General articles

  • Buffalo Soldiers – A Legacy In Las Vegas

    I’ve seen the Buffalo Soldiers in Las Vegas over the years…..four or five riders, dapper in their dress blue and gold cavalry uniforms, riding tall and carrying the flag of our Country.  I shook a member’s hand during the 9/11 Tribute at Horseman’s Park and have seen posts on Facebook that they cater a great BBQ.  But exactly who are they?  I wanted to find out more about their members, their horses, and their club.  Happily, I received an invitation to meet them during a celebration dinner at Wine 5 on Monday night, and I jumped at the opportunity to find out more about our valley’s own Buffalo Soldiers.

  • SCMS Give Norwegians A Go

    After more than a decade of airing the outrageous and typically ridiculous human experience, reality TV is still a runaway success.  Since MTV first aired its Real World series, we’ve seen everything from mining coal to swapping wives.  But unlike some of the broadcasts with tiresome manufactured drama, shows like Dirty Jobs took the bend of having people try something unusual on camera that they had never done before, with ample risk of injury or at least embarrassment.  Such was the reason our local mounted shooters club, the Sin City Mounted Shooters, spent Thursday afternoon at the BCHA arena with a Norwegian film crew and two fearless show hosts.

  • Umberto Strives For HOY

    The first full weekend of 2012 kicked off with a chilly but exciting schooling Dressage show at Cooper Ranch.   New competitors mixed with veterans as they tested from Introductory level all the way up to Grand Prix.  Walking around the immaculate grounds, I’m always mesmerized by the sleek, clipped horses and their dapper riders.  A beautiful silvery horse moved through the warm-up arena and caught my eye, stepping gracefully and bending at his rider’s invisible command.  His name is Umberto, aka “Bernie”, and he is one of the Horse Of The Year nominees with the Las Vegas Chapter of the California Dressage Society (LVCCDS).  I caught up with his owner, Kara Pack, who admits it has been a relationship of ups-and-downs.  But after years of “couples counseling”, they are finally a successful team and the sky is the limit.

  • Jay Sharp – In Memorium

    Jay may have been best known for his attitude.  Chances are if you ever met him you never forgot him; the interesting thing is he never forgot you either- his memory as sharp as his name.  There was always a story, comments and advice, maybe not what you wanted but often what you needed.  The man had an endless curiosity that filled his life.  Anything Jay took an interest in, he wanted to master.  Studying in great detail he accomplished amazing things. The farrier community was tremendously enhanced by what Jay learned, developed, and shared.  His journey took on a lot of turns but was always surrounded by the horse.

  • Time No Longer Short For Shorty

    I was invited by SNGA President Jacque Parker to pay a special visit to one of their gymkhana participants during their last competition.  “George and Shorty have proven to be an unbelievable pair”, she insisted.  True to the claim, I watched from the rail as a striking man with a pony tail to his waist used his voice, strength, and excellent seat to keep a high-spirited chestnut horse from charging the barrels too soon.  Shorty jigged anxiously behind the timer before George let him take off.  With quarterhorse speed the horse rocketed toward the first turn.  An excess of enthusiasm caused them to overshoot the barrels a bit and George to lose a stirrup on the third, but considering where they’ve come in the last two years, it’s simply a miracle they are here at all.

  • Scared Straight

    Why would anyone want their horse to spook?  Well, if you took part in the RBH ghoulish scare clinic on Saturday, you were setting yourself up for one but hoping for the best.  A dozen brave riders brought their horses to the arena to take part in a Robin Bailey Horsemanship clinic that combined the technical challenges of a Trails competition with some seasonal decoration to increase the fun.  For three hours, participants rode past an inflatable black cat which moved its head while skeletons and witches flapped along the fenceposts.  They braved the carwash, climbed a ramp and crossed a water obstacle, circled into a keyhole and dragged tires behind them around barrels.  All this while wind gusts of 20mph blew through the open air arena.

  • Fast Shooting Fun with the SCMS

    Have a fast horse that can turn the barrels, work cows like a champion, rope and run with the best?  You’ve done it all and are looking for a new challenge?  Then mounted shooting is your next E-ticket ride.  In this fast growing sport, riders must coordinate speed, accuracy, weapon control, tight maneuvering, and be dressed appropriately to boot.  On Sunday morning, after navigating past the too-friendly burros that dotted the road into Bonnie Springs Ranch, I arrived at the arena to watch the Sin City Mounted Shooters practice for this week’s big competition: The Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association’s (CMSA) Western Championship.  They are the only CMSA club in Nevada, and five of their members will work to shoot their best at the South Point Equestrian Center starting on Wednesday.

  • Special Stables for the Military

    Most military families are used to a life of geographic relocation and rotation.  I have nieces and nephews who have to pull up stakes every couple of years and move on to new assignments, typically with very short notice.  It’s hard enough to pack up all your belongings and start over due to a PCS move (Permanent Change of Station), but it’s even tougher when you have to move your horse, too. 

  • Me And My Shadow

    Fourth of July weekend –a traditional celebration of our nation’s independence.  Families and friends gather to enjoy the midsummer sunshine and share food, fun, and fireworks.  But for some, the shadow of a missing person leaves an empty place in their lives….the unexplained tragedy of a loved one who has simply disappeared.   According to local Metro, an average of 5-7 adult persons are reported missing each day in Las Vegas.  Fortunately, most missing person incidents are solved within a few days or weeks when people voluntarily return home.  But when this is not the case, police can only play a very limited role investigating disappearances because being a missing person is not a crime.  The LVMPD states that, “Any adult person can simply walk away, and choose to ignore family, friends, associates and employers.  As a general rule, all people have a right to be left alone, and police intrusion into their lives must be minimal.”  But the families and friends of these people suffer regardless, with the unknown mystery often worse than actually knowing what has happened.

  • Beauty and the Buffalo

    Local trainer Robin Bailey has come a long way from the young girl who traded stall cleaning at a local barn for some playtime with horses.  With decades of experience now under her belt, she laughs when she recalls her early riding days- “I was too intimidated to ask anyone about tack, so I just rode bareback with a halter for the first four summers.”  However, she soon realized she possessed an unusual talent for reading and communicating with horses, and intuitively understanding their issues.  That ability will be put to the test as she takes on the ultimate challenge of gentling a wild mustang to be ridden competitively in just 90 days.  This weekend, Bailey will showcase some of her methods as she invites the public to view one of her training sessions with “Tatonka”, the BLM mustang she randomly drew as her gelding for the upcoming contest.

  • Jousting! – Mayhem In The Desert

    The desert isn’t the most likely place to find mounted warriors wearing 150-lb suits of armor on charging horses and locked in mortal combat.  But for one knight (er, night), the South Point will host a non-theatrical jousting tournament with a $10,000 top prize.  Heavy armor jousting is enjoying a return in popularity, as tournaments and organizations have been popping up in recent years with competitions and points scoring systems being developed in Europe, Canada and the United States.  Highland festivals and Renaissance faires are adding full-contact jousting to their scheduled events.  On Saturday June 18th, the Ultimate Jousting Championship will rock the arena as newcomers and veterans to the sport will don steel plate armor and tilt at each other with solid wood lances atop charging war horses.  Included in the competition are reigning world champion Charlie Andrews and his “Knights Of Mayhem”, stars of a reality TV series debuting this Fall on NatGeo, which follows the knights around the country as they joust in various tournaments (and all the associated drama therewith).

  • War Horses – Fallen Heroes

    Memorial Day– a time for remembering those who gave their lives selflessly to protect and preserve the American values of freedom.  Over 1.5 million horses and mules died in the Civil War, the war for which Memorial Day was originally enacted. Tens of thousands of American war horses, donkeys and mules overcame their flight instinct to charge into a fight that was not theirs.    Battles were won and lost from the backs of the amazing war horse, and we do not forget their sacrifice. The Civil War Horse Memorial stands in a small courtyard adjacent to the United States Cavalry Museum at Fort Riley, Kansas, dedicated to the fallen horses of the Civil War.  The following two stories represent how the use of the military horses changed from the 19th to 20th centuries, and the phasing out of mounted cavalry units.