Horsemanship is simple. There’s just a lot to remember
Vermillion Cliffs Corrals and Arena
Safety will ensure your survival. An unschooled horse is an unsafe horse. An unsafe horse is unpleasant to ride. Being hurt by a horse is not uncommon. Being killed by a horse is not unheard of. Riding and working around horses always has potential risks and danger. A horse’s instinctive self-preservation and protection of itself is its strongest motivation. Train yourself to be mindful of this and approach all horses with this in mind. Understanding and practice of quality horsemanship techniques that are widely available is the best insurance to prevent accidents for you and your horse. Every time you enter your horse corral or saddle up, look for a potential risk. Think about safety.
Ask yourself what you can do to improve safety right now: Is your horse eating his hay when you go to halter him? What are the risks of your approach? Are you approaching his hindquarters when you catch him? Is a lead rope dragging on the ground? Is the horse tied too low? Is he tied with a break-away knot? Is his cinch twisted after you saddle? Create a mental checklist. Safety will ensure your health. Safety will ensure nothing is broken at the end of the day, including you.
Everything a horse knows is either instinct or a learned behavior. Instinct comes factory-installed. Learned behaviors are our modifications. Instincts keep him alive. Learned behaviors allow him to adapt. Your horse had to learn to be touched, caught, haltered, saddled and ridden by a human. Appreciate your horse for his miraculous adaptability when you enter his corral because he has overcome 65 million years of evolution that tell him to run for his life.
All a horse has to go on is feel. A horse doesn’t understand what you’re saying, why you’re growling, yelling or hitting him. He doesn’t understand why you’re jerking on the lead rope or reins. But he does understand how that feels to him. Abuse, force, fear and intimidation have been used for centuries to train horses. If that’s the kind of owner you want to be, that’s your choice. But today’s best horsemen believe it’s completely unnecessary, and so does your horse. Offer your horse a good feel and the best deal and he’ll learn to offer it back to you. That’s the kind of relationship you want to establish.
Softness builds softness and hardness builds hardness. If you want your horse to be soft and light at the end of a halter rope, through the reins and to your legs, you need to offer that softness to him first. If you’re pulling or jerking on the reins and kicking the wind out of him with your feet, he’ll learn to resist and respond with hardness. Every time he sees you coming he’ll think, “Oh, no….” You want him to think, “Oh, good, here’s my human.” Offer a soft feel to your horse and he’ll learn to offer a soft feel back to you.
Soft as possible but as firm as necessary. Some resistance at each step in his progress is natural. You need to expect it. It’s unrealistic not to. You horse may not understand what you’re asking him to do. To get him to follow through with what you’re asking, you need to match his resistance and add a few ounces of pressure. In doing so, be as soft as possible but as firm as necessary to get him to try. All you need is a try. If he resists, just hang in there. The longer it takes him to get it, the more it will mean when he does.
Recognize your horse's slightest try or smallest change. Release for one step, the slightest shift of weight, even a look in your direction. That’s progress. Build from there. It’s not what you’re doing that he learns from, it’s the release that teaches he did it correctly.
The fastest way for your horse to learn is slow. Start slow to build speed. Once your horse understands what you’re asking for and responds to your signal correctly, you can challenge him and ask for a faster response. Teach at the walk, school at the trot, confirm at the canter.
Allow for mistakes. Do lots of do-overs. By the time your horse is the way you want him to be – the perfect horse – you'll have done hundreds or thousands of do-overs. Making mistakes is how he learns to separate doing something right from doing something wrong. Setting him up to do something over has the advantage of improving something more fundamental like leading better on the halter rope. If you put too much pressure on him at first to get something right, he could fall apart emotionally and you could ruin his learning frame of mind. Understand what is happening in his mind. Set him up for success and don’t criticize a failure. Help him with his homework. Give him the fat crayons. Don’t expect him to draw a perfect circle as he’s learning. Teaching a horse does not require patience, it requires understanding. If you have understanding, that will give you patience.
Quit for quality. Whatever you’re asking your horse to do at whatever level of development, quit asking when he gets it right, not when he gets it wrong. If you quit when he gets it right, he’ll figure out to go back to that the next time. If you quit while he’s resisting, you’ll reinforce the unwanted behavior. If you quit before he gets it right, you’ve just taught your horse that resistance gets him a reward – the release. The next time he’ll resist again and you’ll have to be twice as firm. You don’t want to teach your horse that bad behavior gets a reward. That’s what makes a spoiled horse.
Quit on a positive. Quit while you’re ahead. Quit for a quality try. Don’t gamble away your profits. Don’t be greedy for more. Recognize a good day’s work even if you’ve asked him to back up only three times. If that third time was beautiful, don’t ask for a fourth. Mentally, your horse will be tomorrow where you leave him today.
Recognizing quality, however slight, is a judgment call and a measure of your feel, timing and balance. Consider his level of training and development and ask yourself, “Can it get any better than this today?” In your best judgment if you think not, that’s the place to quit.
Horses need to learn a work ethic. Horses are like us. They would rather play than work. Sometimes they would rather do nothing than play. But they love a job. They love a purpose. The most valuable thing you can give your horse is your time. If you spend a little time schooling your horse every day, he will develop a work ethic that will last a lifetime. Your objective is to get him on the payroll as soon as he’s big enough to carry you all day. You want him to be able to work and not come home mentally and physically exhausted. The key is preparation and preparation begins with groundwork.
Everything we do with a horse relates to the feet. We want the feet to remain still or we want them to move. We want them to move fast or we want them to move slow. Where the feet go, the rest of the horse follows. Work the mind to get down to the feet. How a colt moves its feet relates to the feel he gets from us.
Adjust to fit the situation. If something is not working, change what you’re doing. That requires making a judgment call. Go back to an earlier, easier task. Quality horsemanship is a matter of constantly making judgments to fit the situation for your horse and yourself. If you always do what you always did you’ll always get what you always got.
Look at things from the horse's point of view. Your horse already can do everything you want him to do but he needs help to understand to do it when you ask, with you on his back, and to do it safely. With a little help from you, your horse will find the answer himself and learn how to feel, think and separate one signal from another.
Pay attention to your horse’s expression: Ears forward, licking lips, low head, easy eye, relaxed body, quiet tail, breathing, sighing, yawning. At the end of your session, your colt should be relaxed, not hot, sweaty, tired or scared. That will tell you that you did things right.
You’re either training your horse or your horse is training you. If your horse is resisting, acting up, trying to bite, kick or strike, it’s because he learned he can. Somewhere along the line he learned if he’s enough trouble you will give up. He thinks he can outwait you. So outwait him with the patience of a fence post. Keep your horse’s mind alert. Without nagging, ask him for correctness, straightness, suppleness, a soft feel. With every ride, you have opportunities to make your horse better.
George Hardeen training one of his horses. George offers free assistance with training to any person needing help with training their horse.
(928) 660 - 9406
WJRA RODEO: A WJRA Rodeo was put together in less than two weeks and was very successful thanks to the help of Monroe and Sons Rodeo Company, Page, AZ. The rodeo was well attended attracting Western Junior Rodeo members from as far away as New Mexico.
PAGE / LAKE POWELL OPEN SHOW RODEO: Over 150 cowboys and cowgirls rode into town for the 2015 Page/Lake Powell Open Show Rodeo on the weekend of June 26th and 27th. The entrance gate recorded 582 paid persons in attendance. The rodeo was sponsored by Monroe and Sons Rodeo Company (Darryl and Michelle Monroe along with their two sons Jacob McCabe and Gabriel Monroe) out of Page, AZ. They brought in the All Indian Rodeo Cowboys Association who hosted the rodeo and it was co-sanctioned by the Central Navajo Rodeo Association. Two nights of rodeo action included bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, ladies barrel racing, ladies breakaway roping, team roping, senior breakaway roping, junior barrel racing, and junior bull riding.
Friday night was Red/White/Blue Night celebrating and honoring the men and women who served and continues to serve in the United States Armed Forces. The Honor Riders consisted of motorcycles riders coming from all over the United States and they participated in a special Grand Entry and Flag Presentation to kick off the rodeo. Saturday night was Pink Night honoring and supporting Breast Cancer Awareness.
With 229 total entries overall, there was tough competition in every event of the rodeo. The total payout for the contestants was $16,188.90 which included $4,500 in added money. Cowboys and cowgirls tried their best to win some of the prize money and the champion buckle for their event. The Men’s All Around Champion was Dennison Boone from Mexican Springs, New Mexico. The Women’s All Around Champion was Tee Richardson from Page, AZ. The event champions were as follows; Bareback – Philbert Betoney with a score of 73, Jr. Bulls- Brent Thompson with a score of 61, Saddle Bronc Riding- Herman George with a score of 70, Steer Wrestling- No Qualified Time, Ladies Breakaway Roping- Gabby Whitethorne with a time of 3.52 seconds, Tie Down Roping- Dennison Boone with a time of 13.4 seconds, Sr. Breakaway Roping- Gil Richardson with a time of 2.68 seconds, Open Team Roping- Dewayne Sells/Dustin Worker with a time of 6.05, Ladies Barrel Racing- Tee Richardson with a time of 17.04, Jr. Barrel Racing- Kylie Gilbert with a time of 16.99, #10 Team Roping- Truman Begay/Murray Yazzie with a time of 8.3, Bull Riding- Ryan Sellers with a score of 80.
This was the very first rodeo in Page where a drone was used by a professional photographer to catch action shots.
CORRAL ACTIVITY: Most of June was spent getting ready for the two rodeos. Weeds were cleared from the parking and arena areas, gravel obtained from the City of Page street replacement program was hauled in by the contractor to fill some of the really soft spots in the roads and parking lots, as well as over 60 truckloads of blow sand were removed from the arena fence line and 6 truckloads from under the bleacher seats. With the help of Monroe and Sons Rodeo Company we replaced all 7 of the foot boards and 4 sliders in the bucking chutes and did some much needed welding of the chute structure. During the same period, Community Service Workers repaired roofs on two barns that have sustained major damage over the years as well as replace the main rafter in one barn and replaced and painted with non-slip paint the floor of the announcers stand. One barn that had 6 different colors showing was painted “aluminum” to blend in with the rest of the corrugated tin buildings. Also about 10 pounds of sheet metal screws and fender washers were used to secure siding coming loose on several barns. Total cost was fuel, parts and supplies as all labor was free!
NaTisha & Larry