Horse Training, On the International Trail

Eight Ways to Improve Your Horsemanship Position

July 14, 2014

Practice these eight exercises from an AQHA international horsemanship camp to develop into a more functional rider.

By Lauren Wells, AQHA international intern, Summer 2014

AQHA member Zoe Shillabeer of the United Kingdom and her American Quarter Horse Seren Firefly demonstrate correct horsemanship position. Lauren Wells photo.

During the AQHA international horsemanship camps in Europe, participants have the option to select a particular discipline or event they’d like to focus on for improvement with their horse. However, prior to making this decision, the students from the University of Findlay required participants to work through a preliminary horsemanship pattern to analyze their skill levels in order to place them into proper groups. Then, for most of the first day of camp, the riders worked through the following eight riding exercises.

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Meet the Trainers

July 7, 2014

Meet the talented University of Findlay students conducting some of the 2014 AQHA international horsemanship camps.

By Lauren Wells, AQHA International Intern, Summer 2014

University of Findlay students enjoyed their trip to the Long View Ranch in Austria. From L-R: Christina Brantner, Kimmy Deane, Spencer Zimmerman,   Tia Beasley, and Rachel Beerbower.

University of Findlay students enjoyed the horsemanship camp at the Long View Ranch in Austria. From left: Christina Brantner, Kim Deane, Spencer Zimmerman, Tia Beasley and Rachel Beerbower. Lauren Wells photo.

Each year, AQHA selects four universities to conduct the international horsemanship camps in Europe. Faculty and students from the University of Findlay, Colorado State University, Sam Houston State University and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls have been serving as the clinicians for the summer 2014 camps.

The University of Findlay, located in Findlay, Ohio, has one of the most prestigious equestrian studies programs in the nation. The university has participated in the AQHA international horsemanship camp program since 2007. AQHA Professional Horseman Arthur O’Brien, instructor of western riding at the University of Findlay, has brought several groups of students overseas each summer. This year, Arthur was unable to travel to Europe, so instead he sent two of the best graduate students of the university to lead the group.

After each college has been notified of being selected for the program, the universities are responsible for choosing the most capable students to represent their equine programs overseas. Several students from the University of Findlay applied this year.  The seven students with the highest grade point averages were invited to give a presentation, followed by questions from a five-panel board. From this, three students and an alternate were selected and began preparing for the trip.

Read on to learn more about the students who “passed the test” and who have had the opportunity to teach AQHA members all over Europe how to become better riders and horsemen.

  • Spencer Zimmerman was raised on a small farm in Newport, Pennsylvania. His interest in horses developed from a young age when he began riding his family’s Arabians. Attending the University of Findlay allowed Spencer to develop many training techniques and horsemanship skills by riding a variety of horses. He competed on the University’s Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team, where he helped the team claim two national championship titles, as well as one reserve national championship. According to Spencer, “My four years at Findlay helped me develop a passion for all-around horses, especially trail and western riding. During the summer following my junior year, I took an internship with AQHA world champion Leonard Lee Berryhill of Talala, Oklahoma. That summer, he gave me the opportunity to show at an AQHA show for the first time. I have been hooked ever since!” Spencer graduated in May with his master’s in business administration. He plans to become a college riding instructor or work in the animal health industry.
  • Kim Deane grew up on a horse farm in Bernardston, Massachusetts. She began riding as soon as she could hold her head up on her pony, “Coco.” She showed in 4-H and open shows on the East Coast. Her show career in AQHA began at age 16 by participating in events such as trail, hunt seat equitation, hunter under saddle and horsemanship. This eventually led her to a third-place finish in hunt seat equitation at the 2008 All American Quarter Horse Congress. Kim also rode on Findlay’s IHSA equestrian team, where she received national championship honors in advanced horsemanship in 2009. In the 2011-2012 competition season, she served as president of the university’s western team. In 2012, she was reserve in the Clark Bradley Pleasure Futurity, an excellent way to finish up her senior year at the university. In May 2014, Kim graduated with her master’s degree in business administration. Following this trip, she plans to continue a career in the equine industry.
  • Tia Beasley grew up in the small town of Loogootee, Indiana. She started riding at the age of 2, and as a youth showed in 4-H and open shows. She started at the University of Findlay in 2010, where she greatly enjoyed colt-starting and developing her riding and training skills in both reining and cutting. During her time at Findlay, she was elected president of the ranch horse team, in which the team shows in ranch horse pleasure, trail, reining and working cow horse. Tia graduated in May with her bachelor’s degree in western equestrian studies and equine business management. She currently works for Stone Ridge Equine Care in Evansville, Indiana, as a veterinary technician. Tia wants to the thank the University of Findlay and AQHA for the wonderful opportunities they have provided, and she is excited to further her career in the horse industry.
  • Rachel Beerbower of Hicksville, Ohio, began taking riding lessons at age 6 and started showing in 4-H and open shows three years later. At age 8, she decided she wanted to attend the University of Findlay. Following this dream, she started at Findlay in 2010 to major in equine training and equine business management. She was a member of the university’s ranch horse team and served as secretary during her senior year. Rachel will begin her first year of graduate school at Findlay in the fall and will serve as the graduate intern. Following the completion of her master’s degree, she hopes to work for an equine breeding facility or for a breed association or sport organization like AQHA or the National Reining Horse Association. Rachel would like to thank AQHA and Findlay for this great opportunity. “I think the international horsemanship camps have taught me just as much as those who ride in them. It’s a great experience, and I have loved helping and meeting a lot of people and horses. Thank you!”
  • Christina Brantner, the youngest member of the Findlay group, is from Olympia, Washington. She started taking riding lessons at age 10, and since then, she has competed in a multitude of disciplines with several different breeds including saddleseat, three-day eventing and extreme mountain trail. Beginning to ride at the University of Findlay’s English farm her freshman year, Christina quickly transitioned to riding at the western barn after taking part in the colt-starting course. Christina will enter her senior year this fall to finish her bachelor’s degree in equestrian studies and equine business management. She has been an active competitor on both Findlay’s English and western IHSA teams, showing in horsemanship, hunt seat equitation and equitation over fences. Following graduation next May, she hopes to start a career training in the all-around or working hunter industries.

The purpose of the AQHA international horsemanship camps is to foster an environment in which people around the world can learn more about horsemanship and horse training, while gaining more knowledge and appreciation of the American Quarter Horse breed. The university students, staff and AQHA international intern all play important roles in facilitating, conducting and networking during the camps each summer.

Thank you for following along on our journey! Be sure to stay tuned for next week’s European adventure as we head to conduct a horsemanship camp in the United Kingdom!

Learn About the Long View Ranch

July 1, 2014

Take a tour of Long View Ranch in Austria, the host of the first 2014 AQHA international horsemanship camp.

By Lauren Wells, AQHA international intern, Summer 2014

View overlooking the ranch's covered arena.

View overlooking the ranch’s covered arena

The AQHA international horsemanship camp in Austria was hosted by the Long View Ranch, located in Wilhelmsburg, Austria. Owned and operated by Gabriele and Gerold Dautzenberg, the ranch specializes in training working cow horse, reining and all-around show horses. The facility maintains around 70 horses on 90 acres that are used primarily for boarding and training purposes. Long View also owns a small band of broodmares that are crossed with ranch stallions to produce about six to eight foals per year.

Long View Ranch's stallion Shiny Fandango by Shining Spark

Long View Ranch’s stallion Shiny Fandango by Shining Spark

Long View was established in 1995 and currently stands five stallions that have excelled in the reining, working cow horse and all-around show arenas. The ranch stallions include Shiny Fandango by Shining Spark, Tejons Little Johnny by Peppy San Badger; LV Lark’s Investment by Investment Asset; CD Lights R Red, a great-grandson of Doc O’ Lena; and Smokeelan, the 2009 AQHA senior working cow horse world champion a grandson of both Smart Little Lena and Freckles Playboy. Several foals by these stallions are offered for sale each year.

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AQHA Adventures in Austria

June 24, 2014

Travel to Vienna, Austria, and tour the prestigious Spanish Riding School with AQHA’s international intern.

Students from the University of Findlay and I enjoying our tour of the Spanish Riding School. From L-R: Christina Brantner, Spencer Zimmerman, Kimmy Deane, Rachel Leone Beerbower, and Tia Beasley.

Students from the University of Findlay and Lauren Wells enjoyed their tour of the Spanish Riding School. From left: Christina Brantner, Spencer Zimmerman, Kimmy Deane, Rachel Leone Beerbower, Tia Beasley and Lauren Wells.

By Lauren Wells, AQHA international intern, Summer 2014

Hello everyone!

It’s hard to believe that the first AQHA international horsemanship camp for 2014 is almost complete! Over the past few days, the students from the University of Findlay and I have certainly stayed busy traveling, sightseeing and, of course, conducting the horsemanship camp.

After flying into Frankfurt, Germany, the students and I rode a seven-hour train to Vienna, Austria. I was completely blown away by the gorgeous scenery as I gazed out my window and saw the rolling green hills and rivers of rural Austria.

On Thursday, we started the day at the prestigious Spanish Riding School in downtown Vienna and attended the school’s morning exercise. We watched in awe as the Lipizzaner stallions were taken through the paces performing a variety of dressage movements, including the passage, pirouette, half pass  and piaffe.

After lunch at a local cafe, we returned to the Spanish Riding School in the afternoon to attend the guided tour. We had the opportunity to walk through the stallion barn, tack room and onto the arena floor. The tack room wall was covered in custom-made saddles that conformed to fit each stallion’s back perfectly. Dressage bridles, adorned with gold plates handcrafted by an Austrian saddlery, hung neatly in glass cases.

Walking into the arena, I was amazed by the intricate architecture and artwork of the 440-year-old riding academy. Authentic oil paintings decorated the walls and chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Just outside the arena stood the largest hot walker in the world, which can hold up to 19 horses. After each stallion has completed their morning exercise, they are walked out for 45 minutes using this hot walker.

University of Findlay student Rachel Beerbower teaches a camp participant the correct way to enter the box in trail.

University of Findlay student Rachel Beerbower teaches a camp participant the correct way to enter the box in trail.

Following our visit to the Spanish Riding School, we traveled to the Schonbrunn Palace and took the Vienna metro to meet up with our camp host, Gabriele Dautzenberg. From our hotel, she brought us to the Long View Ranch in Wilhemsburg, Austria, the location of the first camp.

Although we learned and experienced a lot in the past few days about the Austrian culture and horse industry, perhaps the most enjoyable component of our experience thus far has been the welcoming atmosphere and hospitable attitude provided by our host, Gabriele, and the camp participants. The riders’ willingness to learn and further develop their horsemanship skills has been outstanding. Just in a couple of days, we have seen large improvements in the performances of each horse and rider.

Ultimately, it has been witnessing the progress of the riders and the common interest and passion for the horse that we share with the participants that has made camp Austria rewarding and meaningful. It is evident that through the American Quarter Horse, people can gather together from around the world and from all walks of life. Through horses, we are able to form this global network of equine enthusiasts while cultivating and expanding relationships amongst members of our AQHA affiliates.

Stayed tuned for my next blog featuring the background and story behind the Long View Ranch, plus more photos from the very first AQHA international horsemanship camp of the summer.

See you soon!

The indoor arena in which the morning exercises take place.

The indoor arena, where the Spanish Riding School morning exercises take place

Handcrafted steel door handle at the Vienna Riding School

Handcrafted steel door handle at the Vienna Riding School

Custom made saddles cover the tack room wall.

Custom-made saddles cover the Spanish Riding School tack room wall.

Walking through the aisleway of the stallion barn

Taking a peek at one of Spanish Riding School’s Lipizzaner stallions

Sightseeing in downtown Vienna.

Sightseeing in downtown Vienna

AQHA Proud Around the World

June 17, 2014

Meet Lauren Wells, AQHA’s international intern for 2014, before she travels across Europe this summer promoting horsemanship and AQHA.

By Lauren Wells

AQHAs International Intern Lauren Wells and her American Quarter Horse gelding Invest N Vegas

The 2014 AQHA international intern Lauren Wells and her American Quarter Horse gelding, Invest N Vegas.

What makes you AQHA Proud? Has it been the joy of owning your own American Quarter Horse, the endless benefits and opportunities of being an AQHA member or possibly participating in the largest equine breed association in the world? Being AQHA Proud may be as simple as sporting an AQHA T-shirt in public or posting a photo onto Instagram with hashtag #AQHAProud. Regardless of your method of demonstrating AQHA Proud, we are proud of you for showing your true passion for the American Quarter Horse!

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2013: Switzerland

August 15, 2013

AQHA Swiss campers headed out to the stream to cool off

AQHA Swiss campers headed out to the stream to cool off.

Hello from Switzerland!

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College just finished up its third horsemanship camp of the summer in the beautiful country of Switzerland. With more than 20 campers, NEO was busy the whole camp. The camp was situated less than an hour’s drive from Zurich at a show facility that catered to dressage, show jumping, horse racing, trot races, cross country and more. The big facility was a fun place for the campers to ride and enjoy their camp.

On Day 1, riders were sorted into two groups, w hich allowed for more individualized instruction and and allowed the riders to ask more questions. After getting settled into groups, riders worked on basic body Read the rest of this entry »

2013: Italy

August 12, 2013

Great times at riding horses in Italy!

Great times riding horses in Italy!

Hello from Italy!

The AQHA International Horsemanship camp in Italy this year was so much fun! Hosted at Az. Agr. Rio Della Forcola, this camp was located about 15 minutes out of Bologna, Italy. The scenery there was absolutely breathtaking. Vineyards, mountains and plains were all right there, and temperatures at the Italy camp were the warmest they’ve been this summer, with highs in the 90s.

This was the first camp for the summer for Sam Houston State University. Read the rest of this entry »

2013: Schwalmtal, Germany

August 10, 2013

Hanging out At the AQHA horsemanship camp in Schwalmtal, Germany!

Hanging out at the AQHA horsemanship camp in Schwalmtal, Germany.

Greetings from Schwalmtal, Germany!

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College finished up its second AQHA International Horsemanship camp, and it was outstanding. With 14 participants, the camp was an excellent size that allowed for a lot of one-on-one information, as well as a fair amount of fun and games. The evenings were spent eating together with all of the participants, which was a neat time to get to know everyone really well and understand their horse interests. During the summer, I have learned that there are not many stories more fascinating or fun than the stories people tell about how they first got hooked on horses.

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2013: Great Britain

July 24, 2013

Hello, everybody!

International Intern Tabatha Taylor and North Eastern Oklahoma University at the international horsemanship camp in March, Great Britain.

International Intern Tabatha Taylor and North Eastern Oklahoma University traveled to March, Great Britain, for an international horsemanship camp. Photo courtesy of Tabatha Taylor.

I just finished spending a couple of amazing days in March, Great Britain, with North Eastern Oklahoma University. North Eastern Oklahoma University, or NEO (which I will hereafter call it), did an exceptional job of teaching the first camp at Horse Creek Farm. There were about 25 participants, and all were excited to jump on their horses, learn new things and have a blast.

The NEO team arrived in London a few days before the camp started, which allowed members to adjust to the time change and see the sights. Read the rest of this entry »

2013: Sundsvall, Sweden

July 17, 2013

Howdy from Sweden!

1073762_527702023963863_545170593_oThe Texas A&M University group just finished up its last AQHA International Horsemanship Camp of the summer in Sundsvall, Sweden.  From Norway, the Texas A&M clan traveled to southern Sweden for its second horsemanship camp with nearly 30 participants. After finishing at that camp, they moved to Sundsvall, which is located in northern Sweden, to teach the third and final camp with 23 participants.  Sundsvall was a great place for Texas A&M to finish up because the participants were eager to learn.

All of the campers in Sundsvall showed an interest in the all-around events, so the camp focused on events like trail, horsemanship, and hunter under saddle. Day 1 and 2 at the camp focused on the basics, with riders concentrating on gaining more control of their horses. Steering and speed control exercises were key. Read the rest of this entry »

2013: The Netherlands

July 10, 2013

Hello, everyone!

Participants of the camp in the Netherlands practiced showmanship skills.

Participants of the camp in the Netherlands practiced showmanship skills.

I’m currently en route to the next AQHA international horsemanship camp. The last camp in Kootwijkerbroek, Netherlands, was absolutely outstanding! The University of Findlay and I arrived in Amsterdam two days before the camp and were able to go out and see the sights. My favorite place we saw while we were there was the Anne Frank House. It was absolutely incredible and sobering to go stand in the house where she was in hiding for several years of her life.

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2013: Bystra, Czech Republic

July 8, 2013

Hello from the Czech Republic!

Campers in the Czech Republic spent a lot of time learning to read cattle and understand how they move.

Campers in the Czech Republic spent a lot of time learning to read cattle and understand how they move.

The University of Findlay just finished its second international horsemanship camp in Bystra, Czech Republic. Ranch Bystra, about two hours away from Prague, was a beautiful location for the camp to take place. The ranch was also a bed and breakfast, which served as a wonderful venue for participants and Findlay alike.

The camp got off to a great start with seven participants on June 26. On the first day, participants were grateful to receive some one-on-one time. Findlay split the participants into groups of two to three riders, and each group rode for a two-hour session. Day 1 focused on the basics. Emphasis was put on straightness and body alignment of the horse, while participants were asked to steer and concentrate on accuracy during walk-to-lope and jog-to-lope transitions.

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