Monday, October 25, 2021

Learning Skills Elsewhere


I wanted to give you an update about my 2yr old filly SusieQ that I featured in this column for 2 years now. We watched her progress together. I sold her a month ago and she is going on to be a reining horse. I'm looking forward to seeing her next year at the shows.

 I want to share with you that I felt so proud on how well she rode for me and the new owner the day she came and bought her. I will always remember that.

So what do I do now?  AT 60, I've decided not to start anymore horses under saddle - been there, done that 50 times. I can proudly say that throughout my horse training career I never got bucked off from starting a horse under saddle. It was clients being less than truthful (down right voiding their contracts) that sent me to the hospital a few times with broken ribs and other damaged parts. And why I got out of doing that. I have the on-going physical problems as constant reminders from those experiences. How many of you can also recall a similar story or know someone who does?

A Well Trained Horse

There is something to be said for a well trained horse. I still have my 19yr old retired reining mare Jackie. She's been with me 18 years and I plan on looking after her until she passes on. Most or all of you know that it's a labour of love for us horse people. It's in our DNA. 

Bush Wacking

I have used my mare to bushwack many times. I wonder what she thinks about when we do that. "Oh Mom is at it again!" lol.

 I bought this mini chainsaw I call it. Works great for cutting small branches in the bush. See if you can picture this - I've just side passed Jackie up against a tree where I then stand up in the saddle and use this mini chain saw to cut the low hanging branch. It's great fun!

  I had a chuckle at myself when I decided to tie a knot at the end of my reins. I hated to do that but I wouldn't loose them when I stood up to cut a branch. You can see in the picture the knot in the reins and a roll of orange trail marker ribbon with me to better mark the trails.

Learning New Skills

  This is what I like to do. I have to create new projects or I get bored. My mare's used to it! lol I hope you got some inspiration from this article on learning new skills with our horse!  Happy fall!

Putting My Spin on New Skills


@KISS reiners

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Bits Do Help If You Let Them

 What Do You Wrongly Know About Bits

  I got a nice phone call from a lady who does trick riding and wanted some advice on perhaps needing a different bit for her horse. She said that my friend Brenda Gagnon of Lazy G Ranch recommended me.  We talked for hours!  

I love talking about bits.  The first photo is of me during my Myler technical bit certification. Dale Myler is adjusting the bit on the horse.

I take a lot of pride in reeducating people on bits as there is a lot of misinformation out there. And disinformation. So Barry Finn, editor of magazine and I agreed that it would be nice to write a series of articles busting the myths about bits.

So here we go...


A lot of riders just use whatever bit their fellow riders of their sport use. It's easier that way. I would agree that it's a good place to start. I know I did. I got the reining bit for showing that reiners used back in the 80's and still use today.

 Nothing wrong with that, if it works. That's the key... if it works. But what if it doesn't - what then?  You can ask the local tack shop owner or someone else but the problem is that misinformation is taught to everyone including trainers. Usually without their knowledge. Whether its pride or ignorance that people don't want to know technically about bits, I can't say. I'm not going there but I have studied that too to know the source of why riders are hesitant to 'go down the bit route'.

My Latest Change

 So the snaffle bit that I was using on my 2yr. old was not working any longer. The horse was dull on that bit and basically ignored it. I made her pay attention to the bit better but I knew that I didn't want to have to get after her for not responding quickly. Her mother was like that.  So there are family lines or horse genetics where some horses have naturally thicker tongues and usual bits can be ignored. 

A horse with a thicker tongue easily learns to ignore the cue from a standard bit. Generally speaking, for example, draft horses have thicker tongues. When I have a lazy horse and they are not responding well to the bit, I first think of checking their tongue. Believe it or not, some horses have tongues too big for their mouth. Great Pine bred horses were known for dull mouths and dull sides. My Whizard Jac mare for example is very sensitive to a bit as do hotter bred horses. The horse is always one part of the equation obviously, in determining what bit to use.

For my filly, I wanted to stay soft with my hands. I've seen too many riders having to be rougher with their hands to get the response they need from their horse. That's another clue - needing to be rougher with your hands than you want to be. I don't like it at all so I tend to go to a curb bit faster than most riders.

Be An Educated Rider
I use the analogy of a 'hot knife through butter'. For the rider's sake and the horse's sake, you don't want to learn to be rough with your hands. Educated hands can use most bits and not have a problem.
Most riders are taught to consider only the horse and the event they want to do with their horse and not realize how important the rider is in the equation. I always shock people when I mention how important that is. I will get into more detail in the next article about that.

Back to my filly, so it was time to put my filly into a curb bit. I choose the Myler 3-ring combination bit. See photo.

Myler 3-Ring Combo Bit

I use this bit as a training bit and introduces leverage to a horse. A rider can keep their hands softer while having more effect on the horse. More information to come. Lots to talk about with the trick rider who called and wanted to see if a different bit could be used for her horse that was running through the bridle - another common problem.

Putting My Spin on Using The Equipment That Works Best


@KISS Reiners

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Tips For Getting Back Into the Saddle - Part 3 In The Saddle

 This is the third part of a series on how to get motivated to get back into the saddle again.  Next month I will focus on more training tips. I also have a very interesting story to tell about bits.

Today I'm going to focus on actual riding tips.

My 2yr old filly is now for sale so I want to keep training her until she's sold. And I believe introducing her to as many new situations as possible will make her a better horse and more interesting to potential buyers. (If you are interested, please see contact me.)

Pre-Ride Check

 I learned to do this with horses that I was not familiar with. I would lounge the horse to see where the horse is at mentally and physically. As I became more familiar with them then not so much.

I also did a pre-ride check. I would flex the horse from the ground on both sides. Again, checking the horse over to make sure they were ok and mentally ok to ride. It's a pain when you're out in the back bush or have trailered over to someone's place, only to find out that you're missing equipment or your horse is lame. Argh.

In the first photo I am showing how I also make the horse stand still when I first get on by doing some flexing from side to side. This, I feel is necessary for unfamiliar horses or young horses. I never have to do this with my old, retired reining mare.  

I started this because I'm short. I kid you not. It's generally a bit of a hike to get on my horses even if I use a mounting block. For my safety, I didn't want the horse to walk off while I was getting on or just getting settled in. I really don't like it when they walk off.

 Riding In The Bush

My first love was trail riding. Add rounding up cattle to that and it's fantastic. While I don't have any cattle at the moment, I do have 30 acres of bush to ride in. Last year, with the help of my hired guy, we put 4.5 miles of ATV trails in the bush.

So that it where I'm riding my filly. In the 2nd photo, you can see that we are riding down the side of one of my hay fields to get to one of the entrances to the bush.

When I get bored riding in a riding pen, I usually head out to the bush or the roads. That is what I would suggest to make it interesting to get back into the saddle again.

Why not try a trail ride? Why not work some cattle?  Why not try a new sport?

Pony Up SusieQ

  I didn't start by riding my filly on the trails. I pony'ed her. In this last photo, you can see that I took her for a nice walk in the bush.

Again, another way to make things interesting. I hope you enjoy the rest the of the summer.

Putting My Spin On Rides In The Bush


@KISS Reiners

Friday, May 28, 2021

Tips For Getting Back Into Riding Part 2


In part 1, I talked about why sometimes we get out of the habit of riding and need ways to easily get motivated again.  You can find the article link here. Part 1 focused more on tools and the process of getting ready to ride. Today I'm going to talk about other tips we can do with regards to actually riding or pre-riding.

So I'm working on my 2 yr. old filly to get her basic training done. I have my environment ready and now I want to work her.  The principle still holds that if I spend some time prepping and setting up the riding environment so that it makes it more enjoyable and easy to want to get back into riding or training and easier it is to get back into the saddle.  It's all mental preparation.

I do the same for my taxes. I don't particularly like doing my taxes so I do my books and leave the rest to my accountant. So I spend a day getting my office setup with my computer and my slips to do my books. I just find that it makes it easier for me to get it done. That and a big pot of coffee!

So that's it! To make whatever changes you need to do to make it exciting and enticing.  This article will focus on pre-riding specific tips.

Here are a few suggestions that you might find helpful. More detailed information on my website, if you're interested.

1. Sometimes I just don't feel 100%. Whether I'm too tired or a bit under the weather for whatever reason, I have found that if I do some GROUNDWORK exercises then I know that I've worked the horse and feel great about it. Here in this photo, I have saddled my 2 yr old filly and I've attached empty vinegar jugs to the side of the saddle. More DESENSITIZATION - one of my favorites! :)

It's also good for the horse to get 'back into the swing' of things as well.

2. I do use round penning and lounging as good exercises to teach horses many things. I teach all leg cues with the use of my stick-n-string, all voice cues, flexing... I have a list (see below). So I do spend time including when I need motivation to get back working my horse again by going through round penning and lounging. I also use them as a quick check to see where my horse is at. Here in this photo I show some lounging.

3. My training program has always been heavily based on reining principles and groundwork. I used to spend the first week with a customer's horse on groundwork to teach all the cues needed before I got onto the horse for the first time. I did that last year with my filly. Don't need to teach it again but it's still good to check everything before I get on. And get my mind into training again.

4. Here is some of what can be accomplished with groundwork.

  • establish mutual respect and trust between horse and human
  • establish communication between horse and rider
  • getting rewarded for a positive response
  • establishing good habits in your and your horse
  • teach the horse to pay attention to you as team leader (& establish you as team leader)
  • establish basic body control on the horse (lateral flexion, sidepassing, etc..)
  • familiarize/learn the step-by-step progressive process in training (ie. training scale) 
  • teach the horse to respect your space
  • determining temperament of the horse to customize training program
  • learn to read the horse's body language and visa versa
  • establish a mental connection with your horse
  • start to teach the horse to handle pressure in training
  • teach the horse to follow you (hooked on you)
  • establish & reinforce forward motion in the horse (which is so important)
  • teach the horse voice commands like the 'kiss', 'cluck', 'whoa', etc.
  • teach a horse to stop and backup using voice and rein cues
  • to create confidence in you and your horse
  • do a system's check to make sure everything is OK before mounting.
  • make sure your cinch is tight enough before mounting.
  • for the rider to really like being around their horse & visa versa!

I feel that groundwork has been invaluable in my training program and would ALWAYS recommend it - even for motivation. Next month, I'm going to continue with my filly's training and give more tips. 

Putting My Spin on Getting Back Into Training Mode


@KISS Reiners

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Tips to Get Back Into Riding/Training Again Part 1


Life gets busy.  Springtime is always busy for me with outside landscaping. I have a lot of branches to trim and fence rows to clear.  Anyone who has a farm or a property knows what I'm talking about.

And the weather was crazy this spring. I don't like riding in the cold.  

Whether you are just coming off of an injury or you were away on business for a time period, say a month, or like me - was too busy and you now what to get back INTO THE HABIT OF RIDING AGAIN. What are some ways that can help you get motivated?

So now I have to get serious about getting my 2yr. old filly trained.  I started her last fall where I sat on her a few times and walked 10feet a few times. It's really about the repetition.

How I Motivated Myself To Get Back Into Training Mode Easily

Basically, I found that if I spent a day or two prepping and setting up the riding environment so that it makes it more enjoyable and easy to want to get back into riding or training then the easier it is to get back into the saddle.

I do the same for my art. I like to do my fine art mostly in the wintertime when I can't get outside to do yard work so the weather makes it easy for me to stay inside.  Now it's spring and I want to be more outside. So I finally ordered myself a proper art table to work on and I'm excited to get the table setup and try it out! Love those rainy days.  It all helps to create the right environment. 

So that's it! To make whatever changes you need to do to make it exciting and enticing.

Here's a few suggestions.

1. I've made it easier to have all my tack near my riding pen so it's easy to do the tack up/down faster. My filly is already bored with being saddled (due to her training as a yearling) so it's no big deal for her. I don't need to spend any special time on it any more.  In this photo, I am showing my saddle cart with wheels.

2. I also set up an area for my groundwork tools to be stored close to the riding pen. Again, just to make it easier to grab my tools. I'm actually using some space in my utility shed.  Another idea would be to get a tack box with big wheels and handle so that it's easier to move around.  Here in this photo I am showing a tool box on wheels and a handle.

3. I remembered a checklist that I made for colt starting and for groundwork training that I did for clients back when I was training. I would fill out these checklists and provide them to the client. I dug out a copy and I'm going to use it for myself with my filly to make sure I've covered everything.

4. I also saved these custom banners that I made for myself back when I had my arena with the steps on how to do a particular training phase - beginner, intermediate, advanced. Groundwork and riding. I'm going to dig those out and attached them to my riding pen.

5. I placed 2 small tables near my riding pen to hold my camera, phone and checklists. 

I feel like I will be well organized and ready to get right into training again. For part 2 next month, I'm going to talk about some other tips that do more with actual riding. Link here for part 2.

For one last motiviation, here's a youtube video of Gene Autry singing Back In the Saddle Again. enjoy!

Putting My Spin on Getting Back Into Training Mode


@KISS Reiners

Tune up Styles

 One of the best ways to prevent problems from starting is to be proactive - to 'nip it in the bud' so to speak. As Dr. Don Hogland would say: "Horses can't unlearn." So... one of the ways to prevent your horse from getting to the point of not responding well and needing a tune up is to be proactive about it. No one wants a horse that is disrespectful either.

This article continues with the series of articles on tuning up your horse - fixing their problems - but from a different perspective - a coach.

Tune Up Scale
So far we have discussed options involving fixing the problems yourself to the complete opposite end of the scale of sending it to a trainer. See drawing above where I show the two opposites.

Here is a review list of options so far:
1. You can learn how to train your own horse and therefore fix their problems with the help of a trainer (Option #3), if you're into that sort of thing like I am.

2. Similarly, you can learn to train your own horse/fix problems all by yourself - the DIY option (Option #2). This is the extreme end of the Tune Up Scale or spectrum.

3. Or you can send it to a trainer (if you're not into training) whether it's for a tune up or more serious problem solving. (Option #1Does My Horse Need A Tune Up?).
Let's look at some options in the middle of the scale.

Tune Up Spectrum
What I'm really talking about is a spectrum of options or choices. As you can see from my drawing below, I have and will talk about 5 options ranging from Send-To-A-Trainer to DIY.

Horse Lessons will be covered in the next article. So this article talks about the Lesson/Coaching option.

Tune Up While You Are In A Lesson
A lot of my students, especially the intermediate to advanced ones, are interested in learning to improve their horsemanship skills in the area of training.
Once a student learns how to ride, their goals reach further towards keeping their own horse tuned up - just a little. They often want to try fixing their horse - just a little - to see if they like it. They don't want to make a mess of it - yet, it would be a good skill to have for a rider.

So while I am teaching students how to ride or how to rein or how to handle their horse better - any type of coaching - I will provide the student with the 'how to' on keeping their horse tuned up.

Being Aware
I teach the students how to become aware or notice when a horse is not responding well. It's not a one time thing. It's when the horse is repeatedly not responding well despite all the rider's efforts to get the horse to do as they ask. You would almost think the horse is developing a bad habit. - It could lead to that. A lack of respect perhaps?

This is the time where the horse needs to be tuned up. RIGHT WHEN IT HAPPENS.

So most of my students are quiet happy to learn to correct the problem before it gets worse.

It's quick.

It's easy.

It just becomes part of their learning how to ride.

And their horse stays tuned up in the process. Great eh!

Next article I will complete the series of tune up articles with the horse lessons.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Pleiadean Horses Called Lin


Do you believe in panspermia?  (Definition here.) Basically space rocks with seeds of the world landed here on Earth and populated the planet with all the plants and animals, supposedly.

Do Horses Come From the Pleiades?

There are many species of equines throughout our solar system according to a youtube channel called Pleiadian Knowledge. * 

There are also 3 types of equines native to the Taygeta Star System of the Pleiades Star Cluster. You can watch the information in the youtube video:  Equines of Taygeta.

You can also download a transcript of the video: "Equines in Taygeta.pdf -Version 1" from their facebook page: Pleiadian Knowledge PDF.

According to their transcript, there are many equine species all throughout our Solar System and other solar systems such as Taygeta. The Taygetans refer to their equines species as 'Linhas'. The Taygetan's have a language close to the Navajo Indians.

#1 Lin of Temmer and Erra Planets of Taygeta

  The species of equines most resembling our Earth horses are called 'Lin'. They look like part zebra - part buckskin. On average they are 30% smaller than domesticated horses on earth. They have most of the coat colors of our horses except pinto but most of them are brindle.

 As you can see from the photo, their stripes are mostly along the neck, back and legs and not uniform throughout like our zebra.

Another interesting characteristic is that they have a split hoof similar to our deer or cattle here on Earth called even-toed ungulates.   And they are not domesticated.

#2 Smaller Lin of Erra - Merychippus

As you can see from this next photo, there is a smaller version of the Lin specifically on the planet Erra. Again, they are mostly brindle with a split hoof

They are similiar to an extinct species of Equus on Earth called the Merychippus. Wikipedia Definition here .

#3 Smallest Lin 'Bosh ke sh' - Eohippus

As you can see from the photo below, they are about the size of a large dog. They live mainly in forests.  They most closely resemble that of an extinct species of North American equine called Eohippus. Definition here.

*Special Credit

*Credit here for all this knowledge is given to Estella Fernandez and Cristina Alvarez of Pleiadian Knowledge.

Putting My Spin on Worldly Equines


@KISS reiners


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Beginning Of The Year Changes


Beginning Of The Year Changes    

It's Spring. Many riders consider their current horse at the start of the year and contemplate a change. What process does a rider go through in considering a new horse?

Evaluating a horse's current training level and abilities allows the rider to establish a 'base point' or starting point for a tune up. From there, a customized step-by-step progressive training program is developed that will really work for the horse based on the horse's temperament and learning ability. Makes sense... And of course we have to factor in the rider's abilities and experience.

But what if the horse "can't cut it"?  Do you take it to a trainer for evaluation? Sounds good. Is there also a way to evaluate your own horse to be knowledgeable when the rider discusses their horse's problems with their trainer (or horse friend ). Another good idea.

Silk Purse Out of A Sow's Ear  

Of course the hardest part of the self-evaluation is being realistic and honest about the capabilities of our horse to meet our goals. A custom program works best if it MEETS the 
realistic expectations of the owner or rider. It's doomed to fail or be mediocre at best. That's hard for an owner/rider and a waste of a training bill.

Horses today are specialized for certain events so some horses may not be able to meet the owner's expectations. No amount of training can make up for an untrainable horse. Or one not suited to the job.

Lady's Starting Point - an example

Lady had been shown for many years. I had known Lady since she was 10 days old. I was looking for a reining lesson horse and Lady was 9 years old when I decided to buy her.
My evaluation determined that though Lady had had many , many show pen miles on her which meant that she rushed through the reining pattern and had been used for reining lessons, I knew that she needed a tune up. She had been used as a broodmare and trail horse for several years.

Tool Bag- Horse's Can't Unlearn What They Already Know

As a general riding horse, as with many riders, horses tend to acquire a set of skills in their 'tool bag' ( as I like to call it) that allows them to get away with or resisting requests by the rider. The less-than ideal horse sees how much they can get away with not doing. In the case of Lady, she would over think the problem and then hurry up and get it done. A bit on the nervous side. 

Dull Mouth and Dull Sides?
So Lady as with typical horses used for trail riding, they get heavy or dull on the sides and mouth. In Lady's case, she was over reactive. 

Previous Training or Quick Study
Since I had known Lady's history and I found out that she was over eager to please and I really liked her temperament, I was happy to call her my own and take the time I needed to calm her down. It turned out that I was able to show her for a season.  I had Lady for 13.5 years before she passed away. So sometimes it's worth to take the chance. 

She is also the grandmother of the 2 year old I have now. It was because of her that I wanted to get a foal from her daughter. 

Putting My Spin On Evaluations
©Copyright KISS Reiners

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Buck Stops Here

 Here's one GOOD example why we switch AND STAY with longeing over round penning (once we know how to round pen that is... :). (Leslie had to use round penning in the barn yard the other day cause her horse didn't want to come to her. Soon fixed that :)

For the bucking....
With longeing, when the horse starts to buck, MAKE HIM DO SOMETHING to stop the bucking... ie. correct him. pull hard on the longe line & make him change directions quick. Do something.... so that he knows that bucking is not OK.  Give him shit. Yell. Tell him it's not ok. Change directions each and every time he bucks until he stops bucking; making is harder and harder for him to buck because he's changing directions quickly and so frequently.
We can't do that as easily round penning.  A few times round penning initially is tolerable. It let's us know something could be wrong. 
Now we know, from the repeated times, that he just likes to buck under saddle and that's not ok; AT ALL.  It's ok if he wants to do it in the field with his buddies but not when he's working.  I longed him every Monday and when I thought he needed it and he didn't buck because I changed directions with him and made him do it each and every time he bucked.
'The buck stops here!' 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Plan B Training


We all know to always have a Plan B. And I was thinking of that for my 2yr old filly and her training.  

If you've read my article from last month talking about my colt starting program., it outlined the fact that last fall I backed my filly and walked her a tiny bit in the round pen. And then winter happened.

I hadn't planned on riding her in the winter anyway. I used to do that years ago with customer's horses and my own horses but I don't have access to an arena anymore.


So I'm still going along with my training program to use what opportunities I can to get more training this winter. In this first picture you can see that most of the time that I put the halter on my filly, I will ask her to give her face. I want her to be really soft in the face. I picked up this idea of flexing on the ground with Clinton Anderson's groundwork program.

Hold It

   Here the filly is holding the bend herself which of course, is what I want. She even held it there so I could take a step back and snap the photo. 

 She is also starting to like wanting to do more groundwork. It gives her something to do. And that's music to my ears!! That's exactly what I want - the horse to be wanting to work. That confirms her breeding.

From A Bird's Eye View

In this final picture, you can see that I took the photo from my filly's back.

I used to do this as a kid. I have a cute story to tell you. I would lead my ole dependable 'cow pony quarter horse'  up to the fence and little me would climb on the fence and hop on the horse's back and sit there for hours.

I'd wake up finding myself again lying in the pasture grass surrounded by horses. I remember getting sleepy from the heat of the sun, gently laying my head on the withers of the horse and then falling asleep. I'm sure at some point, I'd would've fallen off in the grass. Amazing.

Anyway, I have often sat on my filly in the stall while she eats her grain. Just to re- enforce the idea of me sitting up there.

I would wiggle around, scratch here everywhere - anything to get her to like me being up there. I would reach over to the stall divide and move around.

And when I get off, I will generally ask her to lift some of her feet, especially the back ones.

I guess it helps me to keep busy as well. :)

Putting my spin on Plan B


@KISS Reiners

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The First Rides In My Colt Starting Program

 It's fall time and the next stage of my colt starting program has commenced.  I thought you'd like to follow along and see where I'm at with the progress of my reining filly.

As I'm writing this column, I'm watching the 2020 NRHA Reining Futurity in OKC. Very fitting.

Where It All Started

I'd like to take you back to April 2019 when my reining filly was born.  (I have an article about the event in titled: Midwife Duties and on my website if you're curious.) As you can see in this photo, it shows how tiny she was. It's easy to forget that when I see her now.

My No-Buck Colt Starting Program

My colt starting program can start with foal imprinting as in this case. Dr. Robert Miller popularized this technique in his book titled: Imprint Training Of The Newborn Foal. I am a big fan of this philosophy and I've used it for decades. I believe that it is more humane to teach a foal to be used to the things that the horse is going to be around in their life.

So basically my philosophy and training program has always been to constantly desensitize the horse at every age to prepare them for this job or life around humans as an adult horse. The training never stops.

Weanling Year - 2019

Here in this photo you see my reining filly, a weanling in this picture, being trained to accept a blanket and saddle pad.  It's all part of the desensitizing program. I am so used to thinking about taking any situation I can and use it as a training session.  In fact, I have an article titled: "A Little Bit Every Day" where I describe how I take the long approach to training. Little bits of training but over a long period of time. That's what I'm doing with this filly.

My weanling had learned to be tied, to be blanketed, to be loaded onto a trailer, to be groomed and of course, have her feet done. All the ground manners!

I used to joke and say that I'm too short to have horses misbehave on the ground. I never tolerated it. And since I'm going to be 60 in Feb/2021, I can say that I'm too old not to have horses behave properly. LOL  I believe it gives the horse a better chance at a great life around people.

Yearling Year - 2020

  2020 has been a crazy year but I can proudly say that I got my horse started under saddle. When I used to colt start horses for customers way back, I would desensitize the horse to all the equipment, teach ground manners, get the horse used to a rider, getting on and off the saddle, teach all the voice, rein and leg cues before I got on the horse. My training program has always been heavy on the groundwork. This would happen in the first week of a customer's horse in training. Sometimes it would take a horse 10 days to be used to everything. For more information on my program, please see my website:

Customers used to wonder why I didn't do the Wahoo-cowboy style of colt starting where I lassoed the horse, hog-tied, blind-folded them, jump on and hope for a short 8-second bucking session. Are you kidding!? That only happens in the movies! When I told customers that my first ride on their horse was 'uneventful' and calm, because the horse would be SO desensitized to everything by then, that they thought I was kidding. I would have to video the event sometimes. I even thought that perhaps a few customers were disappointed that I didn't get bucked off at least once. Geesh! The only times I did get bucked off horses and was sent to emergency was when customers lied on their training contract and didn't tell me that their horse in for other training had 'issues'. I digress.

Long-Yearling - November 2020

 So bringing you up to the present time, I had already spent 2020 getting SusieQ used to being saddled and me getting on her. On. Off. On. Off. I never get bored of it though I imagine that this will be my last colt-starting.

She's used to the bit and she knows her voice cues and leg cues. For more information on how to do that from the ground, please see the articles on my website.


One thing that I did decide to do this year was to pony SusieQ in preparation for riding her on the trails in my back bush. I look forward to doing that next year.

As you can see in this last photo, I have been on her, just sitting, in my round pen. This is the 4th time I've done that. I have also walked her around about 50 feet over a few stops and walks. I get on. We walk a few feet. We stop and sit for a while and then I get off. She's only a long yearling after all. That's the advantage I've always had being a short, petite person - being able to get on a long yearling. 

So I have plenty of time. I have signed her up for the ORHA 2 year old reining futurity and that is not until next Sep/2021! Lots of time. :)

Two Year Old Year - 2021

 So I look forward to continuing SusieQ's training next year where we ride the trails and start her in my reining fundamentals training.

 I hope you enjoyed this article. Merry Christmas Everyone! And a Happy New Year!

Putting My Spin on Colt Starting!


@KISS Reiners

Friday, October 30, 2020

Box Of Colors

 By the time you're reading this in November, the US presidential election will be over (I hope) and we've all done our usual routine to prep our barns and property for winter.

I'm looking out my sunroom window seeing all the barren trees and wonder where the year has gone. I know that 'time flies' but wow! And dare I say - a few snow flakes fell today. Eek!

I'm sick of hearing about COVID-1984. Are you? I have a rash on my nose from wearing the mask. bla. bla. bla. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about those who've been gravely affected by this pandemic. It really bothers me that people have died because they were not able to get the surgery they needed when many hospitals sat empty. My prayers go out to those still effected for sure.

I was enjoying a rare, lovely brunch with my group of friends I call the Hanover Group. There were more rules in place at the restaurant and we all complied except 2 ladies. They were not comfortable so they stayed at home. And we all respected that.

I think this is a time for each of us to find out what is important to all of us. 

For  many of us it will be staying close to home.

This year I've taken a lot of art classes.  The one I'm working on now is called a Box Of Colors. It doesn't sound like much but I think people need to do what helps them get through this pandemic.

I've also been doing a lot of riding. I'm also working on colt starting my long yearling.

Whatever you need to do. Take care. And don't let the fanatics wear you down! 

Putting my spin on dealing with the fanatics!


@KISS reiners

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Keeping A Sharp Mind


 One of the techniques that I learned early on was to give my reining horses other jobs to do besides training and showing in the reining pen.  Many articles talked about avoiding 'drilling' your horse. We all know how burn out can happen to horses and humans alike.

Here is an article from Clinton Anderson of on not over drilling your horse.

September is the month for the last show season for many horse events in Ontario. We have our last reining GRAND FINALE show here in Ontario, September 11-13th at Fletcher's Horseworld.

What are you planning to do with your horse now that fall is here and the horse shows are done for the year? Travel south? Not many options yet due to COVID-1984.

After you've given your horse a break, what's next? A long trail ride. Trying a new event. Watching Netflix?

Bushwhacking and an ATV

I've always been very inventive on new jobs for my horses. I have an older retired reining mare who likes to do new things. I have an interesting story to tell.

My big completed project this year was clearing 4 miles of trails in my 30 acres of bush I have at the back of the property. The bush has never had any work done to it. 

So I hired my neighbour with a chainsaw and an ATV. For almost 3 months, we would go out with 2 chainsaws and an ATV every morning, 4 mornings a week and work for 4 hours.

We cut 4 miles of trails! Most people are shocked to hear that I own a chainsaw - much less use one! Us horse women are tough!

Well one day when we were 1 day away from finishing -it always happens that way doesn't it! The ATV had an electrical problem and it broke down. At the back of the property no less! My hired hand Nyle and I could not move it ourselves and there was no way for us to get any equipment back there to move it. There is no road access back there.

So what did we do?  I got my reining mare and she towed the ATV back to the house! I'm not kidding. I should've gotten a picture of it as you may not want to believe me.

I was so proud of that mare.

Well the ATV is fixed and my neighbour Nyle and I have been able to work a couple more days cutting trails in the bush. For me, this fall, I'm going to enjoy the beautiful fall leave colors along those trails.

I'm also going to start work on colt starting my reining bred long yearling this fall. I'm going to pony her through those trails to get her used to dealing with new surroundings.

I hope you have a lovely fall with whatever your decide to do!

Putting My Spin On New Jobs For Your Horse


KISS Reiners

Thursday, July 30, 2020

New At The Horse Shows

What's New At the Horse Shows

 Excitedly, many horse show organizations are now allowed to restart their show season. As many readers know, I've been working as a judge's assistant (or scribe as we're called) at the NRHA shows here in Ontario. This is my 28th year. 

As a side note, I was put on the international list of National Reining Horse Association scribes 2 years ago and would love to scribe at the big reining shows! COVID-1984 is not helping the situation. My heart goes out to all those affected by this thing.

 After reading the new COVID show rules, I was interested to see what changes would be at our first ORHA show a couple of weeks ago at Fletcher's Horseworld.

Not all changes are good.

Missing An Important Figure

 Usually my routine was to arrive at the shows on the Thursday afternoon and check in with my office buddy Geatan Laroche. He's been the backbone of the show office for years. I would help Geatan as much as he needed. And he and I would have other important duties like accompanying the judges to dinner at night. It was always one of my most enjoyable moments during the show weekend listening to Geatan and the judges talk 'of the good ole times'.

Sadly, Geatan was not well and could not attend this first show of the season. UPDATE: Geatan passed away July 30th, 2020. On behalf of everyone at ORHA and myself, our heartfelt condolences go out to Geatan's family.

Masks On- Mask Off  

I don't think this image needs much explanation! I wasn't amused though I'm sort of smiling in this picture. I couldn't breathe! I need to get one of those mask exemption cards.  I had to go back to using the regular cloth mask.  The humidity was unbearable and it made it hard to breathe.

Todd Bailey, the judge, had a very hard time breathing with the mask as well. He and I have similar views on this COVID-thing. It's nice to find another person who shares the same views. He and I are both pro-Truth. The world is quite divided right now. 

New Riders - Show Entries Are Up 

One pleasant surprise was that show entries were high. That's great news. I guess everyone was happy to get out and show their horse!

I was listening to this new rider Ashley (pictured below on her horse) talking to Todd the judge about showing in a reining class. She came from a pleasure horse back ground and was talking about the difference between that and showing reining horses.

She was mentioning how fast reining seems compared to showing pleasure horses. Now that sounds like a 'no brainer' but what she was explaining was that in the show pen when you are doing your large fast circles, you think you are going fast when you're not. It's quite a sensation. I hope I can explain this well.

The exhibitor knows to go fast in the large fast circles and you believe you are and the sensation feels like you're going fast. It's quite shocking to see on video just how slow you are actually going. Of course, it's a matter of practicing going faster and faster at home until THAT speed feels normal. Of course, you know you're going too fast when the circles look 'trashy' and you've lost your cadence.

Photo Credit: Susan Reinersue Dahl

I hope everyone has the chance to get outside and show their horses this year!

Putting My Spin On Taking Off These Masks
@KISS Reiners

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Counter Canter Benefits

Many years ago - I'm talking back in the 90's, I was in search for a new reining coach. With there being no one locally that I wanted to go to, I began to look on the internet. Western trainers were starting to come out with VHS training tapes of their "secrets". I was intrigued.  

I've bought tapes from people like Tim McQuay, Heroes and Friends Series with Bob Avila, Larry Trocha, Clinton Anderson, and Shawn Flarida. There are more. I watched whatever I could.

And this is what this column is all about - sharing those secrets and my experiences.

Discovering the Counter Canter
I was watching Bob Avila's exercises on counter cantering and I remember a really funny story that bears repeating here. He talked about a conversation he had with a little rider at one of his clinics. Bob was demonstrating his counter canter exercises when this little rider came up to him and said: "Excuse me Mr. Avila. Did you know that you're on the wrong lead." I couldn't help laughing with Bob's laughter and facial expressions as he recounted the story.

I had traditionally thought that way as well. It was revolutionary for me at the time to discover that trainers were doing it on purpose and it had so many good benefits. 

Count on Counter Canter

 World champion reining trainer Bob Avila explains why adding the counter canter exercise has many benefits here in this February 2017 updated  Horse&Rider with Bob Avila  article.


Improve Loping - Adds greater degree of difficulty and therefore improves the horse's loping skills.  A must for reining and other riding disciplines.

Anticipation of Lead Change - a great refresher exercise to keep the horse honest through the middle of the figure 8 maneuver and elsewhere.

Strength and Balance of Your Horse - for maneuvers like Lead Changes and overall improved performance.

Improve Overall Flexibility and Suppleness - for both sides of the horse so one side is not stiffer than the other.

Keeps The Horse Attentive - to the rider and removes the horse 'thinking ahead' of the rider.

The Other Half - Improve Rider's Ability

Counter cantering really improved my riding skills tremendously.  It improved my accuracy of my lead changes and how to fix problems. I felt more confident. My horse was more balanced and we were able to do a great, difficult skill.

I would recommend using draw reins or a german martingale when doing the exercise. It helps the rider to concentrate on getting the horse to counter canter easily and not having to work on the face at the same time. Makes this easier for everyone.

My Counter-Canter Funny:
Sometime after I had become proficient at the counter canter, I was observing what riders were doing for warm up at a reining show. One of the first coaches I ever had started talking about their warm up program and I was interested in hearing how it had changed since I was their student.
I joined the conversation and mentioned about doing figure 8s and loping on the wrong lead for the 2nd loop or circle. The former coach jumped in to insult me and said: "oh because you don't know you're on the wrong lead." and I said "no", I wanted to counter canter. I was elated to see the look of surprise and bewilderment on the former coach's face. My decision to move on was a good thing.

Updated from original article January 25th, 2015.

Putting my spin on Counter Cantering
@KISS Reiners