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Creation of Nicker News

Published: 6/26/2008
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What's up with this new site?!
The Creation of Nicker News is a two-bit story:

By Maddy Butcher Gray

The First Bit:
I take care of horses for a living. I muck stalls, feed, groom, ride, medicate, trailer, exercise, and bathe horses. It’s dirty, hard on the back, not real profitable, and pretty close to my dream job. See
One frigid Maine morning, I was driving from one barn to another, caring for horses while their owners were away. It was five degrees and windy.
At the first barn, I turned out three Quarterhorses to their pasture. I filled the heated tub with water and gave them hay. No turnout coats.
At the second barn, I removed the horses’ heavy blankets, replaced them with even heavier ones and confined them to their stalls for the day.
Who was the better horse owner?
Who was right?
The answer, I realized, was both. At each barn, the horses were content and well-cared for. The Quarter horses tolerated the weather all right. They had thick, winter coats, never shivered, and had plenty of food and water.
The more pampered horses might have been bored and removed from their natural inclinations, but it wasn’t exactly neglectful treatment!
Returning home, I figured my own horse care fell somewhere in between these two clients. My aging mare got a blanket and they all had access to their stalls if they wanted to get out of the wind.

So what do these anecdotes have to do with the founding of Nicker News?

Well, there’s a wide spectrum of care when it comes to horses. Some horses get turned out to winter pasture and rounded up come spring. Others get spa treatment. In my mind, as long as no harm is done, it’s all good.
It comes down to a matter of perspective.
Sometimes it’s a matter of money.
And, it’s a matter of opinion.
I like opinions. I like to spout my own and I like to hear others. So with NIcker News, I hope to showcase the many ways of caring responsibly and compassionately for our beloved horses.
Nicker News strives to provide an environment in which exchange of information and opinion can make each of us better horse owners and care providers. If that happens, then as a whole we will be a better, more informed, more compassionate horse community.

The Second Bit:
From day to day and barn to barn, I find myself with a growing catalog of encounters, observations, and appreciations. Many, like me, are lucky to see:
- The escape artist who patiently moves her lips around a paddock lock.
- The uncanny knack of a playful horse to dump her rider just when his attention lapses
- The uncanny knack of a seasoned horse to get under the unbalanced rider
- The slight turn of a mare’s head and tiny curl of her lip that tells her bigger, stronger pasture mates, “Don’t even think about it...”
- The progress of a puddle-paranoid horse to that of one striding confidently through three-foot waves at the beach.
- On the first warm, sunny spring day, horses all stretched out flat on the ground like corpses, recharging after the energy-draining winter months, and abandoning the usual “one stands guard” herd protocol.

Nicker News is a place to document and share all those horse moments we find funny, endearing, life-altering, and enlightening.
Let’s face it: Horse work can be, dirty, exhausting, monetarily-draining, dangerous, thankless, frustrating, emotionally trying, tragic, and occasionally stinky.
But it can also be exhilarating, inspiring, educational, therapeutic, hilarious, rewarding, goal-oriented, and can provide you with stable, lifelong relationships.
Let’s share those horse moments, lest they fade like a bale of hay left out in the sun!

View Reader Comments:

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3/11/2009 Bob
Great job, Maddy. Keep up the good work.
4/15/2009 sonia
I thoroughly enjoy your website! It is a breath of fresh air to me, your articles are well-written and you always have a well-balanced variety of topics. is one of my favorite websites! Keep up the great work, Maddy!
11/18/2009 Beth
Maddy, This is one of the most entertaining websites I've ever read!

"While there are many things you can fake in life, pretending that you know horses when you don't isn't one of them" - Cooky McClung