Galloping into spring

April 04, 2014 07:46 am

Kim Hilton leads her horse, Marvin, over poles during a March 29 class on using trail obstacles  to build horse and rider confidence taught by Elaine Case and Tracie Wick at Case Farms in La Grande. (KELLY BLACK photo)
Kim Hilton leads her horse, Marvin, over poles during a March 29 class on using trail obstacles to build horse and rider confidence taught by Elaine Case and Tracie Wick at Case Farms in La Grande. (KELLY BLACK photo)

Sierra arrived on Thanksgiving eve from a ranch in Keating. 

A retired reining horse, Sierra had been doing ranch work. She came to me loaded with experience, wisdom and ticks. 

Standing calmly at liberty in the aisle of the 10-stall barn, Sierra was unfazed by the commotion her arrival caused the other occupants. Impressed with her sweet  personality and steady nature, I knew this horse had a lot to teach me. 

But with Morgan Arabian bloodlines, this horse can move — her motto is, “Why walk when you can canter?”

After spending the winter months riding in an arena, I’m anxious to get Sierra out on the trails and to other events.

Local riding clubs and organizations have a great lineup of spring events that will definitely tempt me to hook up the horse trailer and head out with Sierra.

‘Celebrate the Horse’

“Celebrate the Horse Expo” on April 12 is a free event hosted by T&T Horsemanship in Haines. The clinic, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is packed with presentations by regional experts on topics like proper boot fit and homeopathic alternatives to horse health. 

Alice Trindle, of T&T Horsemanship, will discuss and demonstrate balance and relaxation positions and techniques that will help riders and horses accomplish a variety of jobs from trail riding to working cows to classical dressage.

“I have a strong belief in developing a partnership with the horse,” said Trindle.

Trindle will also teach a “Work-in-Hand” clinic on developing self-carriage at T&T Horsemanship on May 3-7.

‘Bunny Hop’

“Bunny Hop” on April 19 is a ride on the Mount Emily Recreation Area hosted by the Blue Mountain Saddle Sisters. On May 3, the sisters will head up Spring Creek for a “Derby Day at the Puddle” potluck and play ride.

“These are easy rides to get your horse legged up and you in shape,” said Martha Buchanan, Queen of the Blue Mountain Saddle Sisters.

Oregon Dressage Society

The Northeast Oregon Chapter of the Oregon Dressage Society will host a farm tour to Jackass Mountain Ranch on April 26. The ranch has imported Andalusians to build bloodlines with exceptional movement and excellent dispositions. The tour will get to see this year’s foal crop as well as older horses.

“It is a chance to look at Baroque type horses,” said Elaine Case, a member of the dressage club.

The dressage club also promotes two clinicians, Jillian Santi and Carol McArdle, who travel monthly into the area to give weekend clinics with individual lessons.

Santi has ridden and trained a Haflinger gelding to Grand Prix earning USDF Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. McArdle studies in the French Classical system, competed Grand Prix in Europe, and was short-listed for the World Games and the Olympics. 

There is no charge for auditing and auditors are always welcome.

Back Country Riders Trail Work

The Blue Mountain Back Country Riders will soon kick off a season of fixing tread and clearing trail. The group heads up Bear Creek to fix trail April 25-27. The riders assist government agencies in maintaining backcountry trails and other resources. It is a mix of a whole lot of beautiful backcountry, some play and hard work.

“If there is a washout we will either divert around it or replace the tread,” said Dick Walker, board president.

Plowing Bee

“Lee Scott Memorial Plowing Bee” on May 3-4, weather permitting, will attract teams of draft horses and mules in the region to plow and drive at Larry & Juanita Waters in Joseph. The teams are usually out in the field by 10 a.m. both days, and the weekend includes a potluck dinner at Liberty Grange on Saturday. 

“They will probably try hooking up a four up or six up,” said Juanita Waters.

Working With Cows

“Cows and More” clinic on May 3-4 with Mary Jane Brown at Eastern Slope Ranch is an opportunity to learn about working with cows. Participants will learn the basics of ranch riding and get to practice things like sorting and cutting in a fun and safe environment.

“It is for people who want to introduce their horse to cattle,” said Leslie Maiwald, of Eastern Slope Ranch.

‘Play Day’

The La Grande Maverick will host its first “Play Day” on May 15 starting at 6:30 p.m. The family fun event includes barrel racing, pole bending and a stake race. An egg spoon race will put riders to the test.

“They hold the spoon and try to ride at different speeds and keep the egg in their spoon,” said Al Peterson, caretaker of the Maverick.

Registration is at 6 p.m., there is a $5 participation fee. Visitors can ride once before joining the club.

The Maverick’s Schooling Show on May 17 is an open show for all ages and levels of riders, including special classes for green riders and horses. The show includes Western and English disciplines. No fancy show clothes required.

“It is a great day to get out and play with horses,” said Sandy Henry, chairwoman for the show.

For more information on these events or to learn about joining the clubs please contact:

• T&T Horsemanship: 541-856-3356 or

• Blue Mountain Saddle Sisters: Martha Buchanan at 541-910-5225 or

• Northeast Oregon Chapter of the Oregon Dressage Society: Karen Hasel: 541-963-9654 or Elaine Case: 541-963-7966

Blue Mountain Back Country Riders: Dick Walker at 541-805-4852 

• The La Grande Mavericks: 541-963-3991

• Eastern Slope Ranch: 541-523-9155 or

• Plowing Bee: Larry Water at 541-263-0583 or 541-432-7055