Wednesday, November 19, 2008
And then there's Martin Black.
I have a lot of trouble with the horse training industry. I question what we do to our horses, why we do it and who the people are that do it for us.
Horse trainers bug me. Even I bug me.
I was lucky enough to be a trainer for many years. I was privileged to ride many horses of many levels of breeding and ability. I got to ride enough to become a decent horsewoman.
I still bug me.
I love the elegance, the thoroughness and the time involved in creating a bridle horse. I became fascinated with the whole process while learning to train a reined cowhorse.
Ideally it takes a minimum of five years to develop a bridle horse.
This beautiful, time-honored training method creates a horse that can be ridden with a flex of muscle, a lift of the romel, a clean, clear thought.
As a competitor in AQHA and NRCHA events I found that a successful trainer does not get to spend five years developing a winner. A successful trainer needs to win on three-year-olds. Win on four-year-olds. Win on five-year-olds.
Keep on going, even if it takes twisted wire snaffles and logging chain hackamores to make that next show.
Keep on going, even if our horses have hocks so blown that by the time they are four they creep forward in exaggerated strides like a crab. Just inject those hocks and head for the next show.
Keep going when everything that inspired our event is left behind in the dust.
I left my profession, disillusioned and sad.
As many of you know, I can't leave anything alone. You see I have this horse. This cool little horse. She has the makings of a winner. She has never let me down. She is sharp on a cow, sweet and beautiful in her dry work. She is a horse I want to show.
I rode her in a snaffle her three year-old year. I rode her the best I could. I showed her a little. She did OK.
I rode her in a hackamore for the following two years. I used the wonderful things I learned and rejected the terrible. I figured as best I could. But I have holes. Huge holes in my knowledge. I showed her maybe an eighth of what I should have. She did pretty good.
I moved her into the two-rein. She had a tough time. I had nobody in my circle I could go to. Nobody I knew had truly studied the two rein. They simply rammed their horse into the bridle, forced a frame, added a bosal and showed.
I rode at home. I played with my two-rein. I showed her once. I rode mainly with the bosal.
So now I have a six year old mare. She's still sound. She has been trained to the best I know.
I've gone back to my hackamore. I'm not willing to push past what I know. You see, I have this cool little horse. She responds to the flex of a muscle, the lift of my mecate, a clear, clean thought. I'm afraid I'll ruin this wonderful thing.
I read a few articles written by a man who grew up ranching in Idaho. He went on to work in California, Texas and more. His articles rang a bell. He didn't talk about futurities or derbies or sliders on two-year-olds. He talked about finding the release. About patience. About listening.
"AHA!" I can just hear all you NHer's holler. But guess what?
HE SHOWS! HE WINS STUFF! HE GETS IT!
He doesn't talk about being above the show world. Or not needing it. He rides to succeed. He also tries to be kind and fair with his horses.
This guy is doing what I had given up ever having a shot at.
He rides bridle horses.
He trains them one step at a time.
So I watched the first of his bridle horse DVD series. The Hackamore.
His instruction is clear and to the point. Lots of information on fitting the hackamore. About the different sizes and how they work. About quality.
Then we got into using the hackamore.
This guy is good. I learned some new things, some incredibly helpful things.
I learned some practical information that I definitely needed.
This DVD will help the beginner who's interested, and people like me, who want more.
I'm going to work through the series. I'm planning on staying impressed.
I'm planning on showing my mare.
Check out his website, it gives you a peek into my world. The world I 'm beginning to think I don't have to leave.
I am very intrigued.