Mane 'n Tail Blog - Swimming with Horses 101

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Swimming with Horses 101 by Guest Blogger Amy C. Witt
Photography and video by Jamie Changala (@changalaaussies)

Amy C. Witt of tells us about how she has fun in the sun this summer!

Being born and raised in California’s gorgeous Central Valley, I am no stranger to the danger of high temps and long summer days. Our record high temperatures can make it extremely discouraging to even consider adventuring horseback too far from home. But, living in the state’s heartland offers some of the most authentic and rich experiences amongst nature to share with my favorite equestrian friends. So instead of staying indoors on sunny afternoons, I load my horse and head to the lake where we stroll through the sunflower adorned paths that lead us to a refreshing glittery shoreline.

Swimming with my horse, Mo has been a life-changing experience. It’s not only made me a better rider, it has taught me a lot more about my horse, our communication, and the connection we share. I’ve had Mo since he was two years old. He and I have forged our bond through years of shared experiences. From running through barrels and poles, to heading and healing steers, breakaway roping or dragging calves to the fire for a brand — Mo has become an extension of myself. Our bond has only been furthered by our favorite activity, swimming! Last summer, my good friend and photographer, Jamie and I decided to take our horses to Lake Success in Porterville, CA, for some water therapy.


The opportunity to swim horses provides an immense benefit to the body by offering a new stimulating environment to navigate. As they work their way through the water, horses’ powerful legs, muscles and tendons are elongated, giving them the ability to stretch freely which promotes muscle symmetry, flexibility and balance. Swimming also increases the range of motion in their limbs, prevents muscle spasms, and contractures. Additionally, this form of hydrotherapy allows horses to build strong respiratory and cardiovascular systems. It’s an ideal way to help your horse build a strong heart and increase their level of cardiovascular endurance without hard impact on their soft tissues, bones, and joints.


I know you’re sold on this but before you set out on your cruise, remember safety comes first. Here’s a few things you should consider: make sure you take someone with you, don’t go alone – because just like anything else, (especially if this is your first time) you don’t want to put yourself in any situation that could inflict harm onto you or your horse. You don’t want to have to think about being left alone in the event of an accident. It’s almost mandatory that you take a horse that is gentle, broke, one that you trust and have full control of – especially because, this can be a test of bravery and trust to see just how connected you and your horse really are. Find a lake, pond, river (or even ocean) that has a recreation center or area where there is not a lot of people or distractions. Putting yourself in a position where there is heavy water traffic like boats, jet-skis or people could cause anxiety, dangers and be uncomfortable for both you and your horse. Make sure you’re confident that the water is safe before your maiden voyage. Check the conditions under the water – are the banks steep or are there sharp rocks or standing sticks/trees?  In some states and countries, bodies of water can be contaminated by diseases, blue-green algae, insects, fish or animals that could contribute to risky or harmful conditions to you and your horses’ health. Also consider that rattle snakes (and possibly other snakes depending on where you live) enjoy water and rocks near water – so check your surroundings and be aware.


When you find your perfect swimming hole, introduce your horse gradually into the water as your friend(s) and their horse(s) do the same. Doing it together, makes it easier on the horses and gives everyone support and encouragement. You can welcome them into the soothing water two ways – either by leading them or riding bareback. When I first started, I led Mo in the first couple times to get him acclimated to the water. When we drifted to deeper waters and actually began to swim, I grabbed his mane and swam alongside of him. Now, I prefer to ride bareback straight into the water. I’ve found that riding into the water bareback is more effective as it gives them a sense of safety and security while they seem to ease in rather, smooth and quietly. Not to mention, you can learn so much more about yourself and horses’ systems.

Jamie and I swim our horses at a local lake, Lake Success. We found a paved road that leads us into the water. With this being said, I would suggest finding an old recreation road or boat ramp that is not used. Boat ramps are cemented, so they can be slick and slippery – however, they do provide support and a bit of security for horses as they travel into the water. If you make sure to stay on the boat ramp, you are able to obtain a better sense of depth and direction. The ground outside of the cement is different and horses are very aware of this. If a boat ramp or road is not an option, make sure the ground is hard enough to support the horses’ weight and traction. As you feel more confident to venture into deeper waters, be conscious to give them their head and make sure not to hinder them with your body.


his summer, I encourage you to spend time with your best horsey friends and go for a rejuvenating swim! It is simply amazing to spend hours in water with your friends on a warm summer day take some floaties, sunscreen and your camera and relax with your horse as together, you enjoy a fun day in the sun! But, most importantly, have fun! Swimming your horse should be an exciting and rejuvenating time.

After a day on the lake, I wash Mo with the Ultimate Gloss Shampoo and Conditioner by Mane ‘n Tail. But he’s not the only one who gets pampered. I keep myself fresh with Mane ‘n Tail Color Protect Shampoo and Conditioner.


ROPERS SPORTS NEW - Summer Fun with Your Steed - August 2018


Summer Fun with Your Steed
By Amy C. Witt

Sometimes these record high temps get in the way of our summer plans. With California’s heat wave upon us, it can be a bit discouraging and unmotivating to want to adventure too far from home. Living in Tulare County, I am quite familiar with the struggle of trying to beat the heat, get horses rode while keeping it exciting. So, I’ve compiled a few ideas to inspire you to journey horseback through these hot months.  


Take your horse swimming. This has been a life-changing experience for me. It has not only made me a better rider, it has taught me a lot more about my horse and the communication and connection we share. Find a lake that has a recreation center or area where there is not a lot of people or distractions. I would suggest finding a boat ramp that is not used. As they are cemented, it seems to provide support and a bit of security for horses as they travel into the water. If you make sure to stay on the boat ramp, you are able to obtain a better sense of depth and direction. The ground outside of the cement is different and horses are very aware of this. I’ve also found that riding your horse into the water bareback is more effective. I feel it gives them a sense of safety and they seem to ease in rather, smooth and quietly. Not to mention, swimming is great exercise and just overall rejuvenating and therapeutic to their body. This is one of my favorite things to do and I highly encourage you to experience it!

Take a beach trip. Malibu Lagoon State Beach, Pismo State Beach, Salinas River State Beach, Half Moon Bay, Pebble Beach are just a few really beautiful and easy spots to enjoy a blissful sunrise or sunset ride. In Monterey County, you can also ride through the Del Monte Forest – which is on my bucket list this year.

My photographer and friend of over 20 years, encouraged me to enter the Unity Farms Barrel and Pole buckle series. I ended up second to Jamie who won the buckle for the 2D pole bending series.

My photographer and friend of over 20 years, encouraged me to enter the Unity Farms Barrel and Pole buckle series. I ended up second to Jamie who won the buckle for the 2D pole bending series.

Take a weekend and enter a jackpot somewhere you wouldn’t normally go. Most recently, I started entering a barrel and pole bending summer series jackpot at Unity Farms, which is only six miles from home. Not only am I having fun and winning money, I have been introduced into a special community of inspiring young girls and empowering women. This isn’t something I would’ve normally done if it wasn’t for my best friend insisting I enter anywhere, anything.  

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Go to the mountains. Living only 50 miles from the Sequoia National Forest, I have been taking advantage of the opportunity to ride amongst the big trees and explore our sacred forests. Riding in the forest is always a very spiritual and rewarding experience. Pack a pole with you and throw a line in at a creek or pond. Better yet, take a pack trip into the wilderness. The Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Forests offer awesome family owned and operated pack stations. This is something I have yet to do but an experience I anticipate to endure.

I’ve found that websites and apps like Trail Link : or All Trails: are very helpful in planning your next expedition.

ROPERS SPORTS NEW - Rylee George - July 2018

insta: @ryleegeorge33

insta: @ryleegeorge33

Rylee George
by Amy C. Witt

Backing into the box at the California High School Rodeo Association (CHSRA) State Finals, Rylee George had qualified in four events and was also District 5’s All-Around Cowgirl. But, she wasn’t going to end her year with just those titles – she would departure her junior year being crowned as the 2018 State All-Around Cowgirl and State Champion Header.

“It feels incredible to win All-Around at State,” George expresses. 

George and her partner, Karson Mebane successfully roped four head with an average of 50 seconds, taking home the State championship title and securing the first spot in qualifying for National Finals in Rock Springs, WY, July 15-21. This is the first year the ropers have competed together in high school rodeo.

Rodeoing has been an important aspect of her life since she was five years old. In August, George will be a senior at Oakdale High School. She competes in the pole bending, goat-tying, breakaway roping, team roping and barrel racing. Coming into State Finals, she won the breakaway roping ,team roping, second in barrels, sixth in goat tying and the All-Around Cowgirl title.

 We are proud of you and will be rooting for you at Rock Springs! You make California proud, cowgirl!

Express to me how it feels to be the State champion header?

Being the State champion header feels pretty great. I’ve never won State in team roping before so to be able to win it feels like I am one step closer to accomplishing my life goal. 

What was your average in the breakaway?

My average in the breakaway roping was about 16.5 on four head.

Other major accomplishments/wins?

My other accomplishments are winning the breakaway roping my 8th grade year at Junior High Rodeo State Finals. And, I’ve won 21 saddles. 

What is your favorite rodeo event and why?

My favorite rodeo event is the team roping because it is challenging to figure out how your partner may like the steers handled. Also, it teaches you to work as a team, to make the dream work.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge you face when competing?

My biggest challenge when competing is not letting the nerves get into my head and make me overthink things.

Who or what inspires you and why?

Jackie Crawford inspires me because she works hard for what she wants and she excels in multiple rodeo events.

Talk about your horse/horses

I have two head horses that helped me make it to State. The first one is named Rio, who is a 12 year old Dun gelding, with a lot of run and a big move. Second, is Nick. He is a 12 year old Palomino who scores and faces well. Dakota is my breakaway horse. She is black and seven years old - I’ve had since she was three.

Any roping or rodeo goals?

My rodeo goal is to qualify for the NFR one day. 

How about your career goals?

I want to work for an animal nutrition company and make new grains and supplements. 

Four things on your bucket list?


1.       Skydiving

2.      Fly in a hot air balloon

3.      Travel around the world

4.      Scuba diving

Favorite quote?

“Work until your idols become your rivals,” Said by Drake.


Ropers Sports News - The Dodds Boys


The Dodds Boys
By Amy C. Witt

He’s got a scar over his right eye and typically wears a broken-in short brimmed straw, his name is Cole. His brother Cobie, stands a little taller and wears a nice black felt. Over the years, many of us have watched these boys grow into handsome, ropy, handy and fine gentleman. Now, eighteen years old and seniors at Hallmark Charter High School, Cobie and Cole Dodds are gearing up for their last California high school rodeo. This month, the twins will be competing together and against each other in Bishop at the California High School Rodeo (CHSRA) Finals. Not only did they end the year by winning District 6’s team roping, but Cobie also took home the tie-down title. Both boys qualified for the same events – team roping, with Cobie stickin’ bones and Cole hockin’ dubs, tie-down roping and steer wrestling.

“Rodeo is truly a family sport – there’s not many others that you can be coached by, travel with compete against and with,” Cobie says.

The twins work for their parents, Mindy and Brett Dodds at Silver-D-Bar Training Center, a family owned Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse Facility for 53 years. After high school, Cobie plans on attending West Hills Community College and then later, transfer to Fresno State University to major in Ranch Management. After obtaining his education, he plans on running a cattle ranch for himself but regardless, wants to stay involved working around cattle. Cole anticipates to major in animal science and college rodeo at Fresno State University. His goal is to work for a degree and career that gives him the freedom to rodeo and rope.

“I wouldn’t be here doing what I love without the support of my family,” Cole expresses.

Good luck boys, we are proud of you!

Do you have any goals set for state?

Cobie: Do the best I can, rope what I draw and hopefully qualify for nationals.
Cole: To qualify for nationals in at least one, if not all of my events.

How does it feel to be able to compete together?

Cobie: It is fun and challenging. We push each other to do and be better than one another.
Cole: Pretty awesome, not many kids get to compete within their twin as closely as Cobie and I have. Plus, we know each other so well it takes a lot of the pressure off.

What is your favorite event and why?

Team roping because I feel that it is my best event.
Cole: Tie-down because it is challenging to really see what you and your horse can do.

Who or what inspires you and why?

My family because they support and back me.
Cole: My parents and grandparents. They are always out in the practice arena helping us.

What has been your favorite thing about high school rodeo and why?

Cobie: The competition and friendships! Everyone wants to be there and help you and the friendships will be there forever because of this sport and lifestyle.
Cole: High school rodeo prepares you for competition to go onto amateur and pro rodeos. I’ve met some great friends and seen a lot of places

Tell us about your favorite wins or major accomplishments?

Cobie: Winning the tie-down in our district this year, beating Cole (laughs) and winning the team roping in our district for the past two years.
Cole: Qualifying for nationals all three years of junior high, wining the all-around my 8th grade year and qualifying the last two years to high school national finals.

Who is your rodeo idol and why?

Cobie: Chad Masters. He stayed with us during Clovis and he is a great horseman, roper and treats people with respect and actually spends time talking to you.
Cole: Trevor Brazil because he does multiple events and is very successful at all of them.

You ride a lot of dynamite horses, but which one’s your favorite?

Cobie: Bo, the head horse I ride now. He is solid in the box, fast to steers and faces good.
Cole: Paycheck was the first horse I really learned to rope on and allowed me to really progress my heading skills. I also breakawayed and goat-tied off of him.

What are your favorite cattle to rope?

Cobie: Corrientes to team rope and beef or long horn calves.
Cole: Corriente cattle to team rope and beef calves in tie-down.

Have you currently set any roping or rodeo goals?

Cobie: Win state in the team roping with Cole.
Cole: Be successful in the years to come. Maybe win state finals, college finals and onto the PRCA.

What’s something you could tell junior high rodeo athletes before they enter high school rodeo?

Cobie: Have fun, be involved, stay positive and never give up.
Cole: Have fun and don’t pressure up. Enjoy it all and don’t let anyone tell you that you are not good enough.