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Our Newsletter



Tricks Of The Trade




Opening day of camp can be intimidating for children new to the sport of horseback riding. To help the excited, but nervous Nellies’ and Neds’ we introduce the ranch horses by name, color, and breed while the horses are in their stalls munching breakfast. Next we take the kids to the main arena where 50 gallon plastic barrels are lying on there sides lined in a row. In a sing song voice we explain the balance line; ear, shoulder, hip and heel, then we have the youth join in as we point to each body part. One of our assistants shows how to mount the barrel “horse” properly and sit on their seat bones and hold the reins in two hands.

My assistants then help each “greenhorn” mount their barrel. Once the children are seated I explain the movement of a horse’s foot falls at a walk. My assistants then rock the barrels back and forth so the youth become accustomed to the motion. First time riders’ nervous jitters, turns into giggles and laughter as all students accomplish riding the barrels without falling or getting “bucked off”.

Lori Hall-McNary, 
CHA Clinician, Region 10 Director


Keep lead ropes attached to the halter, with the rope coiled tightly in a Calvary wrap. Then one or two instructors can go into the herd with all the halters, halter the horses and let them go (because the lead is coiled and only hanging down a foot below the halter). Then the horses will get in the routine of going to the gate and waiting, with halter and lead ready to go, for another staff member to come get them and bring each horse in.

Polly Barger, 
CHA Clinician
Nashville, TN





Be sure that salt licks are positioned in your pens so that all horses can get to them. If salt licks are in the corner or up against a fence a subordinate horse may get pinned by a dominant horse. If the salt lick is out in the open a subordinate can partake without the fear of being cornered. Also water tanks ideally should be out in the open for the same reason. If the tank needs to be on a fence line, make sure it is not in a corner where a horse might be more easily trapped.

Polly Barger, 
CHA Clinician
Nashville, TN 







While instructing, it may be beneficial to use simple, short terms and catch phrases to explain ideas and concepts, being careful not to lose the meaning of the idea. The use of inside or outside when referring to direction or the use of aids is common. These simple words allow you to leave out “left “or “right”, which at times may complicate an idea or concept during your explanation. However, while the use of these terms is a great idea, remember to explain them to your students; never assume they understand. Quite often riders believe that inside always refers to the side closest to the inside of the arena and the outside means closest to the rail or fence. This is misleading. Imagine the confusion to the rider who believes this as they are riding along the rail, then asked to make a circle on half of the ring. All of a sudden their side which was closest to the rail becomes closest to the center of the arena! The term outside refers to the outside side of your bend when turning, and the term inside refers to the inside side of your bend when turning. Taking time to explain this concept fully can eliminate much frustration on the rider’s behalf. Correct versus Right

When giving feed back or instruction to students, be careful to state to the rider that they are correct, not “right”. Often the rider will not know if you are talking about the direction or telling them they are performing a task correctly!

Tara Gamble, 
CHA Clinician