Fred1Fred, or Freddie as he is affectionately known, was the first horse ever owned by Between Horses and Humans.  Freddie, Silver and Mo belonged to one of Barbara Slade’s former students in competitive show jumping.  That student went to college in August 2008 and attempted to sell Freddie before she left.  Unfortunately he didn’t sell, so Freddie was donated to BHH.

When the student visited Freddie in Arizona to consider buying him he was a sweetheart.  But when they returned to Nevada with him he was difficult.  He would get overstimulated, and they couldn’t ground him when there were too many people around.  He would adopt uncomfortable energy from others, getting himself worked up so that Barbara’s student couldn’t get him calmed down.  To a certain degree he is still that way, but now he understands how to be around excess energies without adopting them himself. He can be overly sensitive to excess energy as well as impatient – sometimes he just won’t stand for grooming.

Back then Barbara used to joke that Freddie might have been bipolar – one minute he was being very aggressive, and the next he was cowering as if to say, “Don’t hit me!”  Someone must have been inconsistent with him in the past.  Consistency was very important for Freddie.  To help him through his transition, Barbara and her student did ground work and riding on a daily basis.  Over time they taught him to be more in control of his own energy, and he learned to trust his owner.  He was a beautiful mover, and he jumped with impeccable form.  He was a very powerful horse with grace and style, and he enjoyed a long and recognized jumping career.

FredFreddie is currently 24 years old, but he looks like he’s half that age.  He has a youthful twinkle in his eye and a playful nature.  When I was at the barn preparing for this article all Freddie wanted to do was lick my hand.  He wasn’t interested in being petted or scratched, he just kept licking and nuzzling my hand.  He was very gentle, but incredibly persistent. Barbara says he’s always been mouthy, he just loves to lick, lick, lick, especially after he’s been fed.  Recently someone proposed that it could be a sign of ulcers in his youth that give him the tendency to want to lick so much.

Freddie’s persistence comes from his strong tendency to be the Alpha, which means he isn’t the horse for every student right away.  They must earn the opportunity to work with him.  He’s an excellent horse for developing horsemanship skills because he requires that you understand how to be a firm leader without aggression.  If students are to aggressive he’s their face, letting them know who’s boss. They must understand how to signal him correctly, and then he is compliant and cooperative.

Fred2Freddie loves working with the BHH students.  He’s vivacious and lively, and many people are instantly attracted to his personality.  He is very intelligent, and is a master at understanding people. He’s very suave, knowing how to make people like him while still retaining his dominance.  If a child is aggressive and bossy he cures them by letting them know he can take control in a second.  Yet he also knows how to get the timid and shy students to come out of their shells.  He simply persists.

Of the 8 horses in the barn at Maddi’s Friesian Ranch Freddie was the only one afraid of balloons.  While all the other horses were walking around them and letting them hit them in the legs and face, Freddie wanted nothing to do with them.  Freddie always has to know where everyone is and what they are doing.  When Rascal joined Freddie at the ranch in 2009 they were turned out together, but Barbara quickly realized Rascal was promoting Freddie’s Alpha nature.  Then Barbara put him out with a gelding.  At first the arrangement was okay, but then Freddie began bossing the gelding around making him run around the paddock when Freddie decided that’s what should happen.  Finally they put Freddie out alone, and he became a completely different horse – he could relax and be himself without the constant worry of what others were doing.

Freddie is an incredible asset to Between Horses and Humans.  He’s a sophisticated gentleman, and BHH is incredibly grateful for the donation of Freddie back in 2008.  He is an integral part of changing lives and healing hearts.  You can be a part of that too.  Please leave a comment or make a donation.

Photos by Nicole Eyerly


IMG_6104Mari is an intelligent, loving horse with a definite soft spot for children.  And like the children she works with today, she’s suffered from acting out of fear and intimidation.  Between Horses and Humans has changed Mari’s life and continues to heal her heart.

Neither Mari nor her owner Cindy Cowan had any idea what was in store for them when Cindy bought the horse from a local couple in November 2009. The couple brought Mari to Nevada from Iowa to be a show horse and be part of a breeding facility.  Mari is the granddaughter of the famous national show horse Color of Fame.  She is a saddle-bred crossed with arabians, and has a distinct beauty and grace.

In 2009 Cindy’s beloved gray arabian died after 22 years of partnership, so she was open to getting a new horse.  That’s when she crossed paths with Mari and the two formed a new partnership… sort of.  Mari was sold to Cindy under the guise that Mari was well-broke, but it didn’t take long for Cindy to realize that wasn’t the case.  Mari was extremely fearful, and would rear up at the slightest disturbance.  It turned out that Mari had received training in Nevada from a cowboy who “broke her in” in 6 weeks.  Based upon Mari’s level of fear and intimidation Cindy knew there had been some cruel tactics and techniques used with the horse prior to her owning Mari.  After many attempts to work with her new horse with little improvement, Cindy began looking for help.

Barbara Slade was working as horse trainer and was involved in the foundation that eventually became Between Horses and Humans, and she began working with Cindy and Mari.  Cindy moved Mari to the Imar ranch where Barbara worked.  Together the three of them worked to help Mari overcome her previous bad experiences and to build a relationship of trust.  The foundation owned Rascal & Fred at that time, and Barbara was often working with children near Mari’s stall.  The children would look at the horses, deciding whether to work with Rascal or Fred on a particular day.  During those moments Cindy and Barbara began to notice Mari staring longingly at the children as if to say, “Pick me!”.

IMG_4689Eventually Barbara agreed to allow the children to do ground work with Mari – she was still too risky for the students to ride at that point.  Mari loved the kids, and would wrap her neck around them, nuzzle them, and be playful and gentle.  Eventually she proved herself enough that the students would ride her.  Mari was very different when she worked with the children.  She was always careful and rarely displayed any of her fearful, rearing up behavior.  She loved the students.

Eventually the foundation program moved to a different ranch, but Mari stayed behind because she wasn’t part of the program and there wasn’t room for her at the new ranch.  Barbara continued to work with Cindy and Mari, and she showed vast improvement.  Mari likes to think, and she loves to do tricks.  Cindy was inspired when she saw the show Cavalia and she began to teach Mari some of the moves.  She began with the stump, then moved on to the pedestal, taught her to hold her legs up, take a bow, and play with balls, hoops, ribbons and so on.  Mari loved it, and it helped them to build their relationship of trust.  The fearful behavior became more and more scarce.

Mari EyeMari was reunited with the BHH program when they moved to Maddi’s Friesian Ranch in 2014.  She is wonderful with the students, and they definitely enjoy her affinity for performing tricks.  She was injured this year – she hurt her back and it has taken months to recover so she wasn’t being ridden much.  She is recovering well and is almost back to her former health.  As soon as she’s fully recovered she’ll be back to her regular schedule of working with BHH students on Mondays, Tuesdays, Saturdays, and sometimes Fridays, as well as her regular rides with Cindy.

Mari is an asset to the BHH program, and her journey through fear to triumph is an inspiration to BHH students.  A huge thanks to Cindy Cowan for her generosity in lending Mari to the BHH program.

We’re building a community of support for BHH.  Please be a part of our community by leaving a comment.

Photos by Nicole Eyerly

BHH Beginnings

BeginningsBetween Horses and Humans has come a long way from it’s beginnings in 2004.  The program was started by a local Douglas County resident.  She wanted to fund a program where trainers/clinicians worked with competitive riders to help the trainers learn different ways of working with horses.  The goal was to better the human and horse relationship.  The method was to “train the trainer”: participants would pass what they had learned on to their students.

The early days of the program consisted of scarce resources and simple methods.  There was no dedicated facility for trainers and competitive riders, and the program owned no horses.  Participants worked out of the barns where the trainers worked, and the students owned their own horses.

Barbara Slade, current President and 38-year professional horseman, was involved with the Between Horses and Humans program from the beginning.  She became co-president along with the founder in 2008 when the founder planned to close the foundation.  Barbara took the reins (pun intended) in 2009 and hasn’t looked back since.  She came with a fresh perspective and new goals for the program.

I can and I willBarbara talks about her inspiration for BHH back then. “One morning I picked up the paper and saw that an 11-year-old had hung himself.  I was shocked and filled with dismay.  Then I spoke with someone whose child couldn’t find the strength and courage to get out of bed and face another day of being bullied.  Yet another conversation tugged at my heart-strings: a child was so devastated by the unexpected death of a parent they completely shut down, no longer wanting to talk or smile or play, becoming despondent and angry.  So I asked myself, “What difference could I make in the lives of children who are suffering?””  BHH became the answer to that question.  Barbara directed her energies towards using the program to work with children with difficult life situations, personal challenges, social, emotional and behavioral issues.  The mission became “providing a place for youth to learn leadership and life skills through horsemanship”.

Since its inception BHH has helped approximately 500 children and young people, along with their families, to learn, grow, love, smile, and lead themselves to a bright future.  The future of BHH is bright too.  Volunteers, board members, students, parents, horses, donors and supporters are building a community of support around BHH to ensure it continues to provide valuable resources to meet the needs of young people in our community.

You can become a part of the BHH community today.  Leave a comment, like us on Facebook, share our blog, or leave a donation.

Photo credit                                  Photo credit

Black Tie Benefit Gala at the Wild Rose Inn

Between Horses and Humans is about to benefit from the generosity and kindness of the Wild Rose Inn and supporters old and new.  The First Annual Black Tie Benefit Gala will be held this weekend at the Wild Rose Inn in Genoa, Nevada.

Wild Rose InnDave and Jeannette Bostedt have been the owners and innkeepers of the Wild Rose Inn since February 2013.  They are experts at servicing their guests’ needs in their modern Victorian Bed & Breakfast nestled at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  While their guests are out enjoying the beauty of the Carson Valley including golf, skiing, hiking, or soaking in mineral hot springs, Dave and Jeannette are making sure home comforts are waiting upon their return.

Jeannette’s daughter Sierra was busy pursuing her education at The Academy of Arts in San Francisco while Dave and Jeannette grew their Inn to what it is today.  As business owners, Dave and Jeannette were naturally involved in their local community of Genoa, Nevada. When Sierra recently returned from San Francisco to pursue an Anthropology degree at the University of Nevada – Reno, she and Jeannette wanted to get involved in the local community together.  They wanted to find a non-profit they believed in, one that touched their heart and spoke to their values.  Jeannette loves the concept of leadership: she has been involved with leadership and education her whole life (she’s held senior positions in education and training in the medical device and health service industries).

After conducting their research and considering several organizations to support, the mother-daugher team discovered Between Horses and Humans (BHH) during a showcase for CASA members.  318946_176918009050492_2018583905_nThey saw the BHH program’s youth working with the horses, saw Ruth and Greg’s beautiful friesians, and spoke at length with Barbara Slade, BHH President.  They quickly realized their values aligned with those of BHH, and were very excited at the prospect of supporting the program.

Sierra, Jeannette and Dave subsequently attended several other BHH events including the annual fall fundraiser in October 2015.  Realizing the fantastic resource they had available in the Wild Rose Inn, the family decided they wanted to contribute to the future of the program by hosting a different kind of fundraiser: one that would attract new interest.  The Black Tie Benefit Gala was born.

This Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 6pm the first annual Black Tie Benefit Gala for Between Horses and Humans will be held at the Wild Rose Inn, 2332 Main Street, Genoa, Nevada.  Friends and family of Between Horses and Humans, The Wild Rose Inn, Jeannette and Dave Bostedt, Sierra, Ruth Page and Greg Walsh, Maddi’s Friesian Ranch, and leadership, horsemanship, lives changed, and hearts healed will gather for a cocktail hour, gourmet dinner and dancing to the sounds of Mixed Company.  The evening will include fun auctions and events including a “fund a need” action, painting auction, and a unique opportunity to “unlock” and take home a wine collection.

The Benefit Gala will be an elegant, fun-filled way to support the youth of Douglas County and the surrounding area while experiencing the beauty and comfort of the Wild Rose Inn.  Purchase your tickets for this event here.  If you are unable to attend please consider making a donation through the ticket purchase link.  Thank you for your support of Between Horses and Humans – lives changed, hearts healed.

The Student Experience

When students enter the gates of Maddi’s Friesian Ranch they enter a sanctuary for the soul. There is none of the shouting, yelling, dominance, belittling, being ignored, or feeling inconsequential that many students feel in their homes or lives.  As the automatic gates close behind each vehicle, those undesirable elements are left behind, and the student enters a world where they are valued, cherished, respected, and invested in.

Students begin the program with hands-on experiences from Day 1.  They are taught safety – horses are large, powerful animals with very hard hooves and a lot of weight on top of those hooves should you be stepped on or kicked.  Yet injuries are rare.  Students quickly realize they have the power to avoid injury by making wise choices.

Between Horses and Humans is a far cry from a riding school.  Students learn all facets of caring for horses including grooming, feeding, cleaning hooves, equine massage, treating bumps and scrapes, and being on the lookout for injuries and problems requiring medical attention.  They work with many different horses to understand how each one is unique, and to broaden their skills and experiences.  Learning to care for a horse makes students aware of the importance of grooming and caring for themselves too.

IMG_4689Each lesson typically consists of part grooming and care, part riding.  It is magical to watch a tiny student mount a seemingly giant horse, their silhouette pasted against the scenic backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near the Carson Valley.  It is amazing how quickly nerves fade, and the connection between horse and rider takes over.  With skilled and gently guiding instructors never far away, students experience – many of them for the first time in their lives – the feeling that they are completely in charge of the decisions they make.  The only co-dependencies that are welcome in the program are those between the horse and rider.  Students knowing they can guide a horse translates into knowing they can guide themselves through the maze of life’s choices.

Between Horses and Humans nurtures a special bond between horse and student.  They come to understand each other in unique ways: each has a relationship with the other that they don’t share with anyone else.  They develop mutual understanding, respect, and care.  Through that relationship transformations happen.  One smile, pat, nudge, ride, command, success, failure, choice, consequence, hug, lick, and nuzzle at a time changes lives and heals hearts.

Between Horses and Humans is building a community of love, support, and change.  Join us by subscribing to our blog, making a donation, or leaving a comment.

Leadership through Horsemanship; Lives Changed, Hearts Healed


Between Horses and Humans provides Douglas County, Nevada and the surrounding area youth a safe and fun place to learn leadership and life skills through horsemanship. The program is a 100% donation funded non-profit program that pairs able-bodied children and youth ages 8 to 26 with equine partners: children who need help with self esteem, anger, aggression or emotional issues.  The program’s goals are to have happy children and horses with self esteem, confidence,  patience, trust, and kindness.

The skills being taught provide a way for the students to approach life’s challenges and questions, helping them feel more secure in their decisions, building their self-esteem, helping to create positive attitudes and helping them embrace life with more confidence.  They feel connected to the horses and other students, learning how to value, honor and respect horses and humans in ways they hadn’t imagined.  They develop horsemanship skills, leadership skills and social skills, but most importantly, they will become inspired leaders and generous of heart.

Because of the program’s generous donors ALL activities are FREE to participants so no one excluded.

072The classes and workshops are fun and educational.  Participants develop through specific leadership courses, six-week private courses, half and full day workshops, and seminars.  A variety of methodologies are utilized, combining hands-on ground exercises, equine body work and riding, along with workshops and seminars, to accomplish the mission of “providing youth a place to learn leadership and life skills through horsemanship.”  Instructors are primarily volunteers who have a heart for service, horses, and improving the lives of children.

Students are selected to participate in the program by the Board of Directors, and come to the program by referral from social service organizations, public and private schools, educators, counselors, parents, foster parents, and other individuals. They have a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences from abuse to behavioral issues to difficulty adjusting to divorce, foster or adoptive homes other life-altering events.

Programs encourage students to understand and develop a working relationship with the horses.  Students are encouraged to explore what works and doesn’t work in their relationships with their horses: they have the freedom of experimentation, enjoying success, experiencing failure, and being empowered to make their own decisions. They learn to come from the heart and to build a partnership with their equine partner rather than dominate and control them.

On average, the program positively impacts the lives of 80 children per year.  An incredibly generous gesture from Ruth Page and Greg Walsh in 2013 provided the use of Maddi’s Friesian Ranch at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to house the program’s horses and to host the program.  The Ranch is the largest friesian breeding operation in north America. The facility provides stables, an arena, a round pen, and open pastures where children can work with the horses.  Between Horses and Humans owns two well-trained and loving horses and has the privilege of using several privately-owned horses generously provided by their owners.  You’re invited to read more about our horses.

Between Horses and Humans is a valuable program facilitating real change in the lives of local youth.  The horses, volunteers, generous donors of both money and resources, referral sources, Board of Directors, and program participants form a community of love, support, and change.  Be a part of the community today – read our blog, donate, or leave a comment.  Heck, do all three!