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February 2022 Horse Report

Winter got off to a mild start here in the Colorado mountains but has come back with a vengeance lately. With lots of snow and sub-zero temps, our outdoor arena is frozen solid, which has kept us riding primarily indoors.

We try to break the monotony with poles, tarps, and the cutting machine. Occasionally, we venture outside to saunter around the neighborhood, but I am very leery of the riding in slick conditions. But on the rare warm and sunny day, without wind (that’s the rare part), we like to get the horses outside for a more enjoyable ride.

When the thermometer drops below zero (yes, that’s Fahrenheit) or even single-digits, we avoid working the horses- not even longeing. When the air is that cold and dry, it can easily damage their massive lungs, if you get them breathing too hard. Plus, if I get my horse too warm in the toasty solar-warmed indoor, they will get a serious chill when they go back outside.

I just received a brand-new saddle for Annie! It’s a 15.5” Wind River, from my Peak Performance line of saddles, made by Circle Y. It’s a beautiful short-skirted Western saddle on a Flex2 tree. I am still experimenting with the padding, to compensate for her asymmetry at the shoulders, low withers, and her very short back.


It’s been a challenge to get her fitted just right, but she’s working much better in her new saddle now—moving well, keeping her head low and her back rounded, making smoother transitions. Saddle fit is still a work in progress for Annie, especially since she is 15 years old now and experiencing the body changes that come with middle age. Kind of like when humans hit their 40s. Enough said.

Happily, Annie passed the evaluation with flying colors (thank you Cosequin®!)! Now I can be relatively certain that her occasional grumpiness is not joint soreness, but has more to do with saddle fit or her laziness or the fact that she is a red-headed pony mare.

I am both relieved and excited that Annie is in such great physical shape at her age and thrilled at what that means for her longevity. She is my only horse now and I rely heavily on her as my partner in teaching and training. I need her to be on her game.

This month Annie will accompany me to the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in Denver, to perform in front of a live audience for the first time in two years! We’ll be doing two presentations on Saturday—one about being a proactive rider and the other on managing meltdowns in horses. This will be fun! Annie and I will need to work tightly together, to help the horses and riders who sign up for the clinics.

Although I admit I’ve gotten comfortable at home lately, with very little travel over the past two years, I’m excited to be getting back on the road again and working with horses and riders. The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo is just the beginning of a busy spring schedule for me. I’ll be back in full swing after that—with expos in Michigan, Oregon, Idaho, and Wisconsin, and I hope our paths cross! See my 2022 events schedule here!

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  1. Can you please tell me if you went with a semi or wide for Annie ? My mare is built so much like her (and is the same age). My JG Monarch semi just seems to be too narrow.


  2. My 21 yo chestnut mare is also asymmetrical. Left shoulder larger than the right. I would love to know how you end up padding/shimming for that issue. Thanks for all your valuable information.

    • Is there a response to Cathie Cocuzza’s question about how to shim/pad when left shoulder is larger than the right?

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