Trail Riding at the Lake in the Summer

July 14, 2014

Trail riding at the lake in the Summer is great fun. The horses loved the water and enjoyed the opportunity to cool off in it. We like to get the horses used to water and ready to go where ever might be needed.

Earlier in the day we rode through some areas of the trail covered by water and lots of mud. But, that’s trail riding in Oklahoma, you just never know what to expect. Usually the trails are pretty dry this time of year, but a storm a few days before brought some much-needed rain. It’s also typically really hot in July, but the past weekend was a pleasant 90 degrees Farenheit that made for a wonderful day at the lake.

The horses in the video are Doc and P.J. The mule is Tia. She belongs to a fellow trail rider and friend.


There’s More To Mounting Than Just Height

November 23, 2013

DocWe get telephones calls from folks interested in knowing how many hands a particular horse may be. In some cases, they just say, tell me about the horses you have that are less than ??? hands tall. You can bet these calls don’t come from college basketball scholarship recipients. Hey, trust us, we understand the issues faced by those who are “vertically challenged”. There may be some tall ancestors somewhere back there, but the genes in our family haven’t shown any recent activity.

It might be worth knowing that height alone isn’t what makes a horse easy or hard to mount. There are actually a couple of factors you don’t want to overlook. Width is nearly as important as height. When you stop to analyze it, a person with shorter legs, standing in one stirrup, and attempting to put their other leg over the horse, finds it much easier on a narrower horse than a wider one. Although height plays a part, it is easier in many cases to climb on a taller, narrow horse than a horse than may be a bit shorter, but wider.  Doc, the AQHA quarter horse shown here, is 14.2 hands tall. Doc is slender in his build and a lot simpler to mount than some 14 hand horses we have that are broader in the chest and rib cage. Doc is also comfortable for folks with shorter legs as he doesn’t tend to spread them as wide sitting in the saddle.

Height is taken from the withers to the ground. Some horses have higher withers that make them measure taller than another one that looks the same size when you put your foot in the stirrup. In other words, the center of the back of two horses can be identical, but they may measure two different heights because one has higher withers.

Without discounting the fact that a shorter horse is easier to climb up, enough can’t be said about having a horse trained to stand still while you mount. Tall or short, a horse that is walking around while you try to get aboard makes it difficult. Doc stands completely still and let’s you take your time getting up and settled as a properly trained trail horse should do.

If you are looking for a horse sized right for you, don’t miss out on what may be the perfect choice just because of the numbers on the measuring stick.

Wooden Bridges Can Be Crossed Easily

July 8, 2013

Wooden bridges remain pretty common in the day and age of high technological gadgets, space travel, and modern construction. Some wooden bridges are used because it’s all the county or local community can afford. They keep the one they have. Others are maintained due to the desire to preserve the history associated with it. Regardless of the reason, trail horses need to be ready to cross a wooden bridge and not get excited in the process.

Like anything new, some horses don’t like the sound or the give underneath their feet. The bridge just doesn’t feel natural and solid. The practice and repetition of going across them makes it easier when the need arises.

The video shows a couple of our horses, Doc and Speck, crossing a small training bridge we use. The little bridge was built from logs with boards screwed into the logs to replicate a wooden bridge without the expense. You may notice it isn’t level and the boards have some slope and tilt to them. We aren’t carpenters or bridge builders, but even we have more ability than what you see in the video. The bridge was constructed deliberately uneven and the boards allowed to follow the natural curves in the logs laying on the ground. This was done to make it even less appealing to the horse with the uneven surface and because we are lazy. 

The bridge was built for training purposes and there was no reason to spend a lot of time and effort. It serves the purpose of giving the horse a wooden bridge that is narrow and gives a feeling of instability; a good way to see if the horse trusts you enough to cross it anyway.

Training tools don’t have to be expensive. It is nice to have them reasonably safe. Here the bridge isn’t very high off the ground in order for young horses to step off the side or do something silly without getting hurt. One of the youngsters walked across it the first time with his hind feet on the ground and his front feet on the bridge. It was an acceptable first attempt for a colt and he came back to it later in the week to do a real good job.

The training bridge is just one more tool we use with the horses in our training program for trail horses.


Summer Intern At City Slickers Trail Ride

June 16, 2013

Horse Training Intern

We host interns from the equine colleges during the Summer months and give them some real riding experience to supplement the classroom studies they are taking. Dallas, a Oklahoma State University student, rode Doc at the City Slickers trail ride and had a great time. The young people in the internship program work really hard during the internship and learn a lot of new skills. Many work full-time jobs while participating in the program on weekends and whenever they can fit in the time. Although it is a lot of extra effort on their part, you can tell they love it.

We asked Dallas to ride Doc on this trail ride because he is quiet and doesn’t get excited. Dallas had worked the night shift the evening before. She came straight from work and went to the trail ride. Riding Doc seemed the smart thing to do when she hadn’t slept all night and was headed out on the trail. Doc and she get along really well and had a great time.

The real life experience with horses gives these students a big boost when it comes time to find a job. They leave the internship with horse handling skills you just don’t get reading a book. They also develop a lot of self-confidence with the knowledge that comes from actually working with horses in a ranch environment beside a professional trainer.

Pete, Speck, Jack, and Doc Graduate The Two-Year Training

May 15, 2013

Four of the AQHA registered quarter horses successfully completed the  two-year training program this month. It’s a credit to them as others failed along the way or didn’t have the qualities and attributes necessary. Pete, Jack, Speck, and Doc all have fulfilled our requirements and met the expectations we set for those that finish the two-year trail horse program.

Does this mean their training ends? Nope! We believe horses like people should be life long learners. You never know it all and when you think you do it’s time to quit! Horses need to keep learning as well. If nothing else, the horse needs to better learn the rider’s needs, wants, and desires. Good communication with a horse and rider comes primarily from a good fit and practice. Even an experienced horse can suffer occasional miscues and an experienced rider can poorly signal what he or she wants to happen.

Does finishing the program mean these horses are absolutely bomb-proof [See 6/15/12 post for definition] and an accident can never happen? No, we don’t rule out rider inexperience as a catalyst for accidents. And anyone who guarantees what their horse will do tomorrow is lying to you. No one can honestly guarantee a horse will never spook depending on the circumstances. So what does completing the training really mean? First, the horse has seen “lots of wet blankets” meaning the horse has been ridden almost everyday by a trainer focused on developing calm, quiet, horses ready to work for two full years. They are taught to come quickly back to a relax state if excited. Second, the horse has been ridden by several different people with less experience to see how he reacts to different personalities and riders. Third, he has been exposed to livestock, semi-trucks along the highway, heavy equipment while it is operating, tarps, ropes, plastic bags, hikers, deer, coyotes, dogs, rolling balls, and all sorts of materials being dragged behind him to make loud noises.

He knows how to stand tied patiently, load and unload, lead, neck-rein, stop, lope, trot, side-pass, back, stand hobbled, cross water, go up and down hills at a walk, step over logs and obstacles, pony other horses, and do more ranch chores than we can list. The horse has been used extensively and knows what it means to work. He is sound in mind and body. His feet are good and have been tested by use on our hard, rocky ground.

What are these horses ready to do.  They are ready to immediately use for ranch work, trail riding, play days, search and rescue operations or move to focused training for rodeo, barrel racing, western dressage, and other events. With all the foundational work done, these horses can quickly be adapted to a number of specialized uses.

We are pleased with these geldings and proud to show them as graduates! They have all done really well and have the records to show their progress. If you have any questions or want to see what they can do, let us know. You don’t find this type of horse just anywhere.

Trail Horses Used To Monitor Wild Fires

November 11, 2012

The wild fires in Bixby, Oklahoma are especially concerning with the ongoing drought. This week the fires were particularly close and the horses were put to use to keep an eye on the fires. The fire departments in the area do a great job, but they are overworked with fires. Sometimes in a rural area, the fire department just lets the fires burn themselves out if no danger is posed. However, the strong winds this week constantly shifting direction meant a safe condition could have turned dangerous with little or no warning.

Since the fire department initially planned for the fires to burn out rather than extinguish them, someone needed to help keep an eye on the situation. Without sufficient man power to post a fireman to do the job, Shawn did his best to monitor the fires from horse back. One advantage to horses is the terrain. The area is rough, rocky, and hard to transverse. The horses work in this environment everyday so it was just another day at the office for them. The horse in the  News on 6 video is Doc.

We are pleased to be able to use the training our  horses receive to  support our  community and  help take care of our neighbors. We also deeply appreciate the dedication and hard work of all the firefighters who selflessly fight these fires.

Doc Plays in the Mud

September 8, 2012

Recently we were riding when Doc got stuck in the mud and we were  really pleased to see how he  handled getting out. Doc had been ridden into the water to get a drink and sank down on his front feet. Sensing a good opportunity  to practice, he  was asked to back up. We like a horse to be ready to slowly back out of an uncomfortable situation without getting real excited.   Unexpectedly, his back feet slipped and left him up to his back hocks in the mud.    The left rear leg sunk  a little deeper causing him to twist.  Front feet stuck and hind legs slipping under him is the kind of event that can turn real ugly really fast if your horse gets overly excited.

As soon as he slipped, he was asked to ” Whoa. ” He stood still and waited for the next que. Contrary to what probably felt safe to him, he was asked to go  forward a little.  To Doc, it likely seemed just the  opposite of what needed to happen, but he calmly stepped forward breaking his front feet loose. He was then allowed to turn around to climb  back to dry ground.

We were really pleased. He kept his head about him, maintained his training, and dealt with it like a trail horse should. Like we constantly repeat, you can’t  plan for every contingency. Things happen sometimes and they happen fast. An experienced trail horse will work through it safely if allowed to do so.

Howdy My Name’s Doc

June 1, 2012

Doc  Doc is an AQHA registered gelding one year through the two year program and doing wonderfully. He in incredibly calm and relaxed with pretty much everything. With a keen mind and good attitude, Doc will attempt to tackle any task willingly. One of the outstanding attributes of the American Quarter Horse is the ability to remain relaxed in exciting situations without losing the intensity to get the job done. Click here to check out what Doc has been up to!

See Doc’s Bloodlines