Sweetbriars: Tabby’s Big Year by Hollie Anne Marsh

I was recently contacted by Hollie Anne Marsh to see if I would be interested in reading and reviewing the next book in the Sweetbriars series.  You can read the review of the first book on Equus EducationTabby’s Big Year focuses on the life of twelve year old Tabitha alongside her close friends Cate and Violet.

Tabby’s life appears to be an incredible roller coaster for such a young person.  She is keen to see her beloved horse Bliss come back to full health – and able to be ridden – after an injury.  She feels guilt for Bliss having hurt himself and is anxious to know what the vet will say in regards to his future as a riding horse able to compete.

Sweetbriars: Tabby's Big Year by Hollie Anne Marsh | Equus Education (Click to buy)
Sweetbriars: Tabby’s Big Year by Hollie Anne Marsh | Equus Education (Click to buy)

On top of this, Tabby is battling a sense of isolation with her father not around, her sister distant and living elsewhere and her mother more often than not missing in her life.  As she tries to juggle work, studies, horse riding and also keeping her dysfunctional family a secret, she is dismayed to find something else thrown into the mix.

A mare that she used to ride is to be sent off for slaughter.  And to make things even worse, it is at no fault of the horse in question.  Tabby passionately seeks out a solution and finds that in doing so, extra pressure is piled on top of her young shoulders.

Sweetbriars: Tabby’s Big Year

Tabby’s Big Year looks at family dynamics, the incredible joy – and pressure – of trying out for the British Young Rider’s Squad as well as nursing horses back to health from different ailments.  It is an enjoyable read and full of horses.  I have no doubt it will be enjoyable for pre teens as well as other age readers.

Author – Hollie Anne Marsh
Fiction – middle grade / teen
In my library – as an eBook it is.

Merck Manual for Horse Owners

I have been working on the next unit of online resources for some of our equine students at work.  They are looking at physiology of the horse across its various systems.  Digestive, integumentary, reproductive, endocrine, etc.  One website that we have referenced and guided students to a few times is the Merck Manual Veterinary Manual.  The Merck Manual for Horse Owners is a great resource!

It covers many other species of animal, but you can read and learn a lot about horse care as well as the various systems in the horse.  For the different systems within the horse, you can see a diagram that outlines where it is in the horse’s body.  You can also read about ailments that commonly affect said systems.  A valuable online tool!

Whether you are an equine veterinarian, aspire to be or just want to further your knowledge of horse anatomy and physiology, the Merck Manual for Horse Owners looks to be a great online resource.  Be sure to check it out!

Different topics covered include:

  • Description and Physical Characteristics of Horses
  • Selecting and Providing a Home for a Horse
  • Routine Care and Breeding of Horses
  • Behaviour of Horses
  • Blood Disorders of Horses
  • Bone, Joint and Muscle Disorders in Horses

There is much to be explored in the above topics, but that’s not all that is available on the site.  Why not head along to the above link to get caught up in some horse related reading and learning?

“He’s of the colour of the nutmeg. And of the heat of the ginger…. he is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him, but only in patient stillness while his rider mounts him; he is indeed a horse, and all other jades you may call beasts.” ― William Shakespeare

Secret Heart (Hearts of Three Rivers #4) by Amity Lassiter

I downloaded Secret Heart recently when searching for free horse related books on Amazon.  This story focuses on single mother Layla, her son Mason and the man who is the father of her child, Nate.

Layla has grown up in a family that takes whatever they can get.  They are lazy and willing to work the system to get ‘paid’ so that they can live the luxurious life they desire.  Desperate to get out from under this stigma of her family, Layla works hard to provide for her son and keep her run down rental in working order. She is happy to fly under the radar with two close friends – her baby sitter and the grandmother of her son.

Secret Heart by Amity Lassiter | Equus Education (Click to buy)
Secret Heart by Amity Lassiter | Equus Education (Click to buy)

Nate has been living a fast life on the rodeo circuit, a well known bull rider.  But one bad ride brings all he has achieved crashing down around him.  Suddenly he has no riding career and a damaged body.  On top of this, he loses his land, his horses and his nerve for riding bulls.  Nate returns to the town of Three Rivers with his tail between his legs and no idea what to do now.

Running into Layla reminds him of the time they’d had before he went off on the rodeo circuit.  Layla is desperate to keep the fact that she has a son away from Nate.  This gets harder as she finally agrees to a date with the bull rider and finds that there is potential for future dates.

Secret Heart was an entertaining read about two people investing in each other in spite of thinking they don’t have a lot to offer.  Horses featured lightly but not to the extent that I would have liked.  That said, the book was an enjoyable read.

Author – Amity Lassiter
Fiction – Western Romance for Adults
In my library – a digital copy.

Compromise Horses Heal Souls by Anna Rashbrook

Compromise is the second book by this author that I have read, the first being Challenger.  The two novels are loosely related with some characters that are in both stories. But readers are able to read them as standalone novels.  In Compromise, Molly finds herself struggling with the day to day tasks involved in her job in a local riding stable.

Compromise by Anna Rashbrook | Equus Education (Click to buy)
Compromise by Anna Rashbrook | Equus Education (Click to buy)

As more pressure gets put on Molly to step up into an overseeing role whilst their manager is in hospital, she finds that the joy of working with horses diminishes.  The gossip and nastiness of the women she works with overrides any joy that she used to get from horses and working with them.

As things come to a head, Molly is amazed to find herself suddenly without the security of a job or a home.  An unexpected compromise is provided to her in the form of Chris, a man who has been helping with her previous employer’s stallion.  Molly is surprised by Chris’ solution to her problem but feels that the situation offered may work for her.  She just questions if living with a man she barely knows is a good idea.

Compromise by Anna Rashbrook

As time passes, Molly comes to learn the role of milking cows on Chris’ farm. She also learns that the recluse farmer has a lot more going on than you may first suspect.  Compromise is an insightful look into the world of someone struggling with gender identity.

It features horses throughout and they have a healing affect on the main characters.  There is a faith aspect that is touched on lightly but seems to sit under the surface.  There are a couple of characters within the story that readers may love to hate, as they provide a good amount of friction in the story.  Compromise is an interesting read that finishes off nicely for each of the main characters involved.

Author – Anna Rashbrook
Fiction – adult
In my library – a digital copy.

Zoe’s Zebra by Catherine Florang

I downloaded Zoe’s Zebra for free recently on Kindle.  This children’s book is a very short story with many fitting pictures included.  The author has written the book as well as provided the ‘illustrations’.  Though rather than drawings, these appear to be photos taken of toys – a zebra as well as a young girl that represents Zoë.

Zoe’s Zebra by Catherine Florang | Equus Education (Click to buy)
Zoe’s Zebra by Catherine Florang | Equus Education (Click to buy)

The story explores the use of horses as therapy animals.  In this situation, they are utilised to help a young girl enjoy life.  For whatever reason, Zoë has lost her passion for life.  And it is only when she comes into contact with horses and learns to ride that she finds herself enjoying life again.

Zoë must learn about being safe around horses before learning to ride them.  Although I love this aspect of the story, the illustrations of her riding are missing appropriate riding gear, especially a helmet.

As she becomes a capable rider, Zoë is drawn to a zebra that is kept at the same establishment.  Zoë is convinced she is going to learn to ride the zebra.  And in time this actually occurs, with the two building a special bond.  Zoe’s Zebra is a quick, easy read for young horse fans with plenty of illustrations.  I love the focus of horse therapy and how this was utilised to help a young person in read.  Some more horse facts for fans would have been a great addition.

Author – Catherine Florang
Fiction – children’s
In my library – as an eBook

“And certainly both Horses were doing, if not all they could, all they thought they could; which is not quite the same thing.” – C.S. Lewis

Profile On: Sherie Vermeer, Equi-Spa

I was recently approached by Sherie from Equi-Spa about a post on Equus Education. She was kind enough to answer some questions about her horse business/career.

What is it exactly that you do?
We create and manufacture premium, spa quality, non toxic, botanical, horse care and grooming products. I, Sherie Vermeer, founded Equi-Spa, LLC in 2008. I was the Iowa state entrepreneur of the year and I won a grant from the government to help me setup and market this business.

In this field of work, is it possible to be a full time professional and earning a liveable income?
Yes, we have been doing this for 15 years and the business has grown slowly through word of mouth.  Lately we have upgraded the website and are working hard to focus our marketing through social media and various forms of digital marketing.

What are the general steps taken to be employed in such a role?
In 2003 I had 2 pregnant mares.  At the same time West Nile Virus was migrating from east to west leaving dead horses, dogs and people it its wake.  Desperate to protect my family, I bought strong DEET products and sprayed them on everyone including myself.  Especially sprayed my mares so kind of a double dose for me as I had sprayed myself then sprayed them well.  I got DEET poisoning from this.  I became very ill and also a bit panicky as I realized that I had sprayed a dangerous chemical on my pregnant mares!!!

I had been certified in Aromatherapy by Aveda Corp over 10 years prior. So I started looking for chem-free products to protect my family and horses.  I searched and searched the Internet and could find nothing but citronella. That was not good enough.  So I decided to make a non-toxic spray based in Aromatherapy.  There were a lot of rejects but I finally settled on a formula.  Peppermint was key because Bugs HATE it, Catnip for mosquitoes, and other essential oils to address as many hot weather pests as possible.

Profile On: Sherie Vermeer, Equi-Spa | Equus Education
Profile On: Sherie Vermeer, Equi-Spa | Equus Education

My Flagship product Peppermint Summer Protection was born!  I then tried it on my horses; they were calmer, they were fly free.  I decided to start a website… at that time they were pretty simple and primitive.  Within days I got my first order!  My husband brought me flowers to celebrate!  I decided to make all my own products and settled on the name Equi-Spa as it completely defined what I was doing.  Over the years I have added product to fill a void or create a solution, from tangled manes to addressing a disease called sweet itch.   I looked for other places to market my products and found a couple of mail order companies were eager to try them.   I also went to horse shows and horse fairs, set up a booth and people came.  They were drawn by the amazing aromas of the products.  It became a very busy life.

I was gone every weekend.  Since I was doing all the blending, filling and packaging myself I was exhausted. I finally decided a couple of years ago to just focus on an online presence.  I upgraded my website several times and found people who are much better at that and marketing than I so I can concentrate on making Equi-Spa products.

Favourite horse memory?
Gosh so many!  One of my most recent favorite memories was adopting Missy, a retired racehorse and former broodmare.  You can read Missy’s story.  She has been awesome and brave.  She came injured from the trailer ride from California, but is progressing along with her recovery.  In the process we have formed a strong bond. A close second is the day my dressage horse Francesca and I competed in her first show and won the class with a 71.25%.

Future goals?
We would like to grow and expand Equi-Spa.  Become a global brand and also become an ambassador for adopting the many Off The Track Thoroughbreds who find themselves needing a new home at the end of their career.  They still have so much to give and are amazing horses.

Best thing about your sport/profession?
The best thing about my profession is the ability to provide a means of helping people with their horses. People are drawn to Equi-Spa because of the amazing aromatherapy benefits, or because they want a chemical free life for themselves and their animals.  Also we have been able to bring relief to many horses with our products.  We help people find solutions to many common horse related care and health issues.

Pammy’s Story (Serenity Stables Prequel) by Wendy Nickel

I can’t say that I was familiar with the Serenity Stables series by Wendy Nickel.  But if you’re going to start a series, a prequel is a great place to start, surely!  So it’s lucky I downloaded Pammy’s Story recently on Kindle! This is a great introduction to a horse series.

Pammy's Story (Serenity Stables Prequel) by Wendy Nickel | Equus Education (Click to buy)
Pammy’s Story (Serenity Stables Prequel) by Wendy Nickel | Equus Education (Click to buy)

Pammy has a horse rescue property.  The reader is introduced to this older woman who has quite a history behind her.  Through the prequel the reader learns that horses have been a consistent in Pammy’s life, even if men and other people haven’t been.  There is one horse that started it all, a beautiful mare named Serenity.  In this prequel, Pammy mourns the loss of her beautiful equine friend.

Like many horse people, Pammy starts her day before sunup.  In this story there are two geldings on her doorstep quite literally, seeking their food.  Although this is an endearing trait, Pammy knows they should be safely secured in their paddock.

A simple trip down the driveway to inspect their large paddocks shows Pammy the item of concern – a bottom gate completely off its hinges.  Through a simple task of returning two geldings to their paddock and also feeding the other equines on the rescue property, the reader learns much about Pammy’s desire to make life better – for horses and people alike.

Many people cause harm to horses and other animals through sheer ignorance.  Partner this with pride as well as a desperate desire to keep animals that aren’t really affordable for some people, and you find a difficult client for welfare workers.  Pammy is battling this in particular with one woman who insists on keeping more horses than she can afford to look after.

And so starts the focus of this series as the prequel ends with Pammy starting a journey toward a woman whom she hopes to convince to relinquish her many struggling horses.  Pammy’s Story is an interesting introduction that has left me curious to read the series.

Author – Wendy Nickel
Fiction – horse rescue
In my library – it is as an eBook!

Mareternity Smarty Rugs – Broodmare Specific Horse Rugs

I’ve been helping to develop a resource at work for a horse breeding course.  We were discussing different types of rugs for a subject where students are learning about grooming and rugging.  I mentioned the interest for horse breeding students to learn about rugs that didn’t have back leg straps that foals could get caught up in whilst nursing from a mare.  Cue: mareternity rugs.

Mareternity by Smarty Rugs | Equus Education
Mareternity by Smarty Rugs | Equus Education

I think I have been told from a colleague previously about New Zealand rugs that are great for this reason.  It was through researching this online that I came across the mareternity clothing by Smarty Rugs.

If you have a look at the above link you can see the unique design of these rugs.  They cover the horse’s front, back and hindquarters well but take a steep climb towards the mare’s flank area.  “Made for the nursing broodmares, cut away so the foal is not fighting the rug to get a drink.”

A unique idea but one that I can see as very fitting for broodmare owners that want to provide an extra layer of warmth but not be concerned about the foal’s capability to nurse without issues.  This appears to be an Australian setup, but chances are there are other companies out there that address this issue for horse owners outside of Australia.

“My troubles are all over, and I am at home; and often before I am quite awake, I fancy I am still in the orchard at Birtwick, standing with my friends under the apple trees.” ― Anna Sewell, Black Beauty

Starling Sanctuary by Hannah Conrad

I recently downloaded Starling Sanctuary on Kindle.  This short story explores rescuing horses that would otherwise be sold for slaughter.  It follows the daily life of Laney Matthews as someone who rescues horses and tends to their daily needs.

Starling Sanctuary by Hannah Conrad | Equus Education (Click to buy)
Starling Sanctuary by Hannah Conrad | Equus Education (Click to buy)

Although the story has a good topic, the length doesn’t seem to allow it to explore in detail what is involved in rescuing and caring for horses.  The reader gets to hear about Laney feeding horses and working with them but there is no detail about what they get fed or what she does when working with the horses.

The idea of rehoming horses instead of them being slaughtered is great and this is explored a bit.  The process doesn’t seem to be fully explored and assuring that owners are suitable owners doesn’t appear to come into the equation.

The topic of quarantine is raised also and although it is applied to the horses needing rehoming, it isn’t applied to the first three horses that Laney acquires in the novel which doesn’t seem fitting.

Starling Sanctuary is a short read that is fast paced and full of horses.  I’d have enjoyed it even more if it had given a little more detail rather than general horse statements.

Author: Hannah Conrad
Fiction – horse rescue
In my library? As an eBook it is!

EquinePay a Follow On from VetPay?

I was chatting with a lady at church recently who was telling me of some health issues her cat had.  The medication and treatment that were required were only made possible through a setup known as VetPay.  As she explained it to me, they paid her vet bills and then she paid them back fortnightly, little by little, interest free until she had paid off the whole amount. And of course I got to thinking, why not a setup like EquinePay?

EquinePay a Follow On from VetPay? | Equus Education
EquinePay a Follow On from VetPay? | Equus Education

It could work similarly.  A horse may need medication or an operation due to an issue with its health – let’s say colic, laminitis or something else.  The overall amount may be a bit much for a horse owner to pay in one lump sum.  Cue: EquinePay.

The full amount is paid to the veterinarian.  Then over time with regular payments, the horse owner pays back what was first dished out for the health of their beloved equine.  This is done interest free.

I could imagine something like this working well in Australia, but even more so in third world countries where horse health and welfare is at times very limited.  Having a business that works with local veterinarians and helps to fund horse care and operations could greatly increase the quality of life for many equines.

Of course, this would need to be funded by someone who had access to plenty of finances and a heart for horses.  But who’s to stop that from being a possibility?  Perhaps in your future horse career, you can partner with others to setup something like this that will make horse care and operations more affordable to horse owners.  It’s worth a thought!

Your Horse Career Starts Here