"For what the horse does under compulsion is done without understanding; and there is no beauty in it either, any more than if one were to whip or spur a dancer. No, he should show off all his finest and most brilliant performances willingly and at a mere sign. " -Xenephon, "The Art of Horsemanship" ~400 b.c.
Our Training Philosophy
If you have a young horse or horses needing to be started under saddle with the consistent, kind and correct training that will turn them into a versatile and willing partner, please contact us to learn more about our training program. With one foot in the dressage arena and the other in the round pen of natural horsemanship, our methods straddle the best of many disciplines. We will ensure that your horse will acquire a solid foundation upon which you can start to build a productive, lifelong relationship the day you get him back, or from which he can progress into a more specialized discipline should you choose to do so.
Under our guidance, your youngster will progress towards adulthood with his curiosity and youthful zest intact, and at the same time he will gain the maturity that comes with having a job and learning to learn. The horses we work with look forward to their daily lessons and are glad to see a human approaching their pen or pasture. With consistently firm, fair and deliberate training, they also learn to be patient, polite and observant of the humans around them. Our expectations and handling always remain predictable to the horse, even if our surroundings do not. As a result, they learn to look to people as a source of guidance and assurance in strange or unsettling circumstances, rather than follow their instinct to bolt or struggle.
After going through our program, your horse will have been exposed to a smorgasbord of bizarre (from the horse's point of view) stimuli, including but not limited to, bikes, traffic, parks, children, strollers, tarps, water crossings, city streets, construction sites, dogs, dogs and more dogs, and friendly but rowdy neighborhood soccer games. These experiences will be introduced in a slow, careful way and, when possible, in a controlled environment in order to build the horse's confidence about scary new things. As he is introduced to each new item without incident, his confidence also grows in people and he will learn to view humans as trustworthy leaders who haven't gotten him hurt or killed no matter how scary a situation they led him into. All the while, we will insist on good behavior from the horse, even if he feels afraid, so that he is able to control his fear enough to pay attention to his human's commands throughout his life. This is one step towards creating a safe, confident and reliable equine partner.
Part of keeping the horse's attitude and mind fresh and willing is making sure that he is physically capable of managing the tasks that we request of him. It is unfair to expect a horse (or any creature, for that matter) to carry himself with good posture, be agile and athletic while exerting himself in an unnatural endeavour, support the added weight of a rider, and behave impeccably all the while if we haven't properly prepared him to do so. Many "misbehaviors" are simply the horse protesting to an unfair request that they haven't been allowed the time or the training to perform without stressing himself unreasonably. We do not expect a horse to do anything with the weight of a rider that he hasn't performed satisfactorily for us on the ground, and each horse will learn proper posture and self-carriage on the lunge-line and long-lines in order to create a soft and balanced place for the rider to sit well before any rider will actually sit there.
By the time he is introduced to his first rider he will have already developed the strength and balance he needs to support the extra weight while moving correctly, and our extensive use of groundwork creates much less conflict and stress once mounted. Our philosophy is that it's better to get on a horse for the first time knowing that he's already broke, rather than mounting and then introducing all of the things you expect him to do from the saddle for the first time. This overloading of the horse both physically and mentally can lead to behaviors such as bucking, rearing, bolting and other dangerous reactions as he tries to protest. Our belief is that if we can train the horse without him ever having to resort to these stress-induced behaviors, why would we do it any other way?
Kenlyn Kurvey practicing "whoa" on the long lines
Rachel practices some desensitization exercises with Kenlyn Kourvey.
Michelle working with Dancer
Kenlyn Kurvey practicing "whoa" on the long lines
Tune-ups, Retraining, Refinement and Corrective training
We offer an infinitely customizable range of options for refinement, correction or retraining of already-started horses. We can put miles on fresh horses and knock the rust off of the gears of stale ones. We can come to your location and work with your horse for the necessary number of sessions, set up weekly or bi-weekly visits to keep your horse on the right track and help you move forward with him, or for more intensive schooling, arrangements can be made directly with our barn manager to board the horse at our location for the duration of his training.
If your horse has developed some bad habits or displays less-than-ideal behaviors that you need help to get through, we can address and work to solve a whole range of behavioral or physical problems by going straight to the root of the issue. What we so often find with corrective work is that the perceived problem is really just a symptom of another, more systematic issue or a hole in the basic training of the horse that was overlooked. Owners are often surprised and pleased to discover that once addressing this underlying issue that they were unaware of, their relationship with their horse improves markedly in unexpected ways.
Our program will find and progressively work through resistances in your horse's mind and body, helping him to learn to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of correct movement and balance. Just a few of our success stories include fixing barn and buddy-sour horses, bad ground manners, problems with trailer loading, one-sidedness manifested in reluctance or refusal to pick up a lead, crookedness or difficulty circling in one direction, arena or gate-sour horses, refusal to be caught, spookiness, rearing, bolting, bucking, heavy transitions, and problems at the tie rail.
One of our specialties is working with recently-purchased horses and their new owners to help their relationship get off on the right hoof. We can help you to learn more about your new equine partner, evaluate where he is in his training currently and help you to move him along in the right direction while filling in any gaps in his knowledge. Additionally, we can offer advice on nutrition, conditioning, veterinary care, dental maintenance and body work for your new friend, or help him find his way through a career transition.
Corrective training sold by the session: $45/session + $2/mile travel fee one way (when applicable)
Packages for tune-ups, retraining, or corrective training are customizable, but our most intensive option costs $160/week. This option is for horses boarded at our location (boarding costs separate) and includes:
a minimum of 4 training sessions per week of ~1 hour (usually more)
a minimum handling of the horse 5X per week, whether just asking him to stand tied for a bit, applying fly spray, or taking him for turn-out
continued support for the owner after the horse is back in their care
Up to four lessons for the owner per week (any of the training sessions can be conducted as a lesson if the owner is interested in taking a more active role in the training of his or her own horse)
Holding the horse for veterinary, chiropractic or farrier visits as required and the scheduling of said visits
Help finding the right tack, feed and equipment for horse's needs
Base-price for colt starting (minimum of 60 days): $1,000