News on 6 reports on the Rogers Co. Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol (Mounted Search and Rescue Unit “MSAR”) watching over the Christmas shoppers at the local Wal-mart in Claremore, Oklahoma. As a courtesy to the citizens, the mounted patrol members escorted shoppers to their cars and kept an eye on their vehicles so folks could come and go worry-free. Service with a smile to brighten up the holiday season! Pete had a great time and enjoyed all the kids petting his nose!
The Rogers Co. Sheriff Department has certified Pete and Jack, two of our AQHA quarter horses, for the mounted search and rescue “MSAR” patrol. Both received approval for Level 1 Certification, this means they are approved to be called for any situation at any time. There are three levels for horse certification in the department. Level 1 is the highest certification available and approves the horse for all situations. Level 2 means the horse is certified for limited operations and by approval in only limited situations. Level 3 is certification to attend training events, but no field operations. Level 3 is intended for horses that have potential, but need additional training before use in a real life event. There were a number of applicants that received no certification as the horses were not qualified for the program.
A separate certification is required for each volunteer to serve as a reserve officer for the MSAR operations. We are happy to announce Shawn McKibbin received his certification as a responder and serves on an “immediate” call basis. Shawn oversees the training program at Post Oak Ranch and spends a lot of his time teaching young horses the ropes. The crossover from the routine daily training to develop trustworthy trail horses to certified MSAR mounts is a natural one. Our horses must pass a number of internal tests for soundness, stamina, disposition, and ability, many of the same attributes required for search and rescue horses. We insist that our horses be “using horses” and “working animals” ready for a variety of activities including MSAR operations.
Some of you will no doubt recall Jack was used in a search and rescue operation during the first year in our training program and located a lost little boy. He has keen hearing and pays attention to his surroundings. The boy was heard by Jack over the noise of helicopters, 4-wheelers, and a full-scale search and rescue operation. He alerted Shawn who had been requested to assist by local law enforcement. When Jack became interested in something that could be neither seen nor heard with human senses, Shawn turned the direction of Jack’s focus to investigate further. The little boy was found a short while later resulting in some greatly relieved parents.
Congratulations to Shawn for qualifying the horses and himself! He will be a real asset to the Sheriff’s mounted patrol posse!
Sunday afternoon two of our horses, Pete and Jack, went to the Rogers Co. Sheriff department’s qualification test to see if they were a good fit. They were. Interestingly, the trail challenge obstacles courses we blog about from time to time are not all that different. Both are designed to test the horse and rider to see if obstacles will pose a problem. Clearly the last thing the Rogers Co. Sheriff needs is an accident involving someone trying to help. While the Sheriff needs your help and assistance, he has enough on his hands in a search and rescue operation to deal with. He doesn’t need untrained horses in the mix.The qualification process is designed to eliminate horses that are not suitable before the next emergency. Horses that are not calm, cool and collected aren’t appropriate. We learned some applicants try to apply for service using horses that may perform well in some event or show ring, but not in search and rescue operations as they are just too high-strung and jazzed up. Search and rescue from horseback, “MSAR” short for Mounted Search and Rescue demands horses that don’t spook, aren’t afraid of unusual situations, and ready to work hard to find a missing child or person.
If you have any interest in helping the effort, you can contact Coy Jenkins (918)798-7723 with the Rogers Co. Sheriff department for more information or check out that smiling face on the Facebook page.
Pete was one of our horses we took to the trail challenge hosted by Horsemen of Arkansas. He did well considering he had never been to a competitive trail challenge and the weather events. It was pouring rain during the morning and the horses were all put in the trailer to dry off just a little. We saddled in the trailer and led them over to a covered arena with open air walls. There was a thunder and lightning storm taking place and Pete found himself in the a new environment. Lots of strange things to walk over, under, jump and go around in a big room with lots of strange noises. Pete, like most of our horses, has seen a lot of trails and natural obstacles. He hadn’t seen many of the manmade obstacles or this arena.
We were pleased Pete held to his training as did all the horses we took. It wasn’t our plan to take home prizes or ribbons. Instead, we wanted to test the training Pete and the other horses had received. We want and expect these horses to face new obstacles and situations calmly and quietly. We don’t want to see a panic, buck, rear, or other improper behavior. It is fine to be a little uncertain or question what is taking place, but it must be done with a willingness to try to overcome the situation without getting overly excited. You can never anticipate what a good trail horse may eventually run across and maintaining a calm disposition is essential to safety.
Pete ended up in a division competing with horses and riders that had previously been through previous trail challenge events and some were even familiar with some of the obstacles at this event. The competition, though friendly, was filled with experienced participants. In the AQHA class, Pete performed well with Shawn riding him and got a pretty red ribbon to hang on the wall. The photograph on the top shows him in the afternoon session after the weather broke taking a run at stepping up on the black box. Overall, we were happy with Pete and his willing attitude. He’s a great little gelding!
Guess we’re getting old and it’s startin’ to show. Words keep changing and just don’t mean the same thing they used to mean. Take the term “horse rescue”. Just doesn’t mean the same thing anymore. In the days when we were brought up, a horse rescue meant you used the horse to save a person. Like when the little 83-year-old lady with some dementia wandered away from the house and got lost in the woods. The whole town came out to help look for her with horses, dogs, and on foot.
Horses were used extensively by a lot of people as part of the “search and rescue” effort. She was found four days later, alive and well. She slept covered in leaves as it was late Fall and kind of cold. She drank from the creeks and managed to get by fairly well. She told the doctor she wasn’t lost, “just a little turned around in the hills.”
Today “horse rescue” means you rescue the horse. I suppose we like the old meaning better. It meant the horse was useful and served a valuable purpose and got credit for doing a job that needed to be done. The people in a bind got the help they needed. Words may be changing, but one thing hasn’t changed. The horse community is full of good folks ready to pitch in when there’s a need.
At the end of the day, the words don’t matter near as much as generosity, kindness, and willingness to help your neighbors and community. This spirit still remains strong and active in the equine industry. You know, for some old guys that don’t know much, this sure seems like a great place to live!
By the way, the horse in the photo is Pete.
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.
We aren’t ” tune up ” specialists. Here at the ranch, we develop special horses for those special folks that appreciate what we do and more importantly what we don’t. We aren’t in the business of trading horses. We don’t pick up horses at the sale, ” tune them up ” and put them on the market. The horses at our ranch just south of Tulsa, Oklahoma enter a two-year rigorous education that makes them ready for all kinds of activities. These horses have seen lots of wet blankets and been exposed to hard work. In the horse world you usually get what you pay for. If you want one of those ” tune up specials ” you will definitely pay a little less for the purchase price, but will probably pay for it later. Pete shown above is approximately 14 months thru his schooling. The training logs show everything he has done and what he has accomplished so far. Quarter horses like Pete are hard to find. Sound, gentle, easy to catch, ready to ride, Pete is willing to try almost anything and quick enough to make a competitive amateur reining horse. The athletic ability combined with his good mind plus the two-years of training at the end of the program will make Pete a hit anywhere. Keep your eye on Pete as he finishes his education.
Pete is really coming along nice. Notice the loose rein and the way the reins loop down. Any trail horse for sale in our Bixby, Oklahoma operation will ride loose rein.
We often see folks going down the trail pulling back and fighting their horse to maintain control. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Pete will go all day with his head down on a loose rein crossing logs, water, bridges, surrounded by barking dogs, and never flinch.
He neck reins wonderfully and handles well with anyone on him. Here he is ridden by our Summer intern enrolled in Oklahoma State University’s Animal Sciences program. A future young vet in the making along with a great trail horse. That’s a combination tough to beat!
Although Pete is only halfway finished with our two-year program, he neck reins better than a lot of horses. Pete will go any direction including reverse with two inches of movement. Much like a kid with a joy stick, you can rest your wrist on the saddle horn and ride along. You never have to move your hand off the horn to change directions. You just move your wrist a little and turn. Although we expect all our horses at graduation to handle in a similar fashion, Pete is head of his class for now.
Training in neck reining starts the first week at this ranch by making small little lessons that fit with the other training that builds to the point that most of our horses understand the concept of neck reining in the first 60 to 90 days. By not cramming these important lessons into a fixed or rigid schedule, it allows them to complete the neck reining part of the program slowly and at a their own pace. This slow, steady repetition produces a horse that wants to respond to small movements voluntarily and gives you a flexible, soft neck that makes the horse easy to ride.
No doubt some horses, just like Pete, take to it faster than others. Pete has the cutting horse and reining horse blood that makes him a natural. He likes to work the livestock and enjoys the task of moving and herding them. For me personally, I just like to ride along with my hand resting on the saddle horn like a kid with a joy stick and look at the beautiful scenery as we go by. Ahhhhhhhhh the lazy way to trail ride!
Rocks are common where we ride. This creek bed is typical. Pete, like the rest of the horses in the training program, aren’t shod. We want horses with sound feet and able to work without the need for shoes.
Years ago we used to keep a number of horses shod and finally decided it wasn’t worth it. Aside from the expense, the timing always seemed to be up to Mr. Murphy. You know the guy who came up with Murphy’s Law, the one that says the shoe will come off in the trailer on the way to the trail ride. We decided horses don’t have shoes in the wild and ours don’t need them either. Granted some horses have soft feet due to breeding and genetics, those horses don’t pass the test here. Sort of like boot camp, they either toughen up or we wash them out. Good feet and sound legs are physical foundation of a good trail horse.
Hi, I’m Pete. I am an AQHA registered quarter horse and just finished the first year of the two-year trail horse program. It seems to be going pretty well and everyone seems pleased with my progress. I have cutting horse blood in my veins and I am quick on my feet. I can spin fast. The guy sitting on my back wants me to spin once in a while, but mostly we keep to the trails. I neck rein with a light touch like a good trail horse and know what whoa means. I also know what happens if I don’t whoa. If you forget what whoa means he makes your feet move till you get real tired. I figured out you better stop fast when you hear whoa. One of my favorite things to do at the ranch is trail the goats. It’s these little animals with horns running around everywhere and I like to just follow them thru the trees and rocks. I can keep up with all the zigging and zagging they do and can go anywhere they can. Wish the guy on my back would let me do it more, but he keeps making me go back to work on the trails. I thought about working as a competitive reining horse when I grow up, ( the talent is there ), but I’m glad to be in the trail horse program ’cause I like people. Well I gotta go or else someone’s going to eat my feed! Click here to check out what Pete has been up to!