I have been asked recently what my training style was...old skool, natural horsemanship, English, Western, etc. Well, I have to say that it is a combination of all of them! I am a trained dressage competitor and have schooled horses to the FEI levels. I have jumped up to 4'-9" fences and evented for years. I team penn, ranch sort and trail ride. I use all the skills I have learned through the years and have enhanced my training "tool box" with the natural horsemanship techniques of John Lyons, Pat Parelli and Steve Rother. But mostly, I seek new and fun ways to teach my horses how to be riding partners that are happy with their job.
It is important to me that I do not over face my young horses and push them too fast, too soon. So I mix things up and do a combination of arena riding, trail riding and other fun stuff. I have been extremely lucky with Patriot. He has accepted all of my requests with a happy heart and an eagerness to learn. He surprises me all the time! This time, he surprised me with cows!
Last night, Patriot and I went ranch sorting. Luckily, twice a month, a local trainer arranges to have cows brought to the fairgrounds for sorting and I signed us up! I did not go to be competitive, just to expose Pate to cows and ride him in another arena. You never know what they are going to surprise us with in Texas. After all, it is cow town!
You may all get tired of me saying this, but Pate was fantastic! He's got COW in him! He walked into that pen, right up to the backside of a cow and bit him on the butt! LOL The cows started moving and he followed. After a few minutes, he started tracking a cow and taking my guidance on how to push one. Not long after, he was reading the cows and starting to cut them off. I was amazed! I have a few cow horses and I enjoy riding a horse that is cowy, but who knew! Pate, my little gaited...cow pony! While it is going to take more than one night to turn him into a penner, he has it in him!
Pate also took his first official dressage lesson this week. He thought that the two tracking, leg yields, and shoulders-in movements were challenging physically, but all good work outs always are! Think of dressage as body building for horses. Imagine a horse doing tummy tucks and lunges and you will understand why these skills are a challenge. This was the first time my dressage instructor has seen Pate and complimented me on how happy he is to be doing his job. I am happy he is happy!