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Too cold to ride?

I knew the horses as I knew my family. When I was separated from them, I felt wrong in the world. When I was separated from them, I took no comfort in the sound of the creek. I felt chilled without the heat of them. “Where Rivers Change Direction” by Mark SpraggWinter is a hard time for horse lovers. Spragg describes how his family, who owned the oldest dude ranch in Wyoming and kept a herd of more than 100 horses, would pull the horses’ shoes in October and release them to a mountain pasture, then gather them again in the early spring. Sometimes winter feels like that to me – my horse is miles away and I won’t see him again until the spring.Without an indoor arena, riding in the snow and cold wind of Falcon is difficult. Since I board my horse, I can’t walk out my back door and spend time with him. Every winter I feel like all my progress in working with him (and myself) falls apart.Thank heaven for magazines! Winter gives me a chance read all those horse magazines that pile up during the other three seasons. It doesn’t take the place of riding, but I find that studying some of the “how to” articles really improves my riding. Many of these magazines publish great stories about horses and the people who love them.My favorite equine magazine is a bimonthly and produced in Elbert, Colo. Eclectic Horseman magazine publishes articles aimed at both the Western and English rider, although its heart belongs to the California vaquero tradition. Recent articles featured trainers Buck Brannaman, Martin Black and Wendy Murdoch. Murdoch wrote a six-part series on lateral work in which she used a zucchini (really!) to demonstrate training techniques used to improve the horse’s strength and flexibility.Julie Leiken of Boulder, who is trained in dressage and Pilates, wrote a series on “equibalance,” in which she demonstrated exercises aimed at strengthening the muscles used to ride. This should keep me busy all winter!The November/December issue featured articles on shoeing and trimming, managing the cavaida (string of riding horses) and building confidence in the young horse.Equus magazine focuses largely on horse health issues but also features general articles on life with horses. Many of the case studies describe treatment plans that involve spending more money on a horse than many of us will see in a year, but even these articles are educational.The December issue has articles on treating arthritis and a ligament injury in a competitive jumper, curing headshaking, how conformation affects soundness and a funny article for “greenhorns” on how to avoid looking like an idiot in front of experienced horse people.Western Horseman, with editorial offices in Colorado Springs, has been around since 1936 publishing articles of interest to the Western rider, including rodeo news. Every issue contains a story on a working ranch (usually in Texas) and practical articles for the working cowboy and cowgirl. Columns cover horsemanship, equipment, backcountry riding and ranch culture.Practical Horseman is for the English rider and in the past has focused heavily on the hunter/jumper scene. This magazine contains my favorite column, “Jumping Clinic with George Morris,” in which the chef d’equipe for the USEF Show Jumping Team mercilessly rips apart the form of four riders who have foolishly sent in photographs of themselves jumping.Horse & Rider focuses mostly on the Western rider, especially Western pleasure and trail riding. The December issue reported on the Reichert Celebration, a premier Western pleasure event held in August in Missouri. This issue also contained articles featuring trainers Clinton Anderson, Charlie Cole and Bob Avila, how-to articles on neck reining and lead changes, and an article titled, “Weathering Winter.”Needless to say, this list of equine magazines is not inclusive: It doesn’t include the many breed magazines (America’s Horse from the American Quarter Horse Association, for instance), magazines aimed at specific disciplines (Dressage Today, Spin to Win) and specific equine-related industries (The Blood Horse, Stable Management). However, this list should keep you busy when the wind is howling outside.Visit the following Web sites: www.eclectic-horseman.com, equisearch.com/equus/, equisearch.com/practicalhorseman/, equisearch.com/horseandrider/, www.westernhorseman.com, and www.perfecthorse.com.

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