NOTICE: Two Stalls Available in Horse Trailer Heading North

This year we will have two stalls available in our trailer heading north in the spring.  If you have a horse you need shipped part or all of the journey please contact us ASAP. 

Departing: Yuma, AZ
Date: May 8 or 9, 2011

Arriving: Sandpoint, ID
Date: May 10 or 11, 2011

Email for Details

The Basics of Balance: You & Your Horse

When the rider has the ability to use all of his aids independently of one another without interfering with the horse.

When the horse has the ability to “carry” himself with his hind quarters engaged without “relying” or physically leaning on the rider.

Why is it important?
An unbalanced rider is uncomfortable physically and unclear mentally therefor they are unable to "take" their horse for the ride and are more likely to be "hopeful" that the horse complies.

Being balanced allows you to influence or react quickly, efficiently, and calmly to all situations presented.

Do you have balance?
Start self evaluation while riding on the flat

Ride a straight line- Can you pick a point and ride your horse straight towards it, or do you find yourself physically leaning in the saddle to try to "drag" your horse towards the chosen destination?

Maintain a consistent rhythm- Does your horse constantly change his rhythm within a gait?  Have you noticed if you are offering the desired rhythm with your energy in the saddle or are you "waiting to see" what your horse offers?

Transitions- Abrupt, abrasive, draggy, jumpy, etc. these are all signs that you have not offered your horse clear communication through effective aids that can only be offered when you are riding physically balanced while preparing for a transition whether it is within a gait and decreasing and increasing the energy or from one gait to another.

Adjusting your horse’s stride- How much "work" does it take you to get a change in your horse's step?  What aids do you have to use and how many times do you have to ask before you get the desired results?  If you are incorrectly balanced, you cannot offer light and effective aids to offer clear communication which will cause a resistance in your horse adjusting his stride.

Responsiveness of your horse- How much of a delay is there from when you ask your horse to do something to the time he actually does it?  If you are unbalanced your timing and effectiveness of your aids will cause your horse to not believe that when you do something, it means something, and he must try to participate.

Mental Clarity

Assess yourself before you critique your horse.

When did your ride really start?  Your ride should begin when you THINK about going for a ride.  You need to raise your level of awareness that at everyone moment you are interacting with your horse (starting with when you catch him) you are influencing the "tone", energy and attitude for the upcoming ride.

Distraction, stress, goals, patience, sensitivity, work, family, “real life.”  Leave "reality" at the door.  If you're not 110% available for your horse, there is no way you will be able to offer clear and effective communication with your horse.  If you're not completely "present", then there is no way that your horse will be.

Intention-Purpose-Self Analysis Do not brainlessly go through the motions, even when catching, grooming and tacking up.  Have an initial "plan"- though this will change numerous times throughout the ride.  If you set small goals (even just for every three or four steps of the ride) you will be able to break down what you are offering, what your horse is doing in response, and what changes you'd like to create a better quality ride.

If something is NOT working, try creating a change in you in order to find one in your horse.  Many people think that repetition is the way to teach a horse something.  Put it into people terms.  If someone were trying to teach you something, and you didn't understand, if they kept saying the same thing over and over, louder and louder each time, you STILL would not understand.  They would have to change how or what they were saying to find a way to offer you a better explanation.  The same goes for riding.  Even if you think you're being clear, you need to address each time your horse isn't clear, which may mean diverting from the "original" goal, in order to set the necessary foundation in order to accomplish the end goal. 

Brainlessly offering the same movement over and over until your horse accidentally or finally figures out what is being asked of him, decreases his confidence and willing to try and learn the next time you offer something new.

TEC Full Immersion Camps- Offered 3 times for 3 days in June and July 2011

We have had many requests for "camp weeks" for those individuals who would like to experience more than a one-hour training session with their OWN horse. We will offer a full immersion course with sessions continuous Friday through Sunday focusing on Assessment, Ground Work & Riding. We are restricting this course to a maximum of eight riders. For one price the following will be included: daily unmounted theory discussions, tack/equipment fitting & usage, individual and group instruction and pasture board (grass or alfalfa hay) for your horse. Sessions will begin at 8 a.m. and will end at 5 p.m. Horse arrival is to be on the Thursday night prior to the first day of the course.

Beyond this basic outline the structure and focus of the clinic will depend on the participants and their interests. Our goal is to help both riders and horses to raise their level of awareness, increase their clarity in communication with their horse, to be safe and have fun! Riders of all ages, disciplines and levels are welcome.  For registration info & details:

2011 Clinic Camp Dates:         
# 1 June 10-12                             
# 2 July 15-17                             
# 3 July 29-31                          

Effective Riding

Using an aid to create clear communication between rider and horse. “Feeling a fly.” Your horse can feel a fly land on them- they can feel every shift, movement and breath you take.  If they are "ignoring" your aids, there is a lack of clarity between what you think you are offering and what your horse is "receiving."

Reason- Assessing what your horse is currently offering you

Purpose-What you would like to change

Energy-Offering an appropriate physical pressure of aid to get desired result

Reward-Acknowledging the “try” from your horse and allowing him a moment of “let down”

The ideal goal is to help our horse and not just critique.

Wanting to be a horse trainer... Q&A

Over the years I've had many people approach me regarding "how do you become a horse trainer?"  Below is a Q& A of the most recent interview...

Hello Sam,

My name is Jerah im 15 years old and I want to be a horse trainer/ breaker when im a older. I want to know which courses and subjects I will need to take. My apologies if im wasting you time but I have a maths assignment called maths in the workplace, where I have to choose a career that I would like to do when I'm older and research it. One of the questions is to interview someone. I would interview the people at my riding school but I wanted to talk to a professional.

1. Q:  What do you do in your job?

A:  First and foremost there are many versions of “what I do” for a living. There are people who work as trainers underneath someone else, there are people who are hired by a facility to offer lessons or training, and then there are independent operators like me who own, run, and work ALL aspects of operating a farm and offering training, lessons and clinics. Depending on what your situation is will affect the lifestyle (hours of work necessary to keep your facility going,) pay (are you having to pay someone else to use their facility,) risk factors (do you have to continue to generate clients or do other people find them for you,) financial planning/income (the cost of running your facility versus having someone responsible for all of the overhead,) etc.

I personally have to take care of every aspect of both running a facility and offering instruction. This includes hours of maintenance on fences, weekly mowing and weed wacking, maintaining pastures and the horse trails in the woods, painting jumps, etc. I have to work in the office answering phones, dealing with clients planning/scheduling lessons and training, online maintenance for the website/blog and emails that help promote my business, keep up the book keeping, paying bills, etc. I also do all of the training, instruction and clinics. I also do all of the feeding and maintaining of both my own horses and those that are in training.

9. Q:  On average, how long are your working hours?

A:  My work schedule is not a 9-5 job. This is a lifestyle that I chose to participate in which means I’m on the “clock” 24/7. There is never a time when I can “disappear” and be done with work. There are pros and cons to working this way. Financially- it’s a lot of work for little pay. All of the hours of maintenance there is no pay for. All of the office work there is no pay for. But in this day and age- finding someone quality to work for you is an ongoing issue for all of us small business owners. You have to look at the cost of hiring someone who will only do a mediocre job that you’ll probably have to “redo” yourself and it’s not worth paying someone else so when it still requires you to do the actual work or fix what someone else wrecked.

AS for working with the horses, I specialize in rehabbing problem horses. People come to me based on my reputation and the quality of instruction and training that I offer. This means I can’t just have someone else handle the horses without having the same mentality as I do when I work with them. I have had many working students over the years but this too is a frustration because you offer a lot of time, energy and effort and then people think they are then “educated” and want to go and work on their own. So you’ve invested your time in someone who then leaves and there is no “return” for you.

The horse industry is not like having a “regular” job. Horses are a “luxury” sport and therefore potential client’s preferences, desires and demands are what affect your job. There are thousands of trainers who offer instruction or training in numerous aspects of the industry whether it’s by breed, discipline, level of riding, etc. Depending on where you are in the world also affects what you do. In the United States, anyone can hang a sign up advertising that they are a trainer. In other parts of the world schooling, testing and structured “levels” must be passed before one can work as a professional. Again, for my answers to you, I will answer based on the fact that I teach here in the US now.

7. Q:  Do you own and compete on your own horses?

A:  I spent years competing, but that is a completely different “world.” When you open the magazines and see the glossy pictures of the world class riders, the only thing those trainers focus on is competing. Even the horses they take in for training are handled, tacked up, warmed up and cooled down by someone else. Riding is an incredibly demanding lifestyle because even if you win a competition, you must continually keep proving that you can win. So there is usually a “team” of people behind the trainer showing a horse. Those trainers do nothing but ride.
For me riding for the recognition of the competitive world was not enough. When I was living and working in Europe I got fed up with the drugging, politics of the industry, abuse of the animals and financial strains that caused trainers to make bad decisions for the well being of the horse. So when I chose to open my own facility, it was with the priority of the horse’s well being in mind. Eight years ago I opened The Equestrian Center, LLC based in northern Idaho which remains open from April through October. Then in the winter I move my operation to Arizona where I teach out of someone else’s facility. In past years I’ve brought approximately ten horses back and forth- all of the horses are “projects” that I re-educate and then sell eventually. But because of the current economy I’ve had to downsize my herd to two horses.

3. Q:  How do you define financial literacy?(mangement of money) Do you think it is an important skill to learn?

A:  Whenever you have no boss or “job security” you must plan ahead for the here and now, for the short term and the long term future, and still leave room for the unknown. Having an initial “strategy” (with backup or alternatives in case things don’t work out as ideally as you hope) and set realistic financial goals as far as what you need to run your business versus what you would like to have must be defined. Assessing the costs required to run your business versus several options of income (based on economical times, popularity of your services, weather, location of your facility, etc.) will all affect how and what you choose to spend money on. The biggest concern with this industry is that no one HAS to have riding lessons or training in their life, it is a luxury. This means you will NEVER have a guarantee that you have earned “x” amount of money until it is in your hand. This in turn affects your decision making in the type of financial “risks” and commitments you may make in business decisions and futuristic planning. Too many people make business based decisions by being “hopeful” that they will earn “x” amount of money and therefore over commit themselves to too much debt and cannot get out of it if the money does not come in as planned.
Currently the horse industry is experiencing the largest depression it’s ever known in the US. Between general economic hardship, the slaughter laws which have completely devalued horses, exorbitant fuel prices and the increase on the demand in hay, people have to choose between their mortgage payment or horse training- guess which wins? Competitions at all levels have had a huge drop in participation which affects trainers, farriers, sponsors, and others whose business are affected by the horse industry.
2. Q:  What maths do you use everyday within your job?

A:  According to your business plan and strategy will affect how you choose to spend money. It costs a lot of money to maintain anything to do with horses and one must have a budget and “plan” for the daily, weekly and monthly maintenance of their situation. Basic math and daily updating of the books will keep you aware of where you are financially which will then affect how you choose to spend money and make financial decisions.

4. Q:  What courses did you need to take in school to get qualifications?

A:  As I said, here in the US anyone can be a trainer, which has caused a lot of problems for unsuspecting horse owners who get involved with inexperienced “trainers.” You’ll open any horse magazine and get the impression that you need to attend an equine related college in order to work in the industry, but the truth of the matter is you need real life quality experience versus theoretical classroom learning. In the past I had hired people who had graduated from so called horse programs from universities throughout the US and have not been impressed. The more hands on, real life, and varied exposure you have in the horse world the better rounded your education will be which will make you a better trainer. Now obviously if you are looking to focus on a certain aspect of the industry you’d want to be a working student or apprentice under someone who is successful in that area of focus or discipline.
Honestly in terms of education from a university, having a business degree would be most helpful, because you will be running a business and you’ll be selling your product, which will be you.
My personal background includes everything from working at race tracks, hunter/jumper barns, Dressage facilities, apprenticing under Gold Medal Olympians in Three Day Eventing, working on ranches with cowboys and focusing on starting colts, etc. I’ve worked with all breeds of horses, all levels riders, all disciplines, etc. The more varied you are in your exposure and experience the more you have to offer the public as a trainer.

5. Q:  What year level of maths did you complete at school?

A:  In University I completed Calculus II. But that sort of math has been irrelevant in my lifestyle. To me it’s not about the difficulty of the math, rather it’s about understanding what the numbers represent and making sure you can create an appropriate “formula” that is realistic for your business.

6. Q:  Do you use calculators in your job? Which ones? (Basic, Scientific or Graphics)

A:  No I was drilled at a time when you had to be fluent in running numbers either in your head or by long hand.

8. Q:  How old do you think people should start working?

A:  The more experience the better. I left home at 13 to train and compete but that was extreme. You can never get enough experience with the horses and you can never learn enough, even for us professionals, this is an ongoing education process- every horse and student has something to teach YOU.

Q:  If you could also write a breif discription of what I willl need to be able to do to become ahorse trainer, that would be great :)
A:  I think I’ve answered this above, but if you need more information let me know.

Spring Preparation for YOU & YOUR horse

Even if you can’t yet feel the change in the weather yet, we all know just around the corner the temperatures will warm up and the beginning signs that another long winter is over will begin to appear…

In the meantime while you may be housebound more than normal why not make the best of it and start mentally preparing for the upcoming “to do” list the weather will initiate once the thaws begin.

Below are some ideas on things to consider. Some of them may not apply depending on whether you keep your horse at home, board him, etc. but they are all things for you to be aware of.

• Safety check on the horse trailer

• Conditioning Plan: Horse and Rider

• Assessment of Feed

• Tack check/cleaning

• Tack Fitting Assessment

• Check Arena/Riding Area Footing

Yuma, AZ Games Day

When: February 26th, 2011
Sign Up: 8:00 Classes Start at: 8:30am

Cost: $1/Class (less than 3 classes) or $10/day

Each Class Winner takes home 1/2 the class entree fees!!!
Where: Burchbrook Farms, 4679 E County 13th ½ St., Yuma

All level riders (English & Western) welcome! Classes will be varied in difficulty, individual and team competition, riding and unmounted. This is a fun filled opportunity to “break up the routine” with your horse! All riders must wear an ASTM approved helmet- we have extras if you need to borrow one!

More Info

THE MISSING LINK: Understanding and Connecting the Actions of your horse

Question: What does trailer loading (problems), spooking, crossing water, jumping a fence, making a turn on a gaming course, asking for a flying lead change, trail riding, herd anxiety, and turning a cow back have in common? The horse’s brain.

Ask the Horse Trainer: Slowing the horse's walk, trot, and canter

Topic_Info: Trying to get the horse to walk/trot/canter more slowly.

Website_Info: Google
Location: NY
Date: September 05, 2010

I've been riding a 14-year-old mare. She was previously ridden by a person who continuously ran her and ran her shortly after she was broke (she was broken at the age of 10) and I have extreme difficulty getting her to walk slowly. When I'm working on the ground with her/grooming, she is a completely calm horse who seems very relaxed. She stands still even when she's being saddled.

However, when I try to mount her, she gets a bit antsy and starts to walk. If I pull in the left rein to keep her head turned toward me, she still walks in a circle and when I finally get on top of her, she tries to walk as fast as she can. If I slack the reins, she tries to break into a trot. A horse trainer helped me for three days and by "playing with my hands", I got the horse to walk a bit slower, but it took a lot of effort. That was last year. This year, even when I "play with my hands", she either throws her head forward or slows down for a second, and then speeds right back up. (I use a hackamore because her mouth is small, and bits tend to end up cutting her.) When I do get into a trot, it's faster than a normal "trot" should be, and it's the same with a walk; unless I keep a tighter rein on her, she tries to trot faster or get into a canter. When I canter her, she tries to go as fast as she can. I'm not an experienced rider, but I'm slowly starting some natural horsemanship, and when I lunge her on the ground, she walks and trots nicely.
Sorry if this all seems disorganized!

Horses can very easily become patterned. This means that once a certain behavior, manner of interacting with them, or certain expectation of a type of performance is established, they begin to "automatically" respond without really mentally considering what their rider is asking of them. (Have you ever been in the shower and been distracted thinking about something else, when you suddenly stop and have to think if you already shampooed your hair or not?) They wind up going through the motions of a ride without ever thinking. The day you ask something "new" or "different" than what they are used to, is the day you start to find "holes" in their training and education.

Your horse's physical actions are a direct reflection of her mental availability. As long as she is "unavailable" to hear your aids, your ride(s) are going to be a constant source of frustration for both of you. For a moment you'll have to forget about your long-term goal of a "quiet" canter and focus on your horse's brain.

My goal when I ride, no matter what horse, no matter what background, no matter what the scenario is, I want my horse to ask "What would you like" This allows me to offer direction, influence their performance, and achieve that ideal quality ride because we are both on the same page.

Horses can easily and quickly establish patterned responses based on past experience and what has been expected of them. Right now I would guess that your horse is pretty sure that she knows what is being asked of her, and instead of being mentally available to understand what you would specifically like (in this case a slow lope)- your horse is mentally unavailable to "hear" your aids, so there is no opportunity for you to offer her an alternative idea- liking cantering slow. Think of her mindset as that equivalent to a teenager that is going through the stage of "knowing it all.

So even though your horse has been ridden for years, you may have to go back to some of the basics and re-evaluate yourself and your horse. In your case, I would gather that there is a general lack of clear communication between you and your horse. There are many ways to break down her lack of willingness to canter at various speeds. Because he is currently confident that when asked to canter it must be at a full out speed, that is all he thinks he needs to offer you. You are going to have to be able to influence his brain with alternative ideas, clarify how and what aids you use, and help him start to gain confidence when he mentally addresses you so that he can then offer alternative physical responses, rather than the current conditioned brainless responses.

First look at yourself, you will need to evaluate what aids you are using, how (specifically,) when you are using them, and with what amount of energy (on a scale of 1-10)? This will help you break down exactly at what point does your horse mentally "tune you out." Remember that a horse can feel a fly land on her skin, if you are creating a lot of "activity" with your aids (in this case the see-sawing with your hands) and not getting a response, your horse is tuning you out. Your job is going to have to “tune-up” your horse’s current level of insensitivity towards your aids.

Most people ride as “passengers” waiting to see what their horse is going to do, and then AFTER the fact, tell the horse if the behavior was “right or wrong.” I call this reactive riding. Instead, you need to be “taking your horse for the ride”- mentally preparing ahead of time how what and where you’re going to ask something of her. The more mental clarity you have ahead of time, the more accurately you’ll use your aids to communicate more clearly to your horse what you’re asking of her. She should be a mirror image of your energy in the saddle. But you’re going to have to take a few steps to establish this before you ever get into the saddle and certainly before you’re cantering and wanting to be able to influence her.

Many horses are what I call "shut down" (mentally unavailable) due to boredom and routine rides. It will take a lot of creativity to create interest in your horse so that she will begin to enjoy participating in the ride rather than tolerating the ride. You will also have to establish black and white lines that clarify which of her reactions to your aids and what behaviors will be acceptable and those that are not. The faster you can catch an unwanted response, the faster she can "let it go" and try another response.

The faster you acknowledge that she achieved your "ideal" response, (giving her a break, move on to something else, etc.,) the more confidence she will have to increase her level of mental availability and physical performance. As you increase your own awareness and thought process you will begin to be able to pinpoint where and when you need to do something different in order to get an alternative response from your horse.

Also, you need to become aware of your horse only has a hard time slowing at the canter, or perhaps you may not have noticed, but I would guess, that by asking her to perform various energy levels within the walk, trot, she probably also has a difficult time doing- this only becomes worse the faster she moves, which is why at a canter she feels slightly out of control.

To take it a step further back- I'd start with evaluating her groundwork and how "light" she is on the lead rope. Does she barge past you at one pace when you're leading her? Does she display a "heaviness" on the lead rope as you go to turn? If you slow or increase your pace on foot, does she acknowledge this or does she ignore you? Everything she "displays" towards you on the ground will only become magnified once you are in the saddle and certainly the faster you ride.

Many times when working on a repeated exercise, horses try to please us by trying to do what is "right" ahead of when we have asked them. Depending on your horse's background, in your horse's case all she knows is to run, so rather than waiting for specific cues or direction from you, she "takes over" and offers what she thinks you want. There is not going to be a quick fix to undo years of established patterned rides by the previous owners. You need to have her mind available at all times to consider what you are asking. If you can influence her mind, then you can change her physical actions. The more she realizes you are helping her throughout the ride, rather than fighting to control her speed, the more sensitive she will be to listening to your aids.

Last but not least. Keep in mind that racehorses run their fastest when they are straight... Mentally many horses are way ahead of where there are physically at; so if your horse is moving too fast, offer an “interruption” (such as a circle, a turn, or specific task) as an alternative task to focus on, this will act as something to get her brain to slow down, and tune back into where she currently is at. You can slowly make the task more specific until she offers to slow down... then continue on with your ride as if nothing interrupted you... Soon it'll only take one rein to offer her a circle, turn, etc. and she'll slow down... Again, check your body language... If your weight is forward, similar to that of a jockey, you are offering your horse to run faster... If your weight is back in the saddle you are offering her to slow down...

With patience and clarity, you will start in small steps (literally) to begin creating the opportunity for a two-way conversation. This will allow both you and your horse to gain confidence in one another which will then lead to a trusting and fulfilling partnership that will allow you to both enjoy a quality ride. Remember, when your horse shows signs of rushing, nervousness, concern, worry, or stress she is not trying to act naughty, rather she is asking for your help.

Ask the Horse Trainer: Difficulty Leading and bolting Horse

Ask the Horse Trainer: Difficulty Leading Horse & Respect on Ground
Topic_Info: Leading My HorseWebsite_Info: searching online

Leading horses… the million-dollar question below is a Q&A that was from many years ago. When I check my blog stats, from the last nine years the #1 searched inquiry is “How to lead a difficult horse, or, My horse won’t lead.” So I thought I’d share this post…

Questions: Say that I am taking my horse out of a pasture (through a gate) or leading my horse around. If the situation arises where my horse becomes spooked or just misbehaves, (bucking, kicking out, rearing, and running ahead of me, hard to control) what EXACTLY should I do in that situation? How should I control my horse? Should I turn them in a tight circle or back them up? I am clueless! Note: I do not own my own horse/ride often, this is a bit of a beginner question, but this happened to me a little bit ago and I was clueless on what to do. Thank you! 

Ask the Horse Trainer: Ex Harness Horse- Aggressive and dangerous horse behavior

Ask the Horse Trainer: Ex Harness Horse- Aggressive and dangerous horse behavior 
Location: PA
Date: February 01, 2011