Even though I am invited to hold horsemanship clinics all over the western United States, I still enjoy and very much benefit from attending horsemanship clinics of other great horsemen, even in different disciplines. I am always trying to learn more because you can never gain enough knowledge.
When attending a clinic, you should always go with an open mind and be willing to try what the clinician suggests, even though it might be new to you. In most clinics there are a variety of levels in both horses and riders with many different issues. When I attend a clinic I try to pay close attention to all the other horses and their problems, not just my own. This is a great way to pick up training tips and learn how to deal with other concerns that may arise with your horse down the road.
When planning to attend a clinic, you should be prepared to spend four to six hours with your horse each day. Plan on some ground work, a lot of riding and some intense lecture and discussions on horsemanship, proper gear, nutrition, hoof care and dentistry. It is also helpful to take notes if you can and definitely be physically prepared to ride hard. I find that in a horsemanship class it is a good idea to take a more advanced horse so that you can move him forward quicker. That way when you take him home you’ve gained the knowledge to advance your younger horses even further.
In colt starting clinics, I prefer to take a horse that is just halter broke and old enough to be started under saddle. You will start with your horse never being rode before and by the end of the three-day clinic, you will have ridden him through trail obstacles, in an arena setting and maybe even on a trail. When attending a clinic you should also expect to learn how to gain control of all five major body parts of your horse, obtain a soft feel, overcome challenging obstacles, possibly handle cattle, build confidence in both horse and rider, and most importantly, create a confident and willing partnership with your horse. Oftentimes, top professionals in the horse industry, like veterinarians, farriers, nutritional experts and saddle makers will come and speak at the clinics so that everyone can become wellrounded in their knowledge of horses.
Whether you decide to attend a colt starting, cow working or horsemanship clinic, it’s important that you and your horse always strive to establish a partnership. As a young man I quite often heard, “Who’s in charge, you or the horse?” I don’t believe that is the way it should be. I want teamwork. You and your horse need to work together. When you create this partnership with your horse, he will become more willing, responsive, soft and more likely to be there with you every step of the way.
Understanding and training horses is in Shamus Haws’ blood, but his passion is helping horses with human problems. Haws will be holding a clinic April 20- 22 at the Erda Arena in Erda. Colt starting is from 8 a.m. to noon with horsemanship from 1 to 5 p.m. each day. Limited participant space available. Spectators are free to watch and learn. Call 801-541-9228 or visit www.shamushaws. com for more info.