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Rising K Ranch

Klay Klemic is a showcased Cedar City, UT horseback riding lessons instructor on!

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   This is Klay Klemic writing here from Rising K Ranch. My team and I are always out training some good horses, and I hope that the horse training videos and information we publish will be of some use to you.    If you are interested in putting a horse in training with us, you can click on the "Horse Training" page where you can learn all about our horse training program, our horse training philosophy, our prices, and you will also find several videos of horses we have had in training over the years.

All these horse training videos are on Youtube. If you enjoy these horse training videos, we would love to have you "Like" them and would love to hear from you in the comment section on Youtube. We keep a close watch on the Rising K Ranch Youtube Channel, so expect your comments and questions to be answered quite promptly with regards to horse training videos that are  published by Rising K Ranch itself. 

    Also, you may subscribe to the Youtube Channel "Rising K Ranch" to keep updated  on new horse videos all about horseback trail riding, horse training, and also a few videos about the Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park area!

What is a Bridle Horse?


   The Bridle Horse is the horse that has gone succesfully through a training program that usually lasts 4-5 years. This video explains what the finished bridle horse ought to look like.

The 2-0-2-1-2 Drill

   In all of our cowhorse Training, especially with the herd work (cutting) it is important that our horses learn to work straight and square. Before introducing the horses to cattle, I usually teach the horses horse how it feels to be hooked to the mechanical flag. Before I introduce the horse to the mechanical flag, however, I teach them to stop straight, draw straight, and turn a complete 180 degree turn and go out straight again. I teach the horse this by means of this “2-0-2-1-2 drill. (I also teach riders this drill before putting them on the flag or on cattle.) I first teach the horse or rider the “2-0-2-1-2 Drill” at a walk, then a trot, then a lope, and after the horse has it figured out it is nearly always done at a trot. This is only a general overview of the “2-0-2-1-2 Drill”- more detail on each step will be provided, Lord willing, at a future date.

The “2-0-2-1-2 Drill” is so named because it works in the following way:

First, the “2”: Have two legs on the horse’s sides (not your spurs or your heels, but the whole side of your boots) to drive the horse forward in a straight line. Because this is preparation for cutting, you will keep your feet somewhat ahead of you as you drive him forward. I typically drive the horse forward with both feet up by the front cinch. My spurs will just barely be behind the cinch. It is important that you ride in a saddle that allows you to easily keep your feet forward, such as a cutting saddle or a ranch cutter- the typical wade or association is great for riding all day as a working cowboy or just on a long ride, but such saddles,by design, restrict your movement too much for cutting, which is why we don’t use them in it. As you drive the horse forward in a straight line, be sure to continue teaching the horse to remain collected with his poll flexed and keep his neck somewhat low.

Second, the “0”. Take your feet off the horse and place them another inch or so further forward. Taking your feet off the horse’s sides will, in time, become the cue for your horse to stop by really sinking his hocks into the ground. At first, of course, the horse won’t have any idea about it and will likely just continue moving forward.

Third, the second “2”. Keeping your feet in this further forward position, place both your legs against the horse again. Now your spurs (if you use them) will be right in the cinch. Don’t just jab and poke with your spurs, though. We don’t want jolts and spasmodic movements with a switching tail, so try to use your achilles tendon area as much as you can and use your spurs only to help the horse understand your cue. Squeezing with your legs way up in this area of the horse will soon become the cue for the horse to draw (to back up). For the first several days, the horse will require you to use your hands and pull on him to help him understand that you want him to back up; but do all you can to make it clear to him that you want him to back up from your feet only. As you work your reins, keep the horse soft in his face, flexed at the poll with an arch in his neck. You must keep him drawing straight, so as the horse attempts to wiggle around with hips, fix him as necessary with your legs (this is where your spurs will help the horse understand.)

Fourth, the “1”. While the horse is still moving in a straight line backwards, take the inside (or “cowside”) leg off the horse and push him through the turn with your outside leg. This turn must be a complete 180 degree turn. This is the opposite of a spin, as the spin is a forward movement pivoting off the horse’s inside hind, and this “cowhorse turn” is a backward movement pivoting off the horse’s outside hind foot. In the beginning stages of this turn, I give complete slack with my outside rein by putting my hand forward way up the horse’s neck, and I pull with my inside rein. As Ed Connell states in “Hackamore Reinsman”, the horse learns to turn, at the beginning, in accordance with the angle the rider uses as he pulls on the rein. Since we want the horse to pivot off his outside hind foot in the cowhorse turn, I pull the inside rein at an angle that, if followed, would connect the horse’s mouth to the outside hip. This is to say, I pull the inside rein diagonally towards the outside hip. This allows the horse to learn to turn with his nose hooked to the imaginary cow, with smooth, lively footwork.

Fifth, the final “2”. Simply place both your feet in the original position in order to send him out forward again in a straight line immediately after the turn has reached a complete 180 degree position.

   One of the most important things to understand about any series of horse training or horsemanship videos or books is that horsemanship videos and books are only good as a supplement to your learning. A horse video or book, regardless of how great it may be, can never even come close to replacing time spent riding, in person, alongside a person who is a better horseman than you are. It is critical, if your goal is to ride or to be able to make a bridle horse, that you learn first-hand from someone who is already making the kind of horses that you are wanting to make.

   In this horse video, Klay Klemic is helping a young lady who works at Rising K Ranch, as she puts a first ride on one of his own colts, Cornfed, a 3 year old gelding from Shamus Haw's Running U Livestock. It is our hope that watching this horse video will give you at least some little bit of extra knowledge that will help you grow in your horsemanship. We are very excited about how well this horse, Cornfed, has grown up and how well he will do!

These Horse Videos are Lessons from Hall of Fame reining horse trainer and personal friend, Jim Montgomery, with whom I am privileged to ride quite often here in Southern Utah.

Leading A Horse: Training the Horse to be Respectful

This video has been very helpful to me in the herd work. Bill Freeman explains cutting to shape, as well as several other key points to keep in mind when it comes to working cattle from horseback, particularly cutting.

   Second Horse Video in the Two-Part Horse Video Series with Cutting Legend, Bill Freeman.

   In this horse video, Klay Klemic is working with a client's horse, training the horse to be a little less spooky about life in general. Due to a horse's natural status as a prey animal, his natural response to new things tends to be more of a reaction (running away, jumping sideways, etc.) and, with its sounds and unnatural movements, one of the scariest new things a horse can encounter is a tarp. Getting a horse used to a tarp is no sure guarantee that he will not still spook at some odd branch or rock out on the trail. In fact, many horses, in my opinion, spook at such things on the trail simply out of learned habit due to the way were ridden from the start.

   Sometimes I have been able to break this habit of a horse's spooking on the trail, and sometimes I have not; but at least giving a horse a good tarping helps him learn to think in at least one more particular, and rather scary, environment.

Some horsemanship advice from world-renowned horse trainer, Boyd Rice. If you want to get into the herd work and cutting portion of horsemanship, this is the horse video to watch over and over again.

Halter Breaking Young Colts


   As with so many things in horse training, there are many different methods that work well; but this is what I typically do. If I have my druthers, I see to it that the colts run wild on the mountains and/or deserts for a good portion of their life; and that they do so with a string of other colts and mares.

   Running wild and free for the first year or so of a horse's life like this teaches the horse to be sure-footed and confident on hills, mud, snow, rocks and such. I have often seen yearling colts running through the forest with rocky ground at almost full speed without tripping or having any problems at all. Growing up in a remuda allows a colt to learn respect for others and teaches them an overall sense relational positioning. While most stall-raised horses, especially if they are handled and loved on too much by humans, develop habits of leaning on their owner and walking so close that the horse often steps on the owner's feet etc., a horse that grew up free with a remuda will be too wary of the human to feel like he can step on him or lean on him. While this may make a few things, such as first haltering, first saddling, and such, take a little longer; it is well worth it because the horse will, right from the first handling and even first ride, have a much better understanding of moving off your leg, hands, and other cues; while a stall-raised horse is often so used to being pet and handled and hand-fed that he doesn't even regard your leg, seat and hand cues at all, making it take much more pressure on him to get him to move off in the right way. Fine if you just want a bomb-proof trail horse or children's horse; but not at all what I want in a cowhorse.

    I often halter break colts from the back of a horse. The idea is not to rope the colt and choke him or drag him all over the place; but to rope him and then move him around the round pen for a while as he gets used to both having a rope on him as well as being directed which way to go. When I do go ahead and pull on him; all I am looking for is for is a little tiny bit of give to the rope; particularly to have him learn to face me. Once the colt has learned that all pressure is released when he is facing me, we can work closer and closer to him and finally get him used to being pet and touched all over his face and neck and get a halter on him. Note: Petting a colt at this later stage of his life is a far different thing from making a pet out of a foal.

   Once the halter is on, I will lead the horse a few steps in each direction, having someone else behind him to help him learn to move forward. A few steps is enough and I will leave the halter and rope on him, making sure that he is in a solid wall pen with nothing that might snag the rope or halter (otherwise take the halter off; better to have to go catch him again tomorrow rather than have him break his neck overnight.) Typically, going in and pulling on his halter for about fifteen minutes a day for three or four days is enough to get him quite halter broke, especially if I have help to keep him moving forward, and we can move on in his training in a year or so when he is grown and matured enough to start training in earnest.

Understanding the Hackamore & the Bridle Horse Process


   The old-time vaquero method of making a bridle horse is an inspiration to many cowboys, buckaroos, horse trainers, and horse owners in general. There are many reasons for this admiration of the jaquima to freno style of horse training: the equipment used such as rawhide bosals, horsehair mecates, and silver spade bits are themselves intricately and often meticulously handmade and beautiful to look at, there have been many songs and stories written about them, and there is an overall sense of mystery as to just how the old-time vaqueros went about their business of spending hour after hour making their horses as good as possible, and all on haciendas that were larger than anything you'll find in California nowadays. Most important of all, however, is the finshed product these vaqueros were producing- just the fact that these Californio horsemen were making the greatest cowhorses the world had ever seen. 

   As I suppose is proper, many things have changed since those early days of the Caifornia vaquero. Some things seem to me like it's too bad it changed; but I do believe that, at least as far as a working cowhorse is concerned, most of the changes which have been brought about by fierce competition in the NRCHA, AQHA, and NCHA , have been beneficial in the further refinement of the working cowhorse. What follows here is my own ever-changing view on what a bridle horse is and how he can be made.


Head Position

   One of the first things people notice and admire about a Californio style bridle horse is its head position. The ideal, or "text book" bridle horse has a head carriage that was often seen in illustrations of men like Ernest Morris and Randy Steffan, which you can find in Ed Connell's books, "Hackamore Reinsman" and "Reinsman of the West." Of course, you will not only find this head carriage in drawings, just go to any good NRCHA event and you will see this head carriage on plenty of live horses; but I do refer at times to the drawing instead because a drawing is an idealized, perfect illustration which can serve as a good guide for your general end result. Every individual horse will differ in style, as you will also see if you watch a few cowhorse runs; but it is good to hace a general "text book" illustration in mind as a starting point. While it is true that, on its own right, the bridle horse's head position is nice to look at, and makes for a very pleasing look, there is also a great deal of functional necessity to having a horse's head flexed at the poll with his nose somewhat tucked in and with an arched neck. There are several important reasons a bridle horse ought to carry his head in such a position.

   First, the largest part of our work in training a cowhorse is to teach him to confidently and consistently place his feet in the correct position for any given task, and to do it with sufficient power or impulsion. In a cowhorse, all of the energy of a correct movement comes from the hindquarters, so we are always training a cowhorse to stay light on his front end and to use the muscles in his hind end to drive him forward, whether that be into a lope, turn, stop, or anything else we dp. Barring a few possible instances along a mountain trail, there is no time when we want our horses to plant their hind ends and use their front feet to pull themselves forward; but we always want the hind end to drive the horse forward.


   One of the ways we train a horse to drive forward using his hindquarters is to soften up his face and train him to keep an arch in his neck with his nose tucked in. By moving along with such a head position, the weight of the horse is elevated up off his shoulders and more weight is distributed to his hind end, much like popping a wheelie on a motorcycle. If you look at the horse's body as if it were a balanced table with four legs, you can see that, right from the start, a horse has more weight on his front feet due to the fact that his head and neck weigh what they do and they are counter-levered off the front. If a horse travels with his head very low to the ground, as a western pleasure horse does, he will indeed be able to perform a very comfortable lope, and if he is well-bred by pure reining horse stock he may learn to move quickly with his head very low and even stop with a long, smooth sliding stop if the ground is right; but he will likely never be able to do what will be asked of him as far as cowhorse maneuvers are concerned, either in the herd work, working a rope, or taking a cow down the fence. At least he will not be able to perform cowhorse work as well as a horse that is bred with more cow-sense and carries himself more like a California bridle horse. To be clear, it is good for ahorse to have a low headset, (which most quarter horses develop naturally anyway- it is not something you force to make happen with your hands) when he is being ridden for long jobs around the ranch, trail riding, performing a slow lope, or anything else that takes a while to do and does not require the speed and agility that working a cow requires. (Note: A cutting horse also will have a low headset, but it is a totally different kind of low headset from that of a reiner and comes about from a totally different style of training and riding.) It is even good for a horse to want to have a naturally low headset on a fast straightaway or in his fast circles as a low headset usually denotes calmness and willingness in a horse, as well as confidence. The important thing is, that the horse knows how to be lightly picked up when need be, particularly if he is about to be run down a fast straightaway and stopped in good ground or about to turn a cow in the fence work. The bridle horse must be easy to frame up, in body and in his head position, without any resistance.

Purpose and Importance of the Sliding Stop


   The sliding stop is another quality of the hackamore or bridle horse that most people immediately recognize as very fun to watch. Although the sliding stop has  become highly stylized, especially amongst reining horses, there are several reasons a cowhorse needs to be able to perform at least a decent sliding stop.

   First, and most important, is that, anatomically, a sliding stop is what allows the horse to remain agile on his feet and move quickly in any direction. That is, the stop is not only or even primarily about stopping; but it is about changing direction totally. If a horse stops on his front end, he will have too much weight on his front feet to be able to quickly move them around into a new direction. By stopping on his front end, he will also hollow out his back and, since he is no longer using his strong hindquarters, the horse will have no real power or drive to move after he has stopped. Such a front end heavy stop is also extremely uncomfortable for the rider, and may even throw him over the front end in a mamner reminiscent of Christopher Reeve. In contrast to such a heavy, front ended stop, a sliding stop, even if the slide is only a few inches as in cutting or whenever working cattle outside of a nicely worked up arena, places the hindquarters underneath the horse and frees up the horse's front feet to move freely while simultaneously giving the horse the proper position to allow him to use all the muscles in his hindquarters to drive out into a powerful turnaround or cow-horse turn.

   In the early days of working cattle, the sliding stop was not about having the horse powerfully drive into the ground and slide a long distance as it is today, because such a stop is only possible in arena dirt that has been porperly worked and prepared with a tractor and arena groomer. Out on the trail and around the ranch, the ground is such that attempting such a stop would quickly result in an injured and/or discouraged horse. There are a few times when you will find yourself in some fairly decent ground; but most of the time working a cattle ranch, the ground is either too rocky, too deep of sand, to steep, too thickly forested or covered in brush, too muddy, or too snowy, or (hopefully) too covered in grass to allow you to perform some great fence turn with an 8 foot sliding stop. However, for the anatomical reasons mentioned above, a good cowhorse has always been one who slides a few inches because that is what is necessary to give the horse the power and agility he needs to work a cow. 

   Today, however, due to the fact that cowhorse is now also an event with growing competition and ever improving horse breeding, we are able to take our horses into the optimal situation of a freshly worked arena and show off how talented a cowhorse can be. A long, powerful sliding stop in the reined work is not necessarily what we will use in a working situation; but it showcases what is the horse is capable of. In the straight reining horses, especially in the eastern states, the reining horse sliding stop has grown into something rather distant from the working cowhorse, as their style of sliding stop places more emphasis on the distance of the slide rather than the power of the hindquarters in the stop, and requires ground that is hard packed with only about two inches of soft ground on top. With the reining horse's wide and extended sliding plates, this turns the arena into something of an ice skating rink- fine for dry work and their style of long sliding stop; but no good at all for cow work,  as such ground will almost certainly cause the horse to fall when taking the cow down the fence or especially when circling the cow. The cowhorse's sliding stop, hoever, places the emphasis on power (which does in itself create a long slide; but more of the length of twenty feet rather than fourty) rather than on distance. The ground is deeper to allow for cow work without needlessly endangering the horse and rider, and the whole reining portion of the cowhorse event is designed and judged with cow work in mind. (This is also the reason there is no rollback in the cowhorse reining patterns; but more on that later.) As a cowhorse performs a sloiding stop in the reining, it is to be looked at not as a mere exhibition of how far a horse can skate on his hind feet like they do in Mexico; but it is looked at as "dry work". That is, it is proof of just how strong a horse can be in hs work of out-maneuvering cattle, as well as proof of just how willing he is to the rider's will, as the horse is not working of the cue of a cow; but only off the cue of the rider.

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    Rising K Ranch is a Horseback Trail Ride and Riding School in Utah, located perfectly between Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

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