December 15, 2017

I Don’t Wanna and You Can’t Make Me!

stubborn horse“I don’t wanna and you can’t make me!” Has your horse ever said this to you? I know mine have! They stop, go sideways, back-up, even run away. It’s called Avoidance Behavior…

            Avoidance behavior is anything a horse does instead of what they are supposed to be doing. Let’s say you are taking your horse “Duke” to the wash rack for a quick hose down. Once you have passed the paths to the turnout, barn and arena, Duke has figured out where you are headed and he’s not impressed. The last bath he had was just before a show and took hours! By the time you finished clipping, braiding his mane, giving him a bath, wrapping his legs and put his blanket on, Duke was thoroughly fed up. He is not looking forward to a repeat session, so he stops cold in his tracks. Let the avoidance behavior begin!

            You step back to his shoulder and encourage him forward again. Now Duke has realized you are in earnest so he starts to back up. Slowly at first, but increasing the pace as you get more animated in your attempts to stop him and get him moving forward again.  The next thing he does is try to spin around away from you. Now you are chasing him around in a circle wondering how things got so crazy so quickly? All you wanted to do was a quick rinse off and it’s become an all out war.

            How about this one- My school horse’s favorite- If the rider asks for anything more taxing that a shuffling amble, the horse moves closer and closer to the rail until the rider is so afraid for the wellbeing of their leg, all thoughts of trotting have gone out the window. The rider watches that fence like it’s going to take on a life of its own while desperately pulling on the inside rein in an attempt to move away. Sometimes they even lift their leg up over the saddle in order to prevent it from being squished. The horse has changed the riders entire focus with a minor avoidance behavior such as moving toward the rail.

            So what’s a rider to do? How do you deal with this kind of behavior without risking life and limb? Let’s take scenario #1- The Wash Rack Walk- As soon as Duke stopped you should have stopped also and determined that there wasn’t a legitimate reason for his behavior like a bear lurking behind a bush.  Nothing? Ok, now ask again for the walk, making sure your are cueing correctly i.e.. walking at his shoulder, facing forward, using your body posture, voice and hand to move Duke in the correct direction. If he still refuses, it’s time to get serious. I usually give several quick hard jerks on the lead rope. If that doesn’t do the trick, I will use the long end of my lead rope to tap him on the rump or anything I can reach that is behind his shoulder. Make sure you are still facing forward while you do this. Not only will your body language match your other cues, you will be in a safe position in case Duke decides to make a break for it and runs or jumps forward. Also, if the correction works, you are prepared for a nice quiet walk forward.

            Now let’s assume Duke has made a run for it- backwards! The first thing you need to do is get him stopped. That is usually best handled by the firm use of your stopping word first (Whoa, Ho, Peanut Butter, whatever!) along with some quick, hard jerks of the lead rope. Never try to out-pull a horse. Unless you are a bigger horse, it simply won’t work. 1000 lb. horse beats the 150 lb. human every time. You need to outsmart him. He can only pull against steady pressure, so don’t give him any. Pull, release, turn or push. It all works eventually. If you can’t get him stopped, turn him until he is backing in the direction you wanted to go in the first place. If he won’t walk there, back him there. If he stops, resume your usual cue for forward and make him miserable until he complies. I’m not talking abuse here, just lots of short jerks, taps with the lead rope, pulling into tight circles, backing up,  yelling. Whatever he doesn’t like, until he moves forward again. Reward the forward steps with a quick “good boy” and perhaps a pat on the neck.

          Always remember to quit on a good note. Even if it means you don’t get all the way to the wash rack today. Might not be a bad idea to skip the hose-down anyway. It will just put more bad memories on the old ones. If you get him to the wash rack, reward him and take him away. Now do it again. And again. And again. As many times as it takes until he walks up willingly and quietly, without a fuss.

            Scenario #2- The Wall Flower- When you ask for a jog, your horse, Flower, moves closer and closer to the rail until your leg is in genuine jeopardy. How do you fix this one while keeping your leg intact? Flower uses this behavior to get out of working. It usually happens by accident at first, but if it works out well, Flower learned a new trick! Again, you need to catch this one before your limb is at risk. Always make sure you start well off the rail, so you have some room to react and correct the problem. As soon as you cue for trot, Flower starts moving sideways instead of forward. This is where you need to catch it, at that first sideways step. Immediately cue with the outside leg to direct Flower forward. If she continues to move sideways, give a firm kick or two with the same outside leg. Resist the urge to pull on the inside rein as this will push Flowers rump into the rail more quickly. Use the inside rein instead by moving your hand up and across the withers toward your inside hip. This will bend Flower’s neck and head into the rail which is not where she wants to be, its where she wants you to be. If she straightens out and moves forward, continue with your trot cue. Give her a pat on the neck when she complies correctly.

             If she does succeeds in getting your leg all the way into the rail, it’s game over time. No more Mr. Nice Guy! Using your outside rein, pull her directly into the rail until she is facing the rail. Now stop and back her up very firmly. Once you are a safe distance from the rail, turn to the original direction and start over.  You can also turn a complete circle, thus moving Flower away from the rail and starting over. Just remember to make these little side trips unpleasant ones. After all, she started it! I like to use firm kicks and perhaps some taps with a crop or whip if I happen to have one handy. You may have to repeat your actions several times before the message is received. Be persistent and you will prevail.

            The most important thing to remember is what you expect of your horse. Never accept anything less than that. Any avoidance behavior can be corrected if caught quickly enough. That first stop or sideways step needs to be corrected quickly before it gets out of hand. Don’t wait until the horse has total control of the situation. By then it’s too late. Always remember your expectations and accept nothing less.

            You can never expect more than what you accept.  If you accept these kinds of naughty, avoidance behaviors, you can expect your horse to repeat them. If you don’t accept them and expect good behavior, you will get that as well. Happy Riding! unstubborn horseCheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor, Clinic Instructor and AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl graduated from Rawhide Vocational College and Fullerton College. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 35 years, training students from beginner up to world level competition. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted. For more interesting articles from Cheryl go to www.crktrainingstable.com

Ride the Horse and Ride the Exercise

crown

            There is an ancient story of a rich and powerful King who gathered all the wisest men in his kingdom and asked them to take on a quest. The King asked them to search the world for something that was true… always and forever TRUE. The King wanted to know that there was at least one thing he could always count on, so he would always feel secure.

            The wise men traveled the earth and conferred with other wise men. They searched and they pondered. They meditated and they discussed. They gathered all the information and experiences they could, and finally came up with only one answer.

            The wisest of the wise men approached the King and informed him that they could only find one thing in the universe that was ALWAYS true. With great anticipation and longing the King asked what it was.. The wise man looked at the King and said, “The only thing that is always true, is that everything changes.”

            This is so very true with horses and riders. Our horses are always evolving and changing. As riders we must keep up. My lesson students are always looking for something they can hang their hat on. Such as if they want to trot they would always squeeze their legs against the horses sides while making a clucking noise and the horse would always trot off. While I instruct them in the correct cues, horses can sometimes get rather opinionated about what the rider can and cannot make them do. Therefore; all riders must do at least two things- Ride the exercise and ride the horse.

            Let’s assume the exercise we are trying for is trot. The normal cue for your horse is squeeze your legs against the horses sides while IMG_0418_cropmaking a clucking noise. Well in reality that should work because that is how the horse is trained to respond. However; even the best behaved horse may be distracted by a scary bag blowing across the arena or a giant bird that just landed on the rail. In that circumstance the cue may be entirely different. You may need to get the horses attention with your reins, voice, seat or legs first. You may even need to turn the horse away from whatever is grabbing his attention. Then you can start all over with your cue, but you may have to increase the intensity of your cue all the way up to kicking or tapping with a whip.

            If the horse is just not being a willing participant in today’s little jaunt, they may require an entirely different set of cues before you can get the requested response. Using the previous example, you have used the usual cue for trot and the response was something like this- Your horse raised its head and stopped completely. Or perhaps they turned around and headed toward the gate. That horse may need to be corrected before you can get back to asking for the trot. You may need to turn the horse in a tight circle to get his feet moving again. Then you have to get the horse walking in the direction you first intended to go before you ask for the trot again.  My mantra here is the horse must be “Framed, Forward and Straight” before you can ask for a more forward gait. The horse must be-Framed– The horse should be moving in whatever frame you usually keep him in. Forward– moving willingly forward, not stopping or slowing down. Straight– not turning right or left with either his head or body. If you don’t have those three things, you chance of success goes down considerably.

            Here’s another example- Suppose the horse is cantering and you want to down transition to trot. The cues would be entirely different than trotting from walk, but the end result would be the same, a trotting horse. In this case, you might use your seat to get behind the horses motion. Or perhaps you would begin riding as if the horse was trotting. For most of my school horses, simply taking your legs off while speaking the word “easy” would be enough to make them break gait, but unless you put some leg back on after the break, you’ll be walking or maybe even stopped before you say “trot”! But, if you put too much leg back on once they break, they might just pop back up into a canter again. However; if my trusty school horse had a few days off due to rain or it’s a breezy, cold day, some pulling on the reins in addition to the other cues may be needed before you get the desired response. Posting too soon after the transition may also cause a return to canter, so it may be best to sit a few strides before you begin to post again. Of course it’s also possible that the horse is a little slow that day and wanting to walk. In that case, posting right away will get him moving out quicker and perhaps prevent a break all the way to walk.  Wow! So much can happen when all you wanted was a trot!

            Regardless of the desired outcome you must remember that every exercise with horses comes with options. You have to be willing and able to change your cues. Sometimes the cues may change every stride depending on how the horse does or doesn’t respond to them. A good rider will make the necessary adjustments to their seat, hands, legs and voice every time the horse moves. This will keep the horse moving in the desired direction, frame, speed, collection and gait. Ride the horse and ride the exercise. Being flexible and responsive will help you become the best rider you can be. And always remember what the King learned- “The only thing that is always true, is that everything changes.”changes

Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. Cheryl graduated from Rawhide Vocational College and Fullerton College. She is also an AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 35 years, training students from beginner up to world level competition. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted. For more interesting articles from Cheryl go to www.crktrainingstable.com

 

 

 

 

Are you ready to canter?

            As my students progress through our lesson program they always want to know when they can canter or lope. At the first interview, they usually ask when they get to run or gallop, which shows their lack of experience. As their instructor I have to give them an answer. When is a student ready to canter or lope? What skill set do they need to possess in order to safely and effectively begin learning canter?  How do you know if you are ready to make this all important leap into the next gait? Here are the skills I require of my students before I allow them to begin learning how to canter.

1. Students must have a basic understanding of the nature of the horse. That is- prey vs. predator animal.  Why- Because this will help them watch for situations that could put them in danger, such as a plastic bag blowing around the arena. I expect my students to always be in the position to protect themselves.

2. Students must be at least 6 years old and able to follow instructions given to them in a timely manner.   Why- This has to do with a riders strength, size and basic ability to ride the horse. I am not certified nor insured to teach less than able-bodied and able-minded  riders and therefore; don’t teach them. My insurance also limits me to riders 6 years old and up.

3. Students must be able to groom and saddle their horse. Why- I’m happy to help lift the saddle or bridle for the little ones, but otherwise they have to handle these tasks on their own.  If a student doesn’t take care of their horse, they miss out on the opportunity to master the horse from the ground. This will greatly reduce their mastery of the horse from the saddle.

4. Students must be able to ride proactively at walk and trot. Why- I insist that the students make the switch from reactive rider to proactive rider before they speed things up. This means they are actively steering and cueing the horse, not just responding to whatever the horse does or does not do. Once they make this change, they will progress quickly and have more control. Increased control will give them additional confidence. You must have a great deal of confidence in order to convince most school horses to canter. Without it you are doomed to failure before you start.

5. Students must be able to ride the extended trot, sitting, with control, balance and without holding on to the saddle or mane. Why- Many school horses don’t like to canter. Most will, at some time, get into an extended trot, either while attempting the upward transition or coming down from the canter. If the rider isn’t confident in the extended trot, they will be unable to safely get past it to a more manageable speed. They will grab the saddle and no longer be in control of the horse. While a rider is trying those first, early attempts to get the horse to canter, the gait is often obtained from the extended trot. While this is far from the ideal scenario, it happens all the same. The rider must be able to deal with it. And, of course, a rider must never post into the canter. Ever. Posting in of itself is a trot cue. You can’t cue for trot and canter at the same time and expect a good result.

6. Students must be able to stop the horse from any gait, at any time, with control and without hurting the horse. Why- If the rider is not confident that they can stop the horse, they won’t be willing to go faster. Without that confidence, they won’t get the canter in the first place. Often, horses will fall out of canter before the rider asks for it, therefore; the rider must be able to control the situation by stopping the horse. Confidence in their skills is what helps riders not be fearful.

7. All students must be able to post the trot. Knowing diagonals is good, but not necessary for canter.  This applies to Western riders as well as English ones. Why- If you never post into the canter, why do riders need to know this skill? Well, first of all, it helps the rider get in tune with their horse. It also helps with their timing for cues. Most important, if the horse fall out of canter into some crazy, horrible, bouncy, fast trot, the rider can simply post until they are able to slow the horse down and get things back into control.

8. Students must be able to ride all gaits up to an extended trot, in control, without stirrups, at least one entire lap of the arena. Why- Because riders lose stirrups. We don’t really plan it, but it happens. You certainly don’t want your student to panic, quit riding and grab the saddle just because they lost a stirrup. If the horse is already in canter, you could very quickly have a run-away on your hands. Riders who aren’t comfortable with no-stirrup riding will grab with their legs in their quest to hang on. This new “cue” tells the horse to go faster and most are happy to oblige. This will quickly escalate to a run-away situation that will, at best, cause your student to never want to attempt canter again, or at worst, cause a fall or injury. Hardly the desired outcome for the lesson.

9. Students must be able to regain lost stirrups while at the extended trot. Why- See number 8.

10. The rider must truly want to canter and not be overly fearful. Why- If the rider does not want to canter, they will do their best to not make it happen. They will cue wrong, they won’t cue firmly enough, or they just won’t cue at all. They say they are trying because they don’t want to admit the truth- that they are just not ready, emotionally. I always tell my students in advance that next lesson they can begin cantering. This gives them time to prepare mentally. I also give them a choice to attempt it or not. Some riders need encouragement, but you should never push a rider who is not ready.

            How far into your riding career were you before you cantered? Was it on purpose? Was it successful? What advice do you have for others out there who are beginning their equestrian journey? We welcome your tips, stories and advice.

Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. Cheryl graduated from Rawhide Vocational College and Fullerton College. She is also an AQHA Professional Horsewoman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years, training students from beginner up to world level competition. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted. For more interesting articles from Cheryl go to www.crktrainingstable.com

 

Summer Vacation Tips

It’s that time of year again. Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer! By now I’m sure you have all your vacation plans in order but have you forgotten anything? Or anyone? How about your horse? I know, he doesn’t get to go along, but who will be taking care of him?  A few years ago, I was going out of town for work and vacations. All together I was going to be gone for about 3 weeks and I didn’t have anyone at home to work my horse, KT. She was a little younger then and I didn’t trust her with just anyone. I made the decision to send her to my trainer friend for the month. She would receive some excellent training during my absence and would get to know a different place than the one she had lived at since the day she was born. I knew I wouldn’t have time to explain all her quirks and issues, plus who could possibly remember them all? So I made sure to write down all the information I felt the trainer would need.

If you are going out of town soon and leaving your horse behind, you can use this template as your guide.  That way you will be sure the caregiver has all the information they need before you leave.

Today’s Date May 22, 2012

Horses Name, age, breed, weight and height KT Tramps Lace Corset  aka “KT” or “Katie”, 5 yr. old, black & white, tobiano,  approx 16.1 hands, 1100 lbs., APHA/PtHA mare. You could include a copy of papers or a photo of your horse also.

Feed in all its forms, type and amounts-

Feed- AM- 1 flake (8 lbs) orchard or timothy grass hay + 1/2 flake (4-5 lbs) alfalfa. PM- 1 flake (8 lbs) Oat or three-way hay + 1/2 flake (4-5 lbs) alfalfa. For extra energy as needed- Feed 1-2  baggies COB-(corn, oats & barley) or decrease the grass and/or oat hay and increase the alfalfa. KT has been known to be food aggressive in the past, but has also been very well trained to eat carrots. She will do nearly anything equinely possible for peppermints.

HealthMy Vet- Dr. Great Vet – 714-555-3942
My Farrier- Mr. Wonder Shoer – 714- 555-1234
Health careHoof trim- 4/28/12 Vaccinations- WN, Rhino, Flu- 3/18/12,  WEE, EEE, Rhino, Flu, WN, Tetanus 10/11
Last de-wormer- Ivermectin  2/15/12
I authorize any vet care necessary including hospitalization and surgery. KT has no ongoing health issues that I am aware of and is not on any medication. Full health records are available from my vet. KT is currently barefoot. She does require trimming every 4-5 weeks. Insurance Info- Policy holder and number. Phone number of insurance carrier. or KT is not insured.

If they are going to be riding, give this info. If not, you could leave some of it out. You should always include any quirks that could pose a safety issue for anyone handling your horse. (See below) Remember, they may need to move or evacuate your horse, so be sure they know everything they need to in case of any emergency.

KT’s Quirks and Skills~

Tack & Equipment- Bridle & Bit- Smooth snaffle- Any bridle that fits well is fine.  Her bit is an offset D-ring snaffle with a sweet iron mouthpiece. She is fine with draw reins but finds them to be quite tasty and tries to partake often.  She has never been in a standing or running martingale.

Saddles, boots, etc. -She has been ridden both English and western and is fine either way. Red leather latigo straps will stain her white sides.  She is usually ridden in a full-quarter tree western. KT requires over-reach or bell boots as she will forge. Splint boots are recommended also. Don’t leave boots on while turned-out because she will remove them and enjoy them as a light snack. I usually ride her with a dressage whip. She has been ridden with English blunt spurs but, she is really not a fan. Use of western spurs with rowels will prompt her to assist you in dismounting immediately.

Blankets- I usually put blankets on over her head, but I’m the only one who has gotten it done without risk of personal injury.  She really hates blankets and has been known to bite so use of a halter and lead is a good idea. We don’t put a fly mask on her because she just takes it off, throws it to the ground and stomps on it. If an equine neighbor is willing to take those responsibilities off her hooves, she will happily surrender the offending mask as a sacrifice for the greater good of horsekind.

Basic Cues & What (I think) she knows-

KT clips, ties (cross ties or straight tie), bathes, trailers (Slant or straight load. You will need to lead her in. She will back out.), lunges, round-pens, etc. She has never been on a hot walker. She can be cinchy and will paw and move around when being saddled. We usually cinch her up in 2 or 3 steps and this helps.

Voice commands she knows- Words- “Walk”, “Trot”, “Canter”,  “Back” and “Whoa”, cluck for move, kiss for canter.  I try not to be too chatty while riding, but you know how it goes….

Under saddle KT is trained to – Walk, jog, trot, lope, canter, hand gallop, counter-canter on both leads and do simple lead changes.  She will also do- haunches in, shoulder in, leg yield (walk and trot only), side-pass, pivot on haunches and forehand both directions.  She is right hand (hoof) dominant and strongly prefers her right lead.

Of course, all this is in the arena. I don’t know how she will respond out on the trail. She tends to spook in place and doesn’t usually spin or run off. She has rarely bucked with a rider and has never reared. Bucking has only been in response to a disciplinary technique she found particularly oppressive.  She responds well to praise and loves to be scratched on her crest, withers and under her belly.  However, touching her udder will provoke kicking. At you. And her aim is pretty good. Just sayin’.

Our Contact Info-
Hotel California- 714-999-5555
We will be gone between 6/4 & 6/22 or whatever your time frame is.
My Name & Cell Phone #
People who can make decisions in my absence-
Mrs. Best Friend- Phone ##
Mr. Second Best Friend- Phone ##

Add what you wish done with your horse in your absence. You could also include what you don’t want your horse doing.

Desired skills for you to work on-

1.         Flying changes of lead both directions.

2.         Improve collection and head-set at lope on a loose rein.

3.         Trail riding.

4.         Increase suppleness and turning ability.

5.         Walking on water might come in handy to since she’s not fond of crossing streams!

Thanks, have fun and I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!

Sincerely,

Be sure to sign it! Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg. Owner

What information do you leave your equine care givers? Please add your comments and hints below. Thanks and have a great summer!

               Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. She is also an AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted. For more interesting articles from Cheryl go to www.crktrainingstable.com

Dream a Lofty Dream

“Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall at last unveil.”

John Ruskin

Many years ago I had a client who was looking for a new horse for her daughter, Caren. Caren had been riding the family horse for a few years. She had gone from a complete beginner to an accomplished show rider. It was time for her move-up horse. We were looking for an all-around horse that would be competitive on the PtHA and APHA circuits. We had looked at several horses so far, to no avail. They were either too English, too halter or too western.

After several months of looking they called me to check out yet another prospect. Her name was Mel. Mel was 5 years old and had not been shown. She had been well started and ridden extensively on trails. She had the breeding and look we wanted, but could she perform in all the events we needed her to do? Upon arrival at the barn, we were given free rein to try her out. I went through my usual pre-purchase checklist. I checked her stall manners, ground manners, conformation and way of going. So far so good. She was kind hearted and willing. She had a halter horse conformation and good legs.  We then saddled Mel up and the owner showed us what she knew. After that, I rode her and finally I put my student up. All went well during the evaluation. Things were looking good.

During the ride home we discussed Mel at length. She was somewhat green and would need some time and work to get her ready to show. Caren was certainly up for the task and willing to put in the needed time and effort.  My only concern was that Mel would be a much better Western horse than an English horse. She wasn’t very tall and was very stocky. If Caren was ok with possibly having limited success in English events, Mel would be a good choice. During the pre-purchase consultation it is my job to give the buyers information, not make the decision for them, and that is what I did here. We had passed on other horses for this same reason so I just gave them as much information about Mel as I could and then left the decision up to Caren and her family.

The next day Caren told me they had decided to purchase Mel. She flew through the vet check without a hitch and was very soon parked in Caren’s barn. I designed a training program for Mel that would get them to the show pen as quickly as possible. I made sure the plan worked to Mel’s strengths and weaknesses. By really pushing this mare to work as an English horse, I did my best to make her the all-around horse her owners wanted her to be. I didn’t just work her western because I knew that is where she would excel. I worked her on both disciplines because that is what the owners wanted. They knew Mel’s limitations before they bought her and accepted them. It was my job to make Mel the best she could be at everything her owners wanted.

We started Mel off at some local shows. She needed to get in the show pen and figure out how things worked. She had great success at this level in both the western and English events. Hmmm, guess our training program is working so far. It was time to head to the big time! We entered Mel and Caren in their first PtHA show. She showed in all the youth events, both English and western. At the end of the day, Caren came home with many first’s, seconds and thirds. Looks like we found a winner. As time went on Caren and Mel continued to improve. Finally the day had come; we were off to the PtHA World show!

By the time the show was over, Caren and Mel had 6 World Champion titles and 4 Reserve World Champion titles. The classes were English and Western, youth and open. I was so proud of them, I could bust! But the most important thing was that we didn’t give up on Mel going English. In fact, we worked extra hard on her English skills and she overcame her physical limitations and excelled! Had I given into my initial thought that Mel wouldn’t do well English, she wouldn’t have. Because I listened to my client’s wishes for Mel and did what they wanted, despite my concerns for success, Mel turned out to be a great All-Around Horse. I made sure I did what my client was paying me to do, not just trying to prove that I was right. In so doing all our dreams for Caren and Mel came true. We dreamed a lofty dream and unveiled our vision.

Let Cheryl help you unveil your riding dream! Call or email today and start on the path to your vision!

Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. She is also a registered AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted.

 

 

Honesty’s The Best Policy?

“Honesty is the most single most important factor having a direct bearing on the final success of an individual, corporation, or product.” Ed McMahon
 

    A few years ago I had a client named Delores who owned a horse named Rebel. Rebel was a nice enough horse but he was a small, very flashy palomino tobiano paint. Delores had purchased him as a yearling and she loved him dearly. Rebel had numerous trainers before he came to my place as a 3-year-old.  He was started, but had never loped or even trotted under saddle much. I worked with him for awhile and had him going pretty well. We even started him in a few local shows, where he held his own.

     His owner was quite happy with his progress and things were fine until one day when Delores asked me when Rebel would be ready to go on to the APHA shows. I informed her that Rebel was a great horse with lots of potential, but that he would not be competitive on the APHA Show circuit. He was not a good enough mover and at only 14.3 hands Rebel was just too small.  This was also during the time when tobianos had a hard time placing as well. She was not happy to hear the truth about her horse, but as her trainer I felt obligated to let her know where Rebel’s potential lie.

     Delores seemed ok, but I don’t think she really believed me. Like any “parent”, most horse owners don’t want to hear that their “child” has limits. Every horse has a limit. No amount of money, training, care, riding or supplements can change those limits.  You might be able to stretch them out a little, but they are still there. Sooner or later that limit will be reached.

     Things with Rebel and Delores continued on the same path until my accident.  It was early May and an accident put me in the hospital for 2 weeks. I would not be able to ride for many months. The doctors weren’t sure if I would ever ride again. Because of this, Delores began looking for someone else to take over Rebel’s training.

     When I got home from the hospital, Delores gave her notice. When I asked, she told me about her new trainer – “Ms. B”.  “Ms. B” showed exclusively at the APHA shows. “Ms. B” didn’t go to local shows and considered them a waste of time. “Ms. B” had viewed a video of Rebel taken at a show and told Delores that he would do wonderfully at APHA shows due to his flashy coat and excellent conformation.  It wouldn’t matter that he was small, he would do just fine. “Ms. B” had assured Delores that with some additional training Rebel would be winning at APHA shows by summer. I wished her the best as she packed Rebel up and sent him off.

     I didn’t think much about Delores or Rebel after that. I was busy working on my recovery and trying to get my life back in order. A very demanding schedule of Doctor’s appointments and physical therapy along with keeping up with my business kept me pretty busy. It wasn’t until around December of that same year, that I heard from Delores again. Rebel was for sale. Delores sent me a flyer picturing Rebel being shown in a Halter class, not under saddle. The description told of all his accomplishments at the local shows, how many PAC credits he had earned and how many years of training he had. It said nothing about any APHA points or wins at APHA shows.

     What had happened with Rebel? Why would she sell the horse she was so devoted to? I was intrigued so I gave Delores a call. Delores went on and on about how great “Ms. B” was. How she had put so much work into Rebel and how great he had done at the new barn. Then Delores said- “Rebel just doesn’t have what it takes to make it at the APHA shows. He’s too flashy and small, so I’m selling him and buying a new horse. “Ms B” has a great horse for sale so I’m going to buy him once I sell Rebel.”

     Hmmmm…Sounds familiar. Kind of like what I told Delores over a year ago. Well of course I didn’t say anything about that to Delores. I just wished her well once again and hung up the phone.

     I knew from the beginning that “Ms. B” knew Rebel didn’t have what it takes to make it at APHA. She just told Delores what she wanted to hear so she could reel her in hook, line and sinker. After she collected many months of training, show, board and whatever other fees she could get out of Delores she finally dropped the bomb. Rebel couldn’t do it. Well the bomb probably dropped all by its self when Rebel didn’t do well at the APHA shows. But hey, it’s not a problem! “Ms. B” had another horse that would work just fine. Not only did “Ms B” collect all those training fees, she would also get sales commissions on both Rebel and the new horse! Not a bad payday!  

     Maybe it’s just me, but I think “Ms. B” lied to Delores just to make money. Of course, given my situation at the time, I couldn’t keep Rebel in training anyway. But this has happened with other clients as well. I give them an honest assessment of their horse/child/riding ability and they don’t like it. They take their business elsewhere. They go to someone who will tell them what they want to hear. It is never too long after they move that I hear they have sold their horse and purchased a new one, but they never admit it when it turns out that I was right. Am I mistaken in thinking that this seems wrong? Or am I just deluding myself?  Has honesty in business gone the way of the Dodo? Do you need to tell clients only what they want to hear or should they be told the truth?

     As frustrating as it can sometimes be, this is what I have decided to live by. If I have to lie to get or keep business then it’s time for me to shut the barn door and call it a day. I believe if a client prefers to hear lies instead of the truth, that isn’t the type of client I want at my barn. If a person accepts lies they will probably tell them also. I don’t want clients who lie, period. Plus, lies are just too dang hard to keep track of. Lying will trip you up sooner or later so, for me, it’s just not worth it.

     What do you think? Is it OK to “be creative” (i.e. lie) to a client if that is what they wanted to hear? Is honesty always the best policy? Or does the answer lie somewhere in between?

     Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. She is also a registered AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted.

 

 

 

My First Horse Show

My First Horse Show

            When I was a kid, my friends and I decided to go to the local playday. We had never been in a horse show before but how hard could it be? I had owned my horse for over a year and we had come a long way from our very dicey beginnings. I looked at the requirements printed on the Playday premium.- Attire- Long-sleeved shirt, tie, long pants and boots. Well heck! I had most of those things already! The only thing I was missing was a tie so Mom took me to the local tack store and bought one. My “show outfit” consisted of my best pair of jeans, my only pair of boots, one of my brother’s old shirts and my brand new bolo tie.  I was ready to show!

            I wanted to go in as many classes as I could. Of course they all cost money, two dollars and fifty cents for each class! I had saved most of my allowance and babysitting money, so I had enough to go in most of the classes. I decided to enter – Bareback Equitation, Western Equitation, Western Pleasure, Trail, Speed Barrels, Texas Barrels, Single Pole, Pole Bending and Keyhole. I got my Mom to sign the entry form. I was all set!

            The only problem was that I didn’t have a clue what to do for each class. I got a book on showing horses from the library and all my barn friends shared their knowledge. The book helped some but I’m not so sure about the friends. We were all pretty much the blind leading the blind, but we had fun! I knew I needed more help so I talked my parents into letting me go to a horse show to watch. My brother dropped me and my friends off early in the morning. After watching the seemingly endless halter classes, we got bored and decided to wander around a little. Then we stumbled onto the trail arena. Now that was interesting! That one class- Trail- fascinated me. I watched those horses and riders for hours. I could do this one! Belle was a great Trail horse! We could go over or through anything on the trail. She would bravely stomp through any puddle or stream, over curbs, logs and sticks on the ground. Trail would be our class! I already pictured the blue ribbon hanging from Belle’s bridle.

            The big day came and we arrived at the show grounds after a long ride to get there. (Yes, we rode our horses to the show. How else would we get there?) After not placing in the first few classes (Wrong leads? What’s a lead?) it was time for the trail class. Finally my chance to shine. The judge carefully explained the course- Walk over the logs and bridge-check, jog through the cones- easy, pick up the slicker and put it down again- no problem, lope left lead from cone A to cone B- hmm that lead thing again-well give it a shot, walk through the tractor tire-simple, side-pass over the telephone pole and you’re done. Ok, fine, all pretty straightforward.  We can do all that. Oh wait-What? Side-pass? What’s a side-pass?

            Some very quick conversations ensued between us stable mates. Together we decided how to handle the side-pass obstacle. I waited, watched and finally my turn came. Belle and I stepped onto the course. She bravely stepped over the logs and onto the bridge-check. We weaved through the cones at a nice, slow jog- easy. After picking up and putting down the slicker-no problem- I cued Belle for lope. Off she went on the left lead! (Not that I knew that at the time!). She stopped promptly at cone “B”. Then we continued on to the tractor tire which proved to be as simple as I hoped it would be. Only one obstacle left- the side-pass. I stepped Belle over the telephone pole, looked at judge and said, “I don’t know how to sidepass.” I then stepped off the pole and walked off the course. This was how my friends had decided to handle the obstacle, not do it at all. I knew I had blown it. My only chance for a ribbon and I hadn’t even tried.

            We all lined back up for the announcing of the awards. I was pretty bummed but we all waited together while they went through the placings from 1st to 5th. When they got to fifth place the announcer called “And in fifth place- Cheryl Rohnke riding Belle Star.” I had gotten a ribbon in Trail! Even after I gave up, I still placed! All my friends cheered and I stepped forward and got my ribbon. I was so happy and proud. All my “work” was paying off after all!  I could win at horse shows!

After the awards were handed out the judge approached me. She said that if I had done the side-pass, I would have won the class. She wished me luck and wandered off to judge her next class. I would have won the class! Those simple words made my day! But of course they did bring about some questions. Why didn’t I at least make an effort to side-pass? Why did I listen to my friends and just quit? I had watched all the other riders’ side-pass. I figured out the cue, so why didn’t I even try?

Because I listened to my friends, that’s why. When you are 12 years old and at your first show without parents, a trainer or anyone but your friends, that is who you rely on. At the end of the day, they would be who I rode home with. Tomorrow we would be back at the barn complaining about who won and figuring out why we lost (Because we didn’t have fancy outfits, of course!). After that, we would be working to improve our horses and ourselves for the next show. And together, we would all learn to sidepass.

Later in life, after receiving lots of instruction, I would train another horse for Trail. Together we ended the year number 2 in the nation. It just goes to show that you can make it if you work hard, do your homework, get the proper help and don’t give up!

We welcome your comments and questions. Tell us about your first competition or a special memory from your first barn friends.

Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. She is also a registered AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted.

 

What IsYour Riding Dream?

 

      What will you do today to improve yourself, your situation, your riding? Will you surround yourself with those people who will help you achieve your goals? Or will you stay with the same ole’ same ole’?  So many of us go by the old adage- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But maybe you just haven’t realized that it’s broken. Someone defined insanity as -Doing the same thing but expecting a different outcome. Are you doing the same things with your horse and expecting a different outcome? If you want your riding/horse/training/show results to change you have to change something you are currently doing.

      One of my long-time students was having fun with her horse. Every lesson focused on learning an entertaining new skill. She could do many things with her horse- canter leg-yield, flying lead changes, jumping, trail obstacles, etc. She was a jack-of-all trades but master of none. She had also had a great deal of success at small, local shows. She had taken herself and her horse far and wanted to move up to a higher level of competition. So she packed up her trailer and off she went to one of the big, breed shows. Unfortunately, her results weren’t that great. So she tried again with the same result. After yet another less than stellar show she decided it was time to make a change. She wanted the focus of her lessons to be fine-tuning her horse for the show pen. So we looked for the areas she needed to fix. We decided on some short-term and long-team goals. Then we got to work. Her lessons got hard. We no longer had the light-hearted lessons that were fun but didn’t get her to her goals. She worked hard during her lessons and I gave her homework. Her next show was better. The changes were working. She was getting closer to her goals, but was not quite there yet. With more time and hard work she will go far, but she needed to make some changes. And she is having a lot of fun now that the program is getting her to her goal.  

      Now is the time to look at your riding program. Are you reaching your goals? Or are you just having fun but not making any progress? Not that there is anything wrong with having fun, but it’s possible that will not be enough for long. If you have a trainer you are already working with, perhaps it’s time to ask them to change your program. Re-define your goals with them and create a plan to work toward those goals. As a trainer who has some very long-term clients I know the lessons can get stagnant over time. I often find myself looking for fun new ways to keep these riders engaged and learning new things. I always ask my clients what they want to do that day as well. Is there a particular thing they want to work on like leg-yield, side-pass, canter transitions, recognizing leads, etc? When was the last time your trainer asked you what you want to learn? Yesterday, last month or ever?

      If your trainer has reached the limit of their knowledge, look elsewhere for help. If the knowledge is there, but they aren’t sharing it with you, something is wrong. You are paying them to teach you. You deserve to get what you are paying for. Your lesson dollar is hard earned, don’t waste it. Ask them what you should be learning to get to your goal. No goal? FIND ONE! If you don’t know, ask your trainer. It’s their job to help you define your goal and help you reach it. After you reach that goal, dream up a new one! Just like my student, she had a goal- to have fun learning new things. Her goal changed so the focus of her lessons did as well. Her dream changed.

      Your trainer should be a dreamer who has their feet firmly planted on the ground. Your trainer should be helping you reach your dream, not their dream for you. Well, actually, both you and your trainer should have the same dream for you.

  I welcome your comments and questions about lesson goals or other topics. You may attend my discounted lessons during November to try some different riding ideas.  Go to the events page to see dates and details of upcoming classes. Feel free to share this article with your friends! Enjoy the Ride!

 

 

 

 

It Happened Again…

           I did an evaluation lesson last week.  In case you don’t know, an evaluation lesson (“Eval”) is for those riders who have been riding on their own or taking lessons at another facility prior to coming to CRK Stable. These riders have differing levels of skill so an “eval” is necessary to determine which CRK level, class or program they belong in. Some have been riding for quite some time while others are still in the early stages of their riding careers. Either way, I bring them all in for an “eval”. After 90 minutes or so, I determine what their skill level is, what their goals are and what class would be best for them.

          During the “eval”, I ask loads of questions, watch them handle the horse and ride. Sometimes, I just get to ask questions and request certain things, like posting trot, left lead canter, back-up, side-pass etc. Other times their skills aren’t where they should be for the length of time they have been riding. At those “Evals”, I have to do lots of teaching.  

            At the end of the Eval Ride, I usually talk with the client and the parents involved and inform them of what I have seen, where the gaps in their skills are and why. I then proceed to give them our (the CRK) version of where they will need to go and exactly how I intend to get them there.  Usually several different lesson options are given, so the rider can choose which path they want to go down. Parents and rider alike are usually very appreciative of this process.  Sometimes, it is the first time they have been asked what their goals are. Often, they have no idea that there is a natural progression of the skills they should be learning. No one ever told them about it before. Some of these riders have been riding for many years and still haven’t been able to choose a goal for themselves. They have simply gone along with what they were told by their previous instructor. 

            So that brings me to what happened again. Just last week, I gave an eval lesson to a rider who had been taking lessons for several years. I asked the usual questions and observed the rider attempting several different skills, both on the ground and in the saddle.  Due to their limited skill, I had to do a great deal of teaching during the eval. At the end, I was explaining that despite the fact that the rider had been taking lessons for quite some time, they still lacked many of the basic skills necessary to move into group lessons. I offered them a private lesson program to bring them up to speed in the areas they were lacking. They quickly jumped at the chance. As we completed all the paperwork, they told me…

“I received more instruction during this one lesson than I have the entire time I was taking lessons at (insert facility name here).”

           Unfortunately, I hear this way too often. I think this is very unfair to those riders. They are paying for instruction they just aren’t getting. They don’t know that it should be different. They trust the people they are paying. It is not until they have spent many hours and many hundreds or even thousands of dollars that they figure it out and move on. Some just quit altogether, and that’s really sad. This shoddy way of doing business is bad for the industry. It gives horse people a bad name.

            So, if you are taking riding lessons somewhere, take a moment to think about why you started the lessons in the first place. What was your goal? Now, looking at that goal, are you making consistent progress toward it? Do you feel great after a lesson  because you just learned something new? Or maybe you finally mastered that skill you have been working on for awhile?  Or, are you feeling defeated, unchallenged and uninspired?

            Can your current trainer get you to your goals? If so, great! Hopefully they have the skills and experience to continue your progress. If it’s not going as you envisioned it would, have a chat with your instructor about your goals. Ask them how they intend to help you meet them. Just make sure they know what your goals are and that you are making consistent progress toward them. If not, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere. Don’t forget who is paying whom here. Your trainer works for you, not the other way around. You are paying for their advice, instruction, and help. They need to remember that and respect your wishes. Riding lessons are expensive. Make sure you are getting your monies worth.  

            At CRK Training Stable we use the Certified Horsemanship Association Riding program. This Internationally recognized program ensures our riders always know what they need to accomplish to progress to the next level. Written, practical and riding tests keep all our riders and instructors working toward the same goals. As a Certified Master Instructor, I am able to work with all levels of riders from beginners to very advanced. You can rest assured that your goals can and will be met at CRK Training Stable. And we always know who we work for-Our Clients!

Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. Cheryl graduated from Rawhide Vocational College and Fullerton College. She is also an AQHA Professional Horsewoman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years, training students from beginner up to world level competition. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article in any format including digital and print are restricted. You must have written permission from the author to use this material.  For more interesting articles from Cheryl go to www.crktrainingstable.com