Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Ride

I just received this email and I have seen it before but because I just love it, I want to share it with all of you too.

I ride. That seems likes such a simple statement. However, as many women who ride know it is really a complicated statement with power and empowerment. Being able to do things you might have once considered out of reach or ability. I have considered this as I have shoveled manure, fill water buckets in the cold rain, wait for the vet/farrier/electrician/hay delivery, change a tire on a horse trailer beside a busy highway or cool out a gelding before getting down to the business of drinking a tall glass of sweet tea after a long ride.

The time, the money, the effort it takes to ride calls for dedication. At least I call it dedication, my husband calls it "the sickness". It's a sickness I have had since I was a small girl bouncing my model horses and dreaming of the day I would ride a real horse. Most of the women I ride with understand the meaning of "the sickness". It's not a hobby. It's what we do and, in some ways, who we are as women and human beings.

I ride. I hook up my trailer and load my gelding. I haul to some trailhead somewhere, unload, saddle, whistle up my dog and ride. I breathe in the air, watch the sunlight filter through the trees and savor the movement of my horse. My shoulders relax. A smile rides my sunscreen smeared face. I pull my ball cap down and let the real world fade into the tracks my horse leaves in the dust.

Time slows. Flying insects buzz loudly, looking like fairies. My gelding flicks his ears and moves down the trail. I can smell his sweat and it is perfume to my senses. Time slows.

The rhythm of the walk and the movement of the leaves become my focus. My saddle creaks and the leather rein in my hand softens with the warmth. I consider the simple statement; I ride. I think of all I do because I ride.

Climb granite slabs, wade into a freezing lake, race a friend through the Manzanita all the while laughing and feeling my heart in my chest. Other days just the act of mounting and dismounting can be a real accomplishment. Still I ride, no matter how tired or how much my seat bones or any of the numerous horse related injuries hurt. I ride, and I feel better for doing so.

The beauty I've seen because I ride amazes me. I've ridden out to find lakes that remain for the most part, unseen. Caves, dark and cold beside rivers full and rolling are the scenes I see in my dreams. The Granite Stairway at Echo summit, bald eagles on the wing and the bobcats on the prowl add to the empowerment and joy in my heart.

I think of the people, mostly women, I've met. I consider how competent they all are. Not a weenie amongst the bunch. We haul 40 ft rigs, we back into tight spaces without clipping a tree. We set up camp, tend the horses.

We cook and keep safe. We understand and love our companions, the horse. We respect each other and those we encounter on the trail. We know that out there riding, you also shovel, fill, wait and doctor.

Your hands are a little rough and you travel without makeup or hair gel. You do without to afford the "sickness" and probably when you were a small girl, you bounced a model horse while you dreamed of riding a real one.

My treasures do no chink or glitter, they gleam in the sun and neigh in the night.

Happy Trails,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas

I probably will not be posting again until after Christmas, so I just want to tell all of you Merry Christmas. I hope all of you receive the gifts you were hoping for and that you are able to spend time with your family. Remember those who are unable to be with us and enjoy the ones that are.

We had a little snow fall last Saturday (that left soon after noon) but Conner (my grandson) was so excited to see the snow, and for the first time he was able to get his sled out and take it down the small hill behind the house. The ground under the snow was not frozen, so he was hitting the mud most of the time, but what a beautiful smile he had on his face. I just had to share a few photos of him and S.T. with you. I guess you have to say "this is what it is all about".

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Shopping

I hope everyone has their shopping list finished. If you do then you are not like me and just now thinking about it. Now, the weather man is forecasting rain and snow and that will probably knock out the last minute shopping trip :o).

Don't forget your animals during the busy time of the holidays. With traveling, the snow, and just plain miserable cold sometimes we would rather just snuggle by the fire and not get out, but remember you have animals that depend on you for their life. We enjoy their company in fair weather, (if you are like me, I call myself a fair weather rider... in fact I have turned my mares out until spring :o) so let them know you care, by being there for them when it is so cold out. Plenty of good grass hay will help keep them warm. The more they eat and utilize the energy the warmer they will be able to keep their body. Also, just because it is not hot out and they are not drinking as much water, you still need to make sure they have plenty of fresh water. You may have to break or dump the ice from the bucket a few times a day. Take care of your animals and they will make better, more healthy companions.

I hope everyone has a joyous Christmas and a prosperous New Year. I am thinking positive and really feel 2010 will be better than ever! Enjoy your families during the holidays, as a friend once told me "make memories".

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

09 High Point Award Pictures

I finally was able to get the pictures from Saturday night to a place everyone can view them. Most of them were taken by Brooke (my daughter-in-law), but they all turned out very nice. You should be able to copy them, but if you have any problems, just email me and I will email them to you. If you are not in any of the pictures, then you just didn't make it to the presentation area :o). Congratulations to everyone, I know you worked very hard to achieve the awards. I look forward to seeing everyone back on the show circuit next year. Go to our website www.vanbertfarms.com and click on Digital Images By Vera and it will take you to my page where you need to click on Horse Events. Enjoy the photos.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Mountain Horse In The Movies

The Greening Of Whitney Brown is a family comedy movie about a little girl, played by Sammi Hanratty, that has to move from the big city life to the country. Her parents are played by Aidan Quinn and Brooke Shields. In the movie she meets her estranged grandfather played by Kris Kristofferson, a rusty old rancher with horses. One of the horses used in the film is our very own VBF's Dr. Feel Good, a beautiful gelding sired by Choco Dock. The movie will not be released until sometime in 2010, but we are all very excited to see him there. Watch for the movie and VBF's Dr. Feel Good and Tommie Turvey The Equine Extremest.

Monday, December 14, 2009

UMH High Point Awards Banquet

The 2009 UMH High Point Awards Banquet was held this past Saturday night. Much preparation and planning was done in advance by members of the show committee and it made for a very successful event. Since the last show was in September it had been a couple of months since we had seen some of our old friends and show acquaintances. It was nice visiting with them and seeing how lovely we all look when we "clean up nice". :o)

I am attaching some pictures from the event, but I am also at this minute downloading all of the pictures that Brooke and I took this weekend, onto photobucket.com so go to our website and click on it and you are welcome to download any you see there for your own use. I have run a few through photo shop, so if you really like something and you want me to do that for you, just email me and I will send it to you through your email. It may be tomorrow before it all gets posted as there were several and it is taking a lot of time. One of the pictures attached to this post is of the awards table and one of the high money bush (Judy Brummer made that and I personally thought it was a very nice piece of art, the flowers are made out of dollar bills!), the other is of Mary Lipginski and S.T. Congratulations Mary!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Massachusetts Equine Affair

We just returned from the Massachusetts Equine Affair, where we spent 4 days spreading information about the Mountain Horses. Mike Charles and Adriane Esquivo were the sponsors this year for the United Mountain Horse Booth and were responsible for the really nice presentation of the Mountain Horse demo. Their objection was to show the versatility of the Mountain Horses. In the short time that we are given they were able to show the horses going through obstacles, jumping, cantering, showing in western, and english, a cart and even had a beautiful yearling doing all the obstacles. I want to say thank you to Mike and Adriane for all the hard work, money spent, and dedication in showing and educating the public about the Mountain Horses. I hope each of you are thinking of ways to promote the horses in your area and I hope you will volunteer for some of the committees and get involved in keeping the Mountain Horses in the for- front of the pleasure breeds.

S.T. was a competitor in the Versatile Horse Race. He exhibited V.B.F. Diamond Venture and did very well. He did not make it to the Championships, but out of 30 exhibitors he placed 14th. Once you consider he was riding a 3 year old stallion that makes him move right on up to the front in my eyes. (Of course I'm his mother and may be just a little prejudice :0) The competitors this year were top of the line and really made you want to go home start to work on those trail horses.

Friday, October 2, 2009


My friend in Baja Mexico has been on watch for the warnings of hurricanes and keeping me posted. I heard from her today, telling us they are expecting some high winds on the Baja with lots of rain. I told her we were experiencing a whirl wind here also, because September just blew through! I know the days are suppose to seem shorter as we age, but at this rate I will be 100 in another year!:o) I can not believe we could have put any more events into the days of September. We finished a very successful 2 weeks with the championships of the World Show and the International. Because of the construction and the planned 2010 games coming to the Horse Park, the International was moved up a week causing the two shows to be back to back. That was two full weeks of early mornings and very late nights (and sometimes ending in the very early morning) shows. Somewhere in all of that I also worked in a photo shoot of our farrier's wedding! Needless to say we were totally ready for a break. I think we have finally recuperated from the shows, but we are into something else...Competitive Trail Rides! Jamie and Dad went to TN last weekend to compete in the ACTHA rides. Jamie won first in his division and Dad won third in his! This is a new venue for us to show-off the Mountain Horse. We have been working on our obstacle trail course and adding new obstacles. S.T. and Alison were working with Duke to teaching him to ride in a sleigh. They were doing this with a 4-wheeler, hoping to be able to switch to a horse later. ( Teaching one animal at a time. ) S.T. has been accepted to compete in the versatile horse challenge at the Equine Affair in Springfield, Massachusetts, so we have lots of challenges ahead. Keep watch for more news on the competitive trail ride we will be hosting at Van Bert Farms. It is in the planning stage, but will be coming soon. Get your horses ready.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mary Is On The Soap Box

Things are moving fast here at Van Bert Farms. We are all pushing to get our selves and our horses to the World Show. It is going to be a very nice show and I look forward to seeing everyone there. We have had a nice long time to work on everything since the last show was the 4th of July. We are looking forward to seeing some of our clients that live far away and hope all of you have a safe trip in to see your horses. I think over all, the group of horses that we are showing and selling here at VBF are the best we have ever had. Our clients have some outstanding Mountain Horses and we appreciate your trust in us to care for them. Now is the time to buy, buy, buy. We will be offering some really good deals on many of our horses, so stay in touch with the website and check them out. WORLD SHOW SPECIALS????

Last week we hosted the annual Farmer Banker Field Day. A long time tradition to our little county. We worked very hard to get everything in order and clean for the 300+ people. This is the first time we have hosted the event since my grandfather died back in the 60's, but there were still several people who attended and remembered being here then. Things like this event always gives us the drive to repair and clean and see things from a visitor's eye.

We had a nice visit from Mary and her sister Elanor (or as Mary calls her Elner). We talked about the blog and how remiss I have been in posting and so I decided I must get back here and tell everyone all the news that is going on here. I am a member of Mary's blog so I checked out some of her entries. I couldn't help but smile because I could really feel the steam in her entry about the car. Of course I got it, the car was just the straw that broke the camel's back, and it pushed Mary onto the soap box. Sometimes we just have to vent..:o)

On a good note Mom is doing well, but on a bad one Jamie had a kidney stone so he was in the hospital for two days. On a good note, he is home, feeling better and he doesn't have to worry about that anymore.

I have posted a couple more videos... check out our website and see what you think. The juvenile 11 and under classes for trail and country trail are on there from the Summer Celebration and I also have put some video of Diamond Venture and Dressed For Success. S.T. is taking them through the obstacle course. They are trained by Dad and are really push button especially to be as young as they are. It really takes a lot of patience to do the obstacles, but these horses are so willing to learn they work really hard at pleasing the rider. The classes in the shows are always well attended and the competition is very stiff.

I have posted a picture I compiled from the Field Day. Kaylee took the pictures, I thought she did an excellent job, what do you think?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summer Celebration

Whew! We just finished the UMH Summer Celebration at the Kentucky Equestrian Facility in Winchester, KY. While Kentucky has had an unusually cool winter, summer came back with a vengeance. It was very hot yesterday and today is even worse. The show started at 1:00 with lots of classes. It was a very long day, but the classes were big and the quality of horses was wonderful, so staying interested in the show was easy. We received our share of blues, but of course would like to have a few more. S.T. seemed to be stuck on second. We walked out of the Pro-Am class with a second and I laughed at him and said, "well, it looks like you are always the bridesmaid and never the bride". Sure enough the show seemed to continue right on with several seconds. He did receive a first with Mary's filly Flair For Fury. This is the second straight blue she has gotten. She has really grown into herself and is even more beautiful with every passing week. We are recouping today, and hope to feel like getting back to work tomorrow. We are hosting the annual Farmer's Banker's Field Day this year for the county. Then is will be a concentration on the World Show. It has been a very busy summer and I don't look for it to let up until the end of September. I hope to be able to start writing some more training tips for you. Dad has been feeling pretty good these days, so he has not been spending as many hours in the house, so he has not written anything for awhile. Keeping checking we will be back up to par soon. I hope to see everyone at the World Show, I think it will be a good one!

Monday, July 13, 2009

She's Home

For those of you who do not know...My mother had a bad horse accident and was in the hospital for a few days. She is home now and there is really nothing anyone can do for her except let her heal. She had several broken ribs, collapsed lung, head and back injuries. She is 70 years old and still rides some pretty competitive trails. She and my Dad have some very close friends that enjoy riding 3 and sometimes 4 times each week. I am thinking she will be a little more cautious now and will practice what she preaches and wear a helmet. I guess they are like seat belts...and car seats. We don't even think about getting in a car now without buckling up, but years ago, we would not even think about it. I think helmets are like that in that soon everyone will be wearing them and we won't feel so out of place when we appear on the trails with them. I would like to see it become the "norm" for everyone.

Thank all of you for your phone calls, emails, thoughts, prayers, and concerns. She will be back in the saddle soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Long Time Coming

The summer has brought about a whirl wind of activity around our farm. Horse show season of course is always busy. We have had a good time this year with lots of new faces on the circuit we have met more wonderful friends from all across the country. We just got back from the UMH Kentucky State Championship, and even though the rain was not fun, the show itself was very nice. I have made a short video clip of the show and posted it on youtube. You have a direct link from our website www.vanbertfarms.com I hope everyone checks it out, it was fun making it, and I hope you enjoy it.

Larry's Mom is not well and she requested we take her to Cades Cove Park in Tennessee. She wanted to spend some time with Larry and see some of the sites there. I have heard of the park, since my parents went there several years ago trail riding. It was one of their most favorite places to ride. It is full of wild life and Larry's Mom wanted to see the bears she had heard so much about. I was not looking forward to the trip, because we were also going to spend some time in Gatlinburg (which to me is a tourist trap), however I got some wonderful photos. I love taking pictures of horses, but old barns and roads really catch my eye as well. I know I usually post horse pictures here, but I thought you may enjoy seeing a couple of the barn photos.

Don't forget to go to our site and check out the new video of the Kentucky State Championship.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Stanton Show

The Stanton show was this weekend, and since we did not have far to travel and the show started and was over early, I had a little time to take pictures. This is a picture of one of my mother's students. Triston Curtis, loves horses and does a wonderful job showing them. I have sent some of you pictures from the show that I took from the rail. Sometimes I get some shots, but don't have an email address to send them to, so if you think I have taken your picture, let me know your address and I will be glad to send them to you.

This show was more of a fun show for us. It is literally in our back door, if we could go the way the crow flies. Since it was a one night show, there were only 24 classes. Some of you were not able to make it out, but I wish we could get everyone to support all the sanctioned shows. This is one of the resources that keep our breed strong, so support all the shows you can.

S.T. carried the flag at the show on Blue On Black. I thought they turned out real nice, so I have added one for you here. Please continue to check out our website www.vanbertfarms.com Since the sun has been shinning, I am not straying too far from the camera, so I will have lots of new photos up soon.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Trail Rides

I hope all of you are enjoying this beautiful weather and are out on your horses. After a long and frightfully awful winter, I know everyone is ready for some me time with your horse. Even if you are like me and only get to grab a few minutes sometime during the day, it gives a little reprieve from the stress of the day. My mother and father are spending lots of days on the trails. It has always been a life long dream to spend lots of time on the trails and to see as many different trails as possible. They are spending a lot of time close to home and have decided there are no prettier trails anywhere (there's no place like home). I am enclosing a couple of really neat pictures a friend of theirs took on one of their last rides.

I hope everyone is checking our web site frequently as I have spent a lot of time posting many horses on there. I just finished yesterday adding 6 more so check them out. I know you know someone who has been looking for that special horse. www.vanbertfarms.com

Is everyone ready for the next show? It is here in Stanton on Saturday night. I look forward to seeing our friends and their horses, so come on out.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Total Horse Makeover Part 2

It is hard to show you the big difference in a well groomed horse and a horse that has been left in the unkept state through photos. Just know that in the show ring, parades, photo shoots, or having the prettiest horse on the trails, following these small tips will make you so much prouder of your horse. I have been in the show ring with horses that still have sawdust in their tails, whiskers and ear hairs, with manure stains on their hips, and tack that has not been cleaned. Then I hear them saying as we exit the ring that the judge did not even look at their horse. If you expect a judge to take a second look at your horse you must make them want to. It is not hard to give the over all appearance that is appeling to anyone looking at your horse. While it does take a little time, that is what horse showing is all about. Take the time to add that little bit of edge that will send you to the winner's circle. Don't forget yourself. In the show ring you do not want to distract from your horse by presenting a sloppy, unkept self. Your apperal must be clean and pressed, your boots shined, hat clean, tie properly tied, hair neatly groomed. Stand or set correctly, with shoulders back and head up, telling the judge (through your body language) you have something you are proud to be presenting. My husband tells me to take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. This is another horse Vickie worked with, we wanted you to see the difference in her also.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Total Horse Makeover

Whether for show or fun, spring is a great time to jump start your grooming program with a Total Horse Makeover. The basics are the same but, for show, you can get noticed with extra attention to details or, for fun, zip things up with new hair style or accessories. As you can see from the before and after photos, even the best of horses can be helped by some simple grooming steps:
1. Start with a good rub down with a rubber curry comb, avoiding the horse’s face and legs. Working in a circular motion to loosen old winter hair and dirt. If the coat is thick, you may want to try a shedding blade, being careful to not pull hair too hard.
2. Use a brush to remove the excess hair and dirt uncovered by the curry comb. Starting at the top of the neck and working toward the rear of the horse and down.
3. While the horse is dry is a good time to use the clippers to trim muzzle whiskers, ears, bridle path and fetlocks.
4. Pick/Clean your horse’s feet – noting any issues that may need attention by a farrier.
5. Next wet the horse all over (except face) with the spray from a hose using comfortably warm water. If you do not have warm water available from the hose, you can use warm water from a bucket. Start with the front feet and then back so that the horse becomes comfortable with the water. Avoiding the head, work from the neck down and then to the back and down and the rear down. Lastly spray/wash under the body and then the tail.
6. Add shampoo suited for your horse’s coat type and/or color to a bucket and add comfortably warm water to make suds. Using a sponge or brush, dip into the suds and make circular motions with and against the grain of body hair ensuring that you get down to the skin. Again working from the neck to the rear – avoiding the face.
7. You may want to use a different shampoo specifically formulated for mane and tail when you have completed the body shampoo. There are products which can enrich a horse’s tail and mane true color. You can squeeze shampoo directly into mane and tail, working through with your fingers to the roots. If you find dandruff or fungus, be sure to apply a product specifically suited to dealing with the condition before you rinse your horse.
8. Rinse the shampoo off with a hose or sponge from bucket. Again starting with the top of neck and working down and back toward rear, be sure to rinse well around the base of the tail and under the tail/between the legs.
9. Wash face with a sponge or towel that is wrung out – being careful to not get water in eyes. You do not need a lot of shampoo on the face a small amount on the rag will be sufficient. Wipe out the nostril area, lips and ears with water and soft rag.
10. To start drying, use a scraper starting with the neck to rear and scraping down with the grain of the hair.
11. Before your horse is completely dry, spray or wipe on conditioner. Do not apply to saddle area if you are going to ride because it can be slippery.
12. As a finishing touch, wipe a towel over the horse's coat to make it shine.

Extra touches:
1. For relaxation, your horse may appreciate a massage. With your fingers together, start with making small circles along the spine. Start out with light pressure - watching your horse's reaction to ensure that it is not too much. Work from the neck to the rear on each side of the spine and, if you and your horse want to continue, move down the body and to the legs - continuing with the same small circles. To learn more there are a number of good equine massage books available.

2. For show, paint hooves with a hoof blacking product and add a little extra shine product to the muzzle and above eyes.

3. For fun, braid or curl your horse’s mane and tail and add accessories to complete your total horse make over.

Extreme Makeover

My good friend Vicki Smith and her husband Mark, (you will know them as the owners of Sudden Impact) came in from Washington state this past week. She is very good (because she really likes to do it) with grooming horses. She thought since she was here and they love to hang out at the barn during the time they are here anyway, that she would take a couple of our horses and do an extreme makeover and over tips on good grooming of your horses. We had fun doing the before and after shots and thought you would enjoy seeing the difference too. I will be posting them here this afternoon, so keep in touch.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Birth Of A Rocky Mountain Horse Foal

I have just put a new video on our website, it is of one of our mares foaling. We allow our mares to breed and foal in the pasture, and since they are usually born at night, I have never been able to get video of them before. You will love this video! Go to our front page www.vanbertfarms.com and see it from there.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Still excited about the show

I finally got the video on that I told you about yesterday, you will see it to the left here. I have also worked on another one today. It is the entire class of the trail championship. We didn't win, (but I thought my mare should have) :o) Oh well, that is why we have another show coming up. Anyway, check it out you will see all the horses that were in that class. This class was the only one I really had enough time to video, but now that I know how to edit these things I will try to have more in the future.

It is time to go trail riding, so if any of you are interested give Dad a call. He and Mom go about 2 -3 times a week and they are always looking for buddies. Speaking of trail rides, do you have a good horse this year? If you need one go to our site and check out our horses under saddle, we have a really good group right now, ready to hit the show ring or the trails.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Show Season Keeps My Head Spinning

Boy, I have been remiss in posting here and I apologize (again) :o) Show season has opened with a bang and we have been very busy. Now that the weather has cleared a little everyone is ready to hit the trails and show ring. The great thing about these horses is that they excel in both. I made a video of the show, (just a some short teaser clips) to give you an idea of the fun we have. On it you will see my mare, Autumn Venture. She is the red chocolate with the white mane and tail, on the last part of the clip and going out of the show ring. She is wonderful on the trails and great in the ring. You can't go wrong with the Rocky Mountain horses if you are looking for the "The Very Best of Both Worlds" Check out our web site too because we are posting new horses for sale every few days. There are some really nice ones on there right now. You won't find better anywhere else.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm Back

I know....I didn't post when I said I would. First, I want to clear up a couple of things....I, Vera post for the blog, my Dad, H.T. has been writing for the blog. He is not much on typing or working with computers, so I do that for him. Sometimes I refer to I as him and sometimes it is me. (Is that about as clear as mud)? :o) Anyway, I, Vera am the one that went to the Equine Affair in Columbus, OH, Dad and the rest of the gang went to NC to the first UMH show of the season. Both places were very successful. I hope everyone has signed onto Mary's blog. It is real interesting and she has already told everyone about the show. Our farm took some really nice horses and many ribbons came back home. S.T. won the Classic and Park Championships. :o)

Heather and I had a good time, talking and talking. Since that is what breed fairs are all about, we did our share. We met many nice people and hope we shared good information about the Mountain Horse breeds. I am posting a picture of our booth. I hope to some day soon, sponsor a fund raiser that will bring in enough money to be able to purchase a professional booth for the United Mountain Horse Assoc. It would be great to have something that is easy to transport and easy to set up, and looks professional. This is such a wonderful horse, and I want to be able to share it with everyone catching their eye is the (mane thang).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's Horse Show Time!

I have been negligent in writing for the last couple of days and I apologize for that. We have been very busy preparing for the 1st horse show of the season. It is being held in Ashville, NC and will kick off the show season with a lot of anticipation as to what will be gracing the show ring this year. We always look forward to seeing the new stock that will appear this year and the new clients that have found their way to the Mountain Horse breeds.

I, on the other hand will be heading to Columbus, Ohio for the Equine Affair Breed Fair. I will be representing the United Mountain Horse Association and promoting the 3 phase Event. That event will be coming up soon. Everyone needs to come out and enjoy another venue for the Mountain Horse Breeds.

I will be coming back Monday and reporting to everyone all the news, so check back in Monday for a full update :o)

Friday, March 27, 2009

More On Crossing Water

There are a lot of different methods to teach a horse to cross water. If you are riding with other horses let a horse that is not afraid of water go in front, most of the time your horse will follow. If he still does not want to cross then I will try to get him to the edge without getting him hyped up, let his head down to check it out and then lightly encourage him. If he wheels and turns, make him turn all the way around so he will be facing the water again. Repeat the process over and over. It is similar to the method you use when getting your horse to load in a trailer. Another way is to get someone with a well broke horse to pony your horse. When you get to the water, stop make your horse circle the other rider while he is holding the lead. He will turn his horse as you circle him. He will gradually move his horse to the waters edge so when your horse circles him he will be in the water. This may sound difficult but it works for me. Be patient keeping your horse calm. Sometimes if you let all the other horses cross ahead of you and ride on down the trail it will make your horse want to cross to catch up with the rest of the herd. Once you get your horse in the water try not to let him rush through. Try to get him to stay calm, and if possible ask him to stop. This will show him that there is nothing to be afraid of. Go back and forth several times across the water. This will help to desensitize him. Hopefully, the next water he sees he will not fear it as much. If this ride is a training time for your horse make sure you have the time to teach. Before you go on a ride with other riders (that will not want to waste their time waiting while you teach your horse to cross water) have your horse (as much as you can) used to the normal obstacles on the trail. This is one of the obstacles you are most always going to face, so work with your horse at home or on a ride with a friend that understands this is a training session so you and your horse will be ready for the time you can go riding in a group and not be faced with these issues.

Crossing Water

I have been ask how I would teach a reluctant horse to cross water. I have never found this to be a problem. I suppose if you live in an arid region that it might be. We get a lot of rain here and there are always puddles and ditches with water. We also live on the river and there is a riffle or shoal that you can cross. Running water is more of a problem than still water. The most trouble I have had with water is when we ride on the ocean. When waves are coming at your horse it is frightening. We never had any trouble getting our horses into the ocean, but when the waves came at them they would want to retreat to the shore. With patience and coxing we were able to get them to accept it. I remember one woman that wanted to get her horse in the ocean so bad that she ask if I could help her. I told her to ride her horse between my horse and my son's. We formed a wedge with our horses on each side. We let our horses heads almost touch, keeping her horse's head slightly to the front of our saddles. Then we rode to the edge of the water, when the wave came the water came up on our horses feet and because horses are herd animals her horse felt secure. As the wave retreated we followed a little and as with most things repeating it several times prevailed the fear. She was very happy. However, I do not recommend this for everyone. All the riders in this scenario were experienced riders. The proper way would be to pony the horse without a rider until the horse got used to the waves and the water, keeping the rider safe.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spurs or Whips?

We all hope we have a willing horse, but we have to play with what we are delt. If you have a lazy horse, you will find they are quick to learn that they would rather be poked in the side with a tennis shoe than to speed up. You will also find it is hard to set a lazy horses head, because you are releasing the pressure on his mouth hoping to try to get him to move forward. The first thing I suggest is, do not ride in tennis shoes. It is not only dangerous, but they are not at all affective in stimulating the horse to move forward. If you are a novice, I suggest you use a riding crop instead of spurs. Spurs are not bad if you learn to use them correctly, but you should never use them if you are trying to hold yourself on the horse with your legs. Wait until you have learned your balance. When riding with a whip or spurs never use them on the same side all the time as this will get your horse going sideways and not tracking straight. When I am riding in the ring, I will put my whip toward the center of the ring or use my spur on that side. Most horses have a tendency to want to go toward the center of the ring for several reasons. Most of the time that is where we stop and talk with our friends or where we stopt to rest. When a horse wants to shy away from the rail, most riders will try to pull the head back toward the rail. This will cause the hind quarters to swing toward the center of the ring. If you use your whip or your spurs on the side next to the center of the ring it will encourage him to keep his hind quarters on the rail along with his head. Therefore keeping him tracking straight. If a horse is not tracking straight it will make him take a longer stride with one side. Therefore, he will not be level in his gait.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


All the things I have been telling you to do up to this point are with a snaffle bit. I do not recommend that you change to another bit unless you are not getting the horse to respond the way you want him to. If he is progressing then you should give him more time. If you need a curb bit in order for him to gait properly or set his head then you could change. You should select a bit for what it is intended to do. There are thousands of different bits and one size or shape does not fit all. I will attempt to explain different bits and what they are used for in another post. I will be glad to explain to individuals what I would recommend for them to use on their horse for certain situations. Just send an email and explain what you would like to have help with. We might have to try different things but most of the time we can come up with a solution. Sometimes we will ask our horse to do things that they are not capable to do. Then on the other hand we are not asking in the right way. All horses are different and they can not be treated alike. Lazy horses and hyper horses are the hardest but they certainly cannot be treated the same. A smart horse can also be a problem as he will try to figure out things on his own. A dumb horse of course is bad to try to teach anything. If we can all have a willing horse...of course that is the easiest.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

According To H.T. Part 14

If you are only using lite pressure in your reins, it should never cause your horse to toss his head or throw it sideways. If your horse does this it is because he is hurting somewhere. It is up to us to figure out where. It could be in his mouth especially horses under the age of six years. Young horses are constantly shedding and growing new teeth. Always look in the corner of his mouth for a rub place or a sore. Most of the time it will be caused by a ill fitting bit. You should check the width of your horses mouth and the bit should be about 1/2 wider, giving a little room on each side when you pull the bit up in his mouth. If you have a wider mouth piece the post will not be in the center and it will aggravate him. If you have a snaffle bit it will pull back and forth and where it breaks in the middle will be rubbing across the roof of his mouth. I do not like to ride a horse with a chain curb. Often this will cause irritation which will also cause head tossing. If your horse is in pain he will be thinking more about that than what you are trying to teach him. The less pain you cause the faster your horse will learn.

Monday, March 16, 2009

According To H.T. Part 13

Several years ago, I taught riding at the University Of Morehead. I found one of the first things that I had to relate to my students was my every move. Sometimes, I would forget the student may not understand certain things I was trying to teach simply because I had forgotten to go over the basic things, thinking these things should already be understood. I want to at this time, go back just a little. I think I touched on developing a pattern before I ride my horse. After I get my horse turning left and right, I will pick out objects and ride toward that object trying to stay in as straight line as much as possible. Then I will start turning around objects/cones and do figure eights. These exercises will help my horse to guide and will also make him more supple. After I have gotten him to do this at a walk, I will then ask him to step up in gait doing the same thing. Always remember to make your horse stay on the rail unless you are practicing turns. If you are riding in the hallway of the barn do not let your horse turn short of the end. Do not stop in the same place each time that you mount and dismount. Try to keep your horse moving at a consistent speed. Never let a horse turn the direction he wants to go even if it is the direction you want. In other words we want to be the one doing all the thinking, we want the horse to only think about the things we are asking him to do, when we ask it. Your horse will learn the pattern very quickly so you will want to mix that up a little each day.

Friday, March 13, 2009

According To H.T. part 12

I am going to continue talking about the proper way to ask our horse to make turns, without getting into a tug-of-war.

Once my horse responds to the pressure I put on his face, then I will start putting pressure on his side with my leg. This will be on the same side that I am asking him to turn toward. I am wanting him to bend around my leg. This is also enforcing my command to also move forward rather than just turning his head. If you ever watch western movies note how they jerk their horses in the mouth, they will be throwing their heads up and their mouths open. This is not what I want to happen. I will be very easy but firm in my actions, giving my horse time to think and respond to my hands and legs. After starting my horse in the turn I will start releasing some of the pressure, rewarding him for his response to my hands. Sometimes you my have to encourage your horse to continue forward as most horses will slow down or stop when you start the turn. Practice this at a walk (most everything needs to be taught from a walk).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

According To H.T. Part 11

Directing Your Path

When You are riding your horse the two most important factors are getting your horse to go in the direction you are asking and the other is STOP. I once heard John Lyons say that he thought his horse Zip, could sense what he was thinking and would respond. I also know that Stacy Westfall rides her horse without a bridle or saddle and her horse responds to her ques. These are exceptionally well trained horses, but all of our horses have the potential to give us the same thing, if we are able to communicate with them. At the beginning we use all the aids we can to get our horse to respond. After he is doing what we want we should be able to drop off some of our aids and be more suttle with our request. Our horse will be more relaxed and less resistant when we are able to do this. With a good rider and a well trained horse your should not be able to detect hardly any movement from the rider. At one point in my life I was part of a very good group of riders that made up a drill team. We had some very successful performances with our Mountain Horses, but the best compliment we had was a lady that said she worked very hard to see the ques we were giving our horses to perform the different patterns and she could never see us do anything. She could not believe we could get the horses to perform the patterns without movement from our hands. Of course we were using our legs, which is not as easily detected by the audience. This is what we all strive for.

Now, how do we do teach this? We start by using direct reining and using a snaffle bit. In the picture you will note the direct reining, even though we have graduated to a different bit. We will actually be putting pressure on the horses face by pulling the reins in the direction we want him to go. Our horse should respond by turning his head in that direction because we taught him to respond to pressure from the ground lessons we did in the beginning of our horse's training. Later in the horses training, you should be able to lay the rein against the horse's neck and get the same response as shown in the next picture.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

According To H.T. part 10

OK, you thought I wouldn't make it didn't you? :o) Please enjoy part 10 and remember to sign up to our blog. We encourage your comments and if you have any questions or topics that you would like for us to cover, please feel free to post them.

I know you are tired of hearing me say this over and over, but don't forget to do your basic ground exercises before you start riding your horse. You will find your horse will pay more attention to you and will not be near as spooky when you ride him. I will assume our horse is gaiting at a certain speed. I will now start asking him to increase or decrease this speed gradually, but never to the point where he will break out of gait, or loose his rhythm. I like to guide my horse as much as possible with my legs. I have found that a pacy horse (a horse that has a tendacy to want to pace) will fall out of gait and into a pace if you let his head move from side to side instead of keeping it straight. If I have been doing my flexing exercises then I will be able to control his face/head/eyes by supporting his head with the opposite rein in pointing it one way or the other. I recently read a article that said if you over do your flexing exercises, and let your horse flex all the way back to your stirrup then you will have a problem of the horse going straight to the stirrup everytime you ask for him to flex. Like I said, you are in control, so only ask your horse to flex as far as you are asking for by using the other rein for support. Pacy horses are better riden in a straight line as much as possible. Keep a pacy horse away from small circles and figure eights until he is locked into gait better. I have also found that soft ground will encourage a horse to pace. What is a pace compared to the Mountain Horse gait? A pace is a 2 beat gait with both feet moving at the same time on the same side. This is not a smooth gait and is not desirable in the breed. I have put a picture of my horse pacing on this blog and notice the rein. See what happens when I am not supporting his head. I am riding him with a loose rein and allowing him to flex in his neck back and forth. Then note the picture of him in a 4 beat lateral gait, with the reins in contact with the mouth. We want to keep a soft, responsive mouth on our horse, so again, don't pull, but have enough contact that you support him and don't leave him hanging out there alone.:o)

What The Blog?

I have a friend that emails me when I am negligent in writing on here and she will say, "What the blog?" I had the opportunity to make my annual trip to Mexico (after I didn't think I was going to get there) for the past 3 weeks. My duties were suppose to be picked up by other family members, but as you can see that didn't get done. I apoligize and will try to post longer entries to make it up to you. My brain seems to still be in Mexico, and with the weather change I wish my body was to, but I will take a reality check and post part 10 of According To H.T. this afternoon, so check back.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

According To H.T. part 9

Now that I am beginning to be able to control his speed and getting him relaxed in the walk I will begin working him in his gait. If you notice I am progressing his training as he allows me to. Your horse may need a little more time to respond and stay consistent in his gait. At this time I have not tried to control the type of gait he does other than by speed. If your horse is trotty you will need to work him different than if he is pacey. The definition of a trot is a two beat diagonal gait. The pace is a two beat lateral gait. The gait I will be working for is exactly between the two and it will be a four beat gait. Let's say our horse is trotty. The first thing is...you do not want to put any shoes on the front feet. I will keep his foot trimed short in front. If this does not help in getting him to a four beat gait, then I will try other things, but for now I will try my riding skills to get him started. If I can get him to hit (meaning to travel in gait) for one or two steps, then I know that I will probably be able to get him to hit all the time, in a short while. I will try to adjust his speed to where I felt him "hit" and then work him at that speed. Sometimes this is fast, sometimes it is slow. Consistency is what we are aiming for.

Friday, February 13, 2009

According To H.T. part 8

Each day I try to add a little more to what I expect from my horse. You want to have a planned idea in your head as to what your exercise will be for the day. Such as yesterday, I asked my horse to step up into a faster gait. Today, I will also ask him to do that and I will try to hold him there until I ask for the walk. I will go around the ring 2 times to the left, reverse and go 2 times to the right, stop, back my horse 3 steps, ask him to go back to the rail and walk slowly back to the barn. Once I have this pattern in my mind, I set out to stay the course as much as possible. I mostly ride Mountain Horses of which are bred to have a four beat gait but, at this time I am not concerned about his gait. My main objective is to regulate his speed. I will ride him next to the rail so if he tends to drift toward the inside I will apply pressure on the leg opposite the rail to push him back to the rail, so that he follows it in as close a line as possible. You will find that when riding in a ring your horse will know right away where the gate is. To avoid my horse trying to exit before I want him to, I will never let him just walk straight out of the ring. I will ride past the gate, stop, turn toward the center go back past the gate, turn toward the center in a small circle riding straight out at a walk. Always ride back to the barn at a walk. Not as much fun, but your horse will learn patience. :o)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

According To H.T. part 7

I want to take a minute to thank all of you for visiting our blog. I would like to know that you are out there, but if you are like me you are a little intimidated by all of this. I see I have some followers, but I know I have more than the ones that are showing on this blog. If you are viewing us through our website, please place your mouse over the title and click. That will take you to our actual blog page. Go down to followers on the left and click on some of the people that have already joined this blog. You will see their profiles and things they enjoy about horses. Some have not written anything in their blog, but I encourage you to, we can all have a lot of fun sharing things that go on with the day to day events and care of our horses. The more people who join the blog the more fun we can have sharing our ideas. I encourage you to sign up and follow the blog.

We always start our session the same way (from the ground). Today we will ask a little more from our horse. After we walk him off and ride him over the obstacles we will ask him to pick up his pace (speed not the gait). The reason I have not ask before is that I have found, if a horse is going to cut up it is usually at the higher speed. In the beginning I always ride with my hands close to the saddle horn (or where the horn should be). I am not too proud to grab some leather or mane if the horse jumps. Always pay attention to your horse by watching his neck and ears. You can usually tell when a horse is getting ready to jump by the feel and his demeanor. If your hands are close to the saddle, you can grab the horn with one hand and lift the reins with the other. Usually this will void the jump. If he tries to speed up on his own, flex his head to one side. This will disengage his hips and will limit his power making him unable to jump or run. When he stops let him walk off or back him up, then walk off. Cluck to him and proceed at a faster pace. Repeat the above process until he does as you wish. If you don't feel comfortable with his behavior, don't be afraid to go (if you think you need to) back to the round pen for a refresher course with your horse.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

According To H.T. part 6

Again, don't forget the ground preparation before you mount. After mounting I will set still for about 1 minute, then I will ask my horse to back, in hopes that he remembers everything from yesterday. My next step will be to flex his neck in both directions. These drills help to keep him relaxed and his mind on me. I will then cluck if needed and squeeze with my legs just a little, (never more than nessasary) to ask him to move forward. Walk your horse in a relaxed manner for about five minutes directing him in the path you would like for him to go. Ideally, you have planned your riding exercise for the day, so you know where that is. :o)

Today, we are going to ask our horse to do some obstacles. We have already prepared him from the ground and familiarized him with the obstacles, so he should not be afraid of things like water, the bridge, etc. As you approach the obstacle, don't think of it being any different than you did when you were working with him on the ground. Horses are very receptive of our seat, hands and legs,.. the way we convey our messages to him. Look how easy you are getting him to move to the left or right. You will find all you have to do is look in the direction you want to go and he will understand the que. I have watched John Lyons with his horse Zip. He found that Zip would move if all (he thought) he was doing was thinking about moving. If John "thought" he wanted to move to the left then Zip would move to the left and the same for the right. Now, I know that Zip did not read his mind, (and so did John) but the point is...his que for moving to the left was so subtle that Zip was able to pick up on it. I couldn't see John give Zip a que and John did not think he was giving Zip a que, but we both knew in the smallest way he did. So eventually we want our horse to be as in tune to us as this. My point being don't think about the object being scary and you will find your horse will not pick up on que that this is a scary object. Is that as clear as mud?

Monday, February 9, 2009

According to H.T. Part 6

Once again, don't forget to go through your ground exercises before you mount your horse. Once mounted our horse should be getting accustomed to us being in the saddle. He is getting more responsive because his mind is not just thinking about us on his back. Today when we mount we are going to ask him to back. Before we ask him to back we should make sure he has his feet up under him. It is very difficult for a horse to back if his legs are in a stretched position or if his legs are not under him straight. There are several different ways to ask a horse to back and I have tried several of them. I will not go into all of them but will try to give you one that works well for me. First remember how you ask him to back from the ground. Start with saying the word..back...take the slack out of your reins...keep the reins low on his neck...add a little pressure in the reins. Do not pull back quickly or severely as it will cause him to throw his head back as he will try to get away from the pressure in his mouth and will forget everything else except getting away from you. We want to keep all of his experiences happy, so that he does not associate backing (for instance) with pain. It is not important at first to get him to take more than one step. As soon as he takes the first step release the pressure (the same as we would from the ground) He may step to the side, but that will be O.K. for now, we just want him to move his feet back when we ask. After a few times of asking for one foot to move...ask for two steps...this will be over a period of time. I don't like to dwell on one thing for long periods of time. I don't want the horse to become aggravated with the same thing over and over. So, if I get a little bit of what I want from the horse, I will move on to something else, and come back to the backing later. Since I don't want to put the horse up for the day, this lets him know that I was happy with what he gave me because we moved on to something else. If you have played with your dog, after a few minutes he will become bored with running after a Frisbee, but if you move on to a nice walk on the trails, and come back to the Frisbee later, he will go right back at it again. This is what we want to do with our horse also. Notice when he becomes aggravated or bored with something you are teaching, be prepared to move on to something else he knows and come back to it later.

Friday, February 6, 2009

According to H.T. Part 5

Our electric is back on, and we are starting to get things lined out around the farm. As Kentucky is noted for...if you don't like the weather today, wait until tomorrow. Today it is 55 degrees. While we have lots of mud, we are out of the ice age. :o)

We should have our horse moving well enough to start asking for direction. I try to guide my horse as much as I can with my legs. I try to stay out of the horse's mouth and keep my hands as steady as I can, with little pressure in the reins. Remember, we have already gotten the horse to guide with just a halter and lead, by teaching him from the ground. The pressure we applied during our ground sessions was in preparation for the time we would mount our horse and ask him to change directions and all the other things we have covered with our ground work. My methods may differ from what a quarter horse trainer would tell you, but it works for me on my gaited horses. If I want my horse to side step to the left, I put pressure on his right side with my leg, just to the back of the girth, the same as I would if I were asking from the ground. If I want to turn to the left, I extend my left arm just a little to the left, therefore putting pressure on his head or mouth and then squeeze with my left leg just behind the girth. This is asking my horse to bend around my leg. Once our horse starts responding we should start releasing the pressure. Remember your horse has learned to yield to pressure and once he has done what you asked, we always release the pressure as his reward. The less you have to get into your horses mouth, the better. We always want to keep the horse's mouth soft. We do not want to develop a habit of throwing or tossing the head, or pulling against the pressure. Don't ever try to force your horse into turning his head by trying to out pull him.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

According To H.T.

While staying in a controlled area repeat the steps you took before mounting....ask your horse to back, move left and right front over front and rear over rear, flexing, mounting/dismounting. I have found that if you always do a little ground work before mounting your horse will pay more attention when you do mount. If I take a stick with a plastic bag tied on the end and touch him all over before mounting he will not spook near as easily once mounted.

O.K. we are back in the saddle and we have been able to get our horse to move his feet. It is not so important to move in any particular direction at this time as it is to keep him moving. You have already heard us say that we do not start a horse with a bit in his mouth until we have taught him to yield by turning left and right, go forward, back and most importantly to stop and after the horse has seen the dentist. At this point we use a D-ring snaffle or ring bit with a broken port. Today, as you will from now on, we will ride our horse a little longer and ask a little more from him, but you will want to continue to stay in an enclosed area.

Just because we have gotten on the horse and we are riding him, does not mean you can forgo the beginning excercises. Those need to be quickly run through every time you ride. Tomorrow we will ask a little more from our horse by asking him to change directions.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Winter 09

We (Van Bert Farms) still does not have electric, but with a generator I am able to spend a little time on the internet, and thus write to you. I will be starting back with the next post in "According To H.T." tomorrow. I hope you will continue to check our site and our blog for the new things we have to tell you about the Mountain Horses.

There is going to be a lot of clean up after this winter, but that is what keeps us moving forward:o)

Friday, January 30, 2009


I am sorry that I have not been able to write for a few days. We (in Kentucky) are having major weather related problems. We (Van Bert Farms) have been without electric now for 3 full days. During that time we have had a bad ice storm, a flood, and snow. We have been spending all of our time trying to keep everyone (including the animals) warm and dry. I am including some pictures of the first flood in 2009. This one really sneaked up on us, because the ice was making a natural dam in the river. We had a lot of rain, but not the amount that would have caused this much damage. It is all much better now, we still do not have electric, but we are surviving. :o)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

According To H.T. part 3

You are now in the saddle. Yesterday we got in the saddle today after placing both feet in the stirrups...sit still for a few seconds and then dismount. We want the horse to be comfortable with this before we ask him to move on. Now, we don't want to make any sudden moves, but at this time we want to ask the horse to start flexing his head to one side. We have been working with the horse doing this on the ground, so if we have done our homework right, this is what he will do from the saddle. Try this by putting your arm in a straight position to the left or right. If you have his head turned to the right ask him to step over by putting pressure on his right side. This will start his feet moving. Cluck at the same time. Remember, you have to get his feet moving. If he takes a few steps you are on the right track. The secret that I have found in getting a horse to do something is not to get him excited. You can also praise him when he does what you ask. Before you put him up for the day, I like to walk him around for about 3 to 5 minutes then dismount and put him up for the day. Tomorrow when you start your horse again, be sure to do the ground work with him first before you get in the saddle.

Monday, January 26, 2009

According To H.T.

After you have gotten your horse familiar with the bit, I would now introduce the saddle. If you have done all the preparation for this you should not have any trouble. When you put the saddle on for the first time, you do not want to tighten the cinch very tight. Just enough so that it stays on then send your horse out on the rail. Let him move around the pen with the saddle for a few minutes, call him back, tighten the cinch a little more and send him back on the rail for another minute or two. Continue doing this until you have the saddle tight enough that you feel comfortable mounting.

Before you start to mount the horse, take your lariat or stick and rub all over the horse, under his belly and down his legs. This is a very soothing thing for your horse and just a way of telling him everything is OK. Move through the exercises you have been working with him on now. Such as stepping over with his front feet and then stepping over with his back. Ask him to back up, then circle you by holding him close with the reins. Do all of this from both sides. With the lead over your left arm and the reins over his neck start slapping the stirrup leathers making a popping noise. Pull on the stirrups and have them gently hitting the sides of the horse. If he is not happy with this you need to send him back on the rail so that he continues to get used to the saddle moving around on his back. If he is OK with all of this, then you can feel comfortable mounting. Turn the stirrup so that the opening is facing you. Place your foot in the stirrup and begin putting pressure in it, just a little at first, more of a bounce. Again, if he is not happy with you doing this or moves around, send him back on the rail. We want the horse to be more comfortable with you and what you are doing than he is running around the pen. When you think he is ready to listen, call him back and try it again. Move to the other side and do the same thing. When he stands perfectly still, start straighting your leg out... putting all your weight in the stirrup. Still do not mount, but stand in the stirrup for a few seconds, come down and reassure the horse that this is all you want. Be sure and do this on both sides until you and your horse are comfortable. You will know when it is OK to swing your leg across and mount. Again, only for a few seconds and then dismount. Be prepared to use your leg muscles on this day, because it is a lot of repetition.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Part 2 by H.T.

When a foal has been handled like Vera wrote about in her previous post, there is seldom a problem when you decide to put them under saddle. They are broke to lead, and they have been desensitized, they yield to pressure, they know verbal commands (Cluck and Whoa). The only thing they have not had is actual weight on their back.

I would suggest, before you put a saddle on a horse, to have a Equine Dentist to look at your horses mouth. We have the wolf teeth extracted, floated and anything that the dentist feels needs to be done, before we put a bit in the horses mouth. I urge you to call a Equine Dentist. There are very few veterinarians that have enough education in the dental field to be as good as a Equine Dentist (the same with people doctors). I know we like to keep our expenses to a minimum when we can with our horses, but this is not the place to do that. An Equine Dentist is the best money you will spend on your horse. After you have had your horses teeth checked, then tie a ring snaffle bit onto a halter and put it in your horses mouth. Leave it in for about 5 minutes and then take it out, increasing the time each day until your horse is comfortable with the process. This will introduce the bit slowly to the horse, and will keep him from fretting with it when you get ready to introduce a saddle and rider.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Experience In Starting A Horse

My daughter Vera in previous post talked to you about a horse that had never been handled. I think she did a great job in those post, but I would like to talk to you about starting a horse that has had some ground work and has been handled from birth like she talked about in some of her first post.

As I said in the beginning what I relay to you is from my experience and what I have learned from others over the years. On a news program this morning the commentator was asking a political figure a question. When the party answered, the commentator said, "let me read what you said 20 years ago," then he ask," why is your answer different now than then?" The political figure answered, " I hope I have learned something in 20 years." Don't ask me how I started a colt 50 years ago, because it was a lot different. I usually mounted a horse a whole lot quicker than I do now, and I also, usually dismounted quicker than I wanted . There is a better way!

Before you begin working with your colt with the objective of riding him, I suggest you have available to you a round pen. The first one I built by the standard John Lyons had at the time and I made it 60 ft. in diameter. I found that I can accomplish the same thing in a 50ft diameter pen and I don't have to walk as much to make contact with my horse in order to keep him moving. It doesn't take a horse long to realize you can't reach them from the center of a 60ft round pen with a lariat or lunge whip. I also used the John Lyons technique of a lariat (and it works), but I have also found I have better control of a "carrot stick" (fiberglass rod with a knotted leather popper tied to it). However, don't throw the lariat away because there are several times you will want to use it later. Of course you will need a halter, lead, and later a saddle, pad, and bridle with a snaffle bit.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Please Welcome

For the next little bit you will be reading some postings from my Dad. I want to let him introduce himself to you today, so that those of you who are not familiar with him will somehow be able to relate to the topics he will cover in the next few post.

My name is H.T. Derickson, I am a very young 73 years old. My wife Wilda and I have been married for 53 years and have raised 5 children. We are fortunate in that they, their children and grandchildren all enjoy and love horses. My wife and I started our training facility in 1965 and all of our children, grandchildren, and now great grandchildren have been involved at sometime or other, some more than others, and some just keep hanging on with me, as they say, "for the love of the horse." :o)

My post on this blog will come from my experience and knowledge that I have learned over many years. I have always said, "if there is a better way to teach a horse or a prettier place to ride it, I want to learn it or go there." I was once told by an old horseman that if you are green, that means you are still growing, I like to think (even at 73) that I am still a little green.

I was sent an email yesterday. It seems an old trail rider was out in the forest riding his horse along a trail when he decided to get off his horse and rest a spell. He looked down, and there on a stump, set a frog. The frog yelled at him, as he bent closer to hear what he had to say, "kiss me and I will turn into a beautiful woman". The old horseman, just stuck the frog in his saddle bags. The frog yelled in a muffled voice, "did you hear me?" "Kiss me and I will turn into a beautiful woman," she repeated. The old horseman smiled and said, "that's alright, I don't need a beautiful woman, but now a talking frog is something else." ......so they tell me "with age comes wisdom", and I hope I can share some of that with you over the next few weeks.
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