Wil Howe Shares Knowledge for the Hungry Horseman
Video Series Review (condensed) - America’s Foundation Quarter Horse Journal, January 1998
The philosophies and unique approach to horse training of renowned trainer and clinician , Wil Howe, are now available in a three-part, five-hour video series entitled "From Foundation to Finished ©" and are some of the best we have seen in years! Although there are a lot of training videos on the market today, it seems like every trainer has one out, many don’t seem to get their point across. This is definitely not a problem with this series of videos. Wil takes you from the groundwork with your horse in the round pen to the finished stage of advancing your horse in the bridle with in depth instructions. Wil claims with his "From Foundation to Finished ©" program applied to it’s fullest a horseman seeking tangible information will have the tools to advance their horse to any performance level they choose, be it ranch work or the show arena, and we have to agree.
The first in the series of three videos is "Establishing Leadership From the Ground Up". In this video, Wil explains the interaction between you and your horse and covers horse psychology and the concept that horses are herd animals and require a leader in their life. Wil relates your leadership role to parental guidance: "you must take the responsibility of being in charge." This tape teaches the necessary techniques for getting the most out of your round pen training sessions. The round pen is very effective, yet we see it often misused today. Wil says, "horses often are running the show in their ground work and continue to show that disrespect in the round pen. Many people just go through the motions for lack of understanding and end up using the round pen for mere physical exercise for their horse rather than for a mental exercise, therefore not attaining the correct results." In this video, Howe clearly explains in easy-to-understand language what your goals are and how to achieve them. In the round pen, you learn how to read you horse’s body language, and just as importantly, he learns to interpret yours. Wil shows you how to get your horse going and exactly what signs to look for in his responses. By learning these signs of giving, you learn when to reward your horse when he does what you want. All of this helps you gain your horse's undivided attention and creates a willing attitude of trust and respect. An important part of this process includes hobble training and ground manners.
The second in the series is the "10 Step Training Program". On this tape, Howe takes you through a series of easy- to-follow, well done instructions that will result in a willing, responsive horse. This program works for training both young colts or "tuning up" older horses. He talks a great deal about the importance of soft hands, use of your legs, and timing. Starting with bitting up exercises, establishing a headset and collection as your horse learns to give to the bit, Wil follows with teaching you how to attain complete control of four corners of your horse. These steps including collection, reverse, roll backs, stops and much more are the very foundation for training any performance horse. This is one of the best videos to come along in years. Following the process of this video, one can achieve a lighter, more responsive animal. Howe insists that the sequence in which these ten steps are taught is the key; like building blocks, each step is dependant on the one that came before. He stresses not rushing the horse, and if you encounter a problem, go back to the last step the horse was comfortable with and slowly bring him forward again. "A well-broke horse is your best teacher, but keeping one well-broke and tuned is an art in itself. I try to show people how to keep the edge on their horses. Whether just trail riding or competing in shows, performance is performance!"
The last in the series of three tapes is "Beyond The Snaffle Bit". After your horse has gone through the ten-step program successfully and is riding well in the snaffle bit, it is time to put him in a bridle to make him truly a finished horse. A common problem we see in today's horse world is the lack of information dealing with how to advance one's horse past the "green colt" snaffle bit stage. Wil’s program and videos seem to offer the missing link. Wil is an advocate of the results from the traditional California-style of finishing horses, and he teaches his own easy-to-follow steps for advancing a horse from the snaffle to the curb and how to put a rein on any horse. This art of finishing horses, teaching a horse to handle in a full bridle, Wil’s specialty, is rarely offered to the public.
In this third video, Wil goes beyond the plateau of the snaffle bit two-handed pulling technique of directing a horse and shares priceless skills on how, when, and why to advance your horse to neck reining, one-handed, in a finished leverage curb bit. It includes detailed techniques on how to progress through a series of bits and shares how different bits and reins affect and can refine your horses responses. It also covers in detail more advanced finishing and reining maneuvers and their practical application for everyday riding.
Wil Howe is a cowboy, horseman, and philosopher, having spent 30 years making a living with horses, mainly Quarter Horses. He spent 10 years cowboying on ranches in Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana before settling in Oregon where he got started in the competitive world of showing in which he specialized in reined cow horses & cutting horses. Since then, he and his wife, Beverly, have developed a reputation for training and producing the all-around, well-broke horse by the high standards of their top-performing and high-selling geldings throughout the West.
This all-around, well-broke horse with the traits and training Wil seeks to produce, exemplifies the true Quarter Horse and what the Foundation Quarter Horse Associations are trying to promote.
In this first in a series of three training videos, Wil Howe gives you "The Proper Perspective," as he calls it. A noted trainer and clinician, he offers his philosophies and techniques in a simple, straightforward style. Practical, useful, understandable information is what everyone looks for in a training tape, and Howe delivers just that.
The "perspective" is made clear in a short pep talk at the beginning of the tape. Howe explains where he’s coming from, where the horse is, and where you should be. He discusses the horse’s herd and prey animal instincts and level of intelligence. To develop a relationship with the horse, Howe explains why you must learn to be the leader and teach your horse to be a good follower.
Howe demonstrates how that’s done in the round pen. He works three horses, individually, until each is in tune with him, pays attention to him, and is submissive. The horses are of different ages and temperaments, and none had seen the round pen before the taping of the video. It’s helpful to see horses whose reactions are what you can probably expect from your horse when you try the techniques.
One of the most valuable lessons Howe teaches is recognizing the signs or horse body language that tells you what the horse is thinking or feeling. They are subtle and often missed by those unfamiliar with this brand of horsemanship. Horses communicate through these signs, and recognizing them helps us to better understand and communicate with the horse.
The tape concludes with sections on hobble training and ground manners. Howe demonstrates what hobbling can do for a horse with respect to mental and physical restraint. Ground manners are an extension of the respect system you need to employ in any of your dealings with horses.
The video is almost an hour long and the production quality is excellent. A booklet reinforcing the material covered in the video is included.
Watch for reviews of the other two videos in the series--#2 10-Step Training Program, and #3 Beyond the Snaffle Bit, in future issues.
Wil Howe and his wife Beverly have been a presence on the horse show circuit for a great many years. He has shown everything from pleasure horses to cutters, reiners, and working cow horses. Along the way, he has developed a very strong philosophy about training and showing horses. A new set of video tapes, titled "From Foundation to Finished", are now available. The videos are useful to the horseman developing a young prospect and for re-training older horses.
The first video, titled "The Proper Perspective", deals with the most effective aids in training your horse, including the all-important round pen. Wil uses different horses to illustrate each point, even proving the worth of his advice by using horses of different ages and temperaments. He talks extensively about the response patterns in the horse and body language in both horse and handler. The video creates a path to understanding the most direct route to respect and trust between the handler and the horse.
The second video, titled "The Formula for Success", includes the specific steps necessary to create the finished, willing horse. Whether planning for a show career or a trail horse, this video will help you achieve control over a balanced and attentive horse. Howe teaches control of all "four corners" of the horse. He teaches exercises that will help your horse become a better performer. He talks a great deal about your hands, use of legs, and timing. His explanation of such important training segments as use of spurs and the horse’s comfort zone is done simply but with great attention to detail. Some tapes may be brilliant examples of the trainer’s talents, but land over the head of the average horseman. The is not the case with the Howe tapes.
The tapes will help you in or out of the show ring.
Wil Howe’s training videos will make sense to anybody who has worked their own horse and wondered why faithful IBN Boo-Boo didn’t perform well. Howe takes a very down-to-earth approach to getting and keeping your horse’s attention, but he doesn’t dissect the matter into too fine a detail which often leads the viewer to believe they’ve missed something in "step 6, part B, subsection 23.5, line 207."
To train horses you have to be born with some talent and natural ability, but to enjoy handling or riding horses is within the reach of all persons who can dedicate themselves to learning the basics--a discipline which Howe makes easy to learn.
Howe, unlike many of his peers, explains that at times a horse needs to be bit up, tied back or around, and that "attention" must be gotten.
With all the round-pen revolutionaries out there in the market today, Howe is one of the best at keeping the message simple, honest, and results-oriented. Your end result, having watched the video, will be increased knowledge of working your horse not only in the snaffle, but also the bosal and bridle.
If you’ve got space for two more horse videos on the shelf, then these two would be excellent additions to your library.
In the second video of his three tape series, noted clinician and trainer Wil Howe offers his 10-step program for training horses. He covers the fundamentals of bitting, rein response, body position, and much more.
With his straightforward approach to riding, Howe makes complicated maneuvers simple. He has dissected all the necessary parts of intricate maneuvers and broken them down into small, manageable steps any rider can accomplish. One step builds upon the other steps, and once learned by the horse, they can be combined into the fancy performance of highly-trained horses.
The hour-and-a-half tape begins with Wil discussing the nature of the horse, going over some of the points he thoroughly presented in his first video (Establishing Leadership From the Ground Up), reviewed in our July issue.
The heart of this tape is the 10 steps, which are laid out in a logical sequence. With exercises, Wil builds a finished product-an obedient, willing, and reliable horse. They are the basis for collection, and actually for anything you do on a horse.
Howe’s entire program is a nice balance between the horse psychology and behavior theories and riding applications preached by today’s horsemanship clinicians and the show ring techniques used by successful performance horse trainers. What you get is the best of both worlds for you and your horse.
Like the first tape, this one is well done with good picture and sound. It comes with a Notes & Reminders pamphlet, so you can review the various sections of the tape.
The last video of this series will be reviewed at a late date, and is titled Beyond the Snaffle. In it, Wil shows how to advance to neck-reining and a leverage bit. The work in Tape #2 is all done using a snaffle.
This is the third in a series of fine videos offered by horsemanship clinician and top trainer Wil Howe. It presents the culmination of his logical step-by step training program which produces a quiet, well-trained horse suitable for any task, from the demands of the show ring, to ranch work, or to a relaxing trail ride.
Wil lays the groundwork for this tape in his first two: #1 Establishing Leadership from the Ground Up (reviewed July 1996) and #2 10-Step Training Program (reviewed October 1996). In this two-hour video, he explains how and why a horse needs to eventually get out of the snaffle bit and why the rider needs to advance himself as well. Indeed, there’s a world of difference between a horse being pulled around in a snaffle bit and one performing with fingertip finesse in a bridle.
Wil first goes over bit selection, mouth fit, and dental problems. He has a series of bits he likes, starting with the snaffle bit, followed by a transition bit, sweetwater swivel cheek bit, and high-port swivel-cheek bit. Wil shows how he accustoms the horse to each bit before he mounts. In riding, there are specific things the horse must accomplish before going on to the next phase in bitting. When bits are introduced in this logical fashion, few horses have problems with the transition from one to another.
Along the way, Wil discusses neck-reining as it applies to each step of the program. What you end up with is a horse who is light and comfortable in the bridle.
Wil and his wife, Beverly, demonstrate these techniques on several horses, some already finished and some with just a few months’ riding, so you get to see typical responses from horses with different levels of training.
As with the other tapes in this series, the sound and video quality are excellent. The Howes have done an outstanding job of presenting their gentle, make-sense approach to horse training, and they’ve done it with class. This is not the usual backyard camcorder production. Also included is a booklet of notes and reminders, so you can review what you’ve learned in the tape.
Even though you can purchase and view each tape separately, we strongly recommend buying the entire set as an investment in knowledge.