What: Women Luv Horses (WLH) retreat; three-day celebration of the special relationship between women and horses
Hostess: World-renowned equestrian, clinician and Team Horse & Rider member Lynn Palm
Where: Cabarrus Arena and Events Center in Concord, N.C. (near Charlotte)
When: May 18-20, 2007
Who was invited: Women of all ages, backgrounds and varying interests in the horse world
The stars: PRCA barrel racing legend Martha Josey; internationally acclaimed dressage competitor, clinician, author and frequent contributor to our sister publication Dressage Today Jane Savoie; AQHA Open Trail World Champion Cynthia Cantleberry, NRHA Freestyle Champion, 2006 Road To The Horse Champion, Team H&R member and all-around rock-star cowgirl Stacy Westfall
Educators: Dr. Torri Maxwell on West Nile and Equine Herpes Virus; Katie Young, PhD, on equine nutrition; Debi Metcalf of Stolen Horse International on protecting your horse from theft; Dr. Robin Smith on horse care; Lyndsey White and Raegan Knotts on how digestive health affects a horse's appearance, attitude and performance
Fashion/beauty divas: Suzi Vliestra of Hobby Horse Clothing on knockout show clothes; Kerri Kent of Kerrits clothing; Donna Mastrianni on skin care for women and their horses; and, because horsewomen don't go far without their other beloved four-legged-friends, Oster put on a presentation for the ultimate "Pampered Pup."
For moms & career gals: Author, speaker, and veteran horse-show mom Ange Finn presented "Green as Grass: Horse Show Parenting 101" and "Family, Career, Riding-Time Management."
After-hours fun: "Filly Fashion Show" and "Cowgirls Party"
A Cynic, Reborn
By Alana Harrison, H&R production editor
Women readers: Please forgive me for what I'm about to say. I despise mall marathons; I don't really care for chic flicks; I can't imagine anything more boring than being bound to a weekly mani/pedi. And frankly, I'm just not really into the whole girl-bonding thing--that is, except for when it comes to a certain sisterhood based on horses.
I wouldn't classify myself as a tomboy--as a kid or now--but I'd rather clean the grime off my saddle than touch the slime in my refrigerator. And, I feel ridiculously clichéd even saying that riding and getting filthy with my best girlfriend beats "lunching" and facials hands-down. How many of us horsewomen have attended some boring cocktail party, only to be saved by discovering a fellow horsewoman who, over several glasses of Chardonnay, truly understands our frustration over our Paint's refusal to pick up his left lead? Truth is, that too-often written-off, banal-bond between women who share the equine obsession is a fundamental part of what makes the horse world go 'round.
With this somewhat sardonic preface, I do love to travel (for pleasure or work) to destinations with horse relativity. But I admit that I expected the premier "Women Luv Horses" retreat to be bit...cheesy. Plus, I was getting a double-dose of female bonding, as H&R's newly-hired editorial coordinator, Amanda Peterson, was coming along for the fun (which did, by the way, turn out to be a blast)!
The Breed/Discipline Melting Pot
As many of us can attest to, breeds and disciplines draw lines between horse enthusiasts. Paints versus Apps. Arabian versus Quarter Horse. Dressage versus Western pleasure. Jumping versus reining. Parallel with society, there are blatant stereotypes and prejudices on Planet Horse. But those barriers seemed almost non-existent among the WLH crowd. At dinner one evening, I sat between a middle-aged beauty from Canada who competes in upper-level dressage and a 72-year-old woman who does competitive endurance riding. Across the table bubbled a blond 20-something who was mad about barrel racing, and to her left sat a mother of five, who used to compete in Western pleasure, but now has a blast trail riding with her gal pals.
"Wow," I thought, "what an amazingly diverse, but equally knowledgeable group of horsewomen." I only wished Amanda and I had more time to chat with them about their personal horse paradigms. Later during the event, I got to visit with Lynn for a bit (who was gracious enough to help me with a personal riding issue I'm having with my Thoroughbred), and she said her initial vision for WLH was to offer an event that appealed to women across the horse spectrum...old, young, middle-aged, stay-at-home moms, professionals, backyard riders, competitors, jumpers, reiners, barrel runners, trail riders--you name it. I think she did just that.
A Lil' Somethin' For Every Gal
Lynn packed riding demonstrations, clinics, lectures, talk sessions, interactive workshops, seminars and social delights into three days. Various demonstrations were held congruently in different parts of the facility and were planned with finite detail so riders interested in horse-health could soak up every word of equine medicine and barrel racers wouldn't miss a second of Martha Josey's stellar racing tactics.