“Spirit” Due To Open Memorial Day
Preserving Is Promoting by John Fusco, screenwriter of Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron The epiphany came to me in the round pen. I had been in there for hours with my young foundation stallion, when it hit me: this is not the best way for me to "do my bit" for the Spanish Mustang (or as my Grandpa Redbow preferred, "Ind'n Pony.") Earlier that morning--try 4 A.M.--my mare band busted out a gate when coyotes came calling and then busted IN the gate to the stallion, herding up behind him. So after hours of mending fence, coaxing Spanish mares, and keeping up the training of all, I realized that I wasn't where I was supposed to be: sitting at the typewriter, telling stories. As a writer of movies, I have had the wonderful opportunity to see stories come to life on the big screen and reach millions of people. Not that film is literature (especially Hollywood), but there is no denying the influence movies have on our society. In 1992, my movie "Thunderheart" brought the story of the modern-day Indian wars to an audience fresh off the safe historical distance of "Dances with Wolves." The movie found its way to Capitol Hill and was used by Native American lobbyists to pass legislation protecting sacred sites. It raised money for the impoverished Pine Ridge Reservation and exposed many to the Third World within our own country. It was only a movie, but it made some things happen; movies--good or bad-- are the widest-reaching medium in the world. So that day in the round pen, I called on my friend Vik and asked her to inherit the then-defunct HOA that I had purchased along with some fine Brislawn horses. Some of us, like Vik, have the talent to work with the horses and to show them at their best while some of us have other ways to promote the breed, but, at the end of the day, we're all conservators. With my movie "SPIRIT: Stallion of the Cimarron" already in the can at Dreamworks and set for a Memorial Day 2002 release, I hope to bring the story of a pure Spanish Mustang to a young and wide audience. Steven Spielberg is so pleased with the film that he is premiering it the same night as the new Star Wars. Don't worry: I think our Kiger boy will give Luke a run for his money. Nothing if not mustang-obsessive, I decided to keep the push going and sat down to write the story of Frank T. Hopkins and his little Spanish Mustang who won the 3,000 mile endurance race across the Arabian Desert in 1890. I had wanted to bring this amazing story to the screen for years, but it was while telling the account as a conservator that I realized what an impact it might have. I am excited to report that Walt
Horse of the Americas Officers Disney's "HIDALGO" begins filming in Morocco this coming Spring. Spanish Mustangs will also be featured in my upcoming Hallmark/ABC mini-series "DREAMKEEPER", a two night dramatic special based on legends from Native America. Original American Indian Horses have been written into nearly all of the legends to be portrayed (The Legend of the Dun Horse, High Horse's Courting, and The Vision Quest being a few examples). As a member of the HOA publicity board, I hope to connect all three of these high-profile productions with our efforts to promote and preserve America's first horse. As a spokesperson, interviews that I give will be angled toward that goal. It is also my hope that all fellow conservators will be proud enough of the films to say "those are our horses" and will take advantage of any heat the movies generate. Because whether in the round pen, on the trail, or at the typewriter and movie camera, we're all conservators. Those are our horses. Long may they run.
“SPIRIT: STALLION OF CIMARRON" & ALL RELATED MARKS & MEDIA ARE TM & © 2002 DREAMWORKS PICTURES.
Vickie Ives Speir, President, Newsletter, Web Page Design Tom Norush, 1st Vice President Kyle Germany, 2nd Vice-President, National Awards Committee Chair, Gaited Activity Group Chairman Gretchen Patterson, Registrar, Executive Committee, Web Page Design Lisa Germany, Secretary Dr. Phil Sponenberg, Special Consultant to the Executive Committee Carol Stone, Reporter. Send your stories to Carol at 2242 230th St., Afton, IA 50830-8239. Publicity Committee: Carol Stone, Tom Hebert, John Fusco, and Shiela Cochron. Online Sale Pages and help with Web Page Design: Jeanne Vaughn
Strain Club representatives: Sheri Wysong, Sulphur Vickie Ives Speir, Havapai Pony (Grand Canyon) Alan Bell, Romero/McKinley Doug Norush, Banker Tally Johnson, Yates. Nanci Falley, Tribal strains Christine Cambell, Kiger Sharron Scheikofsky, Sorraia Mustang We need more Strain Reps! Volunteer to represent your Strain. You’ll be helping HOA promote YOUR favorite Spanish Colonial.
Currently approved HOA Colonial Spanish strains include:
Quoted from dreamworksfansite.com/spirit/
1) Brislawn foundation 2) Book Cliffs foundation 3) Original Horse of the Americas foundation 4) Jones foundation 5) Tribal strains: Choctaw/Cherokee/Huasteca 6) Wilbur-Cruce, 7) Romero/McKinley 8) Yates 9) Belsky 10) Havapai Pony (Grand Canyon) 11) Bankers (Ocrakoke, Shackleford, Currituck, Corolla, and Hatteras) 12) Florida Crackers and Marsh Tackies 13) Pryor Mountains 14) Sulphur 15) Kiger 16) Cerbat 17) Sorraia Mustang
"Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" follows the adventures of a wild and rambunctious mustang stallion as he journeys through the untamed American frontier. Encountering man for the first time, Spirit defies being broken, even as he develops a remarkable friendship with a young Lakota brave. The courageous young stallion also finds love with a beautiful paint mare named Rain on his way to becoming one of the greatest unsung heroes of the Old West. The traditionally animated feature film is directed by Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook and produced by Mireille Soria from a screenplay by John Fusco. The original score is by Academy Award(R)-winning composer Hans Zimmer ("The Lion King"), with songs performed by Grammy winner Bryan Adams. "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" also features the voice talents of James Cromwell and Daniel Studi.
Registrar’s Report— February, 2002 By Gretchen Patterson, HOA Registrar As of this reporting, I have registered 170 horses. We have extended the herd rates another year for those with large numbers of horses to register. I hope that with this coming year, more of you will be able to send in those registration papers. Over the past few months, I have been busy with a new grand daughter that has slowed my registration process time. I thank everyone for their patience. Jessica and Krysten have now moved to a new home and I can get back to business in a timely fashion. One of our registration innovations was to print each horse’s picture directly on the certificate. Each certificate has two, and sometimes three pictures. Horses with unusual white markings or facial markings will have those features recorded as well. You may submit pictures in one of three formats: regular photographs; digital scans on photographic paper or via email. I would like to stress that digital pictures must be printed on glossy paper. I cannot use pictures that are printed on regular copy paper.
Horse of the Americas Handbook HOA plans to publish the Horse of the Americas Handbook before the end of 2002. Our book will be the most definitive work ever on the Colonial Spanish Horse and will include the Criteria for Inclusion and the Strain History on each HOA approved Strain as well as pictures of the foundation horses for each strain and strain performers today. HOA Strain representatives are working with each strain to develop these documents for each of them. Below is the Strain History and Criteria for Inclusion on the Havapai Ponies. This small strain was the first to complete the documents for HOA. We include it in our newsletter as info for our members, but also as an example of what type information to include in their own Strain History and Criteria for Inclusion. We hope it will give our Strain reps and members an idea as to what we want for each strain for our book. STRAIN HISTORY:
If you send pictures via email, they should be no larger than 400 kb and should be saved as a .tif or .jpg. Picture files saved as a .gif extension have been compressed and do not reproduce well. If you send me pictures by email, please notify me in advance that you will be sending picture file attachments.
Strain members are still exploring the history of the Havapai Ponies. The Havasupai Indians rode and used the small horses for All photos should be taken in open space, generations in the Grand Canyon, and many preferably in the morning or early afternoon. Pictures with photos of the tiny horses still exist. The history lots of shadows do not scan well, and the horse’s true color of the Strain today begins with Robert is difficult to reproduce. Trees or other busy landscape Brislawn's mare, Grand Canyon One, possibly a daughter of a Havapai Pony called Cordy and the Choctaw should be out of the background whenever possible. I stallion Ka-Maw-I. Cordy lived her entire life on the Cayuse and was never bred to any stallion except Ka-Maw-I. prefer pictures of both sides as well as a front and a rear. If a horse has unusual white patterns on the head, a closeBob isBrislawn took Grand Canyon I to the Wild Horse Research Farm, later called the Horse of the up photo also needed. Americas Research Farm in Porterville, California. This recreation effort includes bloodlines of three foals out of Grand I (Grand Canyon II, Daisy Ice and Barbwire, all reportedly sired by the Bookcliffs stallion ForCanyon more information, please contact Gretchen Patterson, Snipper). These three eventually made their way to Texas 202 Forest Trail Rd., Marshall, TX, 75672 or by email:when the largest breeding group of the remaining Horse of the Americas herd was purchased by C.O. "Buddy" Ice and his wife Wanda in 1988. Another small group sired [email protected]
Daytime phone is 903-935by Tasselhoff (by Barbwire out of Little Corn, she by Four Lane out of Little Thing) remained in California with 5358; night time is 903-938-2908. owner Gayle Noble. The first period of search includes the years beginning with the twentieth century and into the late 1960s. There are accounts and lore which have been circulated in past years and which reflect upon the existence of small Grand Canyon horses; but there is little doubt that they existed, both as wild and as a part of Havasupai Indian life. The Havasupai are the native residents of the Grand Canyon. Early twentieth century photographs of Colonial Spanish type horses in the Canyon do exist, and many are available for viewing on the Internet through the 13 Cline Library, Special Collections, Northern Arizona University.
The National Parks Service was given a mandate to remove non-native species from the National Parks, and this may have been the main factor in the loss of the feral members of this Strain. However, we might consider that new influences were also at work during the 1960's and later. There was uncertainty concerning the impact on the Canyon with construction of the 1963 dam on the Colorado River and which created Lake Powell. There was also growing public criticism regarding the forty-year practice of killing burros and horses. Perhaps removal of wild horses for preservation became a greater concern of the NPS; and it has often been repeated as Havapai Strain lore and in Grand Canyon horse discussions that the mare that came to the Cayuse Ranch was brought out of the Canyon by helicopter. This was entirely possible, but does not tally with information printed in the Horse of the Americas' Newsletter which stated that the original Grand Canyon mare had come from a mobile home dealer in South Dakota. Regardless of how it was accomplished and whatever the chain of events were which followed, the accepted conclusion of this Strain Club is that there was an authentic Havapai Pony mare. She and her daughter made their way into Colonial Spanish breeding programs in the 1970's. The second period of historical search concerns Grand Canyon I, the daughter or granddaughter of the original Brislawn Grand Canyon mare. Her known history begins at Porterville, California where Robert Brislawn and Jeff Edwards established the Brislawn-Edwards Wild Horse Research Farm, and later the original HOA. This segment and time line likely began in the 1960's when it is believed that Bob Brislawn bought the original Havapai Pony mare (who was called only "Josie's Black Pony" according to Kitty Brislawn) from a mobile home dealer in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He took her home to the Cayuse Ranch at Oshoto, Wyoming where she produced "Cordy", possibly sired by an unknown stallion prior to coming to the Cayuse. Reports from the Cayuse suggest that neither ever left the Cayuse Ranch, so the tiny dark bay mare known as Grand Canyon I which was taken to Porterville, CA may have been a daughter of either by one of the Cayuse's stallions. Of some interest, a few small unregistered horses or ponies with an obscure lineage are still being raised on the Cayuse Ranch for younger riders, and they serve as a reminder of our link with the two small horses which Bob originally bought. Bob Brislawn selected some of the ranch's finest Colonial Spanish horses to begin the Horse of the Americas herd, bringing the first "stud bunch" to the Research Farm late in 1971. Jeff Edwards, the other original HOA founder, later wrote, "In 1972 the Department of Agriculture recognized Bob Brislawn as the founder of the Spanish Barb Mustang horse. Now with the horses on the Research Farm being personally selected by Bob Brislawn they are 'authenticated.'" We believe that Grand Canyon I, the mare at the Research Farm, was an authentically sized Havapai Pony. She was originally selected by Bob Brislawn to study genetic size. She may have been sired by an unknown stallion prior to her dam coming to the Cayuse, but Grand Canyon I was likely out of Cordy or Josie's Black Pony and by Ka-Maw-I, a black Choctaw. Grand Canyon I did not go to the Research Farm with the first stud bunch shipped to California, however, but rather went sometime during the period from early 1972 to mid-1975. Once at the Research Farm, Grand Canyon I produced several foals by Snipper, a small black Bookcliffs stallion. Fate changed the destiny of all the HOA horses at the Research Farm, beginning the Texas historical segment of Havapai Pony history. Bob Brislawn passed away in 1978. Jeff Edwards also became ill and was unable to continue the effort. During the middle to later 1980's, the existing HOA stock passed to other hands; around 1989 the three offspring out of Grand Canyon I went to Buddy and Wanda Ice in Odessa, Texas. They included the black stallion named Barbwire and two mares, a dark bay called Grand Canyon II ("Twoie") and Daisy Ice (originally known as just "Daisy"). Barbwire died at the Ice's Las Remudas Ranch near Monahans, Texas. After the death of Wanda Ice, the two mares went to Karma Farms in East Texas in the spring of 1995, where the Speir family has dedicated themselves to developing Havapai Pony Strain. Incorporating some of finest Karma Farms Colonial Spanish stallions into the Havapai Pony program, the Strain was expanded, adding both paint and appaloosa color patterns and the occasional laterally gaited Havapai while preserving the small size characteristic. Other breeders have now joined that effort.
Daisy Ice (Snipper/ Canyon I)
at 22 years old.
Criteria For Inclusion: Strain: Havapai Ponies (adopted May 2001) The Havapai Ponies are a recreation of the horses of the Havasupai Indians of the Grand Canyon. Using the blood of a little Colonial Spanish mare recorded as Grand Canyon I and stallions of recorded Colonial Spanish ancestry, the Havapai Pony breeders wish to preserve a smaller Colonial Spanish horse. Havapai Ponies generally stand 13'2" hands or under which is called Classic size. Havapai Ponies standing over 13'2" hands or under are called Standard size. Even Standard Havapai ponies rarely stand over 14 hands. Purpose of the HAVAPAI PONY STRAIN: 1. To preserve the blood and genetic size of Grand Canyon I in a Colonial Spanish pony which will utilize the flexion, endurance and trainability of the Colonial Spanish in a horse sized for those who have use for a smaller mount of Barb type. 2. To preserve and promote the natural sound and amicable temperament which makes the Havapai Pony so well suited as mounts for children. 3. To develop a gene pool of Classic sized Havapai Ponies and to understand the inheritance of Havapai Pony Classic size.
Classic and Standard
1. "Classic" size shall include hands (54 inches) and under 2. "Standard" shall include hands. Standard shall also classification is determined at
Havapai Pony Strain registered horses 13' 2" when measured at four years of age or older. Havapai Pony Strain registered horses over 13' 2" include all eligible foals until Classic maturity.
Above: Fewie (Little Chief/Babe) is a Standard sized Havapai Pony mare, owned by Karma Farms. Her Classic sized daughter, Donna Anita is by Barbwire. Donna Anita is now owned by Rockin’ B Ranch. Left photo shows Donna Anita as a foal at Las Remudas Ranch, Monahans TX, when Buddy and Wanda Ice owned the HOA herd. Right photo is Ben O’Connor on Donna Anita in Native Costume Class at the American Indian Horse National Show, 2000.
Qualifications for Strain Inclusion 1. All applications for Havapai Pony Strain Inclusion shall be registered with the Horse of the Americas Registry. 2. All applicants shall either trace their genetic ancestry to the mare Grand Canyon I, or be a descendent of other Havapai Ponies as determined and approved by members of the Havapai Pony Strain Club. 15 3. All applicants who do not have Grand Canyon I ancestry shall, in addition to the above qualifications
and before being eligible for Havapai Pony Strain registration, produce two foals of sound quality and which offer Classic potential at maturity.
Locate and palpate the Wing of Atlas:
What sets the Spanish Mustang aside from the REST by Sharon May-Davis B.App.Sc. (Equine) I believe this question has been asked many times amongst breeders of this fine, old and traditionally unique horse. Subsequently, when Gretchen Patterson asked me to come and view the ‘bone yard’ on offer by the renowned breeder Vickie Speir, I accepted with glee. Now you may be thinking that this is a strange invite to one so far away, but for one such as me, this invite had me running. You see my expertise is the Equine’s Musculo-skeletal System and with the nickname “The Bone Lady”, this opportunity was too good to miss. So why am I writing this piece? Good question! Well, my reasoning is that having viewed the numerous skeletons on offer, I found a specific detail that was peculiar to this breed alone and not one that I had encountered in other breeds previously studied. Ok, then you ask, “What is it?” To answer your question we have to address the Wing of Atlas, also known as the transverse process of C1. This is the first cervical vertebra behind the skull and this wing in most breeds appears as a semi-circular lateral downward facing extension from the vertebral body. However, in the Spanish Mustang, the wing appears ear shaped in comparison, although up side down depending on the aspect from which it has been viewed.
The next question is, can this be palpated? Yes. The Wing of Atlas on a regular breed like the thoroughbred or quarter horse has the significant semi-circular shape that travels from the upper edge of the jugular groove to behind the horse’s ear with little deviation. However, in the Spanish Mustang it starts at the same place from the upper edge of the jugular groove, but instead of traveling upwards towards the ear it deviates dorsally towards the nuchal ligament, centered under the mane. Other aspects of note were; the dorsal area caudal to the Alar region, the spinal foramen, the actual shape of the wing from convex to concave and the articulating surface of C1 that receives the dens from the Axis (C2). Unfortunately, I only had a short time to spend in Texas and hence, I was unable to acquaint myself with this breed further. But I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gretchen Patterson and Vickie Speir for this chance to meet such a sturdy and unique breed. 16
Part 2 Update by Sharon May-Davis B.App.Sc. (Equine) Six months ago I was privileged to view a number of skeletons from Vickie Ives Speir’s Spanish Mustang graveyard. As a direct consequence, I noted the Atlas’s (C1) pear like shaped variation in comparison to other breeds. Although my previous investigations were limited to Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses and the more popular breeds, I felt the overall number of those that I had researched gave the variation in the Spanish Mustang case more credibility. Since then, the palpation techniques I shared with Vickie Speir and Gretchen Patterson to determine this variation has shown 100% accuracy in pure strains. Hence, I would like to write a more detailed account with diagrams to assist others to determine this variation. In most cases, the Wing of Atlas from other breeds looks similar to the top one shown in the diagram on the next page; however, the Spanish Mustang is displayed directly below it in the very same photograph. The pear shape wing, as opposed to the semi-circular one, gives rise to a potential verification of the breed if the parentage of the horse is known. Now to palpate the Atlas in the Spanish Mustang, run your thumb or forefinger along its wing as shown by the arrows in the diagram on page 8. You will note the deviation from the Wing of Atlas in other breeds by the sharp upward angulation of the wing. In other breeds this palpation follows a smooth descending arc from behind the ear towards the jugular groove, but not so in the Spanish Mustang. However, it must be remembered that this phenotype attribute could also be found in a part bred as a hereditary factor and must not be looked upon as the only classification of the breed. As mentioned earlier I had not encountered this variation in other breeds prior to my visit to Texas or to Karma Farms. But I must now contend that after I wrote the original article I encountered a similar Atlas in a miniature horse in Colorado. This brings me to the point where it has been inferred that the wild small horses of the Grand Canyon were used for miniature horse breeding programs early to mid last century. This would clarify and I am now hypothesising here, that these horses evolved from Spanish stock to survive the harsh conditions encountered in the terrain and possibly explains why the Karma Farms Canyon Horse bares the same Atlas. I’m afraid more questions rather than answers have evolved here instead ? About the Author Sharon May-Davis is a renowned Equine Therapist who has been involved with performance horses for nearly thirty years. She attends to Australian and State Champions from most equestrian disciplines including Dressage to Western. Furthermore, she was the Equine Therapist for the Modern Pentathlon Horses whilst in training for the Sydney 2000 Olympics and the Australian Reining Team demonstrating on site. Her competition years included show, rider and in-hand classes up to Royal standard with success in all three categories. She is a qualified Judge for the Show Horse Council and Miniature Horse Association of Australia and as such, judges breed, saddle and rider classes with requests up to State and National Titles. Her equine academic qualifications have been gained at College and University levels in both Australia and the United States of America (USA). These include a Bachelor of Applied Science (Equine), Advanced Certification in Horse Management and numerous Equine Therapy Programs She has been teaching equine subjects at colleges for over five years and spoken at numerous public gatherings in relation to her work. Her research into the equine’s musculo-skeletal system has earned her the nickname “The Bone Lady” in both Australia and the USA. Her extensive research covers the skeletal anatomy of numerous breeds and performance horses, which has been documented and delivered to several universities and colleges for further clarification. This work prompted Midway College in Kentucky to grant her a “Certificate of Honor” in recognition. Articulation skills were developed as a ‘layperson’ through the Australian Museum and since then Sharon has been producing articulated equine skeletons for educational facilities throughout Australia and the USA. Hence, she is frequently found in the field either exhuming skeletons of note or palpating horses prior to euthanasia to correlate her work with the skeletal remains. Therefore, this type of documentation is relevant to the equine athlete as a source of information to base changes within skeletal anatomy pertaining to breeds and performance.
Working With Wild Spanish Barbs by Alan Bell, HOA Romero/McKinley Strain Representative In the spring of 1998 I was fortunate enough to be able to meet Weldon and Margaret McKinley. The McKinley’s own a ranch near Los Lunas, New Mexico that has had Spanish Mustangs running wild on it for at least 200 years. On a tip from Emmett Brislawn, the son of the Spanish Mustang Registry founder, Bob Brislawn, whom I had visited while trucking (every job has its perks), I renewed my effort to contact the McKinley’s, as Emmett assured me they still had some of their famous horses and showed me the last one taken off their ranch, a chestnut mare he owned. I had tried calling, and though there are only a few McKinley’s in Los Lunas, they all denied knowing anything about the horses. So, I decided to write and got the address from an old copy of the SMR newsletter that Marye Anne Thompson, SMR Registrar, had sent me, which had an ad for the McKinley’s. I wrote and they answered! My second daughter was born shortly thereafter, and it would be 2 more years before I could take them up on their offer of horses. In the winter of 2000, I finally started finalizing plans with Mark McKinley to get some horses in exchange for acting as a broker for horses they would gather that spring. I offered to halter break the herd and set up a sale in exchange for 2 mares.
I tried to enlist everyone I could, but in the end only 2 people could make it. They were both there for 3 days, then one left, and the other stayed 2 more days. The last 5 days I would be on my own. This was, I thought, an easy way to acquire some of the famous McKinley horses and has turned out to be a “don’t try this at home” deal. Although, I’ve had the experience of a lifetime, I’ve paid more for the 2 mares than any horse I’ve ever owned! I wouldn’t have it any other way, because what I’ve
A wild 4-year-old bay McKinley mare races around the catch pen. Photo by the author, Alan Bell.
Although evident throughout this method, it is this latter stage that truly illustrates this principal. Horses will, more often than not, turn to the outside of the pen when changing directions as this puts their hind legs towards the center, and it’s a natural instinctive action. In order to get the horse to turn to the inside you must stop the horse from turning to the outside and cause him to continue in the same direction. Every time you position your body towards the horse’s path he’s been changing directions. Keeping the horse as your 12 o’clock reference you move towards either 10 or 2 o’clock, depending on the horses direction, and the horse will change direction. Now move towards 8 or 5 o’clock to get the horse to turn to the inside. This gives the horse more room to make the turn and the horse still perceives you as entering his path. If the horse starts to turn to the outside you should stop him and allow him to continue on in his original direction.
done and learned is PRICELESS. It is some of these observations and lessons the horses have taught me that I would like to share. I feel there are levels to be discussed when working with any horse; physical, mental, and spiritual. I mention the spiritual aspect because I feel that those of us that chose this breed, over the other more common or accessible breeds, do so because we feel a connection…a connection, to either the horses, or to the people that have depended on them in the past. Some feel akin to the old cowboys, some the Vaqueros or the Native Americans, still others the Spaniards and some like me might feel somehow connected to all of the above even the Moors of North Africa. I also feel that the greatest horsemen throughout history have been warriors. And the greatest of these has to recognize a high spiritual standard or else fall prey to the lowest depths of society. A warrior, by necessity, had to have a horse that he could rely on in the most volatile situation and that dependability comes through a high level of trust and caring. A mount that cared for it’s rider could save your life and a “Crazy Horse” was one that fought for it’s rider and was honored with retirement after such a feat as it was deemed a gift from the Great Spirit. The mental and physical go hand in hand in my eyes as “ the mind commands, the body follows and the Spirit flows”. There are principals to good horsemanship and when the right principles are followed the actual techniques matter little. So I will discuss mostly the principals and show how to apply them to various techniques. It’s getting so that there are almost factions in the horse training world. There are the Parelli-ists, the Lyon-ites, and the Monty Roberts-aphile etc. All of these horsemen have achieved things that set them apart from the norm in the horse world. And all are almost as different in their methodology as Night and Day!! Looking for the common threads can lead to insights that can be defined as principals. I’ll start with a principal shared by all: ‘Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard’ which leads to another ‘let it be the horses idea’ and a common goal: get the horse to ‘key’ onto the handler. Let’s start with John Lyons and “Round Pen Reasoning”. John has the horse moving at liberty in a round pen and, using body positioning, controls the horses direction and when the horse changes direction. He will then start controlling how the horse changes direction i.e. by turning towards the outside of the pen or towards the middle.
To make the right thing easy you must be able to stop the horse from getting to far into the outside turn. If you can catch him as his nose tips to the outside it’s far easier for the horse than if he had completed the turn and had to stop and turn again in order to continue on his original direction. The wrong thing is hard because the horse is using momentum to turn and has to stop that momentum and redirect it back onto it’s original course. This leads me to my most important discovery; it’s more about training yourself than training the horse!
How in tune can I be in order to make the right thing as easy as possible and the wrong thing just a minor inconvenience?
Many people fall into the habit of making the wrong thing warrant some sort of punishment! A horseman finds ways to make the wrong thing just hard enough that the horse appreciates the right thing and thus fulfills another principal: Let it be the horse’s idea. As the horse gets better at this you go back to asking for outside turns again and soon the horse is looking to you for direction and relief. The horse has ‘keyed’ onto you. Monty Roberts also starts a horse in the round pen, but his focus is on keeping the horse moving until he sees certain signs he calls the ‘Language of Equus’. Monty wants to see the horse lick its lips and then see the horse lower its head. These actions he interprets as the horse saying he’s a herbivore and then asking you to become the leader of its herd, respectively. At this point Monty allows the horse to stop and turns his shoulder diagonally to the horse. The horse acknowledges Monty’s leadership by coming and putting his nose at Monty’s shoulder in an action Monty calls ‘join up’. The same principles are illustrated in that it’s easier for the horse to allow you to be its leader than to keeping moving around the round pen and that the horse has to ask you to be its leader before the pressure is taken off. And the goal of having the horse ‘key’ on to you is achieved in ‘join up’. Again, knowing just how much pressure to apply is paramount to keeping the horse from either accepting leadership or considering you a tyrant. Either of these methods works well with wild horses when the aforementioned pitfalls are avoided and a round pen is available. You still can’t touch the horse, but he’s keyed onto you, so I’ll discuss that now. In New Mexico I didn’t have a round pen and had to achieve the same goals. What I did accomplished all the above and allowed me to touch the horse! We were in a rectangular corral, and I would get the horse at one end. The corral was just wide enough that I could move to keep the horse from running to the other end but when they did I would chase them back to my working end. I feel this is important as the horses perceived this was something I was trying to get them to do and thus had to start keying onto me sooner. When I would get the horse to quit trying to move to the other end and stand still I’d really begin. A short bit of human interest is appropriate; when a returning scout would come back to the main camp, amongst the Sioux, he would not ride directly in. He would come in a little at a time, stopping and circling and advancing in stages. This told those in the camp that there was no danger found on his scouting mission.
If he was to ride directly in it meant something was up, and all would rush to find out what. Horses, and especially wild horses, are the same! Once the horse is standing if I would walk directly up to him, he would flee, perceiving there was some predator about (me). The harmonious world is circular, the turbulent one, angular. I would approach the horse a little at a time with my hand extended, palm towards the horse, until he’d look at me with both eyes or ‘face up’, then I’d stop and circle back to my original position. I presented the pressure to the horse gradually by moving a little closer every third time or so, but was always ready to adjust back when I noticed the horse getting too anxious. Within 15 feet of the horse I noticed some changes. The horses would nod their heads up and down as if saying yes, and most ceased the snorting they had begun when the whole exercise started. Several would actually start to follow me as I turned and walked away. When I was back at my starting place I would relax and open my heart until the horse looked away. As soon as they looked away, I’d approach hand extended, palm towards the horse until both eyes were once again upon me. Within the last ten feet I would start to consider where the horse’s ears were pointing, and if the ears were not towards me, I would continue to pressure the horse to face up in order to get me to stop approaching. Around the fifteen feet mark or so, I also would only go back four or five steps, not all the way to the original position unless it appeared the horse was getting too anxious. At ten feet I also could approach a step or two beyond the point where the horse faced up. Soon, at about five feet, the horse is nodding and snorting, and I would stop and pause before retreating giving the horse time to smell and talking gently to it. Then I was able to touch the horse between its eyes. Some would stand there while others would flee at first touch, but those that did were easier to start over with. I should also point out that most of the horses, especially the older ones, I had lassoed, and they were dragging a lariat that I would try to get them to allow me to grab. When they would allow me to grab the lariat, I would continue to do the advance and retreat thing for awhile and then would try to get them to let me also rub their necks. Soon they were leading! Also, I never got into a real ‘tug-of-war’ with these horses. I would always try and have some give in the rope. I would try not to set a brace in the horse and would instead “pump” the rope in order to get them to stop. It’s kind of like the feeling of catching an egg. As soon as the horse feels your contact, it’s gone, and they have nothing to resist or fight against. Of course with most of these horses this was done on the run, trying to keep up with them, and when I couldn’t, I’d simply let go of the rope and begin anew.
I made the right thing (facing me) really easy and the wrong thing (looking away) not so hard. Looking away meant only that I would continue to apply pressure by continuing to approach the horse. It was the horses’ idea to look at me to get me to stop. It was the horses’ idea to allow me to touch it and let me into its herd and because these horses are survivors, they figure out quickly what is asked of them and whether it is life threatening or not.
and turned and faced up to me and came back to me to be rubbed between the eyes (as soon as I could stand)! I could have used any method from lassoing and choking them down (as was suggested) to round pen reasoning to join up. I feel what I did worked best because I was able to touch the horse in a shorter period of time. Although not for everyone, it works for me. It is hard and physically demanding to work with wild horses. I’m inherently lazy so I like to find ways to do things right the first time so I don’t have to do them over again!
All this took, from beginning to end, on average 30 to 45 minutes per horse. Thus I was able to halter break 18 wild mustangs in 10 days. It teaches the horse to face you and not present his ‘business end’ to you. It teaches the horse to accept you and your leadership. It teaches the horse that relief from pressure comes through looking at you. This is extremely important as it leads to trust and respect. I had a Blevins buckle come undone on a horse I was riding, causing him to buck me off. The horse stopped
Alan works with a McKinley 3 year old filly.
Karma Farms congratulates Margerita on her son Fernando’s NATRC 2001 National Championship. (also NATRC High Point Spanish Mustang and HOA 2001 Champion CTR Horse)
Photographing Your Horse for
Introducing “Ferdie’s” little brother Flaming Pie out of Margerita by Building A Mystery (“Bam” by Rowdy Yates out of Liona). Solid grulla 2001 colt with looks, pedigree and a distance pedigree second to none. “Pie” is for sale: $1000. Other nice Colonial Spanish horses from breeding stock to 2002 models. Stallions at stud including Rowdy Yates, El Tigre Segundo, Dance Magic, Locomotion, Tambourine Man, Geronimo Fusco, Trail Blazer and Doctor Wu.
Visit us at karmafarms.com or call (903) 9359980 for more information.
Registration or Inspection by Vickie Ives Speir, President Gretchen Patterson, HOA Registrar
What makes a good picture for use on your registration certificate or for inspection for inclusion in HOA? Here’s a guideline: 11
Here No Myth’s whole front end is facing away from the camera and we can’t even see his facial profile. Certainly would have difficulty judging the conformation ratio and true angle of shoulder although Myth’s shoulder is so laid back that there would be no question of his being straight-shouldered, even from this shot. This is a good shot for his leg markings, though.
Horse of the Americas, Inc. 202 Forest Trail Rd. Marshall, Texas 75672 www.horseoftheamericas.com
Ever After doesn’t have a heavy forelock obscuring his marking. The angle is good. Hip is very slightly toward the camera so it’s not perfect, but it’s good. The heavy shadow on the neck is about the only flaw. But if he had a leg marking in right rear, it wouldn’t be so good. We can’t see that leg at all. Remember, good photos make your registration certificate look better, and will increase the likelihood of acceptance on a good Colonial Spanish feral.