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Blue Mountain Rider
Equine Articles
Thursday 20th of January 2011 09:55 AM

Blue Mountain Rider

Mary Benson and Hedy Strauss


Paperback, 2009, $19.99

Also available in Hardcover

ISBN: 978-1-4415-7108

Available on Amazon or

Reviewed by Carol M. Upton

This collection of poems reflects our deepest emotions, ambitions, desires, hopes, fears, and dreams. It illustrates love and respect for an animal that has earned its way into our structure of life. ~ Hedy Strauss

Blue Mountain Rider is one of the few poetry collections dedicated to a celebration of the horse. Mary Benson and Hedy Strauss bring us an exceptional anthology that describes the countless ways in which these unusual creatures have enriched our lives.

In the opening section, ‘Horse Evolving’, we are treated to elemental images that remind us why we are often so drawn to horses. In ‘Wild Spirit’ Strauss writes one of several poems about the mustangs whose dramatic images appear in current news of round ups and herd management: “The sound of hoofbeats/ fill the air/ Wild prairie phantoms – disappear!” Benson offers us the ethereal ‘Night Ride’ plucked from childhood dreams: “Oh, the desert sings to me/ And I ride/ In windswept flight, aloft and free/ Forever in this enchanted land, Pegasus and me.”

Other sections include poems dedicated to specific types such as the Appaloosa, the hard-working mules of history, and the world’s wild horses, from the Steppes of Asia to Australia and the Moors of Brittany. Another cluster reminds us how horses have served throughout history, in city streets and country fields, on police patrol or cutting cattle. Special relationships between girls and horses are explored in such tender poems as ‘Pigtails and Ponytails’ and ‘Mane of Red and Gold’. There is sadness, too, in Benson’s pondering: “Oh, how will we say farewell?” and Strauss acknowledging how “It will break my heart the day you die.”

This book is a memorable gift for any horse-lover, but you’ll likely want a second copy for your bedside table, so you can savour these evocative lyrics whenever you wish.

Combining their love of horses and the outdoors, Mary Benson and Hedy Strauss immigrated to the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York where they met. Whether it is preserving wild mustang heritage or saving horses from slaughter, both women are passionate advocates for animal welfare. Visit Mary and Hedy at

Just Being a Mare
Equine Health
Wednesday 19th of January 2011 10:00 PM

Just Being a Mare

By Betsy Kelleher


     If you are excusing a mare’s misbehavior with those words, “just being a mare,” a different perspective would be more effective. Husbands have been known to shrug off a wife’s emotions by saying, “she’s just being a woman,” and it only makes things worse! Mares are like women. They are both female and their problems deserve to be taken seriously. 

     Wise mare owners recognize hormonal behavior, but they don’t use that as an excuse for a lack of understanding. When mares behave badly, look for a physical reason or a training issue before blaming everything on hormones! You can’t fix something until you know what needs fixing.

     Let me tell you about a certain mare that became dangerous to ride. Everyone told her owner to just trade her in for a gelding. But this owner kept looking for an answer and didn’t give up. She finally found someone to look at the situation objectively, and the solution had nothing to do with gender. It had to do with a badly fitting saddle. Once that was changed and the mare was comfortable, this owner was able to enjoy her mare and find great satisfaction in the relationship. 

     A friend of mine bought a mare that kicked at other horses while ridden. Instead of accepting this as “mare behavior,” she worked to change it. It took consistent effort and some help from a trainer, but this same mare now can be ridden safely with other horses.

      Distinguishing “mare behavior” is the key. In a natural herd, mares have a great responsibility to take care of things and it helps to understand their instinctive role. When a mare is acting rude or dangerous, modification is needed. If the problem really is hormones, there are several natural supplements that can help a mare become calmer. I’ve used chamomile tea as well as Mare Magic with good results. Quite often, it is a training issue. Mares definitely need good training to help them overcome their emotional dispositions. Pain can often cause bad behavior, whether it’s a saddle or bit, or a need for chiropractic care. Riders can seek help from a good trainer to be sure the way they ride isn’t causing the problem. Some mares have experienced past trauma or abuse that causes unusually fearful behavior. Extra patience and understanding plus basic exercises can help create needed confidence and trust.

     Ride a gelding and put him away, and he probably won’t care. But a mare wants a close relationship (just like a woman). She wants your full attention and appreciates extra fussing and grooming - my Lady gives me hugs as I put her bridle on. If a woman feels loved, she will do anything for her man. A mare will give her all and more for an owner she trusts. Treat her like a lady, or you may regret it!                     

Full stories of both mares mentioned in this article are found in a book compiled by Betsy Kelleher, along with many other inspired tales about mares. For more information about  MARES! (ya gotta love em)…Fifty Stories to Aid & Inspire Mare Owners, visit Betsy’s website: and view her You Tube video at:  

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