Training Approach: Our AH Horses
The AH approach allows us to work with a variety of trainers and equine professionals from different backgrounds and cultures.
We believe Colt Starting and the selection of horses to start go hand in hand. The individual who will start the colt needs to be actively involved with selecting the horse.
The starting of a young horse is different from training the horse to become a reliable safe mount that knows what is expected by its owner or rider.
It is only one step in the AH process to achieve a great horse.
We seldom start our own horses from scratch and prefer to work with a support system of trusted, accomplished professionals and partners who are specialized in low-stress colt starting methods. In addition to their training skills, these trainers also have a knack for finding young horses with great potential and consistent reliable breeders who do not take short cuts. We need consistent and reliable partners, people who say what they do and do what they say.
Together with these trainers and horse specialists, we select our preferred horses and the horses our customers would like us to train for them. Once we have chosen a horse to work with, it begins 90 – 120 days of colt starting (sometimes this training period can be as long as a full year). The brevity of this time period depends on how much new information the horse is physiologically capable of absorbing in a gradual, non-forceful manner.
At the end of this training period, we consult with our partners and trainers to see if the horse has developed in the expected manner and how it fits in with our string of horses and riding program at The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch or with its owner’s preferences (In case we are preparing the horse for another owner).
Next Step – Total Immersion
After initial training, the next step in the training program is for the new horse to arrive at The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch (www.thehideout.com) the headquarters of Authentic Horsemanship for further training. The horses have a couple of weeks to get used to their new surroundings and become integrated gradually with our herd of 70+ horses in the pastures, the barn, etc.
A dedicated trainer will work with the horse for a period of time (mostly through the winter months,) after which each of the other trainers will have a chance to work with the newcomer. Through this process, the horse becomes used to multiple individuals and results in the horse being less sensitive to changing hands. This method also gives us the opportunity to get feedback and observations of the various trainers working with our horses. Each trainer has an eye for different things; has unique backgrounds and brings a variety experiences. Each horse is also unique and might react differently to different trainers as it would to riders. To us it is important to be aware and it is also part of a Fair Process of Training & Learning for our horses and ourselves.
During the entire training period, our young horses are together in our herd with the older experienced horses. This means doing all things the entire herd does, such as being brought to the barn daily. The result is that these young horses learn from the other horses and become accustomed to our methods and routines and their trust grows.
Once the spring guest season begins, the new horses are regularly but gradually ridden out on the range by our wranglers to expose/desensitize them to situations such as: trailer loading, trail/range riding with other horses, working cattle, arena riding, different riders, crossing bridges, riding through diverse scenery (forest, desert, canyon, open range, wildlife areas, etc.) and crossing creeks and streams.
Because the horses in training are kept in the same herd with our other horses, they are brought in and turned out on a daily basis. This means they are worked with in the herd and learn the different ways of being handled, being caught in the big outside pen, being shoed or trimmed together with the other horses. They are also exposed to noises, trucks, people, dogs, vet-checks, etc. through their general daily life.
All of the above training is the foundation work that lays the groundwork for our horses for further training and for them to eventually become reliable mounts for our guests. Once a horse is five years old these horses can be ridden by our more experienced guests. This completes their training and exposes them once more to being ridden by different riders.
Training: Adult or Established Horses
On a regular basis, we acquire seasoned horses that have been put through a training process, but are in need of fine-tuning or more in-depth training to become reliable, enjoyable and safe mounts. These horses will follow the same practical program at The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch or Trapper Creek Ranch as the young horses in our colt-starting phase received after their initial 90 to 120 days training.
We use the same principles for selecting horses as we use for selecting our staff and trainers: The 3C’s of Character, Conduct and Competence. The concept maintains that a horse or human can be coached for Competence, but Character and Conduct are inherent.
Involving the Herd in the AH Training Process
At Authentic Horsemanship, our herd of existing riding horses aids the continuation of the training process for newcomers to the herd. Part of the training program involves the new horses or colts learning by observing our other horses in their pasture setting or when they are handled by our staff and trainers. If young horses are around calm adult horses that trust their handlers, they will reflect this trust and calmness in turn.
We bring the herd in every morning and catch our riding horses for the day in the big corral using low-stress methods. As a result of spending this time observing the other horses’ reaction to our staff and the daily process of being brought in and turned out, the newcomers become increasingly relaxed and comfortable with their new surroundings.
The Consistency of The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch
Since we operate a guest ranch and go through this daily routine as part of our business, our herd benefits from the consistency of a quality operation and culture. Being consistent is fundamental in training reliable, safe and quality horses.
For example, trailer loading is never a big issue for our horses, as they do it as a part of their daily routine and are accustomed to it. A new horse that might otherwise be uncomfortable or nervous about loading onto a trailer will see that the older horses have no problem going and are more likely to follow suit. If one is still a bit nervous, we will load them next to their “buddy” he/she might gravitate towards in the pastures. This builds trust through leveraging the other horse’s relationships.
In life nothing is perfect, but we try to take the right steps out of respect for horse and rider. At AH Horsemanship & Training we surely try hard to give all our horses the opportunities to become great, sound and enjoyable mounts.
We believe that in horse training “Slow is Fast and Fast is Slow”.
For more information please visit www.thehideout.com