Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse News


Summer Issue



Trainer's Corner


by Tim Scarberry

Itís 10:30 on a sunny Saturday and youíre running late. Your buddies are waiting at the trailhead, but Champ, your trusty partner, refuses to load into the trailer. No amount of coaxing seems to do the trickóand if you are successful, you know what lies ahead Ė difficulty tacking him up. And if you overcome that obstacle, you still have to mount him. What should have been an enjoyable morning ride has quickly disintegrated into frustration and anger. Sound familiar?

Iím Tim Scarberry, owner and head trainer at Windwalker Farms in Fenton, Michigan. This past Fourth of July, Top Secret and I rode in the parade. At the start of the day I tacked him up in the aisle of the barnóno ropes, no fuss. As I led, he followed me to the trailer, waited as I opened the door, and on my command loaded up.

In horse training, my goal is to create outstanding trail riding partners. Horses desire leadership, and I have developed a successful method to become a leader to them. Specializing in colt starting, I lay a solid foundation using natural horsemanship. The horse begins to view me as their leader, relinquishes his fear and gains confidence.
I start all horses the same way whether they are a clientís horse in for correction or a colt that has never been touched (which I prefer). At Windwalker Farms our attitude is that there are no bad horses, just bad training.

It all starts in the round pen where I send them away from me with an assertive posture and strong focused eye contact. When I see the signs from the horse that I want, I change my posture and lower my eyes inviting them to stand with me. As long as they choose to stand quietly with me, I just rub them all over; I first use my hands, then use ropes, bags, saddle pads, etc. If they choose to leave my side, I become assertive and send then away, repeating the procedure until they choose to stand with me.

Typically, within 30 minutes I will have them standing quietly beside me saddled and bridled. At no time are any horses restrained in any way; if they havenít gained the confidence to allow me to tack them up, they are not ready to proceed. When they do allow it, I mount up on one side without putting any weight in the seat; I only want to stand in the stirrup. If they chose to move, using a training technique, I stop them and step down. I repeat this procedure on both sides until the horse is motionless when I attempt to mount. Only then do I sit in the saddle.

My first time in the saddle is usually only 10 seconds long. My goal is not to stay mounted, but to teach the horse not to move. After dismounting, I spend some time rewarding them, then Iím up againófor 30 seconds.

Once the horse has gained confidence with me in the saddle, I dismount. Now the horse is ready for their first ride; I ask them to walkóI donít care where. After a minute, I dismount and praise them. I then get up again and ride for about three minutes and ask for some turning, stops, and an occasional step back. Thatís it for the first day.

All this occurs in about an hour! And almost all horses never buck a single jump with me on them. Through excellent horsemanship, they donít view me as a threat. Instead, they learn to trust my judgment and to look to me for guidance and reassurance, especially when placed in fearful situations.

Raised around horses my whole life, I have handled them for over 30 years. It has only been recently, however, that I have truly understood these magnificent creatures. If trained properly, your horse will be the most amazing partner you could imagine.

For more information on Windwalker Farms check out their website at