the spring, horse people's thoughts turn to: Training! One of
the most thrilling parts of raising horses is the excitement
of finally seeing them ridden. Those initial saddlings are times
of thrills and chills, elation and disappointment. The beautiful,
strong, healthy, correct baby that you've been drooling over
for three years can turn out to be a dud under saddle. And the
mutt you've hidden behind the barn may turn out to have heart
that covers up all defects. So, as soon as the weather clears
up, horse people naturally wonder: How will those colts and
fillies shape up? And-- Will I be killed? No. We are not afraid!
If we are, we just send the monsters out for training-- right?
Nathans train our own horses here at Rancho Vilasa. This year,
we had three fillies to put under saddle, a gelding going into
bit, assorted touch ups and tune ups-- and the show season to
survive again. We were midway through our 1999 Spring training
when I realized, "Wow! This is great stuff for the web site!
Real ranch life! Raw, unedited training pictures!" Unfortunately,
a large part of the training process with the fillies was already
done, so you miss the initial training stages here, but not
all the rodeo.
kind of training do we do at Rancho Vilasa? Modified Peruvian
training. What does that mean? We use Peruvian tack. We take
the horses through the stages of bosal, four reins and bit.
We do limbering exercises. We ride them in gait. We use a round
pen to start our youngsters. We use it as an attention getter
and a safety device. We do not chase our horses around the pen
until they're panting and dripping sweat and call that "round
very open to the new, humane training techniques. In particular,
we're fans of Harry Whitney. He's worked with our horses in
the past and would have put the three fillies under saddle--
expect that when we called him in mid-1998, he was booked through
1999. (Tried again this year. He'd booked through 2004.)
Try Harry's web site for
do our own training, but do not hesitate to call in experts
when needed. (You may see some well known people below.)
for your pleasure, are some behind the scenes looks at training
at Rancho Vilasa. We've separated the material into articles
so they load faster. The first lesson is:
series of photos illustrates a very important aspect of horse
training. Every horse should load (and unload) safely and easily.
Our subject in the lesson is Corcovado BSN (*JOR Escandalo and
Vira), also known as "Corcovado" or "Corco".
Corco is a great horse. A very, very nice horse in four reins
when theses pictures were taken. He had a little blockage, a
little problem, in one training area. Namely, he didn't like
to load into a trailer. He wasn't obnoxious and wild about this,
preferring the more dignified "mule method". He just
stopped and planted. Tony and Barry work Corco through this
problem, as shown in photos taken over an undisclosed period
of time one afternoon. (A long undisclosed period of
CORCOVADO ILLUSTRATES THE "MULE TECHNIQUE"
Corco illustrates the "planted feet" aspect of
the mule technique. His basic good temperament and willingness
to enter the trailer is shown by his left front foot, which
is placed about 2" onto the ramp. Barry and Tony will have
no trouble getting him in the trailer!
(Yes, he really is that color. And he looks wet because he's
just had a bath. It's not sweat from fear or exertion.)
NOTICE THE PROGRESS BETWEEN PHOTO ONE AND TWO!
horsemanship has allowed our trainers to levitate the mule like
Corco in front of the trailer. Note postures of Tony & Barry.
These allow the leverage needed to eventually get the horse
into the trailer. Note left front foot! That's progress!
MORE PROGRESS! BOTH FEET ON THE RAMP!
TONY DEMONSTRATES ADVANCED TECHNIQUE!
a bold display, Tony picks up Corco's left front foot and places
it father up the ramp! Only three more legs and a few more feet
(pun!) to go. Some people use time honored training devices
such as carrots, apples, grain and monetary bribes at this point.
TONY USES THE "WAVE THE HAT" TECHNIQUE!
that Corco's feet have essentially not moved. Other people use
the "longe whip" or "broom handle" techniques
at this point. Followed by the "2 X 4" technique.
These are not nice.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS.....
Well, so, okay. He wouldn't load. So what.
do this at home, folks. You can get killed this way. This is
a very nice horse. We knew he wasn't gonna shoot backwards and
trample Tony or jump forward and do the same to Barry, who is
out of the picture in the trailer pulling with all his might.)
GETTING OUT IS EASIER THAN GOING IN!
immediately after the previous pictures, Corco gave and and
walked into the trailer easily. The most important thing to
remember in trailer training is: The horse won't go in unless
he wants to. You can't make a 1,000 pound animal
do anything. So, eventually Corco gave up. He loads great now.
A sign of the relaxed state Corco maintained during this lesson
is the almost catatonic expression on his face. With today's
new, natural training techniques, a horse never has to be stressed.
Only you will be stressed as you pay for his food, the trailer,
and so on. This doesn't matter. See the article on Horse
caption to this picture is not quite true. Unloading a horse
can be as hazardous ad loading. I once rode out of a trailer
plastered to my bolting horse's shoulder. Something I'll never
Fortunately, I picked up my feet.
ALBUM 1: INTRO AND TRAILER TRAINING
TRAINING ALBUM 2: EARLY TRAINING
TRAINING ALBUM 3: ARETHA'S FIRST SADDLE
TRAINING ALBUM 4: ANGELITA'S FIRST
TRAINING ALBUM 5: VILASA'S FIRST SADDLE
BUY SANDY NATHAN'S BOOKS:
STEPPING OFF THE EDGE: LEARNING & LIVING SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
A MODERN SPIRITUAL COMPANION
A TALE OF MYSTICIAM & MONEY MENON
"BILL GATES MEETS DON JUAN."
TECOLOTE: THE LITTLE HORSE THAT COULD
BORN PREMATURELY ON A FREEZING NIGHT, THE COLT HAD TO FIGHT FOR HIS LIFE.
THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY
A FUTURE WORLD ONLY HEARTBEATS FROM OUR OWN
Click the covers above to go Sandy Nathan's books on the Amazon Kindle store. All Kindle books are 99 cents.
They are also available as print books at Amazon.
The Angel and Numenon are also at the Nook store. The Angel is an iBook, as well.