New horsemanship class starts at WNCC on Tuesday |

New horsemanship class starts at WNCC on Tuesday

by staff

Not only does Laura Phelps-Bell have more pets than just about anyone in Carson Country, she has a nice variety of animals living at her and husband Rick’s 2 1/2-acre home in Gardnerville.

“I have 14 horses at home including my mustang filly named Scarlett,” said Laura as we began our visit. “She’s a pure-blooded Nevada mustang I raised since birth. She’s 4 years old now. We’ve also got a few ranch dogs, a bunch of good mouse cats and we stand our stud, a classic Champagne Tennessee walking horse named Chilled Champagne. He’s 4 years old too and is a unique champagne color.”

So far, nothing extra special there, but we haven’t got to the cow and duck and the hen yet.

“I have a pet cow named Karma that I raised by bottle feeding since he was 1 day old,” said Laura with a laugh. “I got him from a neighbor and he was bottle-fed for four months. He lived in the house with us until he got too big and strong. Now he weighs 1,100 pounds and he’s not for slaughter … He’s our pet!”

So is the duck, named Ulysses, and Laura says the duck has “a girlfriend” who happens to be a hen.

“We got the duck from a man called Chicken George in Silver Springs,” added Laura. “The duck’s girlfriend is a hen called Buffy … Honest!”

Laura is the teacher of a horsemanship class starting at Western Nevada Community College on Tuesday and we’ll give you the details on that right after we visit a little more with Laura, who is 41 and was born in Canoga Park, Calif. She and Rick, who is 48 and was born in Buffalo, N.Y., have been married for seven years.

“We got married in Carson City after we met by chance at the Carson Valley Inn,” said Laura. “We dated for a year before we married. Rick owns and operates Bell Insurance Agency in Stateline. He’s been there 16 or 17 years.”

Laura is a horse trainer/riding instructor and has been since 1977 when she started her business, Starwood Farms, when she was just 18.

“I have trained various breeds of horses, including thoroughbreds, Arabians, Morgans, Warmbloods, Appaloosas, mustangs and various crossbreds,” said Laura. “I came to Gardnerville in 1992 and first lived with my uncle Wayne Hurte and my Aunt June. My aunt has since passed away and Uncle Wayne is the chief of police for Capitol Police. I relocated my business to Gardnerville then and have been there ever since.”

Laura’s mom Deloris is 76 and lives in Gardnerville. Her dad Robert passed away Christmas Day of 1984 at age 63 from an infection.

“Rick’s dad, also named Robert, died seven months ago from health problems at age 73,” said Laura. “His mom Ruth lives in Florida.”


Laura is a professor at WNCC and she will be teaching that new course called Horsemanship Skills, which teaches horse ownership fundamentals and is a comprehensive course designed for the beginner/novice as well as the experienced horse owner.

“It’s a two-credit course and the credits are transferable to UNR or UNLV,” said Laura. “They offer the same course at UNR. This is a first for WNCC and the first time it’s been offered here. The class is for the full spring semester (January to May) and starts Tuesday.”

It’s a two-hour class on Tuesdays from 7-9 p.m. It is open to students and non-students of all ages.

“Even high school students are eligible,” said Laura. “I will teach horse ownership from A to Z. Everything from how to select a horse to how to take care of the horse when you get it home and everything else you need to know to keep your horse happy and healthy. I will also teach show training methods and horse showing as well as pleasure trail riding and safety.”

Anyone interested in the accredited equine course can call Laura today or Monday at 265-4496 for information.


Clark Russell of the Carson Station and Pinon Plaza would be that man. Every time I saw Clark during the football season he always let me know he was rooting for the Nevada Appeal team to beat the Station/Plaza team in our annual Pro Picks Challenge contest.

Every year Clark, for some unknown reason, always roots for our team to beat their team and he’s usually right as we beat them with ease almost every year. This season was no different as we whipped them with no problem.

The Appeal team of Publisher Jeff “I-don’t-pick-losers” Ackerman and Managing Editor Barry “Never-change-a-pick” Smith and myself coasted this year over their team of Jeff Loflin and John and Bill Riordan.

Our prize for winning, courtesy of Clark Russell, is a dinner for two for each of the members of our winning team, at the Whiskey Saloon & Steakhouse at the Plaza.

Thanks, Clark. Let’s do it again next year!


That would br Maud Swick of Bakersfield, Calif. She is the current International Chili Society world champion. When I was talking with Mary Pierczynski a few days ago, Mary informed me that Maud will cook in the Great Carson City Invitational Chili Cookoff set for May 13 this year.

“We’ll have 30 to 40 of the top chili cooks in the country coming to the invitational,” said Mary, who hosts the cookoff along with husband, Ed, at their Franktown Road home. “We’ll have five or six former world champions coming as well as all the local top chili cooks. Danny Murphy of Carson City will be chief judge and Bill Brown of KRNV-TV in Reno will be master of ceremonies.”

Mary, who has won the cookoff in the past, will cook in the event, which is the only private (not open to the public) chili cookoff of the year.

This is the eighth annual invitational and tonight on our Street Talk TV Show on CAT-10 (6-7 p.m.) we’ll show you a previous invitational and as an added bonus, Mary and I will “tickle the ivories” for you as we bang out a few tunes on the piano. Don’t miss it.

ALAN ROGERS is a Nevada Appeal columnist. His message phone is 887-2430, ext. 402.