Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Vaught’

PostHeaderIcon Just What the Heck Is Natural Horsmanship?


For more than 6000 years, man tried to bridge the chasm between his own species, the ultimate predator, and the horse, the ultimate prey animal.  Man needed the horse to be a servant. The horse was programmed to be anything but a servant.  The man adopted his most efficient tool, brute force.  It was the basis of horsemanship practiced by the common man for millennia.

We had early natural horsemen:
Simon of Athens (400B.C.), Xenophon (430-355) and Alexander the Great are the names most well-known  by natural horsemanship students of today

The revolution in horsemanship occurred without a war, without shots fired etc.  A new theme was developed- “horses can be controlled more effectively without the use of force”. At the end of the 20th century, we no longer needed horses as servants. We invented tractor, trucks  and cars etc. Horse population plummeted.

Most of you might have heard of amazing stories of the early whisperer’s, trainers and professors. 

  • Professor Joseph Beery (1861-mid 1900′s)who started a correspondence school titled Beery School of Horsemanship.  He invented the running W to control the horse while desensitizing it. 
  • Keffery Kell (1878-1958) invented the rope with the ring on the end.  The rope with the ring is still one of the main tools of natural horsemanship methods today.
  • Monty Foreman (1915-1987) saw himself as a “research scientist for horsemanship”.  He excelled in performance rather than gentling wild horses.  He also invented the Monte Foreman Balanced Ride Saddle which is still being made today.  Not causing pain to the horse while riding certainly enhances the performance possibility of the horse.

The horse’s comeback in America started in the mid-70s.  Vietnam ended and the economy improved.  People had time for leisure activities.  Most of these people lived thru years of television (Roy Rodgers, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, etc) and western movies. 

There are thousands of people (mostly girl people) born with the invisible “horse gene”.  We all wanted a horse. Horses became pets and our hobby.

By the late 1970′s a new breed of horsemanship clinic sprung up in the west to meet the increased demand for horse education.  Old nonviolent training philosophies were presented side-by-side with modern, creative horse-handling techniques. Students liked this.  It struck a chord to their hearts and minds.

Word spread.  Followers became evangelists, students became teachers and it a matter of a few years this approach spread across America and to the rest of the world.  By the mid-90′s this became an international phenomenon.

One place where tractors and 4 wheelers did not replace horses was the Western cattle ranch.  Nothing could match a good horse to round up or cut cattle.  In California (the land of perpetual sunshine and no seasons and thus, no hurry) there was an especially rich heritage of horsemanship that traced back through the vaquero and “Californio” to Mexico and mother Spain.  They considered the horse a partner, a thinking and feeling creature that was as psychologically delicate as it was physically strong.  They built a relationship with their horse and took it to the highest levels of finesse. The vaquero was the link back to the great horsemen of the past.  They loved their horses, and for the sake of the horse, were willing to share what they had learned.

It was when their philosophies and methods fell into the hands of gifted teachers and entrepreneurs in the late 1980s that the revolution in natural horsemanship began in earnest.  It was then that clinics began introducing these techniques to the public and the systems of teaching that blended these techniques. Pat Parelli invented the word, “Natural Horsemanship in the mid-1980s.

We have a new language now. We no longer “break” a horse. We “start” a horse. We don’t work with our horses, we “play” with them and unlock their “play drive”.  “Game”s are preferred over exercises. “Discomfort” has replaced pain. “Joining up” or “hooking on” demonstrates the special relationship that develops between our two species. Words once used exclusively by scientists and behaviorists are used in the natural horsemanship world:  sensitization, habituation, dominance hierarchy, conditioned response and alpha behavior are a few.

Groundwork, the handling of horses from the ground is a study in itself.  Most behavior problems, even those experienced while riding, are solved by groundwork.

The most important term is “rewarding the try”.  You’ll find a lot of nice horse people in the world, but they never reward the try (release is what teaches) with an instant reward. They do not practice natural horsemanship. With patience, persistence and consistency in the asking, the horseman helps the horse find the correct answer.

Horses have become agents of change in the world that we live in.

  • Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books have turned into The Black Stallion Literacy Project and becomes the first book a child ever owns and flames the desire to read.
  • The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association has channel the healing power of the horse to empower emotionally and physically challenged disabled people of all ages.
  • America’s justice system is using horses to rehabilitate prisoners, gang members at at-risk youth. The rate of recidivism among participates is at an all-time low.
  • Corporate boardrooms are using the principles of natural horsemanship to teach the arts of gentle persuasion, benevolent leadership and nonverbal communications to produce better managers and happier employees…and a bigger profit margin.

The horse has become a reason and a vehicle of self-improvement.  A relationship with nature’s most magnificent beast, the horse, is the carrot on the stick that keeps us moving forward, striving to be better people.

Natural Horsemanship makes better horses and it makes us better people.  Find a teacher of natural horsemanship and learn the techniques.  That’s what happened to me! It has changed my life. The study of natural horsemanship is still in the process of changing my life. I want to be a vaquerro!

If you are intrigued by this concept or want to know more about the Revolution in Horsemanship buy the book of that name.  The book was written by Robert. M. Miller D.V.M. and Rick Lamb. My article is copied exclusively from 347 pages of this book. You can buy this book used on  I highly recommend this book to everyone that has an interest in horses.

The book is dedicated to Tom Dorrance, the father of this revolution in horsemanship.

PostHeaderIcon Four Outdoor Horse Hours

Thank you Jennifer Vaught for the great lesson and the fun time riding with great friends. Great friends, a great teacher and great horses.  The greats pile up!

We rode slow with occasional times of speed and many rest periods.  We didn’t want sweat.

OK, most of the four hours wasn’t outdoors.  Most of it was in an indoor arena. Someone did forget to turn on the furnace.  I left home at 11:30 and came back at 4:00.  The lesson was from 1:00-3:00, but it always runs longer. We did toast up in the indoor lounge after the group lesson, but most of the time I was without heat.

I discovered, once again, that I can ride in the winter.  I remember discovering this fact every year.  It gets to be winter and I always assume, I can only survive in my lounge chair.

But then magically, I’m forced to ride and discover…I can survive!

On the flip side, the other half of the partnership was convinced that she would die.  In the last part of the lesson, we had to canter. We cantered quite a bit and had an ongoing argument. 

NOVA  “I can’t breathe!  I must stop and I must stop NOW! Are you kidding me?  You haven’t exercised me for 3 weeks and now you want to run me into the ground?  NO!  I am going to balk! Why don’t you ride Velvet, not me?”

Susan “Only for a little while longer.  You can do it. Don’t die on me.  Keep cantering. Stop arguing with me.  If you would just canter nicely, we could stop!  Velvet lived thru this, it’s your turn now.”

Nova was so tired at the end of the lesson, that she couldn’t walk to the exit gate.  Her saddle was loose.  Her bridle was off. She balked twice while I was leading her to the gate.

Nova is a dominant-argumentative- only-child mare.

We’ll be riding a lot more winter nights now.  No more recliner chair!  Well, let’s say, “less recliner chair nights”.

PostHeaderIcon Powder’s Progress – Development Pending

Sunday, Powder will be headed to “For the Horse” Ranch to enjoy 30 days of training with Jennifer Vaught

Jenny was a Parelli 3 Star instructor for 15 years.  Pat found Jenny near the beginning of the development of the Parelli people training system and asked her to be an instructor. She has influenced untold numbers of people in the midwest.  She has influenced my life a great deal!

Jenny has taken two Horse Development courses with Pat Parelli and Pat’s mentor Ronnie Willus and was certified as a Young Horse developer.

Jenny is the secret to all my successes with horses. She’s started all my horses.  I can’t imagine what I would do with a young horse without Jenny being in my life.

Powder will be the fifth horse for me to develop into a finished saddle horse.  I can’t imagine developing a horse without that crucial start from a  Parelli certified “Colt Starter” and one who has started thousands of horses…..including Sage, Velvet, JR, Nova and soon Powder!

Powder has the potential to be the best of them all!

Jenny and Tony are going to be wintering in Florida for 2010.  They are taking in training horses.  They will be about an hour south of Orlando. Contact them if you are interested.

PostHeaderIcon Powder’s Progress – Take a Giant Step

Powder - Winter

Surprise!  I asked Jennifer Vaught if she might want to train Powder for 30 days and the answer is YES!

We’re talking mid October thru Mid November.  I’ve also just about talked Jenny into blogging about training Powder. Wouldn’t that be something!

I think everyone should send Jenny an email and tell her how excited you would be to read a blog about Jenny’s thoughts during 30 days of training.  What does she hope to accomplish in the daily sessions? What happens during Powder’s training.  When does the first ride happen?  How far will Jenny and Powder get in 30 days! Just think about a diary of training one of JJ’s daughter!

Send that email now!

For the Horse Ranch
Vaught Family General Store and Information

PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – Lesson time with Jenny

Pat Parelli has done various studies of their students and why they enter the program.  Some of them have specific problems and when these problems are overcome, the students move out of the program. Many stay a long long time. Others drop out for various reasons.

The category I’m in is “Want to Always Learn More – Can’t Ever Get Enough”

Lessons are my favorite horse back riding activity.  Lessons with the right people.  My right people are Jennifer and Tony Vaught.

Tonight was the first time I’ve rode Nova since the week long  Missouri Fox Trotter World Celebration ended.  Nova has had nearly a week off.  I started recoving from the week of the Celebration about two days ago. 

This year Nova and I are going to trot.  It will help build up her muscles for the fox trot.  We started tonight. I posted to the trot.  Jenny mentioned the word diagonals..bringing back the diagonals.  I thought she was talking about leg yeilding diagonally across the arena. whoops! No!  One has to rise when a specific front leg goes up at the trot.  I remember now. So, I had my body rise with the inside leg.  Every now and then Jenny would tell me to change my diagonal.  huh.  After that round of trotting was done and we were resting in the middle, Jenny asked me which leg I was supposed to rise with.  Me, “Inside!”  Jenny, “Rise with the leg on the Wall”  OH YES!  I haven’t posted seriously since I passed my original Level 3 Parelli test.  I must have thought I was cantering with the lead on the inside leg!

Another round and we posted correctly!

Then we fox trotted and seriously, Nova was awesome!

What fun it is to be back in lessonville with a great instructor and great friends at Pine Dell Farm.

Even Nova sez it's time to get back into lessons

PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – 1st Demonstration!

About two weeks before the big Vaught Family Natural Horsemanship, Jenny asked if I was going to ride in the demonstration. Whoops!  I didn’t know that Nova and I were going to be in the demonstration.  We had an assumption and non verbal communication.

Now, it’s something to be practicing all along for “being in the Spotlight” someday as opposed to actually having a date for a demonstration.

Nova and I started to practice and the holes we had were just a bit glaring.  I had not practiced enough in riding bridleless.  Our first practice session for riding bridleless in a real demonstration was dismal.  I wasn’t really confident.  But over the next two weeks, I managed to practice just a bit more and felt good about Nova stopping and slowing when I wanted.  Nova is not a “see the long rail and accelerate” kind of a horse.  That is what saves me from fear.  She’ll canter down the long rail at the same rate of speed.  She will stop. Stopping is a good feeling when riding bridleless.  You know what you get when you ride bridleless or play at liberty with your horse?  The truth!

We have a few glaring holes in running away from me when playing at liberty on the ground.  This hole showed up in the real demonstration.  I let her loose and she immediately took off.  She looked really pretty as she galloped around the arena a couple of times.  Nova is good at this. She doesn’t get close to other horses.  Finally Nova ran to me. There’s nothing like that…to have your horse run to you during a demonstration in a strange arena! 

Let’s see….we didn’t practice jumping over a barrel, but I got my nerve up during the demonstration and we jumped a few times over barrels.

Nova and I are good at sidepassing over barrels.  We can sidepass over stuff in our sleep. We are sidepass experts!

So, after I got on Nova during the demonstration, we went straight to the barrels, got into sidepass position but whoa howdy, I felt a big concrete wall.  Nova’s body told me front and center that she wasn’t going to sidepass over barrels.  We tried to sidepass the other direction and the concrete block was still there.

Ok, I thought!  We’ll go do something else and come back to sidepass over something.  A little later I asked her to sidepass over a small jump.  The concrete block was still there.  I thought I would fool her.  I asked her to step over the jump with her front legs and then asked her to sidepass.  HA!  I didn’t trick her. Instead she backed up and demolished the jump.  I’m certain we were the center of attention then!

I’ve tried to analyze this later.  During a demonstration, there’s an excitement level from the crowd.  It was a strange arena.  We didn’t set foot in that arena until our demonstration started.  So I bet Nova was telling me that she didn’t want her feet compromised.  Nova wanted her feet unemcumbered by barrels if she decided to take off.  Yep, that is it.

We did some cool stuff while I was riding and finally she did sidepass over the barrels. 

Now, I felt it was time…

I took off the bridle and we rode around the arena looking pretty cool.  There was this tarp on the ground.  Nova and I ride over tarps every now and then.  We think tarps are very harmless.  However, I don’t ever remember picking up a tarp while riding Nova.  Some demon show-off button inside me told me to pick up the tarp.  I picked it up with my carrot stick.  Nova was calm, so I gathered up the tarp and placed it over her withers. Then we sidepassed over a row of cones. That was way cool!  Walking around with that tarp cracking and rustling was the result of prior and proper preparation.

We had a great time.  Our maiden demonstration was a success!!!

PostHeaderIcon Sue – How Do You Do – Announcing a Scary Goal

Two years and four months of emotional fitness.

 ”My personal craven coward to hero journey”,

Employing the practical purpose of natural horsemanship

Using high level friendly games, bonding and leadership-with a “ruined” right brain introvert

It is my thrill to announce:

I will be showing Sue at the Fox Trotter All Breed Horse Show at Longview Horse Park on 8/9/08. 

  • Riding from the trailer into the arena,
  • Riding back to the trailer
  • Long awaited goals!

Occasionally, Sue and I will even be performing the gait as directed by the judge!

If you are there, please cheer me on.  Ahem.. You can even clap if you “stand back” from the fence as we sail by!  We’re not totally immune yet to arm movements!

Thank you to all the people that have helped Sue and I in this journey.  A special thanks to Tony, and Jenny Vaught and Nichole Copple for the role they played in the rehabilitation of  Sue (and me too).

“Bring ‘em in at the Fox Trot”

PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – I Started Riding in Fall 2008

Nova got kicked in the knee while in the pasture. She came limping up to Jenny dragging her leg.  We got the vet out, xRays were taken and a splint was put on her leg. They couldn’t see anything, but didn’t want to take a chance.

Poor Nova had to stay in a stall in the hummid summer heat. Barb climbed up on the stall and mounted a fan so it would point down.  Nova laid in her stall quite a bit.

We took the splint off and couldn’t see anything.  Lameness test showed her to be limping.  The vet decided that nothing had been broken.  The diagnosis was that her synovial fluid had leaked out of her knee. We did two or three injections and she was deemed good enough to come home and be free in her pasture.

This put her training with Jenny at 6 month suspension. She was fully recovered in time for Jenny to ride her in the Celebration horse show.

I got Nova to ride after the 2008 Celebration and our riding adventures started!

PostHeaderIcon Sue – How Do You DO!

Susan and Sue at James A Reed Park – July 2007.Sue, a Missouri Fox Trotter, came to Pine Dell to be sold. Jenny told me, “I really like Sue! She’s light, fun to ride and very smooth. “WOWSA”, I thought. “I wish I could have her”.

I had a horse for sale then. Our pasture was being fenced and part of it was off-limits to horses until fencing got done. There was no way, I thought, that I could buy another horse. Of course the price was what Sue was worth and I couldn’t justify paying that for another horse to ride!

And the husband had a sell-some-horses edict! You can ignore husband edicts just so long.

Sue came back about 4 months later. The owner told Jenny to “unload her”.

Sue had been ruined. Sue was “fried”. She startled and flinched at everything. The stall cleaners couldn’t clean the stall without her flinching and throwing her head up at every move of the pitch fork. Jenny tried to ride her in a lesson. She flinched at every movement. What could have been done to her in such a short time to go from nice experienced trail horse to nut case?

It took Tony and Jenny about two months to get her back to being something that they could advertise for sale…Two months of playing, riding and desensitizing her to everything. That’s a long time in the book of retraining an already trained horse!

Several people came to ride and try her. A woman and her friends came and rode her up in the 40 acres. It went well. The potential buyer decided that she wanted a test trail ride before she would commit. The owner agreed.  They went to James A Reed park.

The trail ride went badly at the half way point. I believe the rider reached back to pat Sue’s behind.  That wasn’t an option for Sue’s nervous system.  Sue cam unglued.  The potential buyer fell off when Sue spooked forward. Sue ran off. She ran back to the trailer / headquarters and became an “uncatchable horse”. All the people that were available at the busy park made a big cirlce and surronded her. Finally she was caught and returned to Pine Dell…no sale!

My two horses had been sold and the fence was up. The husband was a happy guy. I remembered what Jenny said about Sue being fun to ride.

Jenny and I were talking about Sue. Things were glum. Tony and Jenny had decided that they could not recommend her to anyone after that. Things were double-glum. Sue had also reverted back to terrified of everything! She returned to “fruit loop” status horse

I remembered how Sue was the first time she came to be sold. Jenny had said all those wonderful words…fun to right, smooth and light. My mouth opened and someone’s voice said, “I’ll buy her!” Oh Goodness, it was my voice!

I made an offer. The owner accepted. Sue had been unloaded into my hands!

I went into Sue’s stall and met her for the first time as her new owner. She flinched so bad the skin on her back rolled when I raised my hand to pet her.

This blog is about bringing Sue’s sanity back.  When you work with a horse like Sue, very small improvements bring you intense happiness. 

 PS I bought Sue and then two more young horses. That’s one more horse than the number that I had when husband told me “too many horses, sell some!” That will teach him. It’s horse math! One of the horses was Diva, Sue’s foal and is a champange gold horse and Nova’s half sister. It’s a family thing!

Approximately fourteen months later, Sue and I went riding at that same park where she spooked and dumped her rider. It was almost “a walk in the park!”

Sue and I in the Sunflower field.
Sue has a sunflower in her mouth. This was our first trail ride with a bunch of other horses and she did great. It was more of a walk in the park…as we got to lead, be passed and be in the back!

Sue’s story is a happy ending. Promise that you’ll read the blog stories in order!


PostHeaderIcon Sue – How Do You Love Being a Trail Horse Again!?

 It was a Sunday. We had 40 acres of downed trees, water crossings, shrubs, close trees and forest paths to traverse.Sue and I took our first real trail ride with Jenny and her horse on their property in Fair Play, Mo…down in the Ozarks.

Later on, I realized that I forgot to be scared. I wasn’t scared or nervous the entire ride! Sue lowered her head and relaxed before we even took off. What a miracle!

We mounted the horses and off we went. Sue was anxious to go faster than Jenny’s horse, but we did just fine in staying behind. Jenny’s horse had never experience riding on the property, and she was actually more bothered than Sue.

We did our first water crossing. We waited patiently for our turn and then we plodded through the water. We criss-crossed the property and wound around through the various pathways. We stopped at intervals.

Sue was not ever calm enough to stop and stand still for more than 30 seconds, so we spent our time doing hind quarter turns while Jenny’s horse ate grass for a few moments.

At one major point, we went into a hicket of close together trees with branches sticking everywhere. As Sue and I went thru this narrow place, the branches swept back and touched her rear. I could tell that she was a real trail horse at this moment. She did have an internal shudder when the branch touched her rear, but she didn’t startle or flinch. That is success!

We came to a scary place…an aluminium panel lining the bottom of the fence that we were riding next to. It took a few moments for Jenny’s horse to determine that it wasn’t going to eat her and off she went. We passed right by it and merely had the slightest of ear flick towards the “out of place” object.

Sue and I did ride besides Jenny and her horse. That went really well. We also went in front for a short time. That I had been dreading. Jenny stayed more than a horse length behind us and it went well.

We did come to a place where the horses back at the pens nickered and squealed to us. Sue and Jenny’s horse got revved up at this time. Luckily, Tony had set a barrel pattern up in this meadow and Sue and I were able to walk and trot circles around a barrel to bring her left brain fully back to me. We did get so we could stand still at a barrel for at least a minute before the urge came on her to move out again.

At the end of the ride, we came upon another water crossing. Jenny’s horse jumped and I knew Sue would plow right thru the water. What a surprise when she jumped. She is getting light on the forehand to be able to even consider doing such a thing! Our “hill therapy” is paying off.

We came back a triumphant pair-bonded trail ride horse and human!