Over a year ago I started the arduous process of writing a book on horsemanship. It’s being published by Western Horseman and will be released next month. In this issue, I want to give you a sneak preview of “Rider to Horseman”. This is an excerpt from the introduction. Hope you enjoy it. Just because I have written a book on horsemanship doesn’t mean that I am not like you. We are simply people who love horses and everything about them
I’ve heard some people say that this love of horses must be genetic. Maybe that’s right. However, I have a sister who never thought a thing about horses. Same sire. Same dam. Yet we could not be more different. Whatever it is, it’s in our hearts and in our blood. It motivates us to clean stalls and pay vet bills. It causes us to come home early from parties so that we can feed our horses. We have even come to grips with the fact that our chosen hobby and passion could cause serious bodily injury or even death.
None of these things stop us. And the fact that you have chosen this book tells me that you not only love horses but are also committed to improving your own horsemanship skills and knowledge. Me too! And perhaps the only difference between myself and many of you is the fact that I have the privilege to get up every morning and do this for a living. If horsemanship were not my vocation, I would be spending my evenings, days off and every weekend playing with horses and working to improve my own horsemanship skills. Probably just like most of you.
Horsemanship is a journey. After forty years of horsemanship, I realize that I will never arrive at the destination or finish line. I think I’m a better horseman now than I was 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. However, I would be the saddest cowboy in Nevada if I thought that I would not be a better horseman five years from now than I am today. If we are not going to arrive at the destination, let’s determine to enjoy the journey. That’s what this book is about: A journey.
In my early twenties, I thought I had this whole horsemanship thing figured out. Now, thirty years later there are some days that I have more questions than I have answers! I’m asking questions now that I didn’t even know to ask as a young aspiring horseman. We can bluff our way through a lot of areas in our lives. However, horses know when we know and they know when we don’t know.
Has your horse ever fed you a piece of “humble pie”? Horses are the great equalizers. They don’t really care whether you’re male or female, young or old. They don’t care how much money you have or what kind of car you drive. They simply want to be safe and comfortable. It’s amazing what they will do for us once other things are put aside and these two criteria are met. Horses do not want to be leaders. Horses are natural followers. If this book can help you with your leadership skills, then I would consider my mission accomplished.
Gracious horsemen and women who have helped me along the way shared many of these ideas with me. Others I figured out on my own after having done the wrong thing too many times. At best I’m sharing with you what has been shared with me. At worst, I’m allowing you to learn from my mistakes.
This is a great time to be pursuing horsemanship. When I was a boy, all of the horse training techniques were big secrets. There was not a lot of communication with or from great trainers. That’s not the case anymore. There’s a free flow of information. From books and magazines, DVDs, online information, expos and clinics. You can now learn from some of the greatest talents in the horse industry. It’s not a secret anymore. If you have the desire to learn, the resources are readily available. There’s just no excuse to be ignorant anymore!
If you read something in this book that seems to contradict something else you have seen or read, don’t be too worried. Horsemanship is an art, not a science. There is a lot of room for differing opinions and techniques. It’s my opinion that all the great horsemen and women today are all doing the same thing their own way. The styles, tools, and techniques change. The verbiage and presentation may differ. Yet it all continually comes back to presenting an idea to a horse in a way that they can understand. Making the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult. Being firm as necessary, yet gentle as possible and rewarding the slightest try.
This book is not intended to tell you “the” way to do it. My horsemanship style is simply “a” way. If everything goes according to plan, I hope to write a new book in five years with the “new and improved” version. Until then, don’t judge me too harshly. I’m still a work in progress! Enjoy the journey.
For over 35 years Richard has dedicated himself to honing his horsemanship skills and to passing this knowledge on to others. Richard’s credentials extend from the rodeo arena and high desert ranches of the west to being a highly sought after trainer, horsemanship clinician, and expo presenter.
Richard Winters’ horsemanship journey has earned him Colt Starting and Horse Showing Championship titles. Obtaining his goal of a World Championship in the National Reined Cow Horse Association became a reality where he is also an AA rated judge. Another of Richard’s horsemanship goals was realized with his Road to the Horse Colt Starting Championship and then returning for 5 consecutive years, as the Horseman’s Host.
International travels include Canada, Australia, Mexico, Sweden, Scotland, Brazil, and Poland where he earned the European International Colt Starting Championship title. Richard is a “Masterful Communicator” with horses and humans alike!
Richard Winters Horsemanship TV Show can be seen on RFD-TV every Wednesday at 12:00 and 8:00 p.m. (PST). You can also connect with Richard on Facebook and YouTube.
Richard and his wife Cheryl reside in Reno, Nevada.
For more information about Richard Winters Horsemanship and the learning opportunities available please go to www.wintersranch.com.
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This article was printed in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 9, Issue 3