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QUESTION:

Hi Bob. I love your web site! Its nice to "meet" a fellow Minnesotan who has a love for horses. I have a question that I thought you may be able to answer or redirect.

I am a "fledgling" breeder. I currently own a yearling Quarter Horse filly named Reno. Her mother died before she was weaned, and she has formed a close bond with my other horse, a 19 year old Arab mare. With a little help, I halter broke Reno by myself. Once she knew what I wanted from her, she was very willing to learn. My first attempt trying to get her into a trailer did not go smoothly. However, after parking the trailer in the pasture for a week and allowing her to get used to it, I was amazed at how fearlessly she loaded and unloaded herself!!!

I have never trained a horse, but I did purchase Reno's mother as a three-year-old just out of training. She died last summer at age 12 and even when young was not much trouble to ride. What I did not like was her initial lack of trust - she had obviously been "broken" by someone with a rough hand. She came around and trusted me, but she was never as much of a pet as my other horses have been because of this early life abuse. I have decided to keep Reno, but I do not want her sweet personality to be shattered at the hands of a rough trainer. Am I better off trying to train her on my own? She is very intelligent and catches on quickly. Do you know of any good gentle trainers in the Northern Minnesota area? Any advice you can give will be appreciated

- V. C.
ANSWER:

Let's do the math: You bought Reno's mom at age three, she died at twelve - that's nine years. Reno was a foal then and she's a yearling now - one year. By my figuring, that means you've been working with horses for a decade. That should give you a pretty good foundation.

A bit more math: Reno's a yearling now. A horse's spine doesn't firm up enough to take much back pressure until nigh onto age three. That gives you a year or two to figure some things out.

Yes, there are some great trainers around, but that doesn't mean that their style of training will match yours. If you've got the time to invest, why not do it yourself?

Obviously I can't give you a full training program in the few meg of space my server provides, but I can point you in the right direction. Go to the John Lyons web site and check his symposium schedule for a session near you. That weekend should give you what you need to know. If, however, you decide not to do the training yourself, the seminar will still help you handle your horse later - and may put you in contact with some Lyons-certified trainers in your area. Meet the trainer in person and get to know him or her. If possible, ride some of the stock they've trained. You should check out the potential trainer as carefully as you would a nanny for your own youngster.

Happy Riding!

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