July 2014

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!

Improve Your Horse’s Upward Transitions, Part 2

May 27, 2014

Enlist these horse-training exercises to perfect your horse’s transitions.

horse gait transitions

Executing an upward transition in a circle will help a horse improve his carriage and head position as he changes gaits. Journal photo.

By AQHA Professional Horseman Stephanie Lynn in The American Quarter Horse Journal

Having a smooth upward transition is important because it’s much easier to maintain a correct gait than it is to correct a gait once it’s started poorly. The goal is to start the gait correctly and make it more useful to what you’re doing with a pattern or even a rail class.

Last week, we discussed the common problems with upward transitions and solutions for fixing them. Review those tips in Part 1. Now, let’s look at some ways to improve the transitions even more. Read the rest of this entry »

A Break From Horse Showing

April 30, 2014

In Part 1 of this series, discover three trail-riding obstacles that will keep your show horse fresh.

Training your horse showing star for the trails starts with proper prep at home

Training your horse-showing star for the trails starts with proper prep at home. Journal photo.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Don’t be surprised if your world champion who glides over jumps like a gazelle in the show ring refuses to step over a log in the wide-open spaces. It’s a whole different duck.

To a horse, if it looks different, it is different. It’s crucial to keep this in mind and carefully prepare your show horse at home before hitting the trails.

“If you have a horse who’s used to a routine, like a pleasure class, and you head out to do something different, you might find out how well he is not broke,” explains Marty Marten, an accomplished horse clinician. “Surrounded by fences, you can get away with a lot of things, but it’s a new ball game out in the wide open.”

However, he believes there’s nothing better to keep a horse fresh than cattle work or trail riding. Read the rest of this entry »

Addressing Problems With Your Horse’s Bit

April 14, 2014

Examine these horse-training solutions when dealing with a horse that doesn’t want to accept the bit.


I have a 6-year-old gelding that is 15.3 but stocky. Right from the beginning of his training, he has had a very hard time accepting the bit, even before any pressure was applied to it. He never got over the desire to spit out the bit and still can hardly wait to get it out of his mouth. I have always tried to handle his mouth carefully when he is bitted. Read the rest of this entry »

Horse Showing: Reining Pattern No. 2

January 8, 2014

An AQHA professional walks you through this action-packed AQHA-approved reining pattern.

An AQHA Professional Horseman walks you through successful a warm-up and execution of reining pattern No. 2. Illustration from the AQHA Handbook of Rules & Regulations.

An AQHA Professional Horseman walks you through successful a warm-up and execution of reining pattern No. 2. Illustration from the AQHA Handbook of Rules & Regulations.

By AQHA Professional Horseman Matt Mills in The American Quarter Horse Journal.

In Pattern 2, it’s really important that your horse guides well because you’re loping right off in the first maneuver, and you’re demonstrating how well your horse can steer. If your horse is not willingly guided, then this particular pattern is not a good one for you.

You begin this pattern loping off to the right in a slow circle. Because this is the first maneuver in this pattern, it should be the last thing you do in preparation in the warm-up pen, practice that small slow lead departure.

If your horse doesn’t steer well, then when you walk to the center of the arena on this particular pattern, don’t stop at the center before moving into your slow circle. You have forward motion already initiated, and it’s simply easier to get the horse to steer. Just walk to the center and lope right off into a small slow. The pattern does not say you have to stop. It says you have to walk or stop prior to starting the pattern.

However, if your horse steers well, stop in the middle before officially starting the pattern. Read the rest of this entry »

Cardiac Conditioning

January 7, 2014

Proper horse training can produce cardiovascular changes to create speed.

No matter how much training a horse and rider have, without proper conditioning, it will be difficult to compete on the track or in the show pen. Journal photo.

No matter how much training a horse and rider have, without proper conditioning, it will be difficult to compete on the track or in the show pen. Journal photo.

By Dr. William E. Jones in the Q-Racing Journal

Whether you’re trying to add speed to your racing Quarter Horses, timed-event horses or are just trying to condition your horse for the show season, understanding cardiac training can help you tailor your horse’s training program.

Research in equine exercise physiology was first aimed at basic studies, which revealed many of the unique physiological characteristics that make the horse such a superb athlete but produced little useful information that could make a difference to a speed-horse trainer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Plus-Worthy Reining Circles

December 17, 2013

Horse-training tips to put “wow” in your circle transitions.

Impress the judges with drastic speed changes in your reining pattern circles. Journal photo.

Impress the judges with drastic speed changes in your reining pattern circles. Journal photo.

By AQHA Professional Horseman Bob Avila in The American Quarter Horse Journal.

Ever watch a reining pattern and wonder how those riders get such spectacular transitions from their fast to slow circles? AQHA Professional Horseman Bob Avila says it’s easy to teach.

Reining is a show, and you have to play for the crowd, and part of the crowd is the judge.

It looks really cool when a horse goes from a big fast into a small slow circle. But you mark more when you have that abrupt change and boom right down to where the horse almost comes to a stop as he goes into the small slow.

Sometimes, though, when a horse comes down in the middle and slows down, the neck will raise and stiffen up. That judge will see that, and that’s not good.

You want a horse to come to the middle of that arena and abruptly come to a small, slow circle, but stay relaxed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Top Trending Articles on Daily

December 16, 2013

Check out this month’s 10 most popular articles on America’s Horse Daily!TwobitTeeblack1-300x276

From grooming to showing to training and health, America’s Horse Daily has an article to meet every horse owner’s needs. Learn what to do in cold weather to keep your horse’s water from freezing this winter. Take advice from industry professionals about the most flattering forelock finish for your halter horse and even how to develop the balanced hindquarter muscling that you always strive for. Check out this collection of top trending articles to learn more! Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 FREE Reports

December 13, 2013

Check out the 10 most popular FREE reports on America’s Horse Daily this month!

TwobitTeeblack1-300x276Are you registering your first foal and need a handy guide to American Quarter Horse markings and colors? Maybe you’re spending time indoors out of the gloomy weather with do-it-yourself projects and need some ideas. Learn how to make mounting blocks, how to tie halters and more with AQHA’s popular, downloadable reports.

America’s Horse Daily has dozens of FREE reports to help you become a better rider, trainer, competitor and horse owner. Download as many free reports as you’d like, and print copies for your barn, home and trailer. Share them with family and friends, and have a blast in the barn this Fall. Read the rest of this entry »

Borrow a Trainer: The Sitting Trot

December 10, 2013

Horse training becomes easier if you’re able to learn body control and master the sitting trot.

Learning to correctly sit the trot goes back to the very basics of what makes a functional rider – correct body position.

Learning to correctly sit the trot goes back to the very basics of what makes a functional rider – correct body position. Jean Abernethy illustration

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm with Christine Hamilton in The American Quarter Horse Journal

To sit the trot, you have to understand that the rider’s position determines vertical shock absorption.

The ultimate goal is to sit the trot and keep a deep seat.

In the show ring, you will have an edge if you can master sitting the trot, following the motion of the horse with your hips in a smooth, subtle way.

For your hips to be able to move freely with the motion of the gait, you must be loose and supple through the hips. It is a very subtle, but quick, forward and back action.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reward With Rest

December 3, 2013

Rest is an important horse-training tool.

Rewarding a horse with an earned recess seems to speed up the training process. You have to give a horse a job to do, so the break means something. Journal photo.

By Joe Wolter in America’s Horse

Remember recess?

You quit concentrating for a little while and just enjoyed yourself for a few minutes. Can you imagine what school would have been like without recess?

I never used to think about recess when I was training horses.

At some point, I noticed an interesting coincidence: I’d be really intent on teaching a horse something when the phone would ring. I’d talk to whoever it was for awhile, then I’d hang up and go back to concentrating on my horse. And they’d be better!

Read the rest of this entry »

Call Up the Quarters

November 19, 2013

Improve collection for any event with this horse-training tool.

Strong hindquarters and proper collection aid every horse and rider team, no matter the disciple or event. Jean Abernethy illustration.

Strong hindquarters and proper collection aid every horse and rider team, no matter the disciple or event. Jean Abernethy illustration.

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Michelle Just-Williams with Christine Hamilton in The American Quarter Horse Journal.

I have a simple exercise that I use to help strengthen a horse’s back and hindquarters, and to help him learn to use his hind end.

While the horse is tracking straight and forward, ask for increased collection and a shortened stride for a few strides. Then release, allowing the energy to move forward into a lengthened stride, all while maintaining the gait – walk, trot or canter. After a few strides, again ask for collection and repeat.

Asking for that increased collection is “calling up the quarters.” Push the horse’s hindquarters up underneath your seat with leg, rein and seat carriage. The horse has to tuck the rear and reach up underneath himself while maintaining forward energy.

Learn from AQHA Professional Horsemen and -women Carla Wennberg, Lynn Salvatori-Palm, Andy Moorman, Al Dunning, Patti Carter and Stephanie Lynn in AQHA’s  Borrow a Trainer report, which includes lessons to improve self-carriage, lateral movements and more.

Read the rest of this entry »