Introducing the ‘Not Too Old to Learn Challenge’!

not too old to learn challengeWe’ve been celebrating the NickerNews and BestHorsePractices community with guest columns and photo albums dedicated to our readers and their equines.

Inspiring stuff.

And as often happens in the dark, quiet months of winter, I got to thinking:
Let’s do something with these inspirations. Let’s use them to boost our own horsemanship goals.

Credit goes to Debbie Hight, Rob Rowbottom, Randy Rieman and Joe Wolter. With actions and comments, they’ve motivated me to set goals and hold myself accountable.
Debbie and Rob are working with Postcard Jack, Maine’s most winning harness racer. Read more here.
Clinicians Randy and Joe urge riders to constantly challenge themselves and step outside comfort zones. Read more about Rieman here and Wolter here.

Welcome to the Not Too Old to Learn Challenge!


From top: Wolter, Hight and Rowbottom, Rieman

I have two goals: to horse pack in the backcountry and to compete in the Impact of the Horse, a versatility-type event to benefit mustangs, held annually in Heber City, Utah. I’d like to bring Jolene, who would be the first mule ever to compete. Read about the event.
It’ll be quite a challenge. She’s a tough nut to crack and I’m just your average rider, with next-to-no formal education. Read more about Jolene here.

In other to accomplish the Challenge, I’m breaking down necessary steps.

1.    Agree to the challenge and sharing your initiative with a few friends. Call it an ‘initial commitment.’
2.    Set small, incremental goals. Neither of us feel comfortable in arena settings, for instance, so we’ll visit arenas regularly.
3.    Assess strengths and weaknesses (like the aforementioned nervousness in public settings).
4.    Find support when needed. I expect to ask Steve Peters regularly for insight on training hurdles. My friend, Raechel Nelson, has agreed to the Challenge, too.
5.     When things go sideways, just say it’s OK. To be challenged is to win. I’m fine with things not going as anticipated, as long as I try my best.

Consider hitching your wagon to the Not Too Old to Learn Challenge. Throughout the year, we’ll be staying in touch and profiling readers as they work through their Challenges.
Giddy Up!


Toughest Winter Warrior Wins Muck Boots

more-snow-500x281It may be a Worst Ever Winter, but for Muck Boot wearers, it’s a bit less painful: “At least my feet stay warm and dry,” they say.

Who among you has it worst?

In this record-breaking season, we’re rewarding one lucky, tough reader with a new pair of Reign Muck Boots!

To Enter:

Participants must email to or Facebook message us a picture (and comments) of their tough winter. Visit our Facebook page here.mucky

  • How big are your snow banks?
  • How frozen are your and your horses’ eyelashes?
  • How treacherous is your path to the muck pile?
  • How snow-swamped is your barn?

We will accept entries through Friday, February 27.

To Vote:

We’ll post all the entries in a Facebook album and here on NickerNews and BestHorsePractices. Beginning Monday and ending Wednesday (March 2-4), vote for your favorite. Share the contest and encourage your friends to vote, too!  Click here for our facebook page. (Not on facebook? We’ll share it through blog posts, too.)mck

Winner announced Thursday, March 5.

Our own Emily Thomas Luciano, marketing director for Cayuse Crest Communications, talks about her pair of Muck Boot Reign:

I’ve never had a pair of boots that were totally worthy of all-day wear, until now. From slipping them on to feed first thing in the morning to tromp through the Florida mud and muck, to hosing them off later in the day so I can head to the grocery store, they’re the perfect boots!

When I say I put them on first thing in the morning, I mean literally. Here’s my 6:30 a.m. look, complete with PJ’s and my Muck Boots.

While all Muck Boots are waterproof and easily cleaned, the differentiating factor for me is that the Reigns are totally stylish! So stylish, in fact, that I don’t feel limited to wearing them just with my barn/chore/errand clothes. Throw ’em on with a pair of skinny jeans and a sweater and head to the movies!

Heel spur makes kicking off easy.

Heel spur makes kicking off easy.

I have yet to ride in these boots, but I imagine they’d work well in that regard, too. They have a smooth enough sole with a nice, block roper heel.

I’m so excited that one lucky NickerNews & BestHorsePractices reader will get a pair!

I’ll second that and add a note about two other features to admire, especially in cold weather:

  • Pull tab at the top of the boot makes them easy to get on, even with gloves.
  • Heel spur makes them makes them easy to kick off.
Easily grabbable pull tab

Easily grabbable pull tab

Here’s what Muck Boot has to say about the Reign:

Designed as an all-purpose equestrian boot that can be worn seamlessly from mucking out the stalls to a night out with friends. Built for women in mind on a sleek, stylish silhouette, the Reign provides the ultimate fit, comfort, and protection. And, as always with Muck, the boot is 100% waterproof, lightweight, and flexible.
Unique XpressCool lining keeps feet cool in warm weather, perfect for that warm day spent mucking around the barn. Available in sizes 5-11, the Reign comes in black and brown, or with accents of purple or hot pink.

Bryan Neubert on the mend

Bryan Neubert, one of the few people who worked with the men many consider to be the founders of natural horsemanship: Ray Hunt, Bill and Tom Dorrance, is coming to Maine later this year. Click here for events.

bryan nTo hear him tell it, Neubert just lucked out. He happened to find work with Ray Hunt and happened to live next door to Tom Dorrance.
“In hindsight, I was extremely blessed. I could not have been in a better place anywhere,” said Neubert, who travels widely as a clinician but is spending some down time at home in Alturas, CA. In December, he fell from a hay stack and broke his arm.

Since then, he’s had his arm in either a cast or a velcro splint, unable to bridle or saddle his horses. He tried riding in a recent sale with Patti, his wife, lending a hand. “It wasn’t too fun,” he said. So he’s been working with his dogs and tending to non-horse chores at his 425-acre ranch. In a few months, though, he’ll be back on the clinic road.

Hunt and Dorrance both considered clinics an unrewarding occupation, recalled Neubert. It’s a sentiment he sometimes shares.
keeta0068“Occasionally someone takes it and runs with it. If you find one person in the bunch who wants to learn, that’ll be a success,” said Neubert. “People think a clinic is the answer, that it’s going to turn the light on,” continued Neubert. “But it depends on what you do with it.”
Neubert tells his students to assume they’re not going to make progress during the clinic. “It’s going to be at home that it happens, after you start practicing,” he said.
Bryan traveled with Tom Dorrance as he started to offer clinics in the 1970’s. Back then, holding clinics was a brand new idea. “I thought the word ‘clinic’ had something to do with a hospital,” said Neubert with a laugh. And yes, he confirmed, he has never turned on a computer. Ever. He’ll take Intuition over Internet anytime.
Neubert said Dorrance told his students, “Don’t try too hard because it’ll keep you from getting it.”
Neubert sees this in his students, too.
“If I’m asking a second grader, ‘what’s nine plus nine?’ and I tell him ‘I’m going to whack you if you don’t know the answer’…That’s not conducive to learning. If people are calm, they’ll get it…Cool it. Let it happen.”

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