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A ranch hand at Mandolynn Hill brings an Arabian horse for a medical treatment. Photo by Larry Parnass
A ranch hand at Mandolynn Hill brings an Arabian horse for a medical treatment. Photo by Larry Parnass

Riding into North Texas Horse Country

For a place destined to surpass Los Angeles in size and sprawl, a tract just northeast of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex keeps a tight rein on its country ways. Every mile or so along the blue highways of Denton County, the pickup banging along ahead of you pulls off into another horse farm.

Down long driveways they go -- and visitors to North Texas armed with the right maps and guides can follow along behind.

What lies out of view behind miles of fences and inside cavernous barns is one of the country's most concentrated horse-breeding areas, a place where an ancient pursuit of perfection is tackled before the second cup of coffee. Read more

Lexington, Kentucky: Where Bourbon, Betting and Breeding Are a Family Affair

Kentucky is the land of great bourbon and great horse breeding. This time it really is “something in the water.” The limestone in the soil and the spring water makes for good horses and good whiskey. You can experience both at Keeneland race track, and do some betting to give you a reason to cheer and shout.

Louisville’s Churchill Downs is more famous because of the Kentucky Derby, but Keeneland is more magical. It is located on extensive acreage six miles outside of town, in a sublime setting. It held its first race in 1936.

The author's daughter looks for likely picks at Keeneland Racetrack. Photo by Tim Leffel
The author's daughter looks for likely picks at Keeneland Racetrack. Photo by Tim Leffel

Training and horse sales go on throughout the year, but races only take place in April and October. You have to well to hit town at the right time.

Before the first race, we wandered through the gift shop. “Mommy, can you buy this toy pony for me?” the little one asks.

“Only if your horse wins,” Mommy replies, without even blinking. Read more

Harmony with Horses: Equestrian Driver's Ed

Tom Chambers, a ‘Horse Listener’ is standing outside the pen, coaching me.

Reaching out to Scattergun - photo by Mary Brigham
Reaching out to Scattergun - photo by Mary Brigham

“Keep your eye on his rear flank,” he says. “Don’t look him in the eye. That tells him that you want him to go away. Okay, he’s getting tired. He’s licking his lips, That’s ‘baby talk’ for a horse. He wants you to take care of him. When you want him to stop running, just say 'Stop!' in your brain."

Yeah, right. The horse is a mind-reader?

“Stop,” I think, and the horse does. Wow.

“Okay,” Tom says softly, “Turn sideways to the horse and hold out your hand. Keep looking straight ahead.”

“He’s thinking about it,” Tom says.

Suddenly, I feel the horse’s velvety muzzle in my hand. An inexplicable warmth spreads through me. My horse has decided to ‘join up’ with me. I turn and praise the horse, petting his ‘bonding spot’. I am now his protector. Read more

A rider seizes the carcass of a goat in a Dead Goat Polo match in Ashu, Kyrgyzstan. Photo by Sophie Ibbotson.
A rider seizes the carcass of a goat in a Dead Goat Polo match in Ashu, Kyrgyzstan. Photo by Sophie Ibbotson.

Dead Goat Polo: National Sport of Kyrgyzstan

Dead Goat Polo may not be the most charming name for a sport, but it certainly does what it says on the tin.

Raiding and kidnapping the neighbouring village may no longer be as acceptable as it once was (though bride-napping remains in vogue), but in its place the Kyrgyz have a surrogate pastime that offers the same outlet for aggression and a similar showcase for horsemanship.

Each weekend in summer, and on a number of special occasions, too, mounted armies up to 200 men strong go head to head in hundreds of valleys across Kyrgyzstan.

Their battlegrounds of choice are long, flat pitches alongside the rivers, armour ranges from rugby skull caps to leather coats, weapons include whips and fists, and the stakes are high: clan pride and the carcass of a dismembered goat both hang in the balance. The weekend’s entertainment has begun. Read more...


Read more GoNOMAD stories about equestrian travel:

Riding in Montana’s Glacier Country by Esha Samajpati

Horsepacking Across Patagonia by Peter Heller

A Costa Rica Escape -- on Horseback by Daniel Ramsey

Horseback Riding and Kayaking in Patagonia by Lauryn Axelrod

Exploring Mongolia on Horseback by Lauryn Axelrod

Horseback Riding in the Idaho Panhandle by Shelley Seale

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