Juan Vendrell of TC Ranch Ventures joined forces with True Blue Animal Rescue to hold a horse clinic for people that wanted to further their knowledge in horse training. The focus on Juan’s training is to take the horse’s instincts and make them work for you.
The Saturday was overcast with a cool breeze which made the day easier for those that attended Juan’s class. The range of skilled horse men and women went from low experience to those that have had horses all their lives. The horses themselves included those that had not been formally trained at all, to those that just needed to learn more (much like their owners). The first horse handled by Juan on this day was a TBAR horse named Indy who hadn’t had much training yet. Indy is not a fan of even being touched, but after only a few purposeful minutes in the ring Juan was able to touch him. This amazed pretty much everyone in attendance. Just watching Juan work with Indy was a learning experience for those of us in the crowd.
Juan gave a small lecture on his training style but he also stressed that not all horses are the same. There is not one foolproof way to get a horse to do something. He stressed that the handlers have to clearly communicate to their steed what they are asking the horse to do. According to Mr. Vendrell, the horse wants to do what they are asked and if they fail to execute tasks or exercises, it is always the human’s fault.
After the lecture came the fun part. When registering, people had the option of auditing the class or bringing a horse to work with. If you brought a horse to work with the day would be a bit longer for you! It was explained that when we ask a horse to do something we do so by using a part of their body. A horse owner should be able to tell a horse to move using any part of their body. The day of the clinic we mostly focused on using the shoulders and head of the horse.
For me personally I can say it was super exciting working with our True Blue sponsor horse, Athena. I have never had my own horse and the only horse I had contact with as a child was a wonderful Welsh pony, that was neck-reigned, that I took care of after school for one blissful year before her owners noticed that I played with the pony more than her kids did and it was sold off. Still one year with a pony hardly goes a long way, and it was so long ago. Poor Juan had to show me basic things, like how to swing a lead line, put on a halter and not to allow Athena to get too close to me. But he was kind about my lack of knowledge!
The exercises we did that day with our horses were basic and hard at the same time. Not to mention they really can make you dizzy. I asked Juan for a tip on keeping the dizziness at bay and he said to focus on only one part of your horse when you are asking them to run around you in a circle. So I picked Athena’s shoulder since that was the body part I was asking her to move with. It did help but being so new I was also trying to watch my feet, my hands and then watch Athena. So I got pretty dizzy, but with more practice this issue for me should go away. Especially when I get my hands working better.
If people had trouble with an exercise given to them Juan had time to go to that person and give them more tips and pointers. I myself asked a ton of questions to make sure I had a handle on what he had told us. Naturally, since a few of the horses were visitors and were meeting new horses, it was hard to get the attention of a few of them. Juan would have to work with the horses himself to get them to settle down, but he also shared the tip that we had to make sure that the horse was paying attention to us and was standing in the right position; not too close, with their heads up and looking at you.
True Blue Animal Rescue provided a lunch of BBQ sandwiches, chips, and drinks. Guests even had their pick of dessert. As everyone sat down and ate, people were excited about what they had learned so far. In between exercises people shared tips and encouraged everyone on their work. Being with other animal lovers made the class feel comfortable. The exercises in the afternoon built off of those that had been taught in the morning. They asked more of the handler’s lead lines, while the horses were still being asked to turn. Attending the class was beneficial to anyone that was there, whether you had a horse with you or were just auditing.
If you missed this clinic, don’t worry, because another one is in the works for the fall. Thank you again to True Blue Animal Rescue and Juan Vendrell!