Category Archives: Personally Speaking

Exercising Versus Training

“If we are to call ourselves trainers then we carry the responsibility to move everyone to a higher status in the industry. That is how every industry on this planet survives. You take others up with you.”

Most of the barns I travel to breed horses, and keep a trainer and several exercise riders. I am always struck by the concept of riding just for riding sake: to keep a horse in shape and not deteriorate from 23 hours in a stall and paddock.

Most exercise riders move in a constant state of riding the rail around and around. In my world we call this the loser’s loop, where riders have no goals or desire to achieve anything but exercise. Sometimes, if there are jumps or obstacles in the arena, they will move around them, but otherwise, there is not a shred of training in any of this.

My question is, what is the point? And it is the very reason every horse on my farm has a field to run freely and self-exercise as he needs to.

And every ride has a purpose.

Continue reading

What Does “Winning” Mean To You?

April and 'Rainy Buck Paige', 1975

Answer from April Reeves: I have always viewed “winning” as a competitive attachment. I realized, after years of showing horses, that winning was a crap shoot that depended on judge’s opinions and politics. I now walk into “competition” as a way to simply see how my horse and I can handle stress. I have found that stress only exists as a function of fear, and so now, showing and winning and competition no longer is a necessity for me, but a chance to go out and have a different kind of “fun” with the horses. What I have found is a whole new world where life is lighter, the word “win” doesn’t need to exist, and the end result is that, oddly enough, my blue ribbon count has soared….
My true “wins” are inside of me, not external of me.

Changes to April Reeves and Horseman’s U.com

Heads up everyone! Horseman’s U.com is coming down for around 3-4 months to be completely rebuilt! New video sections and articles are being developed over the winter, including:

  • Marketing Your Stable and Equine Business
  • Equine locomotion
  • Video and instruction on developing and building an equestrian center: how Horseman’s U, the facility, will be created.

Plus, April Reeves is moving to a new farm: details to come early next year on the location. The property will boast Eventing/cross country courses, including water obstacles, banks, ditches and permanent/non-permanent fences, permanent agility course, 2 roundpens (for ponies and warmbloods), jumping arena (so you don’t have to put the jumps away all the time), large all purpose sand arena (reining/sliding), pathway around perimeter of property, other open sand/grass/mixed rings and practice areas, and the ability to ride all around the entire property in the day! We’ll host week/days/day long intensive workshops and clinics for Western and English/Jumping riders, events, free riding days for trailer-ins,  and much more!

This site will remain the same, as it serves as a valuable resource for those seeking answers. Please continue to send in your questions and April will try to answer them.

If you have any suggestions for what you would like to see/read/watch on Horseman’s U.com please let us know! Hope to see some of you at the new facility next year!

We’re keeping the location a secret for now (simply because we haven’t quite bought it yet), but once we’re in, we’ll have a contest for the ones that can guess the location. Stay tuned for details!

The Most Amazing Facebook Horse Site Ever!

I love good writers. I especially love it when they come from the horse world. They express the secret world of horses in a way that opens the window of the equine world so others too can peek in and explore.

I want to open all of you to (in my humble opinion) perhaps the best equine writer I have yet to come across: my client Beatrice Singer and her horse sanctuary “Serendipity Farm”. In the matter of months, this Facebook site has amassed 676 loyal daily friends.

If you enjoy reading about the day to day lives of horse owners, this amazing writer will captivate you in a way I have not read before. Beatrice is learning about horses at a breakneck speed since her desire not long ago to rescue horses and provide them with a home of love and compassion. Her craftsmanship of the “equine language” is poetic and will have you in hysterics or tears (especially in the recent passing of her 9 year old thoroughbred, Jay, that started her “rescue” life). In any case, many go to Facebook for their daily delivery of the writings of Beatrice, the horse “angel”.

No one I know can write from the heart like this, so I leave you with the Facebook link to Serendipity Farms, and I hope you get lost in this emotional and beautiful world as I have done. Beatrice will one day be a world caliber equine writer.

Why am I posting so much about our horse’s feeds?

I’ve had a lot of emails but since I’ve started posting about GM feeds, I have had thousands! Within 3 days of posting the GM Alfalfa issue, I had more emails and responses and downloads of the brochure than all the other posts on this blog! (I have been answering the questions as fast as I can: sorry for the “blanket” response to most but I’m getting overwhelmed with emails). I’m proud of all of you! We care for our horse from the inside out! You are paying attention!

“We care for our horse from the inside out.” April

Since everyone is listening, I will add another important post on feed. This one deals with chemicals. While our horses rarely see pesticides on our hays, it’s important to know where your hay comes from. Growing next to fields that use sprays (especially aerial spraying) means your hay crop will be contaminated.

A few years ago, I watched a farmer spraying a crop of peas. The cloud of insecticide drifted over to a horse facility and landed on 2 ponies and a quarter horse belonging to a friend of mine. In less than 6 months, the quarter horse lost weight and died. The 2 ponies lived, but one is still suffering.

The vets concluded that it could have been from vaccines. While I agree (as I don’t like vaccines), I did watch the insecticide cloud drift for 3 days in a row over to their small field. The other horses were not directly in the drift. The vets dismissed my findings.

Continue reading

Please Print and Hand Out GMO Flyers To Feed Stores

Hi everyone! Seems as if the Genetically Modified Feed articles I have posted recently far exceed any of the hits to the training posts! I am glad, because it means you care about taking “beautiful care” of your horses on the inside as well as the outside!

I’d like to ask you to download the PDF files of a brochure on GE alfalfa, corn, sugar and soy, as it applies to your horse’s health, and distribute it to every place you can think of:

Feed Stores: bring them a handful and let them know you are not going to buy GM (GE, GMO) alfalfa when it’s harvested and baled at the end of this year.

Distribute it to: Tack stores – Horse organizations – Stables – Breeders – Local clubs – Horse shows and events – Friends – Put it out across the big wide web!

The most pressing issue for me are the 2011 sterility reports on humans. Within a single generation of eating GM foods, we are now seeing a proliferation of men with sterility problems ( http://scholar.google.ca/scholar?q=2011+sterility+and+gmo&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart http://www.google.ca/search?q=2011+sterility+and+gmo&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a). This is the beginning: don’t let it happen to your horses or animals.

A big thank you to everyone that’s taking this seriously. Yes, it will be an inconvenience getting non-GM alfalfa at the end of 2011, but we have time to turn it around with your help! So get these brochures downloaded and printed, and get them to your feed stores first – educate them if you can, but make sure they know you will not be buying this garbage, whose advantages are only for the profit of large corporations.

GE Alfalfa Brochure inside: Horse Industry Brochure Inside

GE Alfalfa Brochure outside:Horse Industry GE-GMO Alfalfa Brochure outside

Caution: the files are large, so if you have trouble printing kilobytes right now, this may be a long process. To start, print the outside PDF first. Then reinsert them into your printer again and print the inside. You may have to fiddle to get it right side up! If your paper jams on the second pass, let the paper sit flat for a day and it will feed better. On the outside sheet you will notice a tiny dot near the photo of the little girl feeding the horse, and another by the two horses discussing the cons of eating GE Alfalfa. Those dots are for you to find the “fold” when you are folding these brochures. This makes it real easy for you to get your brochures looking real nice. You will notice the inside fold is shorter: I planned it that way! I have to say this or else I will get hundreds of emails wondering why this doesn’t work. I have also added photos of the brochure below.

Happy printing and folding, and I’m interested to hear your stories and comments about your GE alfalfa blitz!! And as always, you can email me at: aprilreeves at shaw dot ca


Monsanto buys off Therapeutic Riding Facility

I know I may not be a popular horse person with this, but it’s time we all saw the dragon for what it is. Once again, Monsanto is buying people’s favor, one desperate industry at a time.

A therapeutic riding facility in Henry County, Tennessee, has received $2,500 as part of a program administered by the Monsanto Fund.

Continue reading

Genetically Engineered Alfalfa and Your Horse

A new product is about to be force fed to your horse that you need to know about: Genetically modified alfalfa.

In Canada and the US, 2011 is the first year for GE alfalfa planting. For those asking why a horse owner should care, I have written the details so that you become educated on this. Feeding horses should be as important as learning how to ride and train.

What is GE Alfalfa? Monsanto has altered (in a lab) the alfalfa plant to be pesticide resistant. That means, every cell in the plant will produce a pesticide strong enough to kill bugs when they bite into it, AND allow farmers to spray pesticides as they need.

Non-GE Alfalfa (what our horses have eaten for decades) does not need to be sprayed. It rarely has weed issues or insect problems. The crop is often grown in-between other crops to bring nitrogen back to the soil. It has no need of modification, as it already is a wonderful plant just as it is!

Now, your horse will be exposed to chemicals two ways: through the cellular level in the plant, and through spraying, a process not necessary in the past. In short, there was no need to modify alfalfa. GE alfalfa was also not intended to be fed long term to any animal.

Continue reading

Why All Horse Owners of All Disciplines Should Do Groundwork

After having received and answered questions on this blog for some time now, a recurring theme keeps popping up.

Riders of all disciplines seem to get to a certain level but never seem to be able to get past it. That’s when the questions come forth, and the frustration begins. People intuitively know, even if they don’t consciously know, that they are missing a very integral part of the “equine journey”.

It’s all fine to learn the “mechanics” of riding. We learn how to sit so that we and the horse are more comfortable and safe. We learn how to use our hands and legs to ask the horse how to do a specific task – but we really don’t feel, at a deeper level, what that truly is – to the horse. And so begins our feeling of being “stuck” and asking questions.

We brush our horses, feed them, kiss them goodnight or goodbye, and the second we step away, we move right back into our outer world beyond the horse. But our whole intention, if we search higher, of having a horse in the first place, is to connect very deeply with another spirit. Not another human or animal. Another spirit. And to retain that connection while away from them. This does not mean that you “think” about the horse. It means you bring forward “that” which you carry between you and your horse into all the other aspects of your life. Things like, patience, understanding, grounding, centeredness, unflappable and unshakeable – emotionally and ego free.

Continue reading

Horses and Genetically Modified foods – A recipe for survival or extinction?

I have received a lot of emails about GM feeds, so I compiled a post that describes the basic information you need to know about GM in horse feeds, and the potential issues and dangers around them. I also post any new issues at the bottom of this page.

GMO – Genetically modified organisms are mankind’s way of producing desired effects within a plant/animal that nature either has not done yet, or cannot do. GM plants are created in a lab by scientists, that alter the DNA of the plant by adding a foreign gene into the plant’s DNA (one example was the flounder fish gene in tomatoes). It’s not an exact science, in the aspect that it works first time, every time. It can take years to perfect, adding millions to the cost of the experiment. The most common alteration to the plants horses eat (corn, sugar) is the addition of Bt bacteria, which alters the plant to resist the intense continual spraying of pesticides on the plants without killing them. It also allows any insects that come into contact with that plant to die from trying to eat it.

Think about this for a second, and then continue reading.

Continue reading

20,000 Horse Enthusiasts and Growing!

Today I have had 20,000 visitors to this blog. I couldn’t reach that many people if I did clinics every day!

I hope that everyone that visits comes away with something, even if it’s small, that they can take back to their horse and work on.

We are always learning. As a clinician and trainer, I know I learn from you and my students every day as well. That’s the beauty about this industry: horses never cease to amaze and surprise us.

Through all these articles is a common thread: leave your ego and emotion at the gate before you see your horse – within every problem lies the solution – horses do not know the difference between English and Western – horses are more connected and sensitive than humans give them credit for – they cannot learn the English language.

A great big Thank You to everyone that made the 20,000! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. If it helps the horse, it helps the world…

Canadian Bill C-544 put forward to ban horse slaughter

April: I rarely get into this sort of thing but I’m also a big “foodie” when it comes to humans and horses, so this post has to be shown. Alex Atamanenko is a huge supporter of Genetically Modified-Free Alfalfa, which, for horse owners, is a great thing! Believe me, we don’t want GMO alfalfa or wheat in Canada. Ever. I work hard to petition and keep it from entering. It has the potential to make all our alfalfa-eating horses ill: very very ill.

There are several issues around banning horse slaughter. One is simple: ignorant horse owners will simply abandon their horses somewhere or leave them to starve. An ugly truth for anyone that has come across this, but the horse world does have this reputation of attracting some of the bottom dregs of society (I don’t mince words and I don’t apologize for them). Secondly, Canada is about to put tons of our taxpaying dollars into an “Equine Passport” that no one can completely control. Once again.

I just lost a horse: I put him down as it was the humane thing to do. Someone commented after that I could have made $500 on his carcass. My horse was so full of antibiotics, bute, other chemicals and drugs to keep him alive for those 6 days that I’m sure his “meat” would have killed someone. But yes, I could have released him into society, if I lacked integrity.

Take a read on this and let me know what you think. Should we propose some “law/rule/governance” that every horse owner should partake in, such as a fee for euthanizing that goes into the “coffers” before a horse is bought? Or ????

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 17, 2010

ATAMANENKO MOVES TO BAN HORSE MEAT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION

OTTAWA – New Democrat Agriculture Critic, Alex Atamanenko (BC southern Interior) tabled a Private Members Bill (C-544) yesterday that would effectively shut down the slaughtering of horses for human consumption in Canada.

“The fact is that drugs which are prohibited for use during the life of any animals destined for the human food supply are routinely being administered to horses,” said Atamanenko. “It is irresponsible for Canada to allow the sale of meat from horses as a food item when they have never been raised in accordance with the food safety practices required for all other animals.”

Continue reading

Horse Rescue: What it really means

I was asked to help rescue a horse and her foal yesterday. I don’t usually do this as I hate having to fix my trailer afterward, but something compelled me to do this one.

We drove to this large farm and a rolling field with 11 mares: most with foals and back in foal. The stallion ran wild with them: a no-so-great quarter horse with a nasty chunk of hide off his back leg (exposed and proud fleshed) with nice side profile but on the weedy side. No papers (as usual) and breeding mares of almost every breed other than quarter horse.

Also, as usual, a group of drug addicted men were there to shout and scream to get the horses to “obey”. This is why I don’t usually do this: just want to tie them all up and duct tape their mouths. I soon discovered, all the horses were completely wild: I don’t imagine many of them had been handled in over a decade, and most never touched by a human at all. Their feet were unbelievable.

My friend was after an Arabian cross mare and her colt. After a closer look, once we “softly” moved them into a smaller corral, I noticed the Arabian cross was broken down in the back pastern area, and my friend wanted her to pleasure ride into the hills for several days. Not a good choice.

There were 2 big mares: dark bays with 4 white legs. One had foaled that previous night, and her placenta was not fully discarded. The owners of these horses (son of the father) didn’t seem to understand the consequences of this. I suggested to my friend to get to like bays really quick, because the one mare not yet foaled was stunning. It was later revealed she was half hackney.

We tried to connect with the Arabian cross: this mare and colt were completely wild, and any movement too fast would have sent her over a fence. Since we had to use a chute to move them into the trailer, I didn’t want any part of this, so we abandoned this mare. My friend decided to work with the hackney mare and her unborn foal. She was lovely: ate a few apples from our hands and softly moved towards the trailer and hopped on.

It’s a sign: this mare was meant to be. She free hauled home with no sweating or screaming. I have always said: the right thing is often the easiest. We are not meant to struggle: it’s the Universe’s way of saying we are on the right path. I use this motto in all my training as well.

Today though, I am paying the price of horse rescue: my heart can’t handle this well. As I write this, the other mares and their babies are going to slaughter in a huge truck to Saskatchewan. The bigger hackney mom will likely not survive the trip: her placenta will infect and eventually kill her, and it’s quick. Her newborn will not survive the trip. The other new foals will be crushed in travel.

Why do we do this to horses? Why do we neglect and treat them this way? These are questions I will likely never answer: I often lose faith in mankind. The two words: man and kind do not always blend well on this planet.

When you receive this post in your email, those horses will have their fates sealed. Take a moment in silence and say goodbye. One of them is alive and well, and galloping with 2 other very special mares. She was worth rescuing.

I would do it again.

When Great Horses Die

On Saturday, my beautiful big palomino QH, Max, passed away from an infection in his hoof.

It was one of the freakiest accidents I have seen yet. The 3 vets who attended him were completely baffled over the week he stayed with them. They tended to him daily, but could not get the infection under control. It was only after his death that an autopsy show the capsule around the pastern bones was severed by the small chunk of wood that was lodged at the front of his coronet band. Once that seal is broken, there is no hope for the horse. Who would have thought 1. a horse can even get a piece of wood shoved into his hoof there, and 2. that it would cause such incredible damage and pain?

Life can be so fragile sometimes. They are with us one day and gone the next. For all our loving and caring we put into these magnificent animals, they still have their own agenda’s for their time here with us on this planet.

Many people have said that Max would not have lasted his 8 years if I had not owned him. He was an exceptionally difficult horse, right from birth. His first owner disliked him. She could not bond with him as he had a mind of his own, and it was far away from what any human could have wanted. I saw him as a weanling, while looking for a horse for a client. Aside from being very tall, very  pretty and a stunning golden palomino, there was something else about this feisty little horse that captured me. I wasn’t looking for a horse. He wasn’t looking for an owner.

By the end of the day, we were a pair. A match made in heaven.

Continue reading

Horses and Genetically Modified forages: Are we Moving Our Horses Toward Extinction?

Hello everyone. I rarely speak about “issues” in the horse world, but this is too big and too important to walk away from.

Our horse’s forages: alfalfa and hay – are in potential peril, and within a few years may be gone forever. Here’s the story:

All Alfalfa and Wheat may be Genetically Modified in North America in the next few years

GE corporations (Monsanto & others) are working hard to push their untested GMO alfalfa and wheat crops in the US and Canada. The US already has 5332 acres of RoundUp Ready alfalfa (since 2004). There is no wheat yet anywhere. Because the alfalfa was grown before it was approved, it was halted and is undergoing additional testing and environmental studies. No human or horse studies have been done to prove this is safe. No long term studies are ever done on any GMO foods. Many independent tests show serious health issues (Genetic Roulette).

Horses have evolved over thousands of years, naturally

Horses are sensitive to their environments and their feeds: any horse owner who has any level of awareness of their animal understands this. Their bodies have evolved slowly over time to adjust to changing plant types and feeds. However, along came man, and believed that he/she could do better than Mother Nature. As we asked more of our horse, we began to alter the feeds we give them.

The horse, though, has evolved for years, slowly, methodically, and if you look at the timeline to how many years we have been changing his natural diet, it’s really not that long (20-30 years). It has been a dramatic ride for the horse: from field to stalls: from hay to concentrates and feeds he would never find in the wild (soy, corn, heavy oils).

It’s not working. Horses are getting fatty liver diseases, insulin resistance, heart attacks, cancers and the same type of health issues humans have (that eat high fat and carb diets). And now there’s another issue to add to the mix: genetic modification. Thirty years ago this was unheard of. Last year 6 horses under the age of 10 died from cancer in my area.

What is Genetically Modified foods and why should you be concerned for your horse?

Genetic modification has many levels of concern attached to it, from health to environment and corporate control. We’ll take a look at each one so you have a good general knowledge of the problems horse owners may face.

Continue reading

Fabulous post on the horses in our lives.

This was sent to me via email from an anonymous source, but it’s so powerful I had to let you all read it. Grab a box of kleenex…

God gives us horses and compels some of us to love them. Yet why does the horse, an animal with such a big heart, live such a short life? Perhaps it’s because if our horses lived any longer, we wouldn’t be able to bear losing them. Or, perhaps it’s because God wants to jump.

Perhaps God looks down on the fine horses we raise and decides when it’s His turn to ride. He gives us a few good years to care for and learn from them, but when the time is right; it’s up to us to see them off gracefully.

OK, perhaps not gracefully. Blowing into a Kleenex is rarely graceful. But we can be grateful.


Continue reading

I’ve been so busy!!

Sorry everyone but I have been extremely busy lately, and I know many of you are waiting for your questions to be answered! I have been organizing this years clinic schedule and it’s a big change this year with the inclusion of open clinics. It’s more work than private clinics, but I can breathe now for a while and will be back to posting many answers for you.

This blog is insanely busy. Thanks to everyone that comes here to find answers to their horse training questions. Hopefully I will see many of you this year.

I am limiting my clinics to BC for 2010, as the US is too strict on clinicians coming in. I have always felt as though the US was my best friend I get to visit all the time. Hopefully one day we will be able to move back and forth freely again. I will miss my American friends this year!

Be first to sign up; send your email address and your location and I will contact you first if I am in your area.

April Reeves

Calling all horse owners: stop GM Alfalfa!!

Please send this to every horse owner you know!

I’m involved in politics when it comes to horses. I am a food activist and have spent years studying and understanding food and how it impacts us and our horses. I lecture and speak all over the country on this, and I’m asking for your help.

I want our horses to be able to eat healthy, non-toxic foods and I want to be able to buy horse feeds without fear of this. However, those of you who feed sweet feed – you are feeding GMO, Genetically Modified Organisms. The corn 20 years ago is no longer the same. It has been genetically altered (DNA has been changed) and contains deadly bacteria (Bt), viruses, and pesticides/herbicides. While this may not matter to you, the rise in cancer and other serious health problems in young horses leave one suspect, especially when you didn’t even hear of a horse getting cancer 40 years ago. In 2009 in my area 6 died from cancer before the age of 10.

Please read through this and decide for yourself. I hope that you act and send your letters in today. Your horse will thank you for it by living a long, healthy life. We don’t want GM foods, not for us or our animals!

Appeal to farmers and consumers – Act now to stop GM alfalfa.

Send your comments to the US Department of Agriculture by February 16,
2010.

Its not yet legal for Monsanto to sell its GM alfalfa seeds in Canada
but a US injunction on planting in that country could soon be
overturned. If GM alfalfa is planted in the US, it will quickly
contaminate our food system as well as Canadian alfalfa crops. It will
also lead to the legalization of GM alfalfa in Canada (Canada approved
Monsanto’s GM Roundup Ready alfalfa in 2005 but it still needs variety
registration as a last step before commercialization here).
Continue reading

The next decade is going to be the best!

January 1st and my optimism is already at an all time high! It’s suppose to be a day of rest and already I have had 3 calls and emails to “come here and help us” and “where will you be this year”? For now I am not sure what my clinic schedules are. 99% of my Horsemanship clinics are private, but I may change that this year.

I am also involved in political matters this year, specifically the GM alfalfa issue, and the creation of GE Free (genetic engineering) zones in Canada. Why GM alfalfa? Because my horse and your horse will be exposed to this, and there has been no testing on the Canadian government side as to whether there are harmful effects to our horses or not. I have researched the possible consequences of this crop getting ‘out of hand’ and it’s not pretty. I will be writing on this in the future, and I hope you watch and learn all you can.

I see the next 10 years as one of the biggest decades of change on this planet, as we speed forward, faster and faster. I have always felt that I was going to live to see the single largest impact on planet earth, and it may be this next 10 years. Old habits, rituals and industries will fade out. New emerging ideas will be more sustainable, and the ‘energy’ of the planet will rise as a result. Even the way we keep and maintain our horses will change. For the better. In ten years I will repost this – should be interesting!

Your Feedback Please

In order for me to make this blog valuable and useful, I need to know what YOU want to read. What YOU want to see. What YOU want to discuss. What am I missing?

You can say as little or as much as you like.

What are your goals with your horse? What are your dreams? What do you want to accomplish but are not sure of how to go about it?

Help me make this horse blog one of the best out there. What you have to say matters to me. Together, we can create a community that benefits us all, which benefits the horse. It’s all about the horse.

Thanks everyone, and a very, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Off to Liz Mitten Ryan’s Ranch in Kamloops

I am going to add, intermittently, anything really cool about the personal side of April Reeves.

I have one of the greatest jobs in the world. In fact, looking back on my life so far, I have not worked a day. If you love what you do, it’s not work.

As a horse trainer, clinician, writer, publicist and owner of a marketing firm, I get to ‘marry’ all of these gifts into some of the most amazing experiences one could have in a lifetime.

I am gone for 3 days to the Kamloops ranch of Liz Mitten Ryan. Many of you know Liz as the author of these amazing books:

One With The Herd PDF of book sampler

The Truth According To Horses PDF of book sampler

Life Unbridled PDF of book sampler

Sabbatical PDF of book sampler

Take a look at the book samplers. Liz is tapped into horses in a way only few of us get to uncover and discover. She lives on 320 acres with a herd of horses that are neither wild nor ‘broke’ in the ‘arena’ sense.

Continue reading

ARHT-Main-Insert-2018-700