Reatas & Recipes

By Mary McCashin

“All your horses are a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you won’t like what you see, sometimes you will.”

As of late, I’ve been pondering about professional horsemen and horsewomen. For most of my life I’ve taken lessons from various equine professionals, but for the past couple of years I’ve noticed “professionals” reaching a point where they themselves feel as though they don’t have anything left to learn.

In my years of riding and learning, I have rarely encountered a professional that is continuously seeking out knowledge, professionals who know they don’t always have the answers, who can admit they need refreshers, and so on. In recent years I have seen professionals that have claimed to ride with someone or follow a certain someone’s style of horsemanship, and they don’t. They’re being dishonest with their clientele.


In that I often struggle with seeing kids, teenagers, and adults take lessons or participate in clinics with people who in my opinion have very little business teaching. Usually at some point people become aware of this and move on, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.

So my question is this, when did some professionals decide they knew it all? In my mind I can honestly admit that I will always be seeking out more knowledge, there will always be something to improve upon. Is there a fear among professionals (of all disciplines) that their weaknesses may be exposed? Is there an uncomfortableness with the vulnerability of the situation?

“You can be a leader without being intimidating. The horse can be your partner without being your slave. I’m trying to keep the best part of the horse in there.
I’m not trying to take anything away from him.”

Every time I see a professional sign-up for a clinic or lesson with another professional, it makes my heart happy. It sounds cheesy, but I’m grateful for those that know the journey is never over. In my local area, there are these professionals that are continuously seeking out more, they’re signing up for clinics and riding right alongside their students. That is one of the greatest examples that can be set for students. And furthermore, I feel that it is one of the most respectable actions that a trainer can take. By allowing your student to take from other instructors, you’re opening up their eyes to different techniques, approaches, mindsets, and providing them with countless opportunities for growth.


My dad used to always tell me that you approached each horse knowing they’d be another teacher in your life. Each horse had a lesson (or two) to teach me, there was always an opportunity for growth. I think that’s true for your entire life. If you want to be a well-rounded, respectable horseman you have to be humble enough to always admit that you do not know it all, and you never will. That’s not a shameful statement, it’s an honest one.

“My teachers used to tell me you need to learn to adjust to fit the situation. Don't just do what you've always done because it might not always work.” 

So I urge you, whether you’re a green rider, an accomplished rider, teaching a lesson program, marketing sales horses, whatever the case may be, never pass up on an opportunity to learn more, and never for a second think you know it all. This hunger for knowledge and humility will also earn you a tremendous amount of respect.

If you’re a student seeking out a teacher, ask around. Pay attention. Who not only is an accomplished rider, but who takes excellent fundamental care of their horses? It’s not just what someone does on the back of a horse that makes them a horseman, that’s just a small piece of the puzzle.

Whether you’re entering walk/trot classes or a USDF Silver Medalist, there is always something to learn, always room for improvement, and one more way to enjoy your horse.

“I'm still on the move, I'm getting better because I'm still studying. I still want to be a better horseman.”

By Mary McCashin
Reatas & Recipes

Are you one of those people who can’t seem to go the winter without developing a nasty cough? Cold? Or (gasp) the flu?

Perhaps you need to add elderberry into your diet!

Elderberries have been known for centuries for their immune boosting abilities, and have been shown in studies to enhance immune system function for defending and fighting against disease. Elderberries boost the production of cytokines, which are the body’s “messengers” for immune system defense. They are also filled with antioxidants for reducing inflammation in the body from being sick or under attack.

Health benefits of the elder plant include naturally improving colds, the flu, sinus issues, nerve pain, inflammation, chronic fatigue, allergies, constipation and even cancer.

When used within the first 48 hours of onset of symptoms, the extract has actually been found to reduce the duration of the flu with symptoms being relieved on an average of four days earlier. In fact, during the 1995 Panama flu epidemic, the government actually employed the use of the elderberry to fight the flu.

It gets better. When it comes antioxidant power, elderberry is higher in flavonoids than blueberries, cranberries, goji berries and blackberries. I’m sure you’re getting the picture that this medicinal berry is a real powerhouse for good health.

Below you’ll find a recipe for both homemade elderberry cough drops (so easy!) and elderberry syrup (which you can also buy on Amazon,, etc.) A teaspoon a day of the syrup will keep your immune system happy all winter long!

Homemade Elderberry Cough DropsMain

Cough Drops:

  • ½ cup local raw honey
  • 2 tablespoons Elderberry Extract or syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • powdered sugar, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder for coating drops
  • Mix honey, elderberry extract, and fresh ginger together in a medium sized, deep saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium-low heat, stirring often to prevent burning. Mixture will foam up the sides of pan, so take pan off heat briefly to allow foam to subside, then place pan back on heat to continue cooking. May have to turn heat down to low to prevent honey from burning.
  • Use candy thermometer and once mixture heats to 300F degrees, remove from heat and allow to cool for a couple for minutes until thickens slightly. Pour mixture into small candy molds or drop by teaspoons onto parchment paper or a silicon mat. Allow to cool until drops are hard and firm.
  • Once drops are fully cooled, dust with powdered sugar, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder to prevent drops from sticking together. Store in a covered container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Natural Remedy for Colds and Flu

Elderberry Syrup:

  1. Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. At that point, remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Mash the berries carefully using a spoon or other flat utensil. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
  3. Discard the elderberries (or compost them!) and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.
  4. When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a quart sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.
  5. Ta Da! You just made homemade elderberry syrup! Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune boosting properties. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.
  6. Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.

By Mary McCashin

Zesty Summer Salad Dressing

We’re talking apple cider vinegar! ACV has been known for its health benefits for thousands of years!

ACV can do amazing things like fight acid reflux, relieve constipation, detox your body, regulate your pH, fight cancer, fight allergies, and help build your immune system.


Unfortunately, most people aren’t up for taking a shot of ACV so as an NTC, I’ve developed a great way for people to ingest ACV without hating me forever.

This dressing can be drizzled on a salad, fish, or even used to make cucumber salad. It’s tangy and sweet, and so incredibly beneficial for your body!


Mary’s ACV Dressing:

1 cup BRAGGS ACV (must be Braggs, must be raw/unfiltered for health benefits)

¼ cup raw honey

1 tablespoon dill

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup water

¼ cup avocado oil (olive oil also works)

Shake super well and enjoy!

If you refrigerate this sometimes it will harden because of the oil. Simply microwave it in a glass jar for 15-30 seconds.

apple cider

It’s fast. It’s easy. It’s light. It’s tangy, And it’s healthy!