As we pause again for Thanksgiving this year, we are ever grateful for the Lord's blessings in our lives, and the many opportunities we get to share His blessings with those of you who find our trail in the wilderness of the horse world and follow where it leads. Humbled by the one-on-one connection and the relationships we make with our horse clients and students, we have to thank the horse for being the catalyst that brings these people together for us to influence, sharing positive changes for their lives and worthy goals for their life with horses.
Fall has given way to winter, and the long-awaited overdue rains finally arrived with a fury. After our 90-day drought, October and November have left us mired in mud here at the Wil Howe Ranch, only helping to remind us why we have headed to Arizona the past 10 winters. Wow! Has time has flown! The nasty weather caused us to postpone taking videos of our horses. We love to film them during the fall colors, which actually were quite were spectacular this year! But we hope to get that done as part of the growing list of fall chores to be accomplished before heading south in January.
Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving...
Beverly & Wil, Katie Cowdog, and the WHR Crew
WHR Geldings...Getting it Done...
Our new fall geldings have added to the excitement here, as we always enjoy seeing the new personalities and getting them conditioned to a new life...the WHR Way. They are seen by the equine dentist, have a session with the chiropractor, and learn a new set of rules for ground manners, with hobble training the first thing on the list! Then the work begins, in molding and schooling our new pupils into the being the best they can be, starting with Wil's 10 Steps; learning a whole new way of giving to the bit, yielding to pressure, and leg aids and spurs. Then later, before being offered for sale, they melt into our velvet neck rein and soft feel in a full bridle.
Regardless of how a horse is trained, or how much they supposedly know when we get them, we take them back to kindergarten and put them through "Boot Camp" in our Foundation to Finished program. We peel away the layers like an onion and work on developing their true nature, giving these mature horses a whole new set of standards. It's different than building a colt from scratch; we reform and educate adult horses. It's like sending a 35- or 40-year-old man back into the military...Basic Training is a lot easier with an 18-year-old youth. But as Wil has proven for over 30 years now, a "good one" is always trainable at any age, and you can put an aged horse to use right now and he can handle the pressure of a full day's work. Some take a little longer to re-program, but when they get it, they get it, with positive lasting results.
As we put them to the acid test here, we strive to attain a level of training that leaves our influence and style stamped on these horses for life. We have some great horses this year, and we look forward to offering them this winter as they prove to be another worthy group of geldings. Keep an eye on our Gelding page for photos and information as the new ones come along, and contact Wil at 651-893-6535 for more details and pricing on our present string, as we are presently booking visits for clients.
Arizona Winter Schedule...Join us in the Sunshine!
We eagerly anticipate the coming of the holidays, as they will usher in a New Year and our journey south to the Arizona sunshine! Do check out our 2013 Southwest OutPost school schedule and plan to join us. Sign up now for savings!
WHR Gift Certificates Available for Christmas!
Don't forget, you can always give the gift of knowledge by buying a WHR gift certificate for a loved one. We can customize them to reflect a School tuition, a series of Private Clinic lessons, WHR tack, or DVD's. Just contact Beverly with your wishes and we'll accommodate them!
WHR Winter Horse Care Tips...
As the mud increases, we make a point to bring our horses into the barn and relieve them from hours of standing out in the mud. If a horse stands too long in the moisture, they can develop scratches, a weepy fungal infection on their legs, or thrush, a bacterial infection of the hooves.
Simply rinsing their legs and allowing them to stand in a dry environment for a few days makes a huge difference. Using anti-thrush treatments and anti-fungal agents found on-line, at you local feed store, or from your Vet, will give your horse the added protection he needs to stay healthy in these wet months. We rotate our geldings, bringing them in out of the pasture, rinsing their legs and hooves off, and leaving them standing tied on gravel, rubber mats, or on the wood floors of our stalls. Then we turn them out in our small indoor arena to roll, romp, and relax while the sand draws the moisture out of their hooves. By rotating them daily, three days in, three out, or even every other day, we can stay on top these fungal issues and keep them from getting out of hand.
WHR Grapevine News...
Congratulations to Carla Pusateri and her WHR gelding, Jasper, who won several Championships at the NW Mountain Trail Championship and Nationals competition in Eugene, Oregon, earlier this month. We'll update you in December with photos.
The awesome challenges offered at the Oregon Horse Center's indoor Mountain Trail Championships have made this event become increasingly popular over recent years. Each year the bar is raised for what a well-trained and experienced horse is capable of accomplishing, with new obstacles to test the horse's trust and athleticism and the rider's confidence, re-defining horsemanship and requiring total cooperation between horse and rider. It is truly an event designed to showcase a Wil Howe-trained versatility gelding!
We have competed in the past, enjoying the event immensely, and have inspired others to give it a whirl. It points out where you and your horse have holes and gives a fun and challenging way to work on your horsemanship goals. Every one of our students or horses who have participated have placed in some class or another, with their WHR horse being the greatest contributor to their success. There is no substitute for a well-trained and "exposed" horse. Though we rarely make appearances anymore, we are still hard at work at home, making more "good ones" for folks like Carla and you, continuing to offer what we call the finest Versatility "Cadillac" Trail Horses.
WHR Winter Riding Tips...
Don't let the foul weather hamper your relationship with your horse. Just bringing him in from the pasture and tying him up and hobbling him for a few a hours or all day does wonders to keep your horse dialed in on you, patient and respectful. Even if it's muddy, an occasional round pen session won't hurt your horse or you! If we flat-out can't use the round pen, we occasionally bit up our horses in a box stall and let them stand and work it out for 20 to 30 minutes straight up and 10 to 15 minutes side-to-side.
Riding out in nasty weather is never fun if you get cold or wet--the key is dressing for it! With today's innovations in riding gear, there is no reason why you can't continue riding outside at some level all winter long. We use Carhart bib coveralls for warmth and comfort, not fashion. What a joy to be warm when at the barn and in the saddle! And with the Gortex gear they have for rainwear, we know many dedicated trail riders on Oregon's west side who ride regardless of the rain! If it's just wet out and not a downpour, your horse will enjoy the time outside, too. We always recommend prep-work and a good WHR warm up session which will ensure a fun and safe ride, rather than taking chances and piling on your horse while he is fresh and frisky, as they often are in unpredictable cool weather.
People often ask us why horses get so silly and boogery on windy days or during cooler, unsettled weather. Well, horses are so sensitive to barometric pressure that they know when a storm is brewing. God gave them the instinct for survival to be wary and get off the plains or desert and head to a canyon for shelter from the wind, weather, and lightning. In addition, the wind keeps the horse's surroundings ever-moving and flickering about. With their limited vision, this can be quite unnerving to a horse and results in their over-reacting and becoming very defensive about their surroundings. Blur your eyes and look around--that is what horses see. When you add everything moving, like when the wind is blowing, you can understand their inability to cope at times. Bless their hearts! Instead of getting mad at your horse for the seemingly absurd ways they use their survival instincts, use this information and understand them instead. Remember, even a calm-natured horse can become a flighty, insecure, and often unpredictable mount in crazy weather. So the need for focus on your part, as the leader, is all the more important...be sure to have you horse's complete attention. If not absolutely necessary, we avoid days that are too wild for riding or training; it makes it tough on both horse and rider.
If you have no indoor arena, make a day of it and haul out to a local indoor arena. Many are available for winter riding or evening open riding sessions. This gives your horse exposure to others, and gives you a chance to keep working your horse and time in the saddle.
We enjoy checking cattle in the winter or just merely seeing some country out on the trail. Be cautious of ground that may be too wet on hillsides like where we live in Hells Canyon country, but riding in the timber can be lots of fun, even in a few inches of snow. Snow can even be helpful--like riding in soft sand. We used to lope circles in the pastures, leaving big figure eights in the snow. They make bigger stirrups now to accommodate winter pack boots. You can also put rubber snow popper pads on your horse that will keep the snow from balling up on shoes. If you have a cowboy hat, a duster, your bibs or long johns and chinks on, and tapadaras on your stirrups, you can ride in any kind of snowy weather or timber with falling clumps of snow--it'll just slide right off and never touch ya!
However you decide to maintain your relationship with your horse thru the winter months, there are lots of options; just take the time and do as much as you can. You'll reap the benefits come spring. If you are a confirmed "fair-weather rider", well then, we suggest coming and joining us in Arizona! Attend one of our Schools or Private Clinic sessions...you can even send your WHR gelding ahead of time for a refresher tune-up before the class. Till then, put on your long underwear or Carharts and go spend some time enjoying your horse. It'll be good for both of you! For a few more wintertime tips, visit our website Articles page.
Dear Beverly & Wil...
Jasper absolutely blew me away! I showed him for the first time in the main Silverado Arena (you'd be absolutely AMAZED at the stuff they have in there now), hoping we'd make a decent showing but realizing some of it might be a bit much for him, and just wanting to find out what we needed to work on. Here's our tally:
Nov. 2-4, 2012 NW Mountain Trail Championships Results
Logan Arena Trail Course
3 Day Circuit Champion - Colored Horse
3 Day Circuit Champion - Novice Horse (he's now out of the Novice division in the Logan!!) Silverado Arena Mountain Trail Course
3 Day Reserve Champion
"Back-to-Basics" Champion - Canine Companion (only one go in that)
Nov 8-10, 2012 National Mountain Trail Championships Results
Logan Arena Trail Course
3 Day Circuit Champion - Gelding/Stallion
Silverado Arena Mountain Trail Course--(all 3-day)
Reserve Champion - Amateur Rider 18-49
Reserve Champion - In-Hand Novice Horse
Reserve Champion - Novice Horse
The Novice Horse class was HUGE, and we lost the Championship to open trail horse trainer, JoLinn Hoover, by only 3½ points over the three days. Too fun! This was only Jasper's second mountain trail show!!!
Jasper went through a sinking water box, a fog-filled deep ditch which he's never seen, a mud/shavings bog, up the creek to the waterfall, besides all of the normal up and down rocks and logs, under, over, and through everything you can think of, over poles, in gate in the pond, cowhides everywhere, raising/lowering cowhides, etc. Dragging logs through ditches, which I've never tried before, but he leg-yielded beautifully for me so I could get the log "spot-on" in the ditch...the list goes on and on and on! Backing in and out of things (he has a BEAUTIFUL reverse), etc. He was absolutely non-fussed by any of it, except the sinking water box. He stepped down, it sank, he tried to exit left, I gave him more leg--"No, you're not going anywhere"--and he stood there, then walked quietly through.
The fog ditch followed that obstacle, and there was so much fog from the dry ice that I couldn't see the ditch, which you entered coming down a hill. I pointed where I thought it was; I literally said to him "You're just going to have to trust me buddy," gave him a little spur, and in we went. He was frightened, so he was bridled up, but he calmly walked in and out. I was really scared of those two obstacles, which appeared on the last day, my heart was pounding. I just couldn't believe he did them both. I was in tears before I hit my last obstacle on that go. Other than that, he really never looked twice at anything and we had no zeros!!!
I've been continuing your teachings of being the one in charge and having more confidence in Jasper, as well as getting in tune with using small cues and riding in the romel reins. It really has paid off, and he's just waiting for me to catch up. He is just so willing, and I expected we'd be competitive at some point, but I never expected this on his second show! He's had some big shoes to fill and you just couldn't have found a better horse for me. I think he would have walked through fire if I'd asked him.
You can brag, it's okay, 'cause you sure found & trained a great one!! Everyone loves him and asks where I got him, and I say "Wil & Bev Howe!!!!" You'd have been very proud of him!!