Issue 116 | January 2020
A Note From Tom Seay
It is 2:26 AM and I just cannot sleep. It was a rough day. The light was not on and I was just laying there in bed, not moving, but just thinking about a couple of horses when my dog, in the dark, came to the bedside and put his head on my arm and just looked at me. Of all the species of animals, what is it about that horse or dog that is above all the other animals? What is it about us that creates a very special bond with that very special horse or dog. How do they understand us beyond our family and friends? It seems sacred and a sort of blessing.
 
We often hear champions of rodeos or some Olympic world event, talking about the amazing talents of their horses and the riders. It is rare to hear any of these well-known people talk about how much that animal loves us or the very special bond we have with that horse. It is sort of like dancing a fine waltz. We learn the steps. The music is the same, the dancers step identically to every beat, but there is someone in our lives that we dance with that is just special. We bond or 'dance the waltz' with them with greater meaning unlike any other dancer.
 
Although we do not talk about it much (that special bond thing with that very special horse), it is very, very real, regardless of that horse's abilities or physical talents. With that thought, other than the horse I am riding now, I have had two extraordinary horses. Both were purchased at the same sale. It was a slaughter sale.  To explain, it was a slaughter sale where horses are taken to have their lives ended or slaughtered. They have no use for anyone and no one wants them. Their crime is being old or not performing or making money. Both horses were not liked by anyone. Both were kinda ugly. Neither had any pedigree. Neither had any talent. Maybe they were just a little bit lame. They are sold for almost nothing. Life is over for them.
 
I was there for a tack sale. Somehow, after the sale, we stayed. I had no intention of buying a horse, especially a worthless horse at a slaughter sale but in came this horse. No rider. In fact, no one was even leading it. It was just one of those horses that had nothing left to offer and it was the end. They made it move with whips. It looked like it was a bit wild. I will probably get mail on this, but I believe that horse paused and looked at me. It was not a wild look or a dangerous look but it's eyes communicated a feeling of being frightened and, forgive me, but in that moment, a look of "help me" or "I do not know what I did wrong or why does no one like me. What did I do?"
 
I bought the horse. He was kinda ugly and the mane had been cut off. The other horse I bought at the same sale was plain. It looked like a thousand other bay horses. It was something in their eyes and they just seemed to know something.
 
I was a at a low point in my life, much of which was my fault for mistakes I have made in life and total financial losses by a business partner that betrayed me and my trust for their financial gain. I was worthless, just like those horses.
 
Many folks know what became of the first horse. Shortly after the purchase, I was in a life threatening accident. I did not know if I would ever walk well again or even ride but that worthless, ugly horse seemed to understand. When no one was around, I got back on. He brought me back to life. Never did he ever bite or kick or even rabbit hop or buck with me. At that low point, I developed a plan to follow a lifetime dream of riding across America with these two horses and then I would disappear to Canada. Since I had been an outfitter, I was well-versed in having the ability to live in the wilderness with my pack horse. What wrecked that plan was the fact that thousands of people would love to do the same thing. What I did not know was my wife, Pat, who had worked for me in the early TV days also believed in me when no one else did. So, Pat and a couple of horses began the adventure.

Many remember the horse that I rode on that 3,000 mile journey across America. You may have seen him on CNN news or in the European film documentary about the American spirit. He visited countless schools and nursing homes. He was the star in 81 cities and towns. He was seen in parades and town events. He was also the horse that a totally blind lady often rode in the mountain trails of Virginia. He would allow small children or handicapped children to ride him without anyone leading him as he took baby steps with them on his back. Most of all, he seemed to love me. As he got too old to ride, I turned him out in the paddock by our home. He lived to be an incredible 38 years old and never stopped coming up to me every chance he could get.
The other, less famous horse, gave thousands of children their first ride. Nothing fancy about him. He was just an ordinary looking horse but he was on countless back country camping trips. He was the unknown horse that was on the same famous trip across America. My bond with him was silent, beyond words. When we crossed America, we were in the desert of the southwest. There was one day where the desert had to be crossed if the trip was to be continuous or every step of the way. However, none of the riders were able to ride that day. Excuses included the rider was not well or their horse was a bit lame, but the truth was no one wanted to take the chance of the extreme heat or physical hardship, so I rode alone across that desert on that plain Jane horse. The trip became famous and the TV show was born, but no one remembers the horse except Pat and me. Like the other horse, I kept him in the same paddock by our home.
 
A couple of days ago, for no reason, he walked up to me and just looked at me with the same eyes I had seen at the slaughter auction over 25 years ago. No words were spoken among two old friends. After a few moments of being petted and just resting his head on me, he just turned and walked away. He would not eat his grain or hay that evening. In fact, he just stopped eating and last night he laid down on the extra hay I gave him and went to sleep. I will bury him today next to the other old friend. Both horses saved my life in so many ways and asked for nothing in return. 
 
I do not know what you believe but there is something very special about dogs and horses that create a bond. Every now and then, we are blessed to have that very special animal that, for no good reason, chooses us to love. I do not know if my dog that came to me at two o'clock in the morning knew what happened to my old horse today or that I was thinking about him with tears coming down my face, but somehow they know. Many people enjoy the TV show or love to hear my adventures and travels to wonderful places, but the true background is that someone and a couple of horses believed in me when I was pretty much down-and-out and never gave up on me. I suggest you take a moment today to pet that old dog or spend a few moments with that special horse and give a little kiss to that person that believes in you so much.
 
If you have not ridden with the wonderful people that you see on the television show, I invite you to ride with them as they really understand and share that bond or special feeling we have for those close to us, our horses and maybe an old dog. They do not care how far you went in school, how you are dressed, or how much money you have. They just love you for no good reason, so take a few minutes today and reflect on that very special bond. 

If I can help you in any way, write me at my personal email address and I will do anything I can for you at anytime. My email is  tseay10@aol.com .

Tom Seay
tseay10@aol.com
Trail Rides & Events
The Best of America by Horseback crew is always on the move. Here are some of the spots across the country where you can come along for filmed trail rides, horse events, and expos, including events at Tom & Pat Seay's home, Andora Farm. All reservations are made by phone at 540-829-9555
Just Announced!
Did you want to ride at V6 Ranch with us this spring but it just filled up too fast? Well now is your chance as a second California ride has been added!

Work Family Ranch
March 17-18, 2020

Join us on this 12,000 acre, privately-owned cattle ranch in the rolling countryside of the Cholame Valley. This mid-week ride is perfect for riders of all skill levels.

Cattle Drives at Andora Farm
When to Hold & When to Fold
by Nancy Spoolstra, DVM
Last week, I  blogged about Finn , a half-Arabian, half-Quarter horse/Thoroughbred that I have owned for 2 years. I described how I have struggled for that entire time to convert a horse bred to be a show pony into a confident, comfortable trail mount. My awesome gray Arabian, Kadeen, was a show horse when I bought him. I have put all of the trail miles on him. He’s an incredibly confident, sure-footed mount. But sometimes, you have to read the writing on the wall and admit defeat.
As I write this, Finn has been under the watchful eye of a show barn trainer for over a week. He’s doing great!  He hasn’t pulled back while tied once. He hasn’t bucked or carried on under saddle at all. Furthermore, he’s calm and relaxed and compliant. That is not the horse I saw when I asked him to venture into the great outdoors… It is quite clear to me that I was asking him to do something he was not comfortable doing.

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course?
I was astounded at the number of responses I received that suggested I put him down for his bad behavior. Certainly, the behaviors I described in last week’s blog were awful, dangerous behaviors. Finn erupted in the trailer and gave me a concussion! But just because he behaved so terribly, it doesn’t mean he has a screw loose. Granted, he’s not the most flexible, easy-going equine on the planet. He does like to test his owner/rider to gauge his options. But a frightened, unhappy horse has limited ways of expressing his discomfort. Refusal and rearing and tantrums are part of the repertoire of a stressed horse. Would I like him to be more courageous? Yes, of course! Would I have preferred that we could have developed the trust and connection that would have overcome his fear? Of course! But he has to bring the right brain to that equation.

I have an incredible relationship with Kadeen, my gray gelding. However, it took nearly 3years for it to solidify. Part of that journey involved me recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of my horse, and working within those parameters. He is a confident, assertive horse. He doesn’t like following on the trail. However, he will do it if I ask (now!) But that’s not what he wants. It is not a pleasant experience for me to take him to an organized ride with over a hundred horses. Rather than try and make him be something he isn’t, why not appreciate his amazing qualities and work with his less desirable traits? Conversely, if I choose to participate in a large organized ride, I shouldn’t be angry with my horse if he behaves in a predictable way.

It would be different if I was describing a horse that was dangerous in a variety of settings. A horse that strikes out or bites or exhibits aggressive behavior without provocation is truly dangerous! The conscientious horse owner would rule out any medical reasons for unpredictable, dangerous behavior. Finn’s level of compliance at the trainer’s barn is just fine. He is back in an environment where he feels safe and comfortable. I need to find him a nice hunt seat show home. I truly believe he will be fine in that discipline.

Once the decision was made to find a different horse, the hunt was on! I have ridden a horse or two over my lifetime, and purchased a few too. I scoured the ads and posted on Facebook and considered quite a few prospects. Alan and I drove to Texas last week and checked out the most suitable candidate. We really liked her, and she now is hanging out with Kadeen. Her name is Sadie, and I will talk more about her in future blogs. Suffice it to say, we went trail riding today and it was the best trail ride I have had in 2 years. She was absolutely awesome. Stay tuned for more on Miss Sadie…

This is part two of the series When to Hold & When to Fold.
Read more on Nancy's blog.
Best of America by Horseback likes to give special recognition to inspirational people that have contributed so much to the riding and horse world. These folks can be of any age or background; they do not have to be trail masters or even own a horse.
Aileen Livingston Award
The Aileen Livingston Award is to honor one of the finest people we have ever known. We had the pleasure years ago to meet John Wayne and to spend a day with Roy Rogers, but it is Aileen Livingston that I tell people is my most inspiring hero. Her love of horses and trail riding is inspiring, and her compassion for life and those around her, even in the face of health issues, has no boundaries. Despite a dozen reasons not to go, she rode across the country with us, hopping and skipping from place to place, all the way to California.
Aileen Livingston Award
2020 Winner:
Jeff Parker
Aileen Livingston Award  goes to Jeff Parker of the Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranch in Live Oak, FL. Jeff's quiet, behind-the-scenes work with so many young men and women sets an example for us all. The positive influence Jeff has had on so many young people is beyond measure. After getting to know Jeff, it is easy to see why so many seem to respect and trust him. He is a knowledgeable horseman, cattleman and rancher and he uses this expertise to contribute to the Live Oak community.
Jeff Parker
Liz Malcome Award
The Liz Malcome Award is given to someone in the horse world that helps others with compassion and dedication. Liz dreamt of riding across the country "while she still could." She and her sister, Kathy Baldwin, rode with us on the famous Mexico to Canada Trail Ride. Both of these ladies are extraordinary in so many ways and have done so much for so many people. Liz & Kathy devoted their lives to nursing, and Kathy organized a medical mission to the children in Belize. Their love of training and riding Tennessee Walking Horses is well known. Liz passed away several years ago and we felt, like so many of you, that she and Kathy were truly part of everyone's family.
2020 Winner:
Candice Gulley
The Liz Malcolm Award  goes to Candice Gulley of the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch. Candice has dedicated her life to be a positive maternal figure to the many young girls that come to the ranch.  

Her creation of the Equine Program at the Girl's Ranch adds a new opportunity for growth, compassion, and discipline for the girls living at the ranch. Her passion and dedication has elevated her to the position of Director of the Girl's Ranch. Candice lives in Camp Hill, Alabama with her husband, Tommy, and their three children.
Candice Gulley
Mike Phillips Award
The Mike Phillips Award is given to modern-day trailblazers. Mike was a trail boss and close friend on the Mexico to Canada Ride. Mike needed heart surgery but rode from old Mexico with us along the Rio Grande and continued every inch for over 1,000 miles until he had to go have his surgery. A friend without boundaries to me and so many others, he never stopped wanting to care for all around him and to help people in any way. He and his devoted wife, Wanda, spent many years with us traveling until he passed away several years ago. He helped Back Country Horsemen, worked the trails, and his love of horses and trail riding was endless. He overcame health issues to help all of us. This year's award will go to someone that Mike would have loved to spend countless hours with.
2020 Winner:
Troy Chappell
The Mike Phillips Trailblazer Award  goes to Troy Chappell of the Back Country Horsemen of North Dakota (BCHND). He is committed to preserving, maintaining and creating new trails in North Dakota. Troy has dedicated much of his time and his own money to lobby and promote Back Country Horsemen nationwide, including reaching out to us here at Best of America by Horseback to coordinate a ride at Bar X Ranch . This dedication is most impressive and helps secure and guarantee riding trails for the future generations. Troy is a farmer from North Dakota and is President of the BCHND. 
Troy Chappell
Man of the Year
The Best of America by Horseback Man of the Year Award is designed to recognize individuals who are dedicated to improving their communities.
2020 Winners:
Lonnie Stieben
& Ryan Karrick
This year, the Man of the Year goes to two recipients. Lonnie Stieben and Ryan Karrick. These two gentlemen played key roles in the coordination of the Chisholm Trail Ride, but their dedication to the community of Clearwater goes far beyond the Chisholm Trail event itself. 

Lonnie and Ryan worked tirelessly to help community organizations and individuals work to a higher level. Beyond the light of publicity and the knowledge of others, each of these men uplifted the opportunities of our riders, children of the community, preserved history, and cared for others such as the people in the area nursing homes, and for people they had never met. 

It is rare for any community to have such gentlemen that unselfishly improve the lives of so many, often at their own expense. Lonnie and Ryan's dedication to improving the lives of the Clearwater community is something to be admired.
Lonnie Stieben and Ryan Karrick
Cowboy of the Year
The Best of America by Horseback Television Show announces the first presentation of the Cowboy of the Year Award. The award is designed to recognize the individual that best represents the finest ideals of the American Cowboy.  
2020 Winner:
Sam Wylie
The very first Cowboy of the Year Award goes to Sam Wylie of Caldwell, Kansas. Sam's work with the recent Best of America by Horseback ride on the Chisholm Trail under extreme weather conditions, safeguarded community members, riders, and their horses. His dedication and kindness to everyone he meets are a genuine testament to his strength of character. 

Sam's abilities as a professional horseman and outdoor guide are impressive. He worked tirelessly with us to make sure every rider, whether of the highest level or the least capable, was given the utmost attention and care. He also helped commemorate the 150th celebration of the Chisholm Trail with a cattle drive over about 100 miles of the trail in 2017. He takes part in historic reenactments with the Border Queen Regulators.

Further, his dedication to his community is of the highest order. He has the unique talent of upholding the law as a 12 year veteran of the Summer County Sheriff’s Office that commands the respect of everyone he meets. Sam is currently the only mounted deputy in Sumner County.

He is a true gentleman and represents the very best of the American Spirit and the Cowboy way of life in everything he does. We are proud to honor Sam.
Sam Wylie
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Choosing Your Hoof Care Partner
by Carole Herder
As president of Cavallo , one of the most interesting parts of my job is the personal stories people share with me about their experience with their horse’s hooves. The process of transitioning from shod to barefoot or making a change from one farrier to another is fraught with a variety of emotions and tumultuous growing pains. Whether you want to improve a condition or prevent an ailment, your involvement in the treatment of your horse’s hooves is imperative to success.
My First Farrier
As a new horse owner, I imagined that my farrier would be the savoir who would spare my horse from lameness, disease, contracted heels, thrush , seedy toe and all those other horrible afflictions! When he arrived on my property he had an air about him like he knew something no one else knew. I imagined he had just been breaking a feisty colt. For right or wrong, I immediately looked up to him. “Don X” was a man’s man.

Intimidated by Lack of Knowledge
I remember getting tongue tied. Honestly, I am a woman with a university education and yet I felt unable to speak. I felt confused and vulnerable. He sauntered slowly around my horse, Rocky. He grunted, hummed and hawed. This all appeared extremely important. Then in what appeared to be definitive conviction, he’d get to work – with Big Man tools, clanging metal to the hissing fire of his forge. It was an awesome evocation of respect. That is, until I began to understand the procedure, do my homework and ask the pertinent questions. This is when skepticism replaced esteem. If Don had answered any of my questions with something more than patronizing condescension, I would have backed off. Instead what he said was, “Carole this is Man’s work. You leave this business of the horse feet to me – you just get your butt in the saddle and ride”. I felt insulted. This was not the educated answer I was looking for.

Back to The Study Hall
Sometimes there is just no easy way. Back to the books, diagrams and veterinary manuals I went. I remember pouring over Dr Stasser ’s text book twice, and even then, it made my mind feel soft and mushy like scrambled eggs - so much scientific data! Maybe Don was right. Maybe I should just get in the saddle and ride. The thing is, when certain doors open to unveil a compelling new direction, there is no turning back. I attended seminars. The leg and hoof dissections left me washing blood and putrid stench off my skin for days. I joined and promoted communities of like-minded advocates. Ultimately, I was rewarded with understanding. My line of questioning to Don was indeed valid. I viewed Don’s work with increased scrutiny. Big ‘wows’ in the hairline, one side of the hoof consistently higher than the other. Don’s right side was stronger than his left, which resulted in more horn off one side of the hoof than the other, as he worked his way around. This meant imbalances and asymmetries because he would work from one front around to the hind and then up to the other front. So, the high side was on the opposite side of the horse. Underslung heels? Oh, ok, we’ll fix those by extending the metal shoes behind so that the heels grow into them. It never works because the entire hoof grows, not just the heels. Contracted heels? Oh, ok, we’ll just widen the shoes a smidge, as if a ½ cm wider shoe would create a wider hoof. But, anyway, can’t do it too much or they will step on the overhang and pull the shoe off. Shoe pulled off? We’ll just put 8 nails in and make sure the last ones are right at the back.

I’d complain “But Don, it’s not working – my horse still has contraction, is underslung, imbalanced and moves stiffly.”

“You just can’t see the positive changes. This was all created by the last farrier and takes some time to fix. Your horse is happy. Get your butt in the saddle and ride.” This was his patronising response. Nothing changes.

Reaching the Turning Point
From that day forward, I undertook to make my own decisions for the well-being of my horse. I would never again accept condescension. I would not be patronized or demeaned.
It wasn’t just that my Rocky had extraordinary problems. I went on to own four more horses that I could not keep 100% sound all the time and whose hoofs rarely looked good enough to my developing, discerning eye. This is a common pattern for us. In effort to improve we change farriers, experiment with various feeds, supplements or hoof dressings, give our horse’s time off or try different exercise programs; all with no consistent results. It can be very discouraging. By writing these articles, I hope to assure you that you are not alone. You are no longer obliged to keep your farrier, doing the same thing to your horses, simply because there seems to be no better option. Our entire industry in changing. There may be some tough decisions to make, especially when we ask our long-time family-friend farrier to include us in the hoof care decisions and he refuses!

Choose Cavallo
At Cavallo , we sympathize, because we have been there ourselves. It's like breaking up with your best friend or teacher or hairdresser! Sometimes you must leave people behind. But do it! Take control. Take your power. Be non-negotiable about getting your requests met. Do not waiver from your own beliefs about what is right. Make a commitment to deserving what is true, both for yourself and for your horse. You now have options. There are many wonderful trimmers entering the previously male dominated farrier world. Find someone you like, someone who meets you on your level, without a condescending attitude and is willing to spend the time to help you and your horse. If you feel there is a better option than those metal shoes, pull them off. You now have healthier options. Let us help you with the total comfort and protection of Cavallo Hoof Boots. We are here to support, guide and assist you in everyway we can.
This Month's Giveaway Winner!
Cheryl Melton
Virginia
is the January 2020 Winner of one pair of Trek Hoof Boots from Cavallo Horse and Rider!

How to Win:
To enter to win your own pair of Trek Hoof Boots, email Jess your name and state with the subject line "Enter Me to Win!"
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