My Way or The Highway Horsemanship

By: Mike Guerini, B.S., M.S., Ph.D.


We have all seen it — most especially on social media these days — the ever present “My Way or The Highway” Horsemanship. This philosophy is that there is only one way to train or ride a horse…there is only one clinician or instructor that can help you and your horse.  Join a group of supposedly like minded people (like minded in that they have the best interest of the horse in mind) and if you have an opinion that is different from the larger group — you are quickly put into the role of outcast.

Some of this philosophy has become prevalent because horsemanship, horse training, and coaching is a business and there is only so much market share — so those selling items or training or philosophies must yell louder or be different and in some cases — they must put other ideas down.  We see this within horse associations, horse organizations, disciplines and in many other aspects of our horse world. We even see “arguments” within disciplines as to who has the better way or better team.

There is room for everyone in the barn.  We can make space quite easily by moving a bale of hay into place and listening to what the newcomer or old timer has to offer.  We can listen to the person who speaks of training in Europe or South America.  We can quit labeling someone as “an old cowboy,” “as a charro,” “as a dressage rider,” “as a trail rider,” … I think you get the idea — labels are sure not easy to keep track of and they sure do not help our horses.

We are human and there is a good chance we are going to misunderstand, misinterpret, do something wrong (or even stupid) when it comes to our horses and riding.

I personally enjoy learning from many different people who have many different ideas.  I have developed a criteria in my mind to check when I am listening or watching something that is different from my normal way.  Change is never easy…but we must be open to change for the benefit of our horses — and for me this criteria has helped in my assessments.

I am going to share my criteria here.  This may help some of you…it may help some of your horses…and your comments about what I have written here … may just help me grow and get better…..and that is a good thing to do in 2017.  I shall admit that these criteria are all together important but for ease of reading them I have given them numbers.

#1 — Welfare and Health of the horse must be paramount. I use evidenced based evaluations to review if the welfare and health of the horse is being maintained.  With open eyes I look for signs that the horse is in fight or flight mode or in pain.

#2 — Welfare and Health of the rider is of high importance.  If a method or philosophy puts the rider or handler at risk (beyond the normal risk of working with a 1200 pound animal) — then this is something I am not so keen to follow.

#3 — The horse is never wrong.  Anything or anyone that starts by saying “the stupid/dumb horse did this to me and the horse is just wrong” … well it tells me that emotion gets in the way there and for me — negative emotions are not good for horse training and riding.

#4 — Relaxation is key.  I want the horse to be relaxed. Sure – -during learning there my be some loss of relaxation but it needs to return quickly.  Likewise — I want the rider to be relaxed.  Numerous scientific papers have documented that brains learn better when in relaxation mode.

#5 — Balance is key.  In balance we have the body functioning as it was designed and when things function within design parameters — they last longer, tend not to wear out, and do not break as easily.

#6 — Progression must be measurable (in a good and forward moving way).  One of the greatest sayings is that “the definition of insanity is to do something repeatedly and expect a different result.” A person may be an advocate of a particular method or philosophy but if there is no positive progression in the intended direction — a re-evaluation is warranted.

In all of these assessments I use an evidenced based evaluation approach.  I take the time to think about what I am seeing…rely on past knowledge .. check in with a myriad of resources and resourceful people I know and I might just borrow something and work slowly to see if I can improve it to meet my criteria.

I have been wrong in the past .. will likely be wrong in the future .. but I am thankful for the opportunity to learn from many different people and ideas.

I look forward to your comments and you are welcome to share this blog if it helps you or your horses in any way.


Dr. Mike Guerini is a scientist, author, and horsemanship Coach in Gilroy California.  Mike is focused on balanced horsemanship that takes into account the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of the horse.  Mike is also the co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T.  You can learn more about Dr. Mike at

Ranch Riding (Pleasure) Classes – 5 Keys to Success

Ranch Riding (Pleasure) Classes – 5 Keys to Success   

by Dr. Mike Guerini,

Ranch Riding classes are continuing to grow in popularity. This class showcases the versatility and movement of the ranch style horses. In Ranch Riding (formerly called Ranch Pleasure), a horse and rider show in a pattern that has walk, trot, extended trot, lope and extended lope. This is very different from the movement being looked for in Western Pleasure. The horse and rider must also perform some ranch style movements. These movements can include side passing, 360 degree turns, lead changes, walk or trot or lope over poles to name just a few of the options. This year in California a similar class, Ranch Riding – Flat Class was showcased at Gold N’ Grand at Rancho Murieta in August and the judges focused on the horse gaits without needing to have any maneuvers. The horse and rider are scored on the rhythm and cadence of the gaits. Smoothness and flow of the performance matter as well.

So how does a horse and rider do well in this class – Here are my 5 Keys to Success in Ranch Riding.

  1. Transitions. Be able to make smooth and balanced transitions between gaits with your horses. No tail swishing or horse inversion/hollowing out the back or lifting the head. Ride and make the transition as if nothing really happened…make this look like an everyday occurrence as you ride out to get a job done. Use your seat and legs and a little bit of rein on your downward transitions…not just your reins.
  2. Balance. I know I mentioned balanced transitions above but in Ranch Riding you want your horse to be in balance all the time. No working off the forehand, no leaning or falling on a shoulder. Present your horse as if at any moment you will need to make a change (as in go off an get a calf, move a herd of horses, etc.). Make sure your horse is balanced and the footwork/footfalls will be correct and rewarded.
  3. Know your gaits. Extending your gaits at the trot and lope are not about going faster….they are about covering ground. An extended stride comes from the horse using its rear end and making the stride cover more ground. Keep the rhythm correct as you lengthen the stride.
  4. Rider Preparation. This has multiple components.  The rider needs to have good stamina and flexibility. Your core needs to be working to help you succeed in Ranch Riding. The key here is to be a flexible and agile rider able to guide your horse with the least amount of effort and by using soft aids.
  5. Know your pattern. This goes beyond memorizing all the parts of the pattern. Really know the pattern by planning where you will execute the movement in the arena, know where you will give your aids, know the details of the pattern so well that it comes second nature to you and your riding.

This is an exciting class and one that offers a great test to horse and rider.

Share this blog with a friend who might be interested in Ranch Riding…I am sure it will help horse and rider on the road to success in Ranch Riding.


Dr. Mike coaches riders in Ranch Riding and offers clinics throughout the U.S. His students have won at local and State level AQHA shows and one qualified for the 2015 AQHA world in Ranch Riding. Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at  Dr. Mike is also part of Coach’s Corral (, an online Horsemanship Coaching program that specializes in video coaching and the 5 Ride Program.  Dun Movin Ranch is also home of the Equine Hydro-T (

Western Dressage and the One Trick Pony

Western Dressage and the One Trick Pony

by Dr.Mike Guerini, Ph.D


Last year about this time I published a blog sharing my thoughts on the future of Western Dressage (WD). You can read that blog posting HERE. Well another year has passed and there are some pretty exciting things still happening.


  1. Train the Trainer programs are being taught around the United States and in Canada by Western Dressage Association of America.
  2. Cowboy Dressage (CD) has huge shows, particularly in California with over 400 entries on a weekend.
  3. North American Western Dressage is a leader in Western Dressage and Cowboy Dressage Virtual Shows.
  4. Judges training seminars are being held for both Western Dressage and Cowboy Dressage.


We have a great deal to be excited about and the future continues to look promising for Western and Cowboy Dressage Competition….and that is what has me a bit worried.  The future looks really good for discipline specific competition — Now I am a bit worried about us all developing a One Trick Pony.  That is to say we are focused only on showing our Western Horse in CD or WD and reporting those results.


Now I will stand up and say that neither WD nor CD is a trick.  Both teach so many skills.  You may think I am using the term “One Trick Pony” a bit harshly but I sure want to get everyone’s attention and make sure we advance this conversation.


When I first heard about the Western Dressage Organization being formed in 2011 I was pretty darn excited.  The chance to have very open discussions and educational opportunities in discussing Dressage and how it applies to developing a high quality horse ridden in a Western Saddle — EXCITING. Sure, Western Dressage specific tests are a good thing but at this time there is very limited conversation on how Riders and Trainers and Coaches are using Western (and Cowboy) Dressage to build a better Western Horse that has longevity (long term soundness of body and mind).


Many of the CD and WD clinics are specific for how to prepare to ride a test.  I would say that if we work on the foundation basics necessary for developing a good working horse, apply the Training Scale and Dressage Principles from Classical Horsemanship – we can ride a CD or WD dressage test without any significant problems. Sure the memorization of the test or following the direction of the reader might be tough — but we certainly do not need to school on the test – we should be building our horses to succeed in a test by focusing on our foundation work.  What we learn in these clinics is how to navigate the dressage court (and trust me I have made my share of mistakes there both as a rider and reader so I benefit from a few of these lessons).


We want to push ourselves to be more than riding drones in a test…we want to be adaptive.  Think about issues within our educational system here in the US where many students are taught just what they need to know to pass a standardized test. Since I spent many years in school to gain my Doctorate, I can speak with some authority that the real world needs us to be able to analyze, adapt, and figure our way out of situations with our foundation skill and knowledge sets – there was never a class I took or research experiment I conducted that gave me the answers for everything.  We need to remember that learning the foundation principles are our goal and that we need to celebrate and ride with those abilities each day.


How do we continue on this pathway of success with CD and WD and make sure we are not developing just a One Trick Pony?

1. We need to discuss, share, educate, and celebrate how development of a proper bend, circle size control, collection, extension — can benefit other western disciplines.

Here is an example of how to apply this suggestion. Reining and Cowhorse competitions have a pattern that requires a circle, most often a large fast and small slow. This is a great opportunity to develop a Reiner or Cowhorse that lasts longer in the show world by guiding our training and coaching using Dressage, and more specifically how WD and CD can help make this a success.

For this I am planning on sharing each month (maybe more often) how a particular aspect of a CD or WD test is also used in other western performance disciplines or can be useful in helping us develop a better performance horse. Likely I will start sharing this on my FB page and website but if you are interested in getting notified or helping me build this resource – let me know by dropping me an email to

2. Further develop the systems to celebrate the rider/horse combinations that are excelling in WD/CD AND other Western Performance activities.

I am quite pleased to see one of my mentors leading this charge. Charles Wilhelm has developed the Ultimate Super Horse Challenge (Click HERE for more info) and it includes Cowboy Dressage in the competitions…along with some other pretty darn nifty things necessary to develop the best horse and rider team.  I encourage people to participate int he Ultimate Super Horse Challenge either as a rider or spectator.  For the leaders of WD and CD – this is your chance to step up and reach beyond what you are already doing and develop reward systems and competitions that showcase how fabulous CD and WD are for building the ALL AROUND HORSE. Working Equitation does this to some extent…but I bet the leaders of WD and CD can do more.

3. We need people to speak up and share how the horse they took a CD/WD test on last Saturday is in competition for reining on Sunday, or on a trail ride on Tuesday, or teaching the grandkids a lesson or two about riding, or taking on a new challenge with the human partner. Share how your horse is not just a One Trick Pony.

4. We need to promote freestyle work even more. Each horse and rider is unique and Freestyle riding tests can sure demonstrate how riders and horses can be creative and showcase their teamwork.

5. We need to make a challenge test that is set up day of show. Be creative and set it up to challenge horse and rider to be a team that has skills they can draw upon to adapt and succeed. There are many smart people in CD and WD who can take parts of different tests and bring them together into a challenge that you do not get time to practice before the actual test. In my opinion this is the goal of developing an All Around horse and rider.  This is where success in CD and WD, the competition part, will show the success of horse and rider as a team.


Like I said a year ago — Western Dressage, like Classical Dressage, IS about GOOD HORSEMANSHIP. This year I will add that with Good Horsemanship we develop and nurture horses that can do many different things.


In full disclosure I am a Lifetime Founding Pioneer of the WDAA, Professional member of NAWD, and friend to Cowboy Dressage.  I like what these organizations are doing and look forward to them doing even more.  Each organization has said they have a role in education of the western rider – more education is needed for all of us to become the All Around Rider and develop our All Around Horse.

Push yourself as a rider and lead/ride/train your horse safely compassionately while you develop a great Horse partner.


Thank you for Reading this blog.  Share this Blog and Share your Thoughts!


Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at  Dr. Mike is also part of Coach’s Corral (, an online Horsemanship Coaching program that specializes in video coaching and the 5 Ride Program.  Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (

Sensible & Sensitive Horsemanship – Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Guides

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (



Available on (Click HERE)

Or for a personalized copy of this paperback at $20 (shipping and handling included), email and we will get your order processed.

This is a combined work containing Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Ground Steps to Success, Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Responsive Riding, Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Riding Exercises, Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Horse Owner’s Modern Keys for Success. Together this collection takes horse and rider from ground work to build a strong foundation to riding with softness and focus. Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Ground Steps to Success Horsemanship lessons that teaches you the basic foundations of ground work that will help you build a stronger relationship with your horse. Inside you will find improved ways of working with your horse so that you can succeed in every equestrian discipline. This book covers the essentials of ground work that can be translated into the saddle. This electronic book includes: 1) Preparation for Ground work and Riding 2) Understanding your Horse’s body language 3) Pre-signal and preparatory commands, and 4) Ground Steps to Success (walk, whoa, disengage hips, back, go forward cue and other movements). Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Responsive Riding In this book Dr. Mike provides numerous training exercises so that riders will gain a better feel of the horse. Each exercise is well described and shares with you the benefit of performing the exercise. The book includes multiple warm-up exercises for getting better directional control and the proper use of your legs when riding. Advanced exercises are included for enhanced responsiveness. The basics of dressage and proper biomechanics are presented to help you improve your body language and pre-signal communications with your horse. Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Riding Exercises This book includes 12 easy to follow riding exercises complete with written instructions and diagrams. Great for warm-ups and giving you and your horse some new challenges. These exercises incorporate Classical and Western Dressage Elements. Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship Horse Owner’s Modern Keys for Success. A collection of Essays from many years of successful horsemanship. This book focuses on ideas to help new horse owners build a strong foundation of thoughts and ideas for success in owning, riding, and training horses.


Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at  Dr. Mike is also part of Coach’s Corral (, an online Horsemanship Coaching program that specializes in video coaching and the 5 Ride Program.  Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (

5 Ways to get more out of your Riding Lessons and Clinics

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (

Have you been taking lessons for a few months and do not seem to be making progress? Do you wonder if you lack the ability? Have you thought about buying another horse that seems better? Do you think your trainer is boring to listen to?

As riders we often give over control of our learning process to the instructor. Sometimes we say “Fix my riding problems” or “Get my horse to respond better to me.” We need to take control of our learning.

Let me repeat what I just wrote – WE NEED TO TAKE CONTROL OF OUR LEARNING. Now I am not saying argue with your trainer every minute of the lesson…that never turns out well. What I am saying is that if you want to improve as a rider – come prepared to learn.

1) Have goals… Monthly and quarterly goals. Share with your instructor the goals you want to achieve. He or she can then work to craft a learning plan with you that will help you achieve those goals. A good conversation with your instructor is the key to building a good learning environment. But remember – a good conversation needs both you and the instructor to listen and hear what each of you is saying.

2) Do your homework between lessons. I remember back to the days when I was learning to play the piano and guitar. Mr. O’Brien would give me homework and I would practice…the day before the next lesson. With a twinkle in his eye, Mr. O’Brien would ask me how often I had practiced. As a 12 year-old I tried the “I practiced lots” answer. He knew and the one and only time I tried that – I knew that I was dancing a line between truth and a lie.Instructors know immediately if you have practiced. So be honest to yourself and your horse and if you have made a commitment to learning – do your homework. If you have not done your homework – let your Instructor know. Good instructors can help you get motivated in your homework and learning – because good instructors are also good coaches, cheerleaders, motivators, and mentors who want to see you and your horse succeed.

3) Eat before the lesson…even just a snack. In the last-minute dash to get your horse loaded and to the lesson or get ready for the instructor to show up you decide to skip breakfast or lunch (or both). You will have a big dinner after your lesson or the clinic. BAD IDEA. When you are hungry you will not learn as well. (Note: the large fancy coffee drink before a lesson will give you that sugar high stamina…but not the energy you need to learn). Have some fruit or nuts or something that your stomach can work on during the lesson.One of the instructors I ride and co-teach with each year is Connie Sparks in Montana. Connie feeds the herd of horses and youth before each clinic. Eggs and French toast is often on the menu – you know why – because Connie is a good instructor who knows the value of getting food into young (and old) bodies so that learning can happen.

4) Keep a journal and lesson log. Write down your thoughts after each lesson or clinic. When you take the time to keep track of your progress it is much easier for you to see your successes. In the journal or lesson log you can write questions regarding your homework…then it helps you connect to doing your homework and know what you want to ask your trainer at the next lesson.

5) Recap after the lesson to make sure you know your homework. Sit down after the lesson or clinic and talk with your instructor. Plan so that you have five minutes of talk time to recap what you learned and what you need to do before the next lesson. In all of my clinics, after each day, we have a chat session. I always ask people “What did you learn that you will take home?” This is to help them recall things from the clinic or the lesson that they found particularly important for their improvement.

Taking a lesson or going to a clinic is all about learning so that you and your horse can improve as a team. Make sure that you are prepared to learn by following these five suggestions.  Feel free to comment on this post with additional suggestions as to how people can improve their learning at clinics and lessons.

Share this Blog and Share your Thoughts?


Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at  Dr. Mike is also part of Coach’s Corral (, an online Horsemanship Coaching program that specializes in video coaching and the 5 Ride Program.  Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (

Using Video to evaluate your Horse and Riding

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (

Continuing now with the second of two blogs related to using photos and video to evaluate your horse and riding.  In my last blog (click here) I discussed using photos to evaluate your horse and riding.  In many cases videos are so much better…but there are a few things we can do to make the use of video better.  In the past few years a number of opportunities have become available for showing or getting horse evaluations by video.  International Performance Horse Development (click here) and North American Western Dressage Association (click here) offer what has become known as virtual shows.  There are a number of other options for virtual horse shows and I encourage you to look for opportunities that fit you the best.

Back to our discussion.  Here are some of the issues with using video and getting feedback about your horse or riding.

1) Many videos are shot from only one perspective that gives more of the side view and forgets to show front and rear views of the rider and horse.  If you want a true evaluation of your horse or riding…a knowledgeable person needs to see front, side, and back views of what you and your horse are doing.

2) If you are shooting a  video for a show, the riding most often is restricted to a particular pattern or series of movements.  This is great for the judging aspect we want in virtual shows…but if you want a true evaluation with details that will help you improve — a narrated freestyle is more likely to benefit your needs.  How do you narrate and ride at the same time — go back and write out a narrative as to what you were doing or trying to accomplish at a particular point of time on the video.  While giving the evaluator some words it also helps you see if your words or goals are being achieved.

3) We put our best foot forward with a video shoot.  Plain and simple my friends.  In photos and videos we try to look our best and therefore we lose out on the true evaluation of our normal riding.

Above are just some of the issues that occur with using video for an evaluation of the horse or rider.  As always I like to offer some of my suggestions for how you can use videos to get evaluations of your horse and riding.  Here are some suggestions and I look forward to your additions.

1) Make sure you include video taken from the side, rear, and front … and when I say side, rear, and front I mean directly on, not at an angle or close to being in front or behind.  These three positions help evaluate for straightness/correct posture, where you are looking, what the horse’s feet are doing, how the horse and rider work together, and where your legs and hands are located.  I know nobody likes our backside photographed but there is a lot of information we can learn from watching the horse and rider move away from us.

2) Make sure you add a short narrative to the videos you post.  Give the viewer/evaluator an idea on what was happening at a particular time.

3) Film a freestyle or just 30 minutes of riding and use a video editor to put together those minutes (times) that you want evaluated or are seeking guidance.  Try to ride normally and not “better” while your riding is being captured on video.  One way to make this happen is by having someone shoot video of random times of your riding…that way you will have those lapses that hopefully get caught on video and can be used to help you get better.

Both photos and videos are great for helping to evaluate your riding.  Taking the time to review video or photos with your coach is a huge benefit and any coach/trainer not willing to do this with you is not using all the tools at his/her disposal to help you as a rider.  Remember — the more information and detail you provide with your video or photo — the more help you will receive from the evaluator.

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Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (

The Nine Biggest Killers of Good Horsemanship

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (

These past few weeks have found me on the road teaching clinics, coaching at shows, giving a few lessons, and attending a horse expo.  While on the road and at home I am continually reminding myself of things that can lead to success and failure with your horsemanship.  As I had a chance to take a break today and reflect on the past month I realized I had developed yet another list of things that can hamper our success with horses.

Here is a list of the NINE Biggest Killers of Good Horsemanship

1) Being Distracted.  Your phone or email or texting or concern about something not directly related to your horse and riding can cause you to have bad riding posture, allow your horse to misbehave or lead you to pattern errors.

2) Being Hungry or Thirsty.  If you are hungry (or thirsty) — you are focused on needing something to eat or drink and you then lose patience.  Maybe your blood sugar begins to drop and you feel faint.  If this is happening, you are risking good horsemanship as well as putting your horse’s safety in jeopardy.

3) Lack of Emotional Control.  If you get anxious, worried, angry, distressed or upset quickly — your horse is a mood sponge and feels all these emotions and most likely will act up or try to get away from your emotional state.  The horse does not understand what is bothering you — only that you are no fun to be around.

4) Life Stresses.  If your life has many stresses…this can keep you from riding well or practicing good horsemanship.

5) Micromanaging. If you try and micromanage everything your horse is doing…you will run into some problems with your horsemanship.

6) Being to Hot or to Cold. Extremes of temperature keep you from thinking straight and this can have a negative effect on your horsemanship.

7) Feeling the need for Speed.  In good horsemanship –faster is not better.  Wait a minute all of my friends who ride in the timed events shout at me.  Yes, I understand fast wins…but in the beginning, correct horsemanship, proper training takes time.  Spend the right amount of time early on and you will get the speed you need later — once you and the horse are on the same page.

8) Lack of Support.  All to often I find people who have a horse (or more than one) and the rest of the family is not involved with the horses.  Your horsemanship will suffer if the other family members or friends are constantly trying to pull you away from your focus on the horses.

9) Making it all to complicated.  Keep it simple my friends.  Less is more.  If you want a spin, start with a quarter turn on the haunches.  If you want to jump 4′ 8″, start with 6″ first.  Begin with simple and build on your success.

Make sure to practice good horsemanship, be safe, and watch for these nine items that can take away from your success.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (


By: Dr. Mike Guerini (

Five Truths for Great Horsemanship

#1 – Time spent leads to success.

If you want to improve your riding, get to the barn, ride, take lessons, go to clinics, and ask questions of people that ride better than you.

#2Your Hands controlling the Horse’s feet leads to success.

If you can ride softly and speak to your horse through the reins and have control over the front and rear legs of your horse you are on the road to success.

#3Watch yourself or someone else ride your horse.

When you can step back and see what your horse does, how she moves, how she flexes/bends, how she responds, you are on the road to better understanding of your horse.

#4Ride the horse between your legs.

Do not get on a horse and expect him/her to be exactly like another horse you have ridden.  Each horse is unique and you need to ride the one that is between your legs.  Another way of saying this is do not expect one horse to be like another – make goals and plans for that specific horse.

#5Cross-training for you and your horse develops leadership, confidence, and skill.

Teach your horse something different and you will connect with his/her mind.  When you connect with the mind, you teach new skills, gain confidence and the horse realizes you can lead.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (

5 People in your Circle of Horsemanship

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (

We all have some people in our life who we count on to help us along the journey.  We sometimes call these people our “posse”, “BFF’s”, “Village”, “inner circle”, “confidants”, or “our team”.  Well in Horsemanship it is really no different.  We flourish and excel when we have people who help us, engage us, support us, and keep us in line.  So the other day I was reflecting on the people I consider to be part of my Circle of Horsemanship and I identified 5 who are critical to me.

1)  Veterinarian.  In this category I actually have a few veterinarians I rely on.  They all know each other and some specialize in legs, others in reproduction and some in holistic health of the horse.  I am fortunate to be friends with a veterinarian who has mentored me for over 20 years.  For me it is important to have a good veterinarian (or in my case a few) that I rely on and receive good medical advice from when it comes to the health of my horses.

2)  Farrier.  For over 20 years I had the same farrier.  He was always on time, explained what he was doing, and kept my horse’s feet in top shape.  When my old farrier passed away I was lucky enough to find my new farrier and he is always on time, works with me and the horses and once again does a great job.  I feel fortunate and blessed to have found two great farriers in my life.  Almost nothing is more important that my horse having balanced and well taken care of hooves.

3)  Coach/Trainer.  Without a coach or trainer to watch me ride, work on new ideas with me, and to be my second set of eyes I know I would not have made it this far in my riding career.  My coach is not always a professional horseman or horsewoman, but most of the time I do have a coach who is a professional.  My coach helps me better myself, offers advice on training issues, and those who I select to be my coach/trainer are always looking out for the best interest of my horses.

4)  The Friend Who Helps you No matter What.  I think the country singer Tracy Lawrence was thinking of my friend when he sang the song — Find Out Who Your Friends Are.  This is the person who you can call in the middle of the night to come rescue you and your horse from the side of the road when your truck breaks down.  This person drops everything to help you build fence, haul hay, go check out a new horse, or do anything you need…without expecting anything in return.  Let us face it — owning horses can be a tough job some days and we all need a little extra help.

5) The Cheerleader.  In my Circle of Horsemanship I have a friend who roots me on, encourages me, and listens.  This friend does not ride, might actually be a bit afraid of horses but as soon as I start talking horse, this friend sits down and listens.  I wondered if I was the only one to have this type of friend until a few weeks ago when a lady stopped by for a riding lesson.  She brought along a friend who just wanted to see the world of horse lessons and cheer her friend on to success.

You might have more than 5 in your Circle of Horsemanship.  We could add people like Hay person, Chiropractor, Equine Massage Therapist, Parents, Spouses, Significant others, Fellow Horse people, or Hauling/Show buddy.

Who else might you add to your Circle of Horsemanship?  Is it more than 5?  Take a few minutes to thank those people who are in your Circle of Horsemanship.

Right now I give a big shout out to all of you who are in my Circle of Horsemanship.  Thanks friends.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (

Preparing for a Horsemanship Clinic – what to do before and what to pack (works for horse shows also)

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (

No matter if you have been to one or 50 Horsemanship clinics, there is always a check list of items we need to take, some we want to take, and sadly a few we forget to take.  Over the years I have worked to compile lists of what I need at horsemanship clinics and by extension, horse shows.  Some of these are well thought out lists and some come from experience…you know the been there had that happen and won’t be without again (hint — a clean set of clothes).

This year I have had a few people ask how to prepare and so I want to share with you my thoughts and as always, I look forward to your additions.

First let us discuss the early preparation of what to do before a Horsemanship clinic

1) Sign up for the clinic

2) Check out some of the information about the clinician and how he/she structures the clinic.  This is the gathering of information so you know what to expect at the clinic.  Read one of the clinicians books or blogs or website articles.

3) Get your horse prepared for the clinic by making sure he/she is vaccinated, coggins paperwork is in order (if necessary), health certificate is in order (if necessary), farrier is on the right schedule for the horse to have great feet at the clinic, ride or ground work your horse so that he/she is physically prepared,

4) Get yourself physically ready (riding might be enough or you may want to add a few more exercise or stretching routines leading up to the clinic).

5) If you need a hotel or place to stay … make those arrangements early.

6) Call the facility hosting the clinic if you need overnighting of your horse and arrange for accommodations (find out if you need to bring bedding, buckets, etc).  I always recommend that you bring your own hay and feed from home for a clinic.

7) A few days before the clinic, make sure your truck (vehicle you pull your trailer with) is in proper working order.  Oil is in good shape, tires are good, windshield wipers work, vehicle is clean and has room for all your stuff.

8) A few days before the clinic, make sure your trailer is in proper working order.  Check the tires (wear and inflation), make sure the back of the trailer is cleaned out of left over manure, make sure your tack room is organized and ready for more items and make sure the doors all work and the trailer lights are fully functional when hooked to your vehicle.  (Note — nothing worse than driving down the road with no trailer lights.  A few years back I came upon a trailer being pulled down the road with no trailer lights.  People had a hard time seeing the trailer and so the poor guy was on the receiving end of rude gestures, much honking, and one person made the guy stamp on his brakes by trying to cut him off.  Once I was able to get up to him, I tucked in behind him and followed him for many miles.  After 25 minutes or so he waved me on up alongside him and yelled a big thanks and took the next free way exit.)

Now let us get into what we need to pack — I break this into three categories including what I need for the horse, what I need for me, and what I need for emergencies.

For the horse I need to pack — Tack (saddle, bridles, etc), leg protection, a blanket or fly sheet (and one extra) if you normally use these on your horse, hay, grain (normal ration with maybe some extra salt to promote drinking), water buckets, brushes, curry combs, hoof pick, water (in some cases it is best to pack water from home), fly mask, extra cinch, extra saddle pad, extra reins, extra halters, insect repellant (fly or mosquito spray), manure fork/rake, and of course his/her favorite treats.

For the person I pack — clothes (boots, jeans, long sleeve shirts), snacks, food, water (and other liquid non-adult beverages), sunscreen, hat/helmet, CASH (you never know when you want to purchase something at the clinic and they do not take checks), toiletries, medications, comfortable shoes and riding shoes, cell phone charger/extra battery, camera, pen and paper (for writing down notes on things you learn), lip gloss (for those windy/dry days), a chair, extra socks (for when yours get wet from sweating), and a list of where you are staying, directions on how to get to the clinic and all other registration details.

What I need for emergencies — Horse first aid kit (whatever you would normally have at your barn for treating your horse until the veterinarian can get there), human first aid kit (some small band aids, wound cream, pain reliever, brace, etc), an extra pair of clothes in your trailer (I have literally ridden and worked so hard I was soaked to the skin and a dry pair of clothes felt great), spare tires (for truck and trailer), small pieces of leather (great for putting tack back together, duct tape, bailing twine (or wire), and any medicines that you might use only occasionally for yourself (allergy meds/prescriptions, insulin, pain killers, etc).

Share what else you would add to these lists — and thank you for taking a few minutes to read what I have shared with you here.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (