Two things happened to me this past month that affected me that I feel compelled to write about and share with you, it affects all of us in the horse industry, and it’s sad but true. My horse shoer and I had a discussion one morning. Roy is a cowboys cowboy, he has been one all his life, working cattle, roping, shoeing, breaking horses, and also is a very successful white collar businessman. He has that cowboy logic and tries to live as I do in a black and white world, with as little of grey area possible, it’s either the truth or its not. He mentioned to me, you know Al I’m worried about the horse industry as a horse shoer I get to meet a lot of people from all different walks of life, from trail riders to many different disciplines and I see a trend developing. Most of the people I shoe for have horses as a hobby and so many are selling their horses and getting out and once they are out of the horse business they won’t return and you know why, because the expense of having a horse is great with the cost of feed as high as $12.00 a 50# bag, shoeing or trimming, worming, veterinarian, bedding, stalls, cleaning stalls, grooming supplies and time, saddles, bits, halters, cleaning supplies, land and taxes and I could go on and on.
All this time and expenses override the reason why they bought their horses in the first place. They wanted their family together to enjoy the pleasure of nature and spending quality time together. But unable to find answers to my questions about their horses I just want their family safe to enjoy their hobby and with so many articles on horses, so many trainer videos, so much corruption in the world and also in the horse business you don’t know where to turn. One man that sold his horses told me that one of his horse colic and the vet that treated his horse charged him over $1500.00 for what resulted in an hours work. To begin with the horse only cost him $500.00 and the horse died the same day. Of course I know this is not common practice because I know of honest vets but how do you pick the right one. He had collected four horse training videos from four different trainers and he found nothing that was useful in understanding his horse so he did not want anything more to do with the horse business. Little did Roy know that I had two visitors to my ranch with almost the same problem. I get daily calls and letters from folks with the same problem. J.R. and his wife came over one evening, J.R. had called me a couple of weeks previously asking for lessons, when he informed me that his horse was a two year old that had never had a saddle on him and J.R. with little or no experience riding I felt that that was a wreck looking for a place to happen. I advised him to find an older horse, gentle and well broke to start with. Then I could teach him to ride safely but he would have to practice a couple days out of the week. So he did find a gentle horse that the owner used to pony other horses with and that the horse had been ridden extensively. Well when he went to get on him something happened and he fell off suffering a concussion among other injuries. After asking him some basic questions I realized several things. First the saddle he is riding is way too small for him, and he not knowing how to adjust his stirrups was another problem. He could not describe the type of bit he was using let alone the adjustment. He wants to ride with his wife and daughter. He had previously purchased a horse training video from a young popular trainer and he felt it was not doing him any good. I know what video he is talking about because the over collected horse that was being ridden (his chin almost touching his chest), and he was ridden with split, and loose reins which indicates to me that that horse was not trained by the man riding. I told him to find the real trainer that did train the horse and you might have the answers. I told him to bring the horse over and I will know in 15 minutes if the horse is right for him to start. Since he has to get a different saddle, one that fits him, I would recommend that he invests less than $500.00 for a new saddle and double reins. You can make the reins yourself or you can buy them. The saddle I recommend is an Aussie Saddle that fits him (which I do not make a dime off of). It is a deep seat with features like a high candle, knee pads, and properly adjusted so that it would be safe. He needs two lessons, one for his horse and the other for him and his horse, then go home and practice. You can do all of this for under $500.00. Is the investment worth it to you? I also know the trainer he was talking about is on the road every week and has been for several years, how would he have time to train? I know that I ride five days a week and been doing it close to 50 years and I still learn something new everyday. I told him a story of my years growing up that I had two “Heroes” one was Roy Rodgers and the other a famous singer, actor and horseman. You can imagine how I felt when this hero of mine asked me to train a horse for him. I was honored meeting him but also very confused. I said to him, you are the greatest trainer I have ever seen, how could I possible help you. I have in my collection everything that you have ever done, you are my inspiration. He told me that he did not train any of those horses, he was a former trainer but was discovered in his early twenty’s. Since then he never had time to train. With all of the movies, personal appearances, recording sessions, the only time he rode a horse is when he had a show. He said the trainers that train his horses are the very best that he can find and he pays them to train these great and expensive horses that he rides today. Now this happened in the early 1980’s. When I sing and dance my horses I still use his style that he taught me. So in closing, if your pick-up truck needs work wouldn’t you rather take it to a mechanic that has a wall full of certificates of achievements and has graduated from all of these schools. He has 20 to 30 years of doing this and only this as say compared to a young man that has another full time job and tinkers with cars in his spare time. You may pay more an hour for the work of the experienced mechanic but will result in less money over time and you know it was fixed right the first time.
Now lets touch on another subject that bugs me today, and this is deworming your horse. Had I not lived in a time that when deworming your horse really did the job right I would not be commenting on this today. I would deworm my horses twice a year with a dewormer called Direx (I know I am not spelling it correctly) but 24 hours after tubing my horses and at the time I had over 20 head, the next day hundreds of worms all types some 6” long, red bots, and many other species lay dead in my horses droppings. Within a week my horses would have a shine, clear eyes, a double handful of oats twice a day with two flecks of hay. My horses were fat and healthy. Well that dewormer was pulled off of the market and replaced with what we have today. I ask you what happened to the worms after deworming today? Have any of you folks seen any dead worms after you dewormed? I sure haven’t, one vet wants me to believe that they die and disintegrate in the horse’s stomach. Well I am sure that I was born one night but I can assure you that it wasn’t last night. Ask anyone that lived in those years and they will tell you the same story. So it is just another fact of life that we have to live with. When I made that statement to a friend of mine he replied well I guess you will never have a horse deworming company to ask to sponsor you. I simply replied I don’t endorse any products that I don’t believe in or I know that it doesn’t work. Money has never been my incentive, if it were I would not be a horse trainer today. I will promise you folk’s one thing and that is I will never lie to you nor will I tell you anything that I have not experienced myself. I teach from my own experiences only and if I don’t know the answer to your questions I will tell you that to. See you next month.