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
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
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