Coalition of Christian Cowboys Trail Ride Was A Huge Success!

March 31, 2014

Trail Riding is FunThe trail ride in Slick, Oklahoma that the Coalition of Christian Cowboys put on Saturday was fabulous! You could not ask for a better time. The hosts,  members of the Coalition of Christian Cowboys, were some of the nicest folks you could ever meet. Kind and courteous with the old style cowboy politeness of days long past set the tone for great day. The weather was splendid with the morning cool enough for a jacket and warm enough to want to take it off once lunch was over. The meal at lunch was perfect trail ride fare with barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs, fresh hot cobbler from a dutch oven, and wagon loads of cookies.

The trail ride was managed extremely well by the cowboys of the group making sure no one got lost and the ride proceeded safely. At home on a horse with years of experience as working cowboys, the team kept everyone moving along on time and helping any of those who needed it. Many of the attendees were experienced riders mounted on sound, well-behaved horses. It’s hard to articulate the difference in a well-run trail ride with competent riders from the ones that lack these key elements unless you’ve been there,  and done it.

Trail boss, Dwight Plant, talked with us for a bit after returning to the trailers and explained the Fall ride will take place in October. We already plan to attend and suggest you do the same. This is a really great bunch of people who run a really nice day ride.  We’ll tell you a little more about the ride and the CCC a little later. Sum it all up, a great day with wonderful people, lots of sunshine, warm weather, and experienced horsemen!

Trail Horses Standing Tied


This is Tumbleweed

March 30, 2014

TumbleweedThe stud colt is out of another mare we have, Suzie and Colonel, our stud. He’s full of himself and thinks he’s real big stuff. It won’t be long before he learns the world isn’t going to revolve around him, but for a few more weeks we’ll let him be in charge of the place.


Warm in the Sun

March 27, 2014

Suzie's Stud ColtMontana’s baby with a full tummy and the warm sunshine. Life’s good!


19th Annual City Slickers Trail Ride

March 25, 2014

The 19th annual City Slickers Trail Ride sponsored by the The Bad Girls Trail Riding Club is scheduled for June 7, 2014. The ride will be held at Walnut Creek State Park, Prue, Oklahoma. A family event with camping overnight in the Spring and trail riding near Lake Keystone is an event to write on your calendar. These ladies will undoubtedly make this trail ride and the entire weekend a whole lot of fun. For more information, you can contact Carla Hight by e-mail at cmhight1@peoplepc.com.


Barn Sour Blues

March 23, 2014

Barn sour horses can be dangerous, but are downright frustrating at best. Personally, we don’t like them being even a little barn sour. When we point a horse in the direction we intend to go, the horse is expected to go in a straight line until told otherwise. But, it is Springtime and a lot of people start complaining their horse keeps wanting to go back to the barn.

Here’s a tip for you. Make the barn a miserable place, and nothing makes a barn sour (lazy) horse any more unhappy than work.

This past week, we had one of our horses start the annoying habit of turning about one step the direction of the barn about every 30 seconds. He knew better, but it was only slight deviation. After all, it was only one step off a straight line. Of course, it became a second step off course in another 30 seconds. It took no effort to put him back on course, but irritating to have to do it. After being set back on course about 25 times, he was corrected with spurs the next several occasions. But, he just wasn’t quite getting the message.

So what can you do? Well, I gave up and let him win. We made a beeline back to the barn. What he didn’t anticipate is what came next. Once the gate was open and he was comfortably inside, he went to work! He trotted in circles, made short, tight turns, and spent the next 10 minutes with his feet moving fast. Because the area in front of the barn isn’t large, he had to exert some effort. At the end of our little “work out”, we rode directly back out. Just a short way from the barn, it was time to take a short break and pet him. He was told what a fine job his effort had been back at the barn and how nice it was to be able to take a break together out there on the trail.

Some will laugh, others will say we’re crazy that there is no way he could understand. We respectfully beg to differ. He completely understood and recognized the trail was a far better place to spend his time than back at the barn where you do all that training work and exercise. If you have a horse starting to like the barn, make sure the trail is a better place to be.


Montana’s Little Filly

March 21, 2014

New FillyMontana’s first filly arrived. She’s a cutie! We still remember when Montana was a baby and we practiced “rock training”. We used to put flat rocks on her back to see how long she would leave them. It was a way to pester her and get her used to new concepts.

The filly has the kind of mother we like. She is protective and watchful of her offspring in a paddock with five other horses, but friendly enough for us to walk up to her to check on the little one.

The filly is out of our stallion, Colonel.


Brush and Trees Require MSAR

March 19, 2014

JackRocks, brush, trees, and heavily vegetated terrain are difficult to search by any means and particularly in the Spring and Summer in eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. Horse back offers the most effective means to cover large areas. MSAR, mounted search and rescue, frequently uses volunteers who provide their time, equipment, and horses free of charge to render aid to their fellow-man. Searching wooded areas in rocky, hilly parks and recreational areas is hard work, but mounted patrol riders put in the long hours knowing full well the rewards in uniting a frantic mother with a lost child or locating an Alzheimer’s patient who wandered away.

For Oklahoma residents, there are a number of these units ready to pull out on a moments notice. One unit near us, the Rogers County Mounted Patrol is expanding the volunteer force and actively seeking qualified horses and their riders willing to help out in times of need. If you are interested in what it takes to be part of a MSAR, mounted patrol search and rescue unit, contact the Rogers Co. Sheriff’s Department.


Is Mounted Unit work for you?

March 14, 2014

Mounted Police Trail ObstacleBy: Joann K. Long of Gentle Dove Farms

Do you want to enjoy your equestrian passion while contributing to your community? That thought was how my husband and I became actively involved in volunteer mounted patrol work. Our local Sheriff’s department had a Mounted Unit and we could proudly serve with our own horses if we met the membership criteria.

There were several criteria to be met, including an initial interview and background check. Of course the horses had their own testing as well. Fortunately, we had quiet, well-behaved horses that would be an asset to the unit. Each unit has their own testing criteria, but most include demonstrating equitation, obstacle maneuvers, public demeanor, and horsemanship skills. If the criterion were met, then a commitment would be made to participate in regular training and support Law enforcement and Search and Rescue activities.

Training consisted of formation riding, sensory and obstacle control, basic search and rescue techniques, crowd control, police equitation, arrest techniques, situation control, vehicle extrication, and fireworks and night maneuvers. Further, scenario training included simulated real life events such as containing protesters, search and rescue situations, and VIP escorts. Each member puts in numerous hours of individual training on their horse to prepare them for patrol.

Service and duties vary from patrol to patrol, but typically the Mounted Unit devotes many hours to traffic and crowd control, patrolling parks, concerts, fairs, festivals, and other public relation events, as well as participation in parades and park & pets (where the horse needs to stand calmly as children run around and sometimes crowd the horse to get their pets in).

In addition to the regular duties and community service, some mounted unit members participate in mounted police competitions held throughout each state and internationally. Competitions act as a form of training, networking with other Mounted Police Units, and a means of sharing strategies, methods and skills in the challenges of mounted work.

The general equestrian public typically take trail rides through a park, but one of my favorite ‘trail’ rides was riding down the center of my town on my horse, looking for new experiences and stopping to let the kids pet my horse. If you have a sense of ‘oh that would be fun’ then you’d be a great candidate for your local mounted patrol!

My husband and I were proud to serve our community. Most people were excited to pet our horses and talk to the mounted police – in contrast you don’t normally see kids excited to walk up to a patrol car and try to pet it! Mounted units provide a great way to make a positive connection within the community. Personally, I’m privileged to have belonged to a Mounted Unit and enjoyed my passion for horseback riding while giving back to my community. You may still see me riding down the city streets of my town!

Joann Long Mounted Patrol Officer

Joann Long Mounted Patrol Officer

The mounted unit provides training from which every horseman could benefit. Their training was the framework towards developing our equine partnership. We had great success in police horse competitions and were frequently asked how we trained our horses. From those inquiries, Gentle Dove Farm was born – to teach the general equestrian public mounted police style training. We encourage partnership, communication, and exceptional trust mounted police style! If you’d like to know more, please visit www.GentleDoveFarm.com!

Happy and safe riding!

Joann K. Long

©Gentle Dove Farm


Why Does A Well-Trained Horse Cost So Much?

March 11, 2014

The horse business is just like any other, you tend to get what you pay for. A properly trained, broke horse costs more than one that isn’t ready. Gaye DeRusso, a horse trainer in Walnut Creek, California has a wonderful article about the finer points of looking for a horse and why some horses are worth more than others. With many years of experience, she makes a number of points a person or family new to horses should consider before purchasing. We liked the article well enough to link to it. If you are looking for a good horse, give some thought and consideration to her advice.


How I Test A Trail Horse

March 7, 2014

Gaye DeRusso, a professional horse trainer, in Alamo, California, who regularly works with gaited trail horses explains. I buy horses all the time, as part of my business is selling horses. I started doing this because I was sent so many bad horses to fix, and I just could not understand how the owners had picked the horse. Could I fix them? Sure, and I did, but even when they were fixed, it was not a horse I would have ever picked for them as a trail horse.

Gaye DeRussoIf you are buying a horse for trail, and this is your first trail horse, well you better make sure it is a well-trained one. For some reason people have it in their mind that if a horse can not make it for their sport such as jumping, that it can make it as a trail horse. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Trail riding is one of the most demanding jobs for a horse. The horse has to deal with things jumping out at him, it has to be surefooted, calm, dependable, willing and comfortable.

So first of all do not look at any horses that have not been on the trail and it should be recent, not 10 years ago. Only go see horses that have experience and as they say a lot of wet saddle pads. You are looking for a horse to take care of you, not kill you, the killers are easy to find, just go to the auction and you will find at least a couple of horses that will try to kill you. They are usually the pretty ones.

Also beware of a seller that has a lot of perfect horses to sell, unless they have had them a long time in training. I have to go through at least 5-10 horses before I find one that will work for a beginner. So do not be fooled by fancy words and fancy pictures.

A trail horse needs a calm mind, close to dead would be a good start for a beginner. Half dead would be good for a novice. This means he doesn’t react to much, how do you test that, well try to spook him with whatever you can find, bring your crazy boyfriend, your annoying kids and the nutty dog and see what the horse does. If he tolerates it, keep evaluating him. If he freaks out, well just leave. No reason to waste your time or the sellers.

Ride him in the arena first. Makes sure he stands for getting on, if you are short use a mounting block, do all the things you will need to do at home. See if he steers well, stops easily, backs and can go sideways, you will need all these things on the trail. If you do not know how to do these things yourself, well then you shouldn’t even be buying a horse yet, you should spend your money on lessons first. Don’t skip the basics, if you do, you could easily get maimed or killed.

He should walk slow, a fast walking horse is not for a newbie, he should go the speed you ask, slow when you want, faster when you want, and if he is a little dull to the leg well then that’s just great, because if you kick him by accident he won’t take off and yes at some point you will kick him by accident.

If he is safe in the arena, go around the barn and if you see anything scary go towards it and see what the horse does. If the owner tells you not too, then get off because he will need to tolerate a lot more on the trail. I am not telling you to ride up to a fire truck or a kid doing 360 in the parking lot with their parents car, just something scary, like the tractor, a big water bin, a dog, you get the picture?

If he doesn’t spook, great, if he spooks a little but stays in place, good, if he spins, runs back wards or takes off. Well get off and leave quickly.

If he is quiet, go on the trail, have the owner take you out with another horse, ride in back to start, then front and if another rider comes, stick him in the middle. He should be fine with all of these. Then tell the owner you wish to separate and see if he will leave the other horse and then see what he does as you go back to the other horse. Is this something you can handle? If anything you want to buy a horse that is below your level of riding, not above it. You can always make a calm horse hotter with training, spurs and grain but you cannot always make a hot horse calmer, especially if you are not a good rider. I have seen a lot of riders fall off hot horses, I have never seen one fall off of Mr. Pokey.

Next you need to find some obstacles and things that move, deer, dogs, hikers, bikes, anything you might see on your trails. If you need to ride down the road at home, then go down a road. This is your time to really test him for what you will be doing. If you are going to ride alone then you need to also take him out alone.

Believe me if he is bad at his own barn he will be worse at yours. So really do a good test. If you can’t, then ask the owner for a week trial and you better ride it a lot when you have the trial. It would be worth a deposit and the owner keeping it, than buying the wrong horse. The wrong horse will cost you thousands in the end, so look at the big picture.

Now head back to the barn, does he go slow or quick on your way back? Slow is good, fast is bad.

Lastly, did you feel safe? What? You are not sure? Well then you didn’t feel safe if you have to think about it. If you felt safe you will have a big smile, you will be having fun, you won’t be wondering if this is the right horse, you will know it.

Now when you get back, don’t start picking him apart, get a vet to do that, you don’t need a pro athlete, you just need somewhat sound to get you around the trails safely. You need a horse that will hold up for a couple of years, than you can advance onto a harder horse if you want and another beginner can enjoy your horse.

Also do not be cheap, it is best to pay for a trained horse, than buy cheap and send to a trainer. Remember, I am a trainer and people spend thousands of dollars in training, trying to make the bad horse they bought into a mediocre trail horse. The first thing I always say is, can you take this horse back? As it would be cheaper for me to just find you a better horse. I am a very busy trainer, as most people will not take that bad horse back, it is your problem now.

Ok so everything was great, but he is not the prettiest horse, and not the color you wanted. So now what? Well you buy him of course, pretty and your favorite color can kill you, but if he has all the above qualities then you are crazy to pass on him, good horses are hard to find. An ugly horse can give you years of pleasure, just buy some fancy tack and he would look better and all your friends will be jealous since your horse will be the most dependable one. Okay, now if you still don’t get it, here is a story to paint you the picture of buying the wrong horse.

Sally buys a horse that fails as a racehorse. She gets him cheap, underweight and in not so great shape. Sally thinks she can make him a jumper. So Sally buys him and sends him to her trainer. The trainer spends over a year trying to make her now fatten thoroughbred into a jumper. The trainer comes to the conclusion that the horse neither has the mind or the talent to be a jumper. Sally cuts her losses and sells him as a trail horse. Sally’s horse has never been on the trail, he also has never been ridden by a novice rider, but he has been to some shows and he has walked around the barn. Sally is not a trail rider, she has no idea what riding trails are like, but for some reason she thinks it is an easy job.

So Sally sells him to Suzie who is a novice rider as a trail horse. Both Sally and her trainer claim how quiet and easy this horse is to ride, but they both have had years and years of riding difficult horses. They do not even remember what it is like to be a beginner.

Suzie takes her beautiful new horse home and shows him to all her friends. Wow, he is beautiful they all say and then one says, he seems a little hot. Suzie ignores her. He then spooks at the stall cleaner that comes around the corner. Suzie doesn’t pay any attention, as Suzie is just mesmerized with the beauty of her new horse.

Suzie lets him settle in for the day and the next day, she is set to ride her new horse on the trail with her friends. Suzie neither roundpens or lunges her horse, something the previous trainer always did, but they never told Suzie this, so how would she know? So Suzie gets on and off they go down the trail. Everything seems just great, the sun is shining, Suzie has a big smile and her friend is chatting away. Suzie is riding with her brand new snaffle on a very loose rein and is oblivious to the world around them.

Then all of a sudden a deer jumps out of the woods and gets scared by the horses and the deer takes off, up a hill through the woods. The deer trying to escape for its life makes a lot of noise as it runs through the bushes and leaves.

Suzie’s horse has never even seen a deer, so he does exactly what he was trained to do. He runs. He runs faster than he ever did in a race, boy would his first owner be proud, because then he was only running from a bell, but now he is running from the monster in the trees. Boy can he run fast! Suzie hangs on and ducks under the tree but then she sees there is a log in the way. Suzie’s horse does exactly what he is supposed to do, he jumps it with all his might, now wouldn’t his second owner be so proud of him! But now his third owner Suzie gets launched through the air. Suzie always wanted a Pegasus, be careful what you wish for I always say. Suzie isn’t proud of her horse, but she is lucky to be alive, she is now laying 10 feet from the log, and her horse is long gone. She has gone faster than she ever knew a horse could go and she also got to jump her first jump and all in one day.

Her friend finds her and says that was amazing you held on so well. Suzie picks her self up and it takes them about a half hour to find her new horse. She gets on and rides him back home, he is jigging the entire way but she somehow hangs on, she has too. She cannot walk well because something is wrong with her ankle. When she gets back she gives him a big bucket of grain and hopes tomorrow he will be better. Suzie’s friend takes her to the ER and Suzie has broken her ankle.

Poor Suzie, she did everything wrong and she doesn’t even know it. She bought a horse bred to run, and if you think about it, he was bred to run far too at least a mile before he was supposed to stop. That’s exactly what he did. She also bought a horse that someone thought had talent to jump and he did jump. He never was on trail in his life and when he thought he had a nice new life, she put him on a loose rein, so he had no instructions about his new job. So her poor new horse was pretty much on his own, new place, in the middle of the woods and then a MONSTER jumped out! He did everything he was bred and trained to do. He tried very hard.

Suzie is alive, she spent another couple of years trying to make the racehorse into a trail horse and after several more accidents she sold him, cheap. Said she didn’t have time to ride anymore, and that was true, how would she when she was spending most her time in the hospital. Suzie gave up on horses, she realized they were dangerous and just not her thing. She still has his picture, and boy was he pretty.


What Should You Look For In A Trail Horse?

March 1, 2014

According to Gaye DeRusso, a good trail horse needs a number of qualities and attributes, even more so than a well-trained arena horse. Ms. DeRusso has a good article if you are in the market for a trail horse that suits your needs. She explains the importance of real life experiences on the trail and describes some general thoughts on different breeds suited for the trail.