The name of my ranch is Forever T Ranch. My business is called Forever T Ranch Equine Training and Rehabilitation. I recently had someone ask me, “What do you mean by rehabilitation?” I have to refer to the way I have been training Broker, my 18 year old gelding. Broker is my first horse. I got him from someone, who said that the previous owner before her used him as a roping horse. She had him for about 2 years and in that time boarded him with a full service boarder, and took him on a couple trail rides. Then I took him over. As my first horse, it goes without saying that I handled him inconsistently and unknowingly taught him many bad habits. Despite his bad habits, I had some riding lessons with him and was still able to successfully trail ride him on and around my family’s property for a couple years. I always described him as a “big boss man,” but I was happy with our trail rides, didn’t know any better, and let him be the boss. Every once in a while as we were riding he would hop his back end up a little, but I just assumed he was trying to get a fly off and ignored him.
It was while riding him early in my second pregnancy that I felt, and realized he had a buck. I actually was riding him double with my oldest daughter. He let out a couple small bucks, and I immediately got myself and my daughter off. I didn’t want to risk anything with my pregnancy and decided to stop riding him until after the baby was born. Once my daughter was born, it didn’t take long and I was back in the saddle. I was so excited to be riding again, the only problem was that his couple small bucks, had turned in to more frequent, bigger bucks. Just riding at a walk around my family’s property, we couldn’t go much longer than 5 minutes without him bucking. I loved riding, and loved my horse too much to give him up. I decided I was going to learn how to fix this issue myself. After attempting a few methods that didn’t seem to work for me, I found the subscription training program, Warwick Schiller Performance Horsemanship. The videos posted showed amazing results and all I could think about was how much I wanted my horses to perform as his did. With my background in Applied Behavior Analysis, not only did I easily see the success he was having with the horses in his videos, but I completely understood the science behind it. I soon began following his program with Broker.
So where do you start training with an 18 year old ex-rope horse? The same place you start with a filly, or an 8 year old green broke horse, at the beginning. I took Broker back to the very basics of groundwork and we worked our way up through hooking on, desensitizing, sensitizing, lateral flexion, disengaging under saddle, first rides, walk/trot/canter on a loose rein… so the list goes on. I was seeing success and found that I was able to solve most of the bucking problem while on the ground. The trouble was, I still was getting a buck when I asked him to transition from a trot to a canter. I took Broker to Ohio for a clinic put on by Warwick Schiller himself. It was here that I discovered just how lazy Broker actually was, and that the reason the buck was still lurking around was that I had failed to really get my horse “doing more than me.” Under Warwick’s guidance at the clinic, I learned how to get my horse “doing more than me” while riding. I took those techniques home and continued to work through this issue with Broker and can now proudly say that his bucking problem is gone.
The bucking problem may be gone, but Broker is not finished learning. As I said, when we started working through his problem, we started at the beginning. We are always working on improving those skills, while I continue build on his strength and endurance teaching him new skills. His history is not real clear to me, I am not sure exactly what he used to know (and may still know), but that does not matter. Whether training a young horse or rehabilitating an older horse who has developed a problem or two, you start at the beginning and take the time that it takes to get every step good before moving on. When sticking to this plan, there is no telling how far you and your horse will go.
I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), who has taken my knowledge in Applied Behavior Analysis, and the methodology of expert horse trainers, to create an Equine training program that is anything but average. Working with my own horses has led me to discover my passion for not just training horses, but practicing quality horsemanship. For the best interest of the horses, I hope to spread this interest in quality horsemanship.