Thursday, February 9, 2012

On Goes That Lightbulb...Blink!

One of my favorite things about training horses and teaching people to ride them are those "Aha!" moments when things begin to click for the first time. You can always tell when a horse is beginning to understand what's being communicated when their expression brightens and they respond in exactly the fashion you want them to. These are the moments I look forward to every day.

During my career as a trainer, I have had many such moments. One of my major goals is to help my clients and students have those moments, too. When rider and horse become one working on new concepts and mastering new tasks, it makes all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears worthwhile. This is what it's all about, the true definition of horsemanship.

Your trainer should be educating you while training your horse, explaining along the way what he or she is accomplishing (or seeking to accomplish). Those "light bulb" moments should be an educational experience for the horse owner, as well as the horse. Being able to see the difference in a horse's performance or a horse's reaction to various aids can be beneficial to the rider or owner. In fact, I consider it essential.

These days, there are many trainers for a horse owner to choose from, I've covered that topic before. But making sure both you and your horse are going to expand your horizons and enhance your education is imperative if you really want value for your hard earned dollars. In today's economy, ensuring that clients get their money's worth is another major goal for me. Feeling like you've actually gained something for what you've paid in training fees is paramount.

I do not generally use this blog as an advertising venue, however having spoken with so many people who are so jaded about the entire concept of putting their horses in training, I would like to extend an open invitation to everyone to come experience the Sunlit Farm difference.

We'll see you out there on the trail or in the show ring!


Thanks For The Memories

This evening while my daughter and I were cooling horses out after riding, we began talking about the sad fact that so many equine organizations which used to host horse shows no longer do. Even within the past five years, more than ten local horse clubs who were holding shows as of 2005 are no longer doing so.

Back in the early 1970's when I first began showing, we used to have at least 12 events within the Arabian breed community just at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona (California) ~ now called Fairplex. Pomona Valley Arabian Horse Club used to have at least two shows, Western Wranglers hosted a March show for many years, there was the extremely well respected Whittier Host Lions Club show every January and even a local horsemen's club called the Bloomington Saddle Pals used to hold an AHSA rated Class "A" Arabian show. Our Southern California Half Arabian Association always had an annual show, plus the Sierra Empire Arabian Horse Association. There was the Riverside Breeders club as well, having a couple of shows, plus another one or two. I'm sure I am missing some. Of course, we also had at least one or two all amateur shows and there was always the Fair show.

These days, there is one Arabian horse show left at Pomona, the Sierra Empire club has taken over the dates held by Whittier Lions for more than 50 years. In fact, all of the Arabian Horse Association's Region One only has five or six horse shows total left, including the Regional Championships. The Festa Del Mar show is not being held this year, and we have no dates as yet for the Half-Arab club's 2012 event.

I find this so incredibly sad, but it is a statement about what's happening within our industry.We have a dying industry. One that, without new blood to keep it alive, will go away. This is the reason why I spend so much time in outreach efforts, building goodwill and trying to lure in a new generation of  horse owners.

Horses have given me so much over the past 40+ years ~ it's the least I can do to give a little bit of something back.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Don't come back another day! Well, just a smidgen of rain overnight would be a nice thing, enough to wet down the arenas, water the trees and plants plus maybe wash off the truck. We want good weather for the start of our show season!! Bright blue skies and sunshine, please.

Check out the ETI Corral 88 website, we have a lot of good stuff in store: Click Here. This Saturday, Matt Sheridan of Sheridan Performance Horsemanship in Tehachapi will be out in Phelan giving a clinic for us. This one is full, but you can still drop by to audit for free. Our next clinic by Matt is going to be April 28th and those spots are going fast, too. They're almost gone already.

I did have some training topics we were going to cover this week, but I don't know if we'll get to them. Finding time to write these days can be a bit of a challenge, but I'm NOT complaining! It was rather nice taking Friday, Saturday and Sunday off from the blog, though. ;)


Monday, February 6, 2012


I survived my weekend at Horse Expo Pomona, but barely. Okay, that might be sort of an overstatement, but yesterday I seriously felt like the walking dead. A huge shoutout to Ponies For Parties out of El Monte with whom I got to spend those magical three days, thanks for the memories!! It was so much fun. Helping children experience horses and ponies has always been one of my favorite parts of my job, and this was no different.

Now we are on the countdown to our first show of the season, and I could not be more excited. While it's nothing fancy, once again we are beginning our show year with a smaller local show for our green horses and riders to gain experience, on the road to bigger events later on this year. We have several horses going, a couple to show under saddle, a Halter horse or two and others just to school and get some miles in the warm-up ring. Expect a full report Sunday evening!

I'll be signing off for now, stay tuned for more interesting, educational, entertaining and fun topics in the coming days, weeks and months. Thanks for reading.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Horse Expo Pomona...Day One

Up at 4:30 when my alarm went off, but that's nothing new. Getting out the door on the first day of our Horse Expo Pomona adventure at 6:30 PM and I just got home. It's 9:45 as I write this. Can you say long day, anyone??

This blog might just be on a slight bit of a hiatus the next couple of days because I'm tired to the bone. My same schedule is going to repeat itself for the next two days and I'm not sure I'll be conscious by the end of Saturday night's festivities.

So with that, I'm off to devour my dinner and hit the hay. Until next time...


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Horse Expo Pomona is Here!

It will be one year ago tomorrow that I took my black Arabian gelding Beau Knight (NV Beau Bey x Jordgee Anna) to Equine Affaire down in Pomona, California to participate in their "Ride With The Best" program clinic with National level trainer Deborah Johnson of Reno-Tahoe Equestrian Center in Northern Nevada. I had a blast riding with Deb and getting her insight on this National quality Dressage and Hunter Pleasure horse.

On Friday, though I could not be present due to other commitments, my daughter accompanied a friend down to day two at EA. My friend rode her Paint mare with Chris Cox. The following day, Saturday, once again a friend and I went down to the venerable EA, this time to spectate, watch a few clinics given by my friend, trainer Matt Sheridan of Sheridan Performance Horsemanship in Tehachapi, and get a ringside seat for Craig Cameron's Extreme Cowboy Race.

It was one heck of a fun weekend!

Fast forward to last Summer, when the folks at Equine Affaire could not work out a deal with the Fairplex Pomona folks and decided to cancel their event, which had been held for the past eleven years. Apparently, the major sticking point was that the preferred weekend happens to be Super Bowl weekend. SAY WHAT? Since when do us horse people give a darn about football?!

Enter Western States Horse Expo founder, Miki Cohen, who produces the massive equine exposition each June up in Sacramento at Cal Expo. Miki heeded the cries of Southern Californians who were furious about not having an Equine Affaire in So Cal during 2012, and voila ~ we have Horse Expo Pomona. Thank goodness someone recognized that we desperately need events like this to kick start our horse industry.

Of course, some of us aren't exactly ecstatic that the marquee names for this first Expo are Pat & Linda Parelli, we do still hope this new exposition will be a rousing success. One of the major draws for the weekend is called "Project Cowboy", thought up by the folks who brought you Extreme Mustang Makeover and Road To The Horse, during which contestants will vie for $10,000 in prize money and a TV show. There will be a sister competition, called Project Cowgirl, held at the Western States Expo this June. Then the Cowboys and Cowgirls will compete against each other in Madison, Wisconsin at a later date.

So here we are, on the dawn of a whole new event. How exciting!!

Starting tomorrow, I'll be spending the next three days down in Pomona. If you're in the area or heading to the Expo, drop me an email and stop by to say hello! I'll be looking out for you. ;)