February_calendarFebruary has been a crazy, busy month for me. The first weekend, I volunteered to help the Tennessee Tech Equestrian Team, who was hosting a Western Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (ISHA) show. I had a blast, but it did eat up the whole weekend, so it was another week before I had a day off.
The second weekend in February, I took my Novice vows for the Third Order of St. Francis at the bi-monthly meeting of the local Tennessee Fellowship. It was a wonderful day, but it did involve a nearly four hour drive to Franklin, Tennessee.
Last weekend, I worked at the Southern Equine Expo (a subject for many more posts!), which again was a wonderful time and utterly exhausting. We had record attendance. For one lecture, we had people sitting on the floor! Continue reading

Rutherford County Master Gardeners

On Saturday, I attended a free class at Linebaugh Library in Murfreesboro. The Master Gardeners of Rutherford County are teaming up with Linebaugh Library to host a free series on gardening. Saturday’s session, Getting Started Gardening: Soil Prep and Site Selection, was a great introduction for someone like me, who’s never started a garden.
Based on the material, I was able to decide on a 10′ by 10′ garden. We picked an ideal site that’s level with good drainage. There’s a good 8-10 hours of light with afternoon shade. We were able to get the spot cleared and lay down black plastic to kill the grass before spring planting. Continue reading

Southern Equine Expo 2018

Another Southern Equine Expo is in the books. It was hands down the best one yet. The lineup of speakers and clinicians was fabulous. Since I spent most of the weekend in the Miller Club helping speakers, I had the chance to hear all of the wonderful presentations throughout the weekend. I can’t share everything, but I’ve included some highlights and
The Trailmeister Robert Eversole is a Southern Equine Expo favorite. A retired Marine and PATH instructor, he’s a top notch speaker and a great guy. He’s passionate about trail safety and brings his knowledge and experience to life with that passion. His website Trailmeister.com has a plethora of information for trail riders, including trail guides and reviews of trail equipment. He gave four talks throughout the weekend: ABCs of Trail Riding, Horse Camping 101, When the Sh*i Hits the Fan, and GPS for Trail Riders. The real joy of having Robert Eversole as a speaker, though, is the gracious and humble way he interacts with everyone who has a question or wants to share a story.  I was very glad to see him back this year!
CPT Tim Finley‘s presentation of “In the Arena: 1,000 Click of Beautiful Hell” was a personal favorite. He’s an exceptional serviceman, leading by example. I heard his presentation three times throughout the weekend, and I still teared up at the end. His story of competing in the Mogul Derby is as touching as it is remarkable. I won’t share the details and spoil it for anyone who hasn’t heard it yet. CPT Finley is currently completing a book To Live with Honor, which I highly recommending grabbing as soon as it’s available. Like Robert Eversole, he is a gracious and humble man. He was accompanied by his lovely wife, who is also a joy to speak with. Continue reading

Values in Action 2018

On Saturday, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro, TN served as a satellite location for the Values in Action 2018 conference sponsored by the Trinity Institute in New York City. The church charged on $20, which included a continental breakfast and catered lunch. The speakers included:

  • Most Rev. Michael B. Curry: Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church since 2015, first African American presiding bishop.
  • Michelle Alexander: civil rights lawyer, advocate, legal scholar, and best-selling author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
  • Pádraig Ó Tuama: poet and theologian based in Belfast, Ireland. Teaches religion, storytelling, and conflict transformation.
  • Rev. Elizabeth M. Edman: Episcopal priest, political strategist, and author of Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity.
  • Jose Antonio Vargas: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker and founder of Define American, a non-profit media and culture organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America.
  • Deirdre Good:  Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church Wall Street, formerly served as Academic Dean at General Theological Seminary and Interim Associate Academic Dean at Drew Theological School.
  • Adnan A. Zulfiqar: legal scholar, educator, strategist, Assistant Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School, a Truman National Security Fellow, and a member of the Urbane Development Collaborative.
  • Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, PhD: Associate Professor of Bible at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Campaign Coordinator for “American Values Religious Voices: 100 Days. 100 Letters.”
  • Rev. Winnie Varghese: Priest and Director of Justice and Reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street.
  • The Rev. Dr. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones: Priest & Director for Core Values & Latin America & Caribbean Relations at Trinity Church Wall Street.

Continue reading

The Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals

A few months ago, I was named the USA Representative for the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals (AWSA), whose purpose is getting animals on the agenda of the Christian Church. Founded over 30 years ago, the organization is called to make Christians and others aware of the need to care for the whole of creation, and in particular God’s creatures, and believes that God has given us a responsibility towards sentient beings with whom we share God’s world. Their activities include the following:

  • Encouraging churches to include animal welfare concerns in their prayers.
  • Encouraging and helping churches to hold animal blessing services and to be aware of the need to care for God’s creation.
  • Through education and lawful action, advancing the conservation and well-being of animals.
  • Co-operating with other organizations, religious and secular, that have similar aims.
  • Production of Animalwatch (free to members) containing articles and information about animal welfare issues, interests, and events and providing a means by which the members can share ideas, stories, and concerns.
  • Publishing a series of pamphlets about animal issues, ensuring that materials are balanced and theologically and scientifically sound.
  • Helping to arrange major services and events focusing on animal care.
  • Promoting awareness through exhibitions, meetings, talks and preaching.

Continue reading

The Power of Prayer

In the wake of a shooting in Texas church a few months ago, the quote above was being passed around social media. The only thing I find more disturbing than the quote itself is the fact that I’ve seen it shared on the pages of Christians.
First, why would anyone assume that because they were in church that they were automatically faithful Christians who prayed often? How many of us know people who show up at church on Sunday but aren’t faithful or prayerful and don’t live the principles of the Gospel? Church membership doesn’t always mean someone is living a Christian life.
Continue reading

Another Great Expo

The Southern Equine Expo is over.  I’m completely exhausted, but oh so grateful for the experience.  For an introvert, talking to people for 3 days is draining, but I’m already looking forward to next year.  As usual, the expo featured wonderful horsemen and horsewomen from a variety of disciplines.  Because I had the opportunity to moderate the lecture series, I was able to interact with some of these amazing members of the horse world and come home inspired!
Colleen Kelly of Rider Biomechanics:
I have admired this spunky Australian for years.  The work she is doing in helping riders developer better seats and give horses better, more balanced riders would be more than enough to earn her my esteem, but she has also worked to develop coaches who can continue her work and continues to advocate for helmet awareness.  Her lecture was informative and funny, and she is as gracious and generous as she is knowledgeable.  If you’re interested in learning more about Biomechanics, contact Level 1 Coach Amy Vanner at Training & Riding Academy of Chattanooga.
Amanda Tidwell of Simply Beginning Horsemanship:
I’ve been seeing Amanda’s ads on Facebook for a couple of months now, thinking “I really need to take that class!” We recently brought our horses home, and it’s been nearly 20 years since I studied First Aid.  Not only did Amanda reinforce the need for that class, but she really inspired me to want to help get the word out in the horse community that we all need to be prepared to help our horses in an emergency.  Her presentation was standing room only and for good reason.  The information is important, and Amanda is an excellent teacher.  I’m signed up for her April 2nd class and am looking forward to getting certified to teach equine first aid myself.
Celisse Barrett of Equestrian Chaos:
Celisse and her husband John are remarkable people.  They brought me to tears with their stories of teaching trick riding to disabled children.  The pride they take in their students is so heartwarming.  They see these children as part of their family and are doing remarkable work in helping these children believe in themselves and achieve more than they dreamed possible.  I didn’t get a chance to catch their show, but as a fundraiser for their school and therapeutic riding program, I will definitely pay to see it any time I can!
Samantha Szesciorka of the Nevada Discovery Ride:
This exceptional woman was such a treat.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate trail riding, so there’s no way I would ever long ride, but I loved listening to her stories from the trail.  As a passionate long rider, she also has great advice for other long riders.
Jennie Jackson of 4Beat Dressage:
I admire what Jennie Jackson does for the gaited horse community.  I love listening to her talk about Dressage.  Even as someone who doesn’t ride gaited horses, I still learn something.  I love to watch her ride.  One of my closest friends participated in her clinics and learned so much, she’s still on cloud nine.
Steuart Pittman, President of the Retired Racehorse Project:
I love what this man is doing for Thoroughbreds in this country.  When I was a teen riding hunters, people were turning to European warmbloods, and more and more Thoroughbreds were heading to the slaughter houses.  Now that the slaughter houses in the US are gone, many of them are ending up in rescues or worse…  Headed to Mexico or Canada to be slaughtered.  People like Steuart Pittman are changing that by raising awareness of the versatility of these horses and helping young trainers build skills and gain experience.
Julie Goodnight of Goodnight Natural Horsemanship Training:
If you’ve been around horses for more than 5 minutes, you’ve heard of Julie Goodnight.  Not having a TV, I don’t spend much time watching trainers on TV.  I’ve never seen her show and had no idea what a skilled teacher Julie is.  I loved her two lectures on equine language and building confidence, and I love even more that she rocks a riding helmet!
Dr. Johnny Haffner, Associate Professor at MTSU:
This was my second time hearing Dr. Haffner’s lecture on Equine Dentistry, and I learned as much the second time around as I did the first.
If you haven’t been to the Southern Equine Expo, clear your calendar for the last weekend in February next year.  You won’t be disappointed!

2017 Southern Equine Expo

I am incredibly honored to be returning to work at the Southern Equine Expo this year.  For the second year in a row, I will be introducing speakers in the Miller Club for the Expo’s lecture series.  Subjects range from gaited horsemanship to trail riding to equine dentistry.  I have to admit…  I’m kind of excited about getting to meet and talk to Julie Goodnight and Colleen Kelly!
If you’ve never been to the Southern Equine Expo, you really need to experience it!  The production team works hard to get a variety of horseman and horsewomen each year who address a range of concerns and interest, but they also take great care in selecting clinicians and presenters who exemplify the best the industry has to offer.  The event is a great opportunity for horse people across the region to come together and discuss their favorite breeds, disciplines, and training methods.
I’ve included the current tentative schedule below.  Be sure to visit their website for updates and get your tickets in advance!

RESOLVE Sweet Itch!

I recently attended the inaugural Rally for the Rescues event at Clearview Horse Farm in Shelbyville, TN. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the sponsors Kathy Anderson of Equine Safety Zone, LLC. I asked her about Resolve, and we spent some time talking about the last 6 years of combating sweet itch with my gelding Comanche. I had been volunteering and didn’t come prepared to shop, so I asked for her card and website address to order later. When I did, Kathy generously gave me a 24 oz bottle to try and review.
Let me fill you in on the saga of Comanche’s itchy summer skin… During our first full summer together, the itching started with the occasional rubbing on a tree and escalated to no tail and twoComanche Hives bald shoulders. The poor thing had scabs everywhere. I tried everything, including Vicks Vapor Rub! I spent three months scouring the internet for suggestions while every horse person I knew told me to try this or try that. By September, the itching had stopped and the fur grew back. I spent the winter looking for an answer and discovered that it was sweet itch.
I spent the next four years battling the itch. One summer, I spent over $2,000 on antihistamines, allergy shots, allergy sprays, fly sheets, and fly sprays. One year, we managed to get through the summer with a tail. Unfortunately, his back and shoulders looked like hamburger meat. 🙁 Fly sheets were a complete bust. Even the most heavy duty wouldn’t last 2 days with Comanche. Fly sprays either didn’t work or further irritated his sensitive skin. I spent summers feeling awful for him and spending every dime I had to try and help. I spent every winter searching for some clue as to why nothing would work. It would literally bring me to tears.
The summer before last was a mild success. I made my own fly spray from apple cider vinegar and essential oils, and I gave Comanche an oatmeal bath every 2-3 days. He remained mostly itch free. Then I found an article that suggested that while the allergic reaction to fly saliva began the itching, it was possible that a secondary bacterial infection caused the bulk of the itching. I figured an antimicrobial shampoo couldn’t hurt. I had certainly tried EVERYTHING else!
This summer has been largely itch free. I have been using Pyranha Zero Bite natural fly spray and giving an antimicrobial bath twice a week. The antimicrobial bath takes 30-45 minutes from start to finish. We did have an incident the night before Rally for the Rescues. Poor Comanche had a welt from a horse fly bite. We began treatment with an antimicrobial bath, but switched to Resolve after meeting Kathy.
My review of Resolve? WOW!!! WHERE has this product been the last 6 years??? Not only did the welt disappear in HALF the time, I went from a 45 minute treatment twice a day to a 45 second treatment once a day.
Unfortunately, his speckled coat makes it difficult to make out bumps, but I’ve included a picture of how his allergy-ridden skin looks after 1 day with Resolve and 3 days with antimicrobial shampoo. When I find a section of his coat covered in hives, if I treat immediately with antimicrobial shampoo twice a day, it takes 5-7 days to heal. Resolve healed it in 2 days! Instead of repeated baths, which my horse HATES, I check his coat once a day and spay any hives or welts once a day for 2-3 days. This week marks the end of June, and we have a tail–albeit a little Appy tail–and a full coat. NO BALD SPOTS! We just happily ordered our second bottle.
Kathy earned a customer for life and a few good online reviews, but Comanche and I got the better end of the deal. It’s summer, and my horse isn’t miserable. We can FINALLY enjoy a beautiful summer night! If Resolve works half as well on rain rot and thrush as it does for Comanche, every horse owner should have this in their barn. Use the code ESZ25 and save 25% on your first order. You will be SO glad you did!

The "Trail Meister" Robert Eversole

20160227_113541Over the weekend, I had the great pleasure of working at the Southern Equine Expo, running the Lecture Series in the Miller Club. If you missed it, make plans early to get there next year. The Lecture Series included five sessions with “Trail Meister” Robert Eversole. Not only is he an engaging speaker but he is a true pleasure to chat with. Attendees agreed, because his crowds got bigger and bigger. He was so wonderful that the Southern Equine Expo staff has already invited him back for next year.
As a former Toastmaster, there are several things I look for from a presentation perspective, but as a horsewoman, there are a few key quality questions I ask when evaluating a lecture:

  1. Does the speaker actively participate in the discipline?
  2. Is the speaker genuinely interested in providing the audience with good, relevant knowledge?
  3. Is the speaker willing to say, “I don’t know”?
  4. Does the speaker promote other horse professionals/encourage the audience to seek out other experts?
  5. Is the speaker willing to express an opinion even if it’s unpopular?

The answer to all of these for Robert was YES. He is an experienced back country trail rider, who is generous with his knowledge and his praise of other good horsemen and horsewomen. He sought to provide his audience with knowledge relevant to their interests and experience and even boldly proclaims that he wears a helmet. As a helmet advocate, I love this!
Let me start by saying I avoid trail riding like the plague. I do it only for the benefits of (a) testing my horse outside the arena and (b) giving my horse a break from the arena. More often then not, I bribe other people to trail ride my horses. Despite that, I learned a few great tips along the way. Talking to attendees who trail ride, they took away much, much more.
His five talks included the following:

  1. The ABCs of Trail Riding
  2. GPS for Trail Riders
  3. Horse Camping 101
  4. Emergency Preparedness for Trail Riders
  5. Open Q&A about Trail Riding

If you trail ride, you should check out his website. Not only does it have great resources for finding trails, camps, and maps, but it also has useful information like how to tie a knot and reviews of products you may be thinking about trying.
As I mentioned before, if you’re in the south and didn’t attend the Southern Equine Expo this year, plan to be there next year (last weekend in February)! You do NOT want to miss out on seeing Robert Eversole a second time!