Volunteer.... Just get involved!

Colic Prevention Tips

A Tip for Preventing Colic in Horses:

Management can play a key role in preventing colic so look for some common sense tips coming your way from your sponsors of Equine GutFlush. We'd rather prevent any abdominal pain in horses, so here is tip one:

Hay is best fed free-choice, good clean hay. If the hay is even a little bit moldy or dusty, it can affect and hurt the horses lungs and impair their breathing ability thereafter.

Hay should supply half of the horse's feeding program if not more. When feeding grain try to break it into two or more feeding's vs. one large meal. You don't want to overload the horse's digestive system. As this can cause abdominal pain and digestive problem's as well.

* Rule of thumb: More hay (roughage) less concentrates (grain). Plus, I always like to add a little water (warm water in the winter time) in the feed to make it more palatable too.

Happy Trails, Pam

Member of the Week: Coleen Agner

Introducing this week's Member of the Week, Coleen Agner, she's the one with the shades on!

"This member and host, Coleen Agner, has been with ACTHA a long time. Her rides are legend in Florida, consistently wonderfully attended and managed with emphasis on fun. All proceeds go to the non profit that preserves, creates and maintains exquisite horse trails in the piney woods of Florida. She works tirelessly for the cause and has been a cornerstone of support for trail riding and every member that rides with her. A wonderful inspiration to us all down here as a member. Just recently she held a great ride at RO Ranch Equestrian Park in Mayo, Florida! There were many smiling faces and happy horses and riders. She had the place done up really nice and her obstacles were fun, too. You can't find a better lady to put on rides!"

Congratulations to to Coleen Agner, for being this week's Member of the Week and showing great spirit! Many thanks to Molly's Custom Silver for sponsoring this weekly event. Molly's Custom Silver is ACTHA's official silversmith! ACTHA Member of the Week nominations remain anonymous. If you would like to nominate an ACTHA member, Ride Host, judge or volunteer, you may do so by clicking here: Or, you may send your nomination along with one or two good photos of large size to .

A Message From Equine GutFlush

Tips For Reducing Equine Colic

1. Make all feed changes gradually.

2. Don’t feed on sand.

3. De-worm regularly.

4. Do more frequent, small feedings.

5. Minimize carbohydrates. (horses are best adapted to eat grass and hay)

6. Supply plenty of fresh water and provide salt.

7. In cold weather, offer warm water.

8. Provide regular exercise.

9. Check on your horse at least twice a day.

10. Have their teeth checked or floated at least once or twice a year.

We want to see healthy happy tummies here at ACTHA. Our sponsor, Equine GutFlush helps your horse through mild colic, and can have him back on his hooves in about 45 minutes. Visit their website today to learn more about the signs of colic, and how you can help your horse!

Click here to visit Equine GutFlush online >>

Member of the Week, Selena Lucas!

Introducing this week's member of the week, Ride Host and rider, Selena Lucas!

"As a kid, Selena showed Walking Horses. When just starting out she leased a mare named Lace and later owned her own gelding Lester. Nowadays, she has chickens, goats, cats, a dog and besides her gorgeous horse, Prince she also owns a Belgian Draft Horse named Cody. 

Selena is the type of person that is always in a happy mood, if I am having a bad day and have her over for a ride, she will make me laugh and smile, she has a good sense of humor and loves all her animals very much. 

If Selena sets out to organize an event (such as her ACTHA AOC) she leaves no stone unturned, she gives it 110%, really works hard to get nice prizes donated and makes sure everyone involved has a great time and leaves with something. Selena and her dad are also leaders of Rusty Spurs 4-H. Horse based 4-H group in our area. Selena has always been involved in 4-H and showed at her state fair in 4-H when she was a youngster. Not only does she help out these kids, she also helps with a bowling league on the weekends! She's truly a good soul and a great friend. She really deserves this award!!!"

Congratulations to to Selena Lucas of West Virginia, for being this week's Member of the Week and showing great spirit! Many thanks to Molly's Custom Silver for sponsoring this weekly event. Molly's Custom Silver is ACTHA's official silversmith! ACTHA Member of the Week nominations remain anonymous. If you would like to nominate an ACTHA member, Ride Host, judge or volunteer, you may do so by clicking here: Or, you may send your nomination along with one or two good photos of large size to .

This is My Trailhorse: Little Miss Thundercloud

This is my Trail Horse… By Val Delana

I first set eyes on Little Miss Thundercloud as she came cantering out of the woods near Athens, TX, with her two mule running buddies.  So very black with that perfect white star and one of the prettiest TN Walking Horse canters I had ever seen, it was love at first sight.  Well, it was for me that is, Missy had other ideas.  Wild as a March hare since she had very little handling in her first year of life, she turned tail and ran away.

We soon coaxed her into a pen and then our little stock trailer, and set off for home so I could begin bonding with her.  Again, she had other ideas.  We opened the trailer door when we got home and she took off across a 20 Acre pasture at a full gallop.  Hmmmm……how was I going to bond if she was not willing?

18 years later and Missy and I have been through so much together.  She became my first Parelli Natural Horsemanship partner and we worked through to Level 2.  That established the bond that I had so dreamed of that first day.  We have covered hundreds of miles of trails in 7 states and we trust each other every step of the way.  In 2011, after competing in ACTHA for less than a year, we tried out for America’s Favorite Trail Horse and become 1 of the 100 horse/rider teams to go on to the finals.  What a fabulous experience that was!

Missy has achieved her Bronze Medal with ACTHA and while she was doing that, she continued showing on a State level and competing successfully in the Trail Obstacle classes.  She often gives ‘test rides’ at the ACTHA events because so many folks here in Texas have never experienced the 3 gaits of the TN Walking Horse.  She can do them all and you can carry a glass of wine while she does them. 

Many thanks to Durvet Apple Wormer for sponsoring "This is my Trail Horse".  Little Miss Thundercloud will receive a gift from Durvet. Share your "This is My Trailhorse" story with ACTHA Facebook by leaving your story with a photo in the private message box of the ACTHA Facebook page or by emailing

Charity of the Week: Reins of Life Youth Ranch

A Ranch of Rescued Dreams . . . 

Imagine for a moment that you were a child hiding in your room because mom or dad or both are drunk or high again.

Imagine that you were taken from your home again to go live with a relative or a stranger.

Imagine that all you have known as a home, good or bad, is taken away.

Imagine how lost, afraid or angry you could be. 

Imagine the invisible shell that you go into to retreat. 

We at Reins Of Life Youth Ranch work hard to restore a sense of normalcy in their world of hate and addiction. And every time our rescued horses seem to understand what these kids are going through. The abuse, hunger and neglect. These horses listen to problems that weigh down those little shoulders. They give these children their power back by responding to the reins, leg pressure and voice commands.

The Reins of Life Youth Ranch was established in June 2008. Since then we have taken in numerous horses from abuse, neglect, starvation and being unwanted and have nursed them back to health. Some strive from the nutrition and attention that they receive, but some, sadly, are just made comfortable for their last days.

The farm does so much more than rescue angels in horse hair. Each summer the farm opens for children to visit that have similar backgrounds to the horses. They can relate to the horses and on many occasions they form a tender connection, forming a strong bond between the two.

The farm strives to mentor and give guidance in the skills of basic horsemanship, including horse care, grooming and tacking and riding lessons. Through this summer program we help children to conquer their fears, provide ways to boost self confidence and even to mend families. We truly believe that if you put an unwanted horse with a special needs child, you will see an overwhelming bond being formed right before your eyes. Horse Therapy is becoming one of the fastest growing and greatest therapies offered.

To Reins of Life, special needs takes on many shapes and forms such as: mental, physical, emotional, and functional. Sometimes a child comes to the farm that just needs a place to hang out and be a kid. They get to experience farm life, since so many does not get the opportunity to visit grandparents at the farm anymore.

What makes this therapy program so unique, is that many of the horses living at the Reins of Life have come from violent abuse or life threatening neglect. These extraordinary horses, each with their own story of triump and hope, are paired with one leader and one child, for a riding lesson. Allowing time to best serve the unique needs of the child. It is our hope, that with hands on experience, the children will learn values of life, family, faith and trust.

Many great things happened this year on the farm. We had more than 50 volunteers from the local college and high school, which gave us the opportunity to help more children during the summer program than ever before.

Even though , personally, I dealt with my mother being in the nursing home and her stroke that eventually lead to her death, which is the hardest thing in life that has ever happened, we still made a difference in so many children’s lives. Giving them something that they will take with them throughout their lives.

We currently have 21 horses on the farm, 6 dogs, 5 cats and a micro mini pig.

The horse is mentioned 188 times in the bible. The horse is a magnificent and powerful animal. They give us hope and faith and hope makes us who we are.

This letter comes to you to request that the Reins Of Life Youth Ranch be put on your giving list the year so that we can continue to help so many children and angels in horse hair.




How I Found ACTHA . . .

Hello ACTHA friends!

My name is Alex. You may not know me, but I'm ACTHA's social media manager. I started with ACTHA back in June and I've been loving every minute of working with everyone on the staff, and especially you members and subscribers.
My day-to-day tasks involve producing some of the email promotions you see in your inbox and managing ACTHA's social media accounts, including our blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts. I love being able to share stories and pictures that you submit. You all have amazing unique tales involving ACTHA and your very special trail companions. Anytime you feel like sharing, you can send your pictures/stories to me at and I'll get them out there so everyone can see.
I started riding when I was just a little mite. I took lessons at a fabulous facility called Norwood Stables in Savannah, Georgia when I was about 7, and really picked up on riding there. When we moved to Texas, it took a little while for me to return to the horse world, but by the time I was in middle school, I was competing as a hunter/jumper and had my first horse, an off the track Thoroughbred named Special Few, aka Grace.
Grace was a beautiful bay mare with what I affectionately called split personality disorder. One moment you'd have a sweet little girl in your pocket, and the next you had a speed demon snorting fire. I loved her, even though she was difficult at times. When I moved to eventing, we thought she would be a great match, but she had issues with the open spaces and coming back after a jump. So, we retired her to munch hay bales in our front pasture until we sold her several years later, while I got started with a new horse, my wonderful gelding, Veridicus aka Klaus (pictured here).
As full of fire and pep as Grace was, Klaus was the opposite. He was a pokey little guy who was a saint 90% of the time. That other 10% he was a bolter, only when he was scared. He always tried to take care of me, was a patient old soul. He was a plucky little bay who loved peppermints most of all.
We competed at a couple of eventing shows, never placing high because we were too slow. But our dressage scores were always decent, so after those few shows, I decided to move on to strictly dressage. We went to many shows, scoring well up to first level. As I neared the end of my college days, I stopped having time to ride, and had grown frustrated with trainers and a lack of improvement in our movements. I realized I did not have the time to invest in continuing to ride, so I stopped riding.
I graduated, got married, and moved away from home. Far away in fact, from Texas to South Carolina. My mom sold Klaus to a nice lady who was looking for a little guy to love on, and I tried to focus on looking for work in archaeology, to apply my degree, but the pool of jobs that had been there were gone due to budget cuts and other issues. So, I stayed at home, and one day, my mom told me about ACTHA. She said they were a great company, and had some open positions that I ought to apply for.
I was over joyed! I hadn't noticed how much I had missed horses until I saw this opportunity to become re-involved with them. Even though I only see the horses on the screen for now, and read about your stories, I'm re-connected to the community. I cannot wait to get back into riding and own horses again someday. I LOVE renaissance fairs (hence the photo of me in my costume) and want to do haute ecole demonstrations at them someday. A lofty goal, I know, but when you put your mind to something, you have only yourself to stop you!

Anyways, that's enough about me. Looking forward to continuing to work with y'all! -Alex

This is My Trailhorse: Cody - The Best Horse

I’ve been riding for 60 years and Cody is by far the best horse I have ever known. Over the years I’ve developed strong opinions about the “perfect horse”, Cody is as close as I’ve ever seen. Funny thing, Cody came to me by way of the internet. A fellow in Montrose, Colorado was selling him online. I rode him for 4 hours then wrote a check, a pretty large one. Best buy of my life as it turned out. Once I got him home I stared to discover what a special fellow he was. He’s a registered Quarter Horse and was 6 at that time.. then mostly dark gray and dappled. He is the most agile, powerful, yet careful horse I have ever seen. We spend hundreds of hours every summer up in the high country above 10,000 ft. and mostly on rough mountain terrain. I’ve never had a mishap with him or been with anyone I thought was better mounted. Cody is a horseman's dream. Good horses are hard to find and great horses are rare. Cody and I are a perfect match… we both have curiosity, stamina and a joy of getting out in the mountains. I look after him, always careful to make sure I don’t ask him to put a hoof in a dangerous place, let him rest after a long or steep pull and he looks after me, never letting us get in a bad situation. If I chose a path that is less then smart, he says “lets try this way, it’s safer and easier” .. Cody’s never wrong. Nothing scares him… we were on top of a mountain, way above the timberline, at 12,500’ in the Pecos and lightning hit 125 feet from us.. Cody never even flinched. That was more then I could say for me. He told me 13 years ago he didn’t like iron bits so we stopped using them and I had a horsehair bosal made for him, sometimes we just skip a bridle altogether. I have been blessed to share the past 14 years with this outstanding fellow. We are both grey old-timers now but still have the will and strength and I think love of the trail. I truly hope we have many more years in the mountains ahead of us. 

Bill Manns
Santa Fe, NM

Many thanks to Durvet Apple Wormer for sponsoring "This is my Trail Horse". Cody will receive a gift from Durvet. Share your "This is My Trailhorse" story with ACTHA by leaving your story with a photo in the private message box of the ACTHA Facebook page or by emailing 

Charity of the Week: AERO

Arizona Equine Rescue Organization (AERO) was founded in April, 2001 and is a highly specialized health center for rescue horses that require intensive medical care. AERO provides a productive life for unwanted horses and provides a community resource for youth who find solace in spending time with the horses. AERO operates from volunteer hours and relies on charitable contributions from the community.

On Sunday, August 11th, 2013, Phoenix PD were called out to recover a stolen car in the Gila River bottom. They stumbled across a very frail mini horse barely alive. He had been abandoned near the river bottom and unable to find food or water. Volunteers from AERO hurried to help the miniature gelding. The vets named him Shiny Chevy in honor of the stolen car that saved his life.

Upon arriving at AERO’s facility in New River, he collapsed to the ground, simply unable to go any further from extreme starvation. The fight to save Shiny Chevy was on! Soleil Dolce, VP of AERO, physically lifted him back to his feet. He weighed less than 100 pounds, at 9 years old; he was considered a -1 on the body chart used to evaluate a horse’s physical condition. His prognosis wasn’t good, he was in such poor condition, extreme care had to be used to not over-feed him. But Shiny Chevy had the will to survive and he just found a friend and an extremely knowledgeable horsewoman in Soleil. An exam by the Vet dentist determined that he had terrible teeth problems. The sharp edges on his teeth had actually cut a hole in his tongue and his mouth was full of ulcers. After 3 sessions with the dentist, his mouth has healed and he can eat properly. Over the next few weeks he received specialized food and lots of probiotics. 

On September 20th, Shiny Chevy was healthy enough to visit the employees of Roadrunner Pharmacy; their employees took up a collection and donated to AERO. On October 11th, Chevy visited the Az Agribusiness Equine Center in Mesa, where aspiring Vet students learning about equine anatomy painted the bone structure on him and other AERO horses so they could see how the bones moved when the horses moved. On October 12th, at the Large Animal Rescue Training in New River, AZ, Chevy was the live anatomy model and participated in live horse scenarios. On October 23rd, Chevy made his first visit to a bed ridden person and proved to be excellent at therapy. He nudged for more petting and gently enjoyed a carrot. The only challenge he had was the slippery tile floor.
As of November 11th, Chevy is nearly 200 pounds and will need 50-60 more pounds to be at his optimal weight. Shiny Chevy is making great progress is now up for adoption.

Member of the Week: Rowyn Biddle!

Introducing this week's Member of the Week, Junior Rowyn Biddle.

"With first place all but locked in, Junior Rowyn Biddle, age 9, gets thrown by her trusted (at the time) pony DURING THE SOUNDNESS TROT! At first she gets up and dusts herself off...then walks her pony in. She whimpers a little but nothing too big. Later she finds out she was in first place but now must be disqualified...fall of horse or rider = automatic DQ. The sobs come back, but just for a little while. 

After the new first place is awarded to the next highest score junior I heard Rowyn say to her Mom...."It's ok Mom, she deserved it. She must have trained harder than me."

ACTHA sportsmanship...from the mouth of babes."

Congratulations to to young Rowyn for being this week's Member of the Week and showing great spirit! Many thanks to Molly's Custom Silver for sponsoring this weekly event. Molly's Custom Silver is ACTHA's official silversmith! ACTHA Member of the Week nominations remain anonymous. If you would like to nominate an ACTHA member, Ride Host, judge or volunteer, you may do so by clicking here: Or, you may send your nomination along with one or two good photos of large size to .

Legacy Mustang Preservation - Part 4 (Final)

By Craig Dodson
Legacy Mustang Preservation
Continued from last week...

Since the event in 2011, Jamie, Craig, and Christina have founded Legacy Mustang Preservation, in Louisa, VA. The nonprofit organization is committed to finding homes for the forgotten. They take the unadopted mustangs from auctions, unsuccessful adopters, or rescue, as well as unadopted mustangs from BLM adoptions, gentle them, and find them suitable adoptive homes. Since 2011, the organization has placed over sixty mustangs in forever homes. Each of these horses were bound for facilities like the one Willie was in or worse. The three trainers also serve as often as possible as clinicians and judges for ACTHA events, promoting the mustang and sharing what the mustang has taught them with ACTHA members and riders.

This is not the story of some famous movie or trick horse. This is not a story of some rich person who threw marketing money at making herself famous. This is a woman with a dream and the horse that ignited a passion. As a result, the Legacy crew have committed to saving horses like Willie for a lifetime. He is the proof that the mustang is not only viable in the East, but can compete with the best. He is not the most beautiful, nor is he the biggest or the strongest. He does, however, have the heart of a horse that understands what his owner wants and chooses to give her everything he has. If the stars had lined up any other way, Willie would still be standing in a pen in Wyoming with no family, no purpose, and no future.
Sixty of his fellow mustangs would probably be there, too, were it not for the love he experienced with Jamie Dodson.

One Foot in the Stirrup

A wise Jedi Master once said, “The truths that we cling to rely greatly on our point of view.”
When Robin had her awesome idea to have everyone on the ACTHA staff write something so that our members could get to know us better, I suddenly felt like the new kid at school. What if they didn't like me? As I hesitated, Robin threatened to write my piece herself. She was going to tell you all how I spend my days on a beach in Key West, sipping Margaritas and chasing cowboys. Wow, that sounds great! I told her I couldn't wait to read it. Then it occurred to me: If you're someone in Montana who is just thawing out from last winter and here Thanksgiving is right around the might also view anyone living in Florida as having some sort of Disney World life. Meanwhile, I look around here and see beautiful lakes that I can't swim in because of the gators. I see mosquitoes the size of Volkswagon Beetles, snakes, spiders and multiple bugs I can't identify. Endless piles of sand in my boots, and hurricanes, lightning strikes and sinkholes that have us mortgaging our first-born children to buy more insurance. Millions of people save for years to spend a few precious vacation days here, and I see greener pastures up north. There you have it: Point of View.

So are you a 'glass half-empty' or a 'glass half-full' kind of person? Seems like we rarely find anyone in-between. I try to be half-full, but then there are 'those days'. We all have them. What really inspires me is watching folks overcome the worst, and that pushes me to try to do better: I've seen Ride Hosts persevere...gritting out a genuine smile and forcing a bounce in their step to see their ride through...even though their daughter was in the hospital after falling from her horse, or a storm had completely turned their arena to quicksand, or a government shutdown had closed the state park where they were supposed to ride. I've seen Riders overcoming extreme challenges with their health, determined to have one more day in the saddle. I listened like a little kid to the story of the wild mustang who won an ACTHA ribbon just a few weeks after experiencing a human touch for the first time. There have been hundreds of owners bringing rescued horses back from the brink and showing them how to enjoy life again. I've seen juniors terrified of their horse transform into confident riders who just can't wait to ride again tomorrow. These folks love to ride. They love the causes the rides support, and they love the beauty of the next trail and the challenge of the next obstacle.

Then there's the other point of view. Perhaps the truck broke down or the ride started late. Perhaps the horse was too frisky or the porta-pots never arrived. Maybe some judges didn't show up or they ran out of burgers. Maybe there was some unsportsmanlike behavior that got on everyone's nerves, or absolutely nothing went right and the host hid in the barn. There are hundreds of things that could go wrong throughout the day, and the irritation of these items can quickly overshadow all the good stuff. It's so easy to vent, especially with the online media and the pop culture that loves the drama and venom of those so-called reality shows. But ultimately, it's each person's point of view that decides the overall success of the day. How else could you explain the email I receive? I'll get an indignant note letting me know that 'X' ride was 'the worst one ever!'. Yet a few messages down and I find another note from another rider filled with enthusiasm, telling me what a great time they had on that very same ride and how they've already signed up for their next one! There you have it: Point of View.

Can things go wrong? Sure. Are some things inexcusable? Of course. Should we try walking in the other guy's boots or try helping? Naturally! Should we always try to do better and learn from our mistakes? Absolutely! Yet for anyone out there who feels like a crispy critter, I'd like to say that while the criticisms can get disheartening at times, I choose to see hope. After all, we would never roast a stranger, a client, or even a friend the way some of us get raked over the coals. The only people we tell how we truly feel are family. Why? Because at the end of the day, we are still family, and we know they'll forgive us and love us anyway. So regardless of your point of view, whether you're the fire-breathing dragon or the toasted marshmallow, we're so glad you're in this family. Our family. The ACTHA family. As we approach Thanksgiving and I'm asked what am I thankful for this year, my answer has to include my large, new, wild, unpredictable, uniquely wonderful ACTHA brothers and sisters. Definitely a full cup!

So let me raise a toast with my Margarita glass that this next year will find all our glasses half-full: That we'll see the thousands of things our website does right, instead of the 7 things it can't do yet. That we'll see all the hard work the hosts put into their rides, instead of the glitches that slip through the cracks. That we'll laugh with each other out on the trail and lend a helping hand and a supporting word where it's needed most. Working together we all win. No...much more than that...the horses win! Now if you'll excuse me, I'd better head back to the beach. You never know when Master Kenobi will come loping along on his Boga and ask me to go for a ride!

By Ann Kinsey

Charity of the Week: WHY Ranch

By Amy Meyer
It all started with a vision that began a great adventure in my life. I had dedicated 12 years of my life to take care of my Grandparents and Aunt. When the last of my relatives in Las Vegas, my Grandmother, went home to be with the Lord in 2005, I began to pray for God to reveal His purpose for my life.

After hearing the Testimonies of Kim & Troy Meeder about Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Bend, OR, I knew the calling on my life. The Calling? To reach out and positively change the lives of Socially-Challenged youth and their families in Las Vegas. Kinda Cool, huh?

Like Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid standing on the edge of the cliff getting ready to jump into the unknown, I entrusted my life to God, made a choice, took a step and surrendered to a journey ahead. Now, I could fill you in on each and every little thing that's transpired since that fateful day when I realized the calling on my life. But, you can read it ALL for yourself on .

First, let me share some exciting news... WHY Ranch is bringing the Celebration to the Nation as we launch our powerful, gripping and sometimes funny Documentary Fall 2013. I want you to be the first to see it. So, keep visiting for details.
Come, now. Skip down the path with me to present day.

Eight years in the making... to now CELEBRATE FIVE Incredible Years of the WHY Ranch 'Diamonds in the Rough' Equestrian Education program!! We have successfully & positively changed the lives of 35 Socially Challenged youth, their families, their school situations and our Community. I can't help but SHOUT about the Stories of these courageous kids. They Made a Choice. Took a Step. Followed Through.

The kids who join our program, such as Angela, learn to proactively handle adversity they may face when being bullied, judged, made fun of or encouraged to "go along with the group." Angela came to WHY Ranch a year and a half ago. Her parents were distraught over Angela's "friends" encouraging her to end her life. Watching Angela today, you'd never guess that she actually entertained the thought of ending her life. You'll see a smiling, confident young woman ready to face her next adventure.

The Greatest Gift I've Ever been given is when a mother, and especially a father, come to me with tear-filled eyes expressing, "Thanks for giving me back my kid."
My Secret? Y'all, I'm not doing anything special that anyone of you couldn't do. I've simply Trusted God. Made a Choice. Took a Step and Followed Through. I didn't embark upon this adventure alone. I've surrounded myself with amazing people who have a Passion for Horses and making a positive impact in the lives of youth who are falling through the cracks and simply need a 'Leg Up.'

Now, I know that many of you are asking, "why is WHY Ranch so small? Why does WHY Ranch operate out of Host Stables?" Well, all I can say is that WHY Ranch is a 'Grassroots' organization. We've started small and have experienced steady growth through the years. We're very grateful to our partner ranches and stables that opened their facilities to assist us while we grow. However, Our Goal is to have our own property to serve more kids every day of the week. However, we can't do it alone. I'm going to be BOLD here. You are our Community. The very community WHY Ranch is changing every year. One Child at a time. WHY Ranch Cannot Survive without Your Financial Support. ALL donations go directly to our program unless otherwise stated. I pray that through reading our article, your heart has been touched, softened and open to starting a monthly sponsorship or one time donation.

Make a Choice to support WHY Ranch. Take a Step and visit . Follow through by supporting WHY Ranch with a Monthly Sponsorship.

Thank You for Positively Impacting on our Community, One Child at a time.

Be Blessed & Stay Groovy!

This is My Trailhorse: Cotton Pickin Blue, aka Bluebell

Hi, my name is Deb Carnes and about 3 years ago I fell in love with the man of my dreams!  He was just a green broke high spirited fellow.  My uncle, who I can accredit all my knowledge, love and passion for horses to  said "You know that little mare of yours is too big to ride, take the little blue roan and see what you can do with him."  That was it, my Uncle Hank knew what he was doing.  I was in love!  Needless to say he never went back to my uncle's house.  After careful negotiating, we purchased the blue roan named Cotton Pickin Blue.
Well me and this boy have climbed some mountains in our short career together.  We have both overcome our stubborn streaks on certain days.  We have climbed hills in West Texas together, ravines and valleys in East Texas, swam in rivers and lakes.  Suffered long separation after I had to have 2 shoulder surgeries last year and a couple of injuries.  He has tolerated everything I can throw at him, and trust me I come up with some doozies.  Everyday he wakes up and probably says, 'what has that crazy woman built in my pasture today!?'  
But most of all he is my friend.  He knows I will lead him down the trail safely and I know he will carry me down the trail safely.  I have a three year old granddaughter and she loves to ride Blue, and this horse carries that baby anywhere she wants him to go!  We have even done the charity events for handicap children.  It amazes me that this horse knows that these are children with special needs!  It reflects in his every action while they are on his back. Every time I look into this horse's eyes I see a beautiful soul, and I am amazed at the accomplishments this fellow and I have made together in just 3 years.
Our latest venture is ACTHA,  and we sure have had some fun doing it.  We don't always place but we are both new to this style of riding and excitement, and loving every minute.  I now make every event possible!  Why? Because there is nothing better than riding a fine horse through new country and the friends and fellowships we have made is beautiful! 
This may not be a loving rescue story but this is our love story and I know in my heart that I have found that special relationship all the big trainers talk about.  I have found my forever horse.  After all isn't that what it is all about!  I look forward to maturing and spending my golden year on this handsome, trustworthy fellow!  Love ya Bluebell and you too Uncle Hank!

Many thanks to Durvet Apple Wormer for sponsoring "This is my Trail Horse". Bluebell will receive a gift from Durvet. Share your "This is My Trailhorse" story with ACTHA by leaving your story with a photo in the private message box of the ACTHA Facebook page or by emailing 

Meet the Staff: Robin's Story

If it’s true what they say about being lucky to have one or two good horses in your lifetime then I have been truly blessed. I look back over the past +30 years that I’ve had horses and can count many as my special friends. Even the “problem children” have a spot in my heart and I’m grateful for them, they taught me to be a better rider, problem solver, and I’d like to think, a better person.

My all-time favorite horse is my 28 year old Arabian, Nacho. I’ve spent the last 20 years with him and he’s carried me many miles. From endurance, hunting, showing, team penning, working cattle, to trail riding, we’ve tried it all. We got him from a show barn, as a “crazy Arab burn out” who after 5 successful show years, now couldn’t even be ridden without cow-kicking and laying down. His future wasn’t bright and he was destined for auction. It broke my heart that he was being so callously tossed aside after he just wouldn’t perform to the standards anymore. After some much needed rest, we hit the trails and never looked back. Oh, the obstacles we had to overcome! He’d never been out on the trail, wouldn’t cross water, didn’t know how to navigate even the smallest ditch and I often wondered “what have I gotten myself into?” After spending two hours at a small ditch that you could just step across, he finally just put his nose down, sniffed, and stepped across. Really?? But because I was patient and waited instead of fighting and forcing, we set the stage for everything else he’d encounter on the trail. 

He began to enjoy the new challenges and look forward to every trail ride. We found his true love in being a trail horse and he quickly got to where he’d load himself on the trailer at every opportunity, ready to go! Over the years, our partnership developed and he blossomed into my “go to” horse instead of my biggest challenge. Trail riding has been so much a part of my life, that my husband and I were married on a trail ride, on our trusty mounts (yes, Nacho was my guy!). He’s my best buddy, my partner, and he’ll always be the horse that all the others are measured by.

I had the opportunity to take our horses up to our local church recently for a function, to provide “pony rides”. It was on a weeknight, I’d worked all day, and was tired. Everything that could go wrong while we were getting things ready to go, did. Two horses had found a way out of the fence and disappeared, the truck was not facing the right way, the weather was not cooperating, and I was late. In my haste, I forgot brushes, mounting block, helmets, you name it, I forgot it (at least the horses were on the trailer); we’ve all been there, right? I hop on the phone, and one of my dear friends (whom I’ve roped into coming to help) brings the missing articles from her barn, and we’re off to the races. If you’ve never had dozens of sugar-crazed children, dressed in costumes, charging at your horses in the twilight, give it a try…talk about desensitizing! I watched my old Arabian, drop his head and patiently wait for the children to untangle themselves from around his legs and pet him; the look of a wise old man was so apparent. Humbled, I forgot my impatience and embraced the moment, and was able to enjoy the obvious delight of the children to be around the horses. Talk about a wonderful night…all because my horse showed me what I should be doing and what was important.

Our horses can teach us so much if we take the time to listen and learn. I truly believe many of life’s lessons can be learned around your horse. I don’t subscribe to any one clinician’s philosophies, but wholeheartedly believe that if you find a way to communicate with your horse, work hard to keep the communication going, that together you’ll develop the most incredible friendship and relationship you’ll ever experience. It’ll touch your soul and you’ll never be the same.

Although he’s mostly retired now, he’s still the horse that’s always at the gate with kisses, softly blowing in my ear, nuzzling me and wrapping his neck around me. Occasionally, we’ll saddle up and take a quiet, easy hack along our beautiful trails and we’ll both be reminded of the trails we traveled and the sights we’ve seen together. I encourage you to develop the partnership with your horse to be all that it can be and remember that your relationship with your horse can be one of both teaching and learning and it’s not just about riding, but life that are the lessons to be learned. Get out and learn! See you down the trail!

Legacy Mustang Preservation Part 3

By Craig Dodson Continued from last week... On the weekend of the first ACTHA event, Willie was barely two weeks under saddle. He had a bit of obstacle work in the arena and several trail rides. Craig and Christina Flint, Jamie's Assistant Trainer at Legacy Horse Training, rode trusty quarter horses to babysit the young mustang. Ironically, as the ride took shape, Craig's horse struggled at a few obstacles. Christina's horse did well but not without difficulty. Willie, however, was both calm and confident, acting as though he had been there for years.

Following the ride, Willie was invited to the awards presentation. He stood under the tent, with each award winner pausing for a photo with Willie, the ribbon winning must. As the awards were announced, Jamie was shocked to hear Willie had earned sixth place in the Pleasure Division, just two weeks under saddle! The first experience was a weekend with a warm reception, new friends, and competition without regard to breed, confirmation, or who has the most expensive shirt and saddle. The Legacy crew not only found success, but also found a calling.

While at the Palmyra ride, Jamie and Willie were invited to an ACTHA ride near Roanoke, VA, on the day that ACTHA was hosting rides all over the country to benefit the American Mustang. Willie was asked to come down and represent the breed for the ride. Doing the same as before, but adding camping to the list of challenges. Willie spent the weekend tied for the first time. As expected, Willie out shined his trusty companions.

Christina was able to earn a ribbon, while Willie became the only mustang in the United States to win one of the "Ride for the Mustangs" events. At the time of the ride, Willie had been under saddle six weeks.

Gaining some confidence and steam from the win, Jamie completed her 90 day preparation with a third ride in Palmyra, hosted again by Robin.  She earned a second place, but most of all, her mustang was ready for action. At the Makeover event in Tennessee, Willie and Jamie earned an eighth place overall finish. The hardest part of the event was the auction following the show, but Jamie was able to purchase Willie, bringing him home once and for all.

Charity of the Week: Tackfully Teamed Riding Academy

Tackfully Teamed Riding Academy

Working at a therapeutic horseback riding center gives me so many inspirational stories that it is hard to choose just one. So I decided to write about a volunteer/rider that participated in the ACTHA competitive trail ride last April at Dogwood Farm in Axton, VA. Michael Netherton began volunteering at Tackfully Teamed Riding Academy, Inc. a year and a half ago. He is an intelligent and very hard working man but he was forced to retire early because he has early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. As he entered the moderate stage of the disease, he could no longer continue to work at his demanding job, so he became a daily volunteer for Tackfully Teamed. The first thing I noticed about him was no matter what job you gave him, he did it to perfection. He took pride in everything he did, even cleaning stalls, but he could not remember simple two step directions. I had very little patience at first, because I felt like I did not have time to watch him or retrain him each day. Then I began to see a very kind sensitive person emerging. The riders, volunteers, parents, and even the horses loved him. I began to realize that his lack of short term memory did not deter his innate sensitivity to others. I started having him work horses for the center. He exhibited a natural relaxed way mounted or on the ground. I also noticed that his short term memory showed a marked improvement after he rode a horse. Gradually, Michael began to make his short term memory of the center long term memory. He became a vital part of the staff and volunteer force at Tackfully Teamed. Last April, Michael participated in the ACTHA competitive trail ride and won one of the obstacles in his division. He was so excited, he wants to compete again next year. He continues to struggle with his short term memory every day. Even though he assumes his future is bleak, he shows up each day with a smile on his face, and a positive attitude. Michael appears to turn his fears inward as he grabs life and lives it. He does not do this just for himself, but for his family, friends, and each and every rider with a disability here at the center. Tackfully Teamed hopes Michael will be around for a long time. He has an important job here, and he does it well.

Susan Warren
Director of Tackfully Teamed Riding Academy
Visit our website at