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Anyone who has been around horses long enough has, or has had, “horsey” friends. These are the buddies, the pals, the confidantes who “get” who you are when you’re mucking stalls, who laugh at the same four-legged antics, who commiserate over the same mystery lamenesses and training problems. They might be the same friends you hit happy hour with, or maybe not. Sometimes they’re people reserved for that time when you are most who you want to be…beside or on the back of a horse.

“Horses bring great friends into our lives,” says TSB Promotions Director Julie Beaulieu. “From the childhood friends who ran through the woods on horseback with us, to the teenage friends we met on the show circuit, we have ties to them through our horses and the times we have spent together. Once of my most memorable friendships was with a woman named Caroline. She brought her horse to board at a facility where I had my horse a few years ago. She showed me how to enjoy horses ‘later’ in life—Caroline was in her seventies when I met her. While she did not ride much, she generously shared her horse with many of the younger riders at the barn and reveled in the joy of horse ownership and watching others enjoy her horse as much as she did. She also supported all the riders at the barn by being at every event they went to and cheering them on. Always with a smile on her face and a kind word, she was a great example of how to keep active and happier with your horses and friends.”

“Horses have been the catalyst to some of my closest and dearest friendships,” says TSB Managing Director Martha Cook. “Dozens and dozens of names whiz through my mind as I think about the people I’ve met through horses in the last 40 years: Karen Lecuyer, my first ‘Morgan friend’…No two 13-year-olds ever loved their first horses more. Ann Bowes, an older, wiser friend who agreed to chaperone me as a kid down the trails mounted on a young mare both too green and too hot. Johanna Kozlowski, my best buddy at my first ‘horse job’…We rode a lot of miles and shoveled a whole lot of manure together. Les Parker, taskmaster and friend, who taught me a lot about what to do and what not to do with horses. Harriet Goodwin, fellow Morgan lover with whom I shared hundreds of miles of trail and an equal amount of conversation.

“And I have horses to thank for meeting my best friend and the love of my life,” adds Martha. “If I hadn’t struck up a riding friendship with horsewoman Betsy Cook in South Woodstock, Vermont, in 1988, I’d never have meet her son, now my husband of 20 years. For any young women out there looking for a man, I highly recommend finding a riding buddy with a son or two! They come trained to hold horses, drive trailers, and listen to conversations that solely revolve around breeds, gaits, and bloodlines!”

I, too, can think of many special friendships that budded and blossomed because of and around horses. Not one, but TWO bridesmaids in my wedding party were the result of horsey friendships that developed into something very special. It is amazing how hours grooming horses, scrubbing water buckets, cleaning tack, and riding the trails can nurture very deep, very true relationships!

“Horse Friends” can be found at any point in your life. It is never too late to rediscover old ones or find new ones. They are a great source of endless conversation, and common ground for people from all backgrounds, of all ages, for all time. Watch the women in this video from the bestselling book THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES talk about the ways horses have brought them friends, and always given them a place full of like-minded people to turn to, sometimes when they need them most. Think about how you can find horses, and the friendships they bring, a place in your life today, so you have a happier, more fulfilling tomorrow.

And check out the DUST OFF YOUR DREAMS RETREAT launched by Melinda Folse, author of THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES!

-Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor

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Are you ready to live YOUR dream? A three-day women's retreat--with horses!--could be just what you need to start Your Life: Part Two.

TSB author Melinda Folse says that just about the time we blow out that midlife birthday candle, a little classic questioning begins:

What about all those things I always thought I would get to do “someday”?

Is it my turn yet? Is it “someday” now?

If not now, when? And if now, how?

Melinda, author of THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES, says that at midlife, “someday” is ours to name, and whatever old dreams that may have gathered dust on the back shelves of busy lives need only a breath of fresh clarity to find new and meaningful expression. With this in mind, and with the knowledge that horses can provide the link from the “here and now” to what’s just around the bend, as well as provide a healthy base from which friendship and kinship can blossom, Melinda has organized a fabulous new three-day women’s retreat at the luxurious Wildcatter Ranch Resort and Spa in Graham, Texas. This long weekend, April 13 thru the 15, offers a special opportunity to pull those dusty dreams of yours off the shelf and take another look. It will help spur new decisions to bring the unbridled joy of living your dream, whatever it may be, in what you’ll come to think of as Your Life: Part Two.

Make plans now to join a limited number of women invited to a pivotal weekend of renewing, reconnecting with, and revitalizing your goals for continued self-growth and limitless self-confidence. The Dust Off Your Dreams Retreat features a series of mini workshops, including:

Building self-awareness, confidence, and courage through equine-assisted learning (no horse experience required!)

Gaining clarity and direction through guided journaling, meditation, and centering exercises.

Increasing body awareness, strength, and flexibility through Pilates.

Improving your relationships in business and with friends and family through horses.

This life-changing weekend at the fabulous Wildcatter Ranch Resort and Spa will bring:

Clarity regarding which dreams are really yours, and which dreams you really want to pursue.

Confidence to remove the obstacles that keep getting in the way.

Concrete action steps to shape your first steps to making your dream come true.

Courage to declare that “someday” has finally arrived in your life.

Space is limited and the deadline to register is coming up! Visit www.dustoffyourdreamsretreats.com for more information on the retreat and to register.

And order your copy of Melinda’s bestselling book THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

HERE’S WHAT THE NEW YORK TIMES HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE WILDCATTER IN THE FEBRUARY 18, 2012, TRAVEL SECTION:

“There’s a reason why guests fly in from Britain and the Netherlands to holiday at Wildcatter Ranch, 90 miles northwest of Fort Worth: It’s a cowboy-hat-wearing, yee-haw-worthy adventure. With 35 horses and more than 20 miles of trails, riding is the choice activity, though skeet shooting, spa treatments and A.T.V. trips — with stops for canoeing and archery — can also be scheduled. ‘And I’m not opposed to free help in the barn,’ Jay Brewer, the barn manager and a former bullfighter, said with a laugh. Horseback rides take guests through the property’s 1,500 acres, where riders spot armadillos and turkeys. Guests retire to cabins with tasteful Western décor, kick off muddy boots on the back porch and sink into rocking chairs to watch the sunset. Tip: The Buffalo and the Butterfield Stage cabins are the best rooms to book for log-framed or converted wagon beds.”

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