In 2008 from my rural home in Maine, I launched the online magazine, NickerNews. It had all of three articles. The first newsletter went to sixteen readers. Now, there are hundreds of articles and blog posts. There are advertisers, sponsors, and guest columnists. There are awards and a second website, BestHorsePractices. It’s been quite a ride.
My goals with NickerNews were twofold: sharing news and opinions while fulfilling an itch to write. Call it a journalist’s craving; I’d spent many years as a reporter and missed it dearly.
For me, A Rider’s Reader provides a chance to step out of the saddle and look back.
For you, A Rider’s Reader provides insight into one woman’s journey with horses. Like your journey, it has delightful and dreadful moments. Like your life with horses, it’s full of pain, work, love, and learning. This book is not a memoir or a reporter’s clips folder, but it has elements of both. Think of it as an eclectic grab bag of experiences, reflections, and research.
A Rider’s Reader is ordered from light to heavy then back to light. In other words, it begins with more personal anecdotes and works toward more serious topics before ending with fiction. There is a rough chronology to the entries, as I’ve traveled and gained and lost herd members.
In the opening chapters, you’ll read about outrunning a powerful thunderstorm, swimming with horses, ponying trials, and outlasting winter’s challenges. It covers life in Maine, Iowa, and Utah.
Read features on and interviews with Kyla Pollard, Bryan Neubert, Elijah Moore, Randy Rieman, Ben Masters, Leslie Desmond, among others.
There is a chapter devoted to Evidence-Based Horsemanship (EBH), an umbrella term and book by Dr. Steve Peters and Martin Black. I helped the pair with the book’s manuscript and covered many EBH events.
Discover what happens to Lily and Jean on their Montana ranch. Read about Oscar and his pair of stalwart donkeys in the French countryside. Read about the retired circus pony, Button, a story originally submitted to the Three Minute Fiction competition on National Public Radio.
The select stories and reports have been chosen from hundreds more, available on NickerNews and BestHorsePractices.
I hope you enjoy them.
Happy reading. Happy trails. And stay in touch.
Honey & Me
From Chapter One: Life at the Barn & on the Trail
As a kid, I was pretty clueless about horses and riding. My mom and grandma taught what they could to a stubborn but enthusiastic girl. Mom sent me to English lessons for a while. I can still hear the drone of the instructor’s voice across the dirt of the outdoor ring: “Heels down. Toes up and in. Shoulders back. Hands lowered…”
When I was twelve, I was invited to take care of Honey, a Welsh pony. She lived up the road from my home in Harpswell, Maine. Honey’s owner was going to college. I’d do everything but pay the bills. Pretty nice arrangement.
Honey and I had great rapport. We rode several times a week in the woods and fields of Harpswell Neck. Mostly on our own for hours at a time, we’d ride south along the now defunct Navy pipeline. Riding bareback, I got tossed every other ride. When I relaxed and got distracted, Honey would move laterally, on the pretense of shying at something in the brush. It was a little game she liked to play, I’m sure.
Rides were fun, alright. When I called her from the field, she’d come running. It wasn’t for grain. It was for the good time. It was for my girlish affection and our clumsy camaraderie.
More than three decades have passed, but that’s what I was feeling yesterday as I set out my saddle for another ride. The horses took notice and gathered around.
“You gonna take me?” they each seemed to ask.
I’m pretty sure they don’t care that I ride a bit better than I did as a twelve year old. They’re just interested in the good time.