Continuing the Trek for Better Horsemanship

IMG_2034I returned home Saturday from the ARHA World Show in Bowling Green, KY. I did not accomplish much in terms of ribbons, buckles or World Titles. However, I did bring home additional horsemanship knowledge that will make me a better horseman and ultimately, a better competitor. When you ride with the best, you get better if you pay attention. I am grateful for the advice from those horsemen I truly respect at the World show. Most was unsolicited, showing their character, as well, as their knowledge. To those, Thank You! Started today on working for next year.

My next clinic will be at Diamond TR on July 25. We are continuing our Ground to Saddle series.We start at 9:00 a.m. and conclude around 4:00 p.m. For details go to for registration or see entire curriculum for the Ground to Saddle Series. We are progressing into horsemanship applications for recreational trail riding. If you want a better trail horse; have thoughts of competing; want to have more confidence in your horse; or need to lay a better training foundation for your horse- these clinics can fit.

Ranch Horse versatility classes in breed sanctioned shows, ranch horse versatility associations and ranch rodeos have made the ranch horse popular again. Although associations have promoted versatility as a virtue, for many years specialization for competition has been the dominant force in horse competitions. That is changing with the ranch horse versatility classes and shows growing in popularity. Horses that can perform as western pleasure, trail, reining, roping, and cow horse are in demand. The word “ranch” draws people to participate in these events because of the romance of the Old West. Ranch Horse versatility events incorporates aspects of several show classes. As result, few horses and riders are equally experienced at all of them. I see this as an opportunity to improve our training and horsemanship skills for those interested in these events.
The ranch versatility horse must be safe to handle and ride. They must be quiet minded. The competitions demand the horse to shift gears mentally as well as physically. They must tolerate a certain amount of rider error as the rider becomes accustomed to new events. The ranch versatility horse must have a solid foundation in his training.
One of the secrets to having a well trained responsive horse is to make sure your horse is light and supple. Suppleness is when you ask a horse to give his head to one side or the other and he willingly gives to your hand by following the bit. There is no resistance. It also means that you can bend and position any part of the horse’s body to perform any desired maneuver. It’s sometimes called form to function. In fact, lightness and suppleness are the key ingredients to top performance. Without them your horse’s performance will never be better than mediocre. Suppleness is what allows us to position a horse’s body. Without proper suppleness and form, there is no way a horse can correctly perform any of the maneuvers expected of a ranch horse. If you want your horse to perform good stops, turns, lead changes etc. then having him supple is a must. A horse must also be light. He needs to willingly let us position his body quickly and without a struggle. Also, a horse will never perform as freely or as athletically as he is capable until he is light.


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