Tack n' Talk

Online Equestrian Resource

Archive for Art and Literature

HELLO WEEKEND: The Ten Irrefutable Laws of Horsemanship by Geoff Tucker, DVM

By Larissa Cox

You e-met Geoff Tucker, DVM a year ago on Tack and Talk discussing equine dentistry without drama.  Geoff Tucker is a different kind of Equine Dentist.  He has floated over 40,000 horse’s teeth using only hand tools and rarely uses sedatives.  He uses good horsemanship and principles of respect to have the horse allow him to run his hands inside their mouths to feel each and every tooth.

Using his years of  equine dentistry experience, his horsemanship knowledge and his principles of respect,  Dr. Tucker has now written and published an e-book “The Ten Irrefutable Laws of Horsemanship” which is now available and encouraged for everyone working with horses to read.

geoff tucker large

According to Dr. Tucker, this book was important to develop because “our relationship with the horse has changed. For the majority of people in the US, horses are recreational vehicles parked in the garage and pulled out on weekends or maybe an hour at the end of the work day. No longer are horses an integral part of life where 12 hours a day were spent with horses. Many owners show up just to ride while a hired hand does all the work.”  Dr. Tucker believes that the connection between man and horse is rarely made which makes these ten rules even more important as they may save your life or your horse’s life.

Dr. Tucker’s experience with horses dates back to 1973,  and he has seen many people make the same avoidable mistakes much too often.  Some of these rules may seem to be common sense, while others may seem to be the extreme, but anyone that has worked with over 3500 different horses a year, knows the value of following a set procedure when dealing with a 1000 pound animal.

His no holds barred approach to writing is refreshing while he explains each and every rule in detail.  His explanations are crisp and factual which makes each rule easy to remember and to apply.

Rule #10 – A Horse is a Horse.

“Your horse is not a surrogate child, a surrogate spouse, therapy for your problems at work, the friend you cannot find in the people world, a cow, dog, cat, or any other animal. Take the horse for what he is – an individual living being with certain needs and desires unique to that horse…Remember though that they are still a horse. Understand that they have similar personalities, that they have a language, they have agendas, they have “horse rules”, and they are kept by humans but are not humans.”

I encourage everyone to take the time and read Geoff Tucker’s “Ten Irrefutable Laws of Horsemanship”.   Anyone knowing a youngster entering into the equestrian arena, should also take the time to read Tucker’s Laws of Horsemanship.  As a coach and trainer, much too often I see people treating their 1000 pound horse as their companion thinking that they wouldn’t dream of hurting them and not understanding why the horse barreled over them.  This e-book is worth the time to read.

Larissa 🙂

The Art of Jewellery: Interview with Cathy Whitley of CJW Designs

Story by Larissa Cox

We here at Tack n’ Talk had the opportunity to interview equestrian jewellery designer, Cathy Whitley, about her craft.  A mature starter to both jewellery design and the equestrian sport, Cathy advises anyone who has an adventurous spirit to try something new, and give it your all, as it may lead to a very fulfilling passion.

Cathy, you have recently dove into equestrian sports and the art of jewellery making. What inspired you to take up these endeavours? Would you say the beginnings of these activities had a similar catalyst?

You could say that wanting to try something new was a catalyst for both-I love starting new projects, and learning to ride and learning to make jewelry were certainly both projects!

When I was forty-something I decided that if I was ever going to learn to ride it was time to start, so I drove around looking for a stable and stopped at the first one that didn’t advertise pony parties. I asked the trainer (who turned out to be a wonderful hunter-jumper trainer and competitor) if she taught adults to ride. She asked if I wanted ride English or Western and when I said I didn’t know the difference, she said “learn to ride English and you’ll be able to ride anything”, and she gave me my first lesson on a 17hand, 26-year-old thoroughbred who had been an Olympic jumper.

A friend who makes jewelry and beautiful quilts taught me the basics of jewelry making. I have always liked making things and putting colors together, but have NO drawing or painting ability. My friend was going to help me restring a broken necklace, and when she brought a huge rolling case full of all kinds of beads and “findings” (earwires, clasps etc) over, I was hooked.

Most of your jewellery seem to be with precious stones.  What inspired you to work with these stones?

I started out using glass beads because they tend to be less expensive than – stones (although you can spend a fortune for some gorgeous/fancy glass beads like lampwork). As I became more confident making jewelry I started using more expensive materials like sterling silver, and gemstones just seemed a good match.

What inspired you to incorporate equestrian themes in your jewellery?

Equestrian Cats Eye Necklace

My horse, Silhouette. She’s a beautiful Friesian-thoroughbred cross, and I happened across a horse charm that really reminded me of her. Riding friends liked it too, and encouraged me to make more “horse jewelry”.

Each piece of jewellery seems to be very distinctive and one of a kind in both the blend of colours of the stones and the design. How do you go about the design of each piece?

Different ways. I only buy stones and beads that appeal to me in some way – because of their color, shape, the way they were cut etc. I usually have a general idea what colors and shapes would look good together, and I’ll get a pile of stuff out and lay out a basic pattern, then start altering it. It’s surprising how something that looks good in your head sometimes just doesn’t look good in real life, and alternately sometimes just adding a small accent bead can turn an OK piece into a really interesting piece.  Fairly often I’ll lay out a couple of choices and ask my husband which one he likes better, and why.

Wine Tasting Charm Necklace

The hardest way to design is to have an end product in mind – for example, a friend asked me to make a necklace with a particular shark’s tooth, and it took awhile to find stone colors that would work, and figure out a good way to attach the tooth to the necklace.

Your Etsy shop focuses on the theme of horses, nature and the beach…what is the connection between these?

The essence of things? I love animals, especially dogs and horses. I love the outdoors, especially mountains and beaches. I love flowers and plants, and spend lots of time gardening. To me these all have amazing natural beauty and value, and just seem to go together. I think the natural world is incredible, including the amazing variety of gemstones that are just sitting in rocks all over the world.

Starfish Earrings

Do you have a shop as well or is Etsy your main marketing tool?

I don’t have a “B&M” (brick and mortar) shop. I almost gave up on the idea of selling jewelry because the first several shops I approached turned me down for one reason or another. I was lucky to find a funky gallery where the experienced artist owners encouraged me (I still sell jewelry there, Simple Gestures in St Augustine, FL). Since then I have sold at shows and in several shops and galleries. Etsy is great, but it’s hard to generate web business without spending a lot of time marketing.

What suggestions would you have for someone wanting to begin an Etsy or similar business.
GO FOR IT! …but don’t quit your day job… 😛

Amazonite and Fire Opal Colt Bracelet

For great jewellery, with both equestrian, and non-equestrian themes, check out Cathy’s Etsy shop, CJW Designs! Tack n’ Talk readers will receive 15% off these fantastic pieces!

Hello Weekend! …It’s gone to the birds!

Hey Everyone! Hope you all had a great week! Although the groundhog forecasted 6 more weeks of Winter, it seems Spring is starting to peep out from behind the clouds. 🙂

Today, we have a special Hello Weekend, featuring the artistic ironworks of David ‘Oats’ Ogilvie. Although a departure from our usual equine content, we hope you enjoy exploring the process of making these fabulous iron bird cages with us!


Story by David Ogilvie

Mary Sue, my wife is a big part of the birds and the cage’s. We started with two bird’s in a store bought cage; then Mary Sue decided that we should have a few more birds … well we went from two to twelve in a hurry . The pressure was on me now to create a new cage that would accommodate our new charges, as well as look good in our house. I have been working with wrought iron for 20 years it has been my experience that to accomplish any task no matter how big or small you must be committed. Mary Sue says that I‘m driven, but it’s not that so much ,as it is that once I’ve decided on a piece I am very focused on that piece, and I want to see the finished project. Here is the first cage.

We researched the specific needs of a caged budgie, the amount and type of space required for flight, perching, feeding, climbing, and nesting. Budgies are members of the parrot family, they move about most often by climbing, therefore they required more height than width in the construction of the cage. We also purchased a nesting box from the pet store where we bought the birds. We hoped that given enough space they would pair off and nest. We didn’t have to wait too long before we were rewarded with the first of seven eggs, needless to say we now had to find friends who wanted to have budgies too! Anyway that is another story in itself, back to cage building. I knew that I wanted a Japanese temple look for the cage, so once the size was determined I started at the base and worked my way up. My mother-in-law Dorothy had a friend from Japan who kindly wrote out House of Birds in Japanese lettering for me. I was able to reconstruct the lettering out of metal and weld it to the sides of the cage for decoration. The overall height was 60in. high, 26in. deep, 40in. wide. We decided that the birds would enjoy our patio in the warmer months so we needed the wheels to manoeuvre the cage and occupants. We have since moved from that home and the birds have all found new homes as well, but the cage remains with us. It is a beautiful addition to our garden, in the summer and it works wonderfully well as a wild bird feeder in the winter months. So ends the story of bird cage #1.
…until the next time, Oats !

David ‘Oats’ Ogilvie was born in the Georgian Bay area but now resides in beautiful Sundridge, Ontario with his wife Mary Sue. Inspired by his parents who both served as boat welders in WWII, Oats’ approach to ironwork is characterized by hard work, adaptability and simplicity. Oats’ has been welding for over 20 years and has the unique ability to create functional pieces that are detailed with beauty. For more information, or to order your own OATS IRONWORKS birdcage, please contact David at oatsironworks@bell.net.

“Beyond the Homestretch” by Lynn Reardon

As the last of the festive trimmings from the holiday season are put away we find ourselves facing the long off season. Some of us will be hauling frozen buckets and longing to be out of our arenas again. Some will be lucky enough to continue training in warmer climes but most of us will be dreaming of spring and suffering a bit of cabin fever.

My solution? A superb read for those long evenings when sunset comes too early and outside is too cold! “Beyond the Homestretch” by Lynn Reardon is a marvelous journey not to be missed from start to finish.

For the novice horseman it is a vitual handbook of almost every concieveable aspect of horsekeeping and a very encouraging tale of how knowledge follows desire and determination.

For the trainer, you will recognize with fondness the long and bumpy road from starter to professional.

For myself , it took a long time to read and digest the whole book. Not because it is overly long, at 282 pages, a very comfortable read. It was because every chapter , every anecdote and adventure set off a firestorm of memories from my own journey. Lynn’s descriptions of the racetrack are so clear and real, you are there. You are there alongside of all the colourful characters every racetrack attracts. The trainers,dealers,jockeys,exercise riders,veterinarians grooms come to life vividly bringing back my own days at Woodbine racetrack  in Toronto.

You will laugh and cry with Lynn all the way from an unsatisfying though successful office career to her crowning achievement: L O P E   Lonestar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers.

You will find yourself in every page as she emerges from the cocoon of “novice weekend rider” to full scale trainer with the keen eye and instincts of a true horseman born only of long experience.Of necessity Lynn learns to deal with dire medical situations, dangerous riding, difficult and unscrupulous characters and more ways to stretch a dollar than you can imagine. With the purpose and gumption only a dream of the heart can produce Lynn faces down seemingly unsurmountable obstacles. In the process she finds compassion in odd places ,hope in the darkness and faith in herself  and deepening respect and love for her husband Tom.

Anyone who has ever loved a thoroughbred will find them again in the pages of “Beyond the Homestretch”.

If you find yourself in tears every spring when the “Run for the Roses”, starts ringing across the airwaves this book will warm your soul.

As a child I was lucky enough to ride a great grandson of Man O War. “Valcouer”, a chestnut, small and fragile looking who had been injured before he ever raced but saw me to my first red ribbon over an 18 inch jump course. I spent over an hour, frozen in my chair, starring into space back on that jump course before resuming reading.

“Beyond the Homestretch” published by New World Library will be enjoyed and appropriate for  readers of all ages from 10 to 100.The same way horses level the age gap between riders, this book’s appeal will span audiences from the city dweller who has only imagined being astride the back of the proudest of horses to the trainer who has seen it all come and go many times before.

I wish Lynn all the luck in the world for the continued growth and success with LOPE. I hope more books will follow since I have a feeling this story has really just begun.                               Libby Keenan

“She Carries Me Away” – A Poem By Robin Shen

By Robin Shen

She Carries me away

From here to there

From now to then

Hours Darkened by

Hopeless Struggle

A Miserable Daily Existence

Left Heaving in her Wake

Her Victory an Effortless

Toss of Jet Rippling

On a Graceful Arch

Framing a Rising Sun

Swollen Veins

Rise on her Neck

The Tender Smell of Sweat

From Steaming Shoulders

The Scalding Warmth of her Skin

Shrinks from my Touch

Her Body Presses against mine

My Heart Falters

Closing my Eyes

I Seize the Moment

I gasp for air

Stretched nostrils

Steal my breath away

Later in Bed

I fight to stay awake

The memory of

A day with her

far better than any dream

About Robin Shen: Combining knowledge of classical dressage and natural horsemanship, Robin pursues the lightness, connection and harmony that comes from being an “Enlightened Horseman”. You can find out more about Robin and his methods on his Enlightened Horseman Blog.