Horse Training at Rising K Ranch
Cedar City, Utah
My name is Klay Klemic and I have been riding horses my entire life, and have had the opportunity to learn from several great horse trainers as well as a few good cowboys. I have worked from horseback on large cattle ranches in Northern Nevada, Northern Utah, Arizona, South Dakota, and New Mexico, which taught me how to work long hours and stay on top of a few rough horses. Thankfully, I went on to learn refinement in horsemanship from some good full-time reining and cowhorse trainers, such as nearby Jim Montgomery in Veyo, Utah.
We train all kinds of horses here at Rising K Ranch from general ranch and mountain use on to more refined cowhorse training. However, each horse I take on to train here at Rising K Ranch receives a solid foundation in the Cowhorse tradition, and will LEARN at least the basic arena maneuvers such as a decent stop on a loose rein when you sit down in th saddle, the beginnings of a good spin, and general suppleness all throughout the horse's face and body. Just how far the horse goes into being a reiner or cowhorse is up to the horse's own ability and interest, as well as the intent of the horse's owner; but even the basic ranch horses and mountain trail horses we train here will receive the foundation of cowhorse work. It is this suppleness of the horse's entire body and wilingness in his spirit that is the primary focus of most of our horse training, as this is the general foundation that is used in all other areas and places for the rest of the horse's life no matter what he ends up doing.
Each horse I take on to train here at Rising K Ranch will LEARN such ground manners as leading safely, lunging, feet handling for farriery, and trailer loading.
Each horse I take on to train here at Rising K Ranch will LEARN to be comfortable with being roped off of and will learn to be comfortable with dragging logs and live cattle; many of the horses we take on for training also will learn to be comfortable carrying a pack saddle with all its many straps and brichin's and loaded panniers up in the mountains.
Each horse I take on to train here at Rising K Ranch will LEARN to be comfortable with my obstacle course, which includes such things as log bridges, tarps, and tires.
Each horse I take on to train will be taken on mountain trails, and will LEARN to be comfortable with water crossings, fallen logs, steep hills, strong winds, and whatever else the mountains may have to teach the the horse.
I have capitalized the word "Learn" because my goal in horse training is not to simply force a horse to go through things; but to take the time to build a willing partnership with the horse. This is accomplished by understanding and blending 3 different aspects of horsemanship.
1. Horse Psychology. Understanding how a horse thinks naturally aids in understanding what to ask of him and how much to ask of him in our training process. Understanding how a horse learns is essential in effectively training horses. This understanding of a horse's psychology comes, not from my own observations, but from years of learning from older horse trainers and horsemen who themselves learned from other older horse trainers and horsemen. Horse Psychology, understanding how a horse thinks and learns, is what allows us to create willingness.
2. Horse Anatomy. This is the "Form to Function" aspect of horsemanship and horse training. While the psychology aspect creates willingness, the understanding of anatomy allows us to use that willingness in a manner that is best suited to a particular horse at any certain point. Many times, we ask our horses to do things that they are quite willing to do, but are simply unable to do, either because of the way they are built in their conformation or by the position their body is in at the moment. For example, if a horse has high hocks, steep shoulders and a short and high neck, it would be quite unreasonable to demand a perfect sliding stop of him. Such a horse may well surprise us with unexpected abilty and talent; but it will be through more time devoted to teaching him how to reach with his hind feet, lift his shoulders and use whatever good is in his body to his best advantage. Simply getting frustrated with the horse and thinking the horse is not trying hard enough will do us no good in our training.
3. Timing. In order to acheive success in horse training, it is absolutely necessary to have proper timing with your cues such as your legs and hands. This timing, for me and for most horsemen and horse trainers, is not attained by reading books, watching videos, or riding your own horses. This timing is only attained through years of riding with horseman and horse trainers who are far better than you and by riding horses that are far better than anything you could make or train on your own. For quite a while, it is the good horse that makes a good horse trainer and not the horse trainer that makes a good horse. Once you have ridden a few truly great horses and have had several years of coaching from truly great horse trainers, you will have the timing in your hands, feet and seat that makes it easy to use a horse's willingness (horse psychology) and anatomy to the best advantage. Once a horse trainer has had such help from other horse trainers and from top-notch horses, he will be able to make even his two year old horses better than anything most people will ever ride.
Pricing: $900/Month with a 3 Month Minimum Stay
This includes feed twice daily.
The horse will be ridden (or otherwise worked with) 5-6 days per week depending on the horse's best interest.
Each horse is boarded in a 12x12 covered stall.
Videos of each horse's progress in training are posted on the Rising K Ranch Facebook Page quite often.
If you are interested in a week-long "Tune-Up" or some such thing, I recommend you bring your horse out for a Riding Lesson where you can evaluate what you and your horse really need.
To learn more about Riding Lessons, click here: riding_lessons.
A Typical First Ride for a Young Horse in Training at Rising K Ranch
For the first several rides on a colt or filly, my primary intent is not so much to "Train" the horse to do anything; but is simply to give the horse time to gain confidence with a rider on his back as he moves around the round pen as naturally as possible. During the starting phase, pulling on a horse very much at all with a snaffle bit, hackamore, or even with a halter, can easily create life-long bad habits for the horse, so I do what I can to give the horse plenty of space to simply move forward while staying out of his face and not asking too much of him at all.
Keep in mind that by the time of the horse's first ride, we have already taught him in the round pen:
1. To move forward confidently while saddled, and often saddled with a pack saddle and tires or loaded panniers.
2. To stop when hearing the word, "Whoa.:
3. To give in response to the snaffle bit or hackamore.
4. To be ponied out on the trail while saddled (usually with a pack saddle and load of some kind.) Ponying the colt (leading him while riding an older horse) allows him to get used to seeing me above him, almost as nearly directly above him as I will be when I am riding him.
5. To move his hips or shoulders away from pressure when asked. I teavch the colt this both from the ground as well as from the back of another horse while ponying him.
So, by the time of the horse's first ride, the colt has already learned to confidently move forward in the round pen while being asked to give his face, have someone above him, carry weight, have all kinds of straps & cinches on him, and even to stop by voice command. Thus, the only new thing he is being exposed to on the first ride is just the fact that now I am actually in the saddle. He already knows exactly what I want him to do because he has already done it for about two weeks, and that is- just move forward around the round pen.
The pulling I will do on a horse's first few rides is done when cheeking him as I climb in and out of the saddle, as well as pulling one rein and putting my foot on him in the right position to ask him to move his hips away from my foot pressure. Having the horse's first few steps with me in the saddle be steps that move or "disengage" the hindquarters makes it much less likely that the horse will panic and run off wildly or buck as they often do when you just let them move straight forward for their first step. Once the horse is calmly and methodically moving his hips away from my leg pressure, I can allow him to walk or trot out forward. At this stage of the horse's first ride, I am not concerned with exactly where the horse goes, just as long as he is moving forward.
After moving around the round pen both directions at a walk, trot, and lope, I may also ask the horse, if he is doing very well and feeling confident enough, to begin drifting his shoulders away from my leg pressure at a walk, just a few times in each direction. Whenever it comes time to stop the horse, they will often stop quite well by voice command alone, having already learned this from the groundwork. However, if I do need to pull on them to get them stopped, it will not be with both reins, not even with both reins in a give-and-release fashion; but I will pull only with one rein to bring his head to my leg until he stops moving. At this early stage of the horse's training, I am not concerned with him stopping square, as he will very easily learn to stop square in a few weeks anyway. It is much more importahnt that he learn to stop without bracing against my hands, as would certainly happen if he were pulled on with both hands at once.
Getting out of the Round Pen:
Once the horse has confidence being ridden in the round pen (usually about three rides) enough is enough and it is time to take the horse out into the hills and mountains, or into the arena. It is important to teach the horse to confidently and methodically move their hips and shoulders off your leg cues in the round pen before their first ride out on the trails because this will greatly minimize the need to pull on their face while you are out there on the trail. You should be able to lightly use your hands and ask with your feet to get the horse moving forward, even over logs and ravines and such.
Moving on in the Horse's Training:
Now the horse is confidently moving around with a rider in the saddle and we can begin training him in earnest- now it's just a matter of lot of timing, pressure & release, repetition, reward, and wet saddle blankets!
Introducing a Horse to the Hackamore:
There are some horses who really don't naturally take to the hackamore as well as others; and in a case like that I won't force the issue, especially of I am only going to have the horse in training for a few months before the horse's owner takes him back home. However, if I amgoing to have the horse for the long while it takes to make a truly good horse, especially a cowhorse, I often use the hackamore for a period of time for several reasons:
1. It appeals to a sense of good traditional horsemanship that I like, especially the part of the hackamore tradition that says a horse should not be overly rushed, but trained gently and patiently over a longer period of time to create a much more solid end result. I like the feel of a horse that learns exactly what each angle of the gentle pull on the mecate means, and it is very satisfying to watch a horse learn the feel of the bosal at first a walk, then a trot, then lope, then a high rate of speed, and finally, repeating the process again with cattle, finally creating a horse that feels good in a hackamore even while working a cow at a high rate of speed.
2. Along with the myriad snaffles, bridle bits and other rigs, the hackamore is yet another way to help teach a horse to be all that much more soft and willing in general, to yet another set of pressure points.
3. The hackamore allows me, in many cases, to slowly create just the right neck and body poistion in a horse without ever giving the horse any reason to feel like he needs to gap his mouth. Even though I have most likely started the horse in a snaffle bit, I have never asked all too much of him- at least not enough that he has sought gapping his mouth as a release- but at this point in the horse's training it is time to up the ante and get a little bit more framing on his body and get a little quicker, lighter action from him. Later on, I will want the horse to learn to carry a bridle bit, so the more I can keep a horse from opening his mouth in response to pressure, without the aid of a caveson, the better. This is not to say that I will not often enough use a caveson/bit combination on some horses, and many world-renowned horse trainers are very succesful with a correction bit and caveson; but if my goal with a particular horse is to end up in a bridle bit over a period of three or four years, I prefer to keep a horse from ever even thinking of a need to open his mouth in response to pressure. This is traditionally much of the idea behind the jaquima to freno training method.