Quick Home Search

Looking to Improve Your Horsemanship?

Aren’t we all?  As equestrians, we know the learning never ends.  I have a friend who just started taking riding lessons as an adult.  She is a voracious learner and is always striving to be her best in all realms.  I mentioned that I was going to take a lesson over the weekend and she questioned, “you still take lessons?  Haven’t you been riding most of your life?”  Of course I still take lessons and not enough!  Not that I am anywhere near the Olympic level, but yes, even Olympic equestrians take lessons, and a lot of them.  There is always room for improvement.  In contract to other sports, equestrians are working to partner with at 1000+ pound animal, the only domestic animal that could still survive in the wild, with its own thoughts and ideas.

One of my personal goals is to improve my riding and my level of horsemanship this year.  So far, I have been to a four-day clinic and two, two-day clinics.  They have improved my riding significantly and there is real value in the intensive attention and saddle time you and your horse receive at a clinic as well as what we learn from watching others with different horses.

If stepping up your horsemanship is one of your goals this year, here is the perfect opportunity!  Nationally known clinician Kip Fladland is coming to the Event Center at Jeffco Fairgrounds in Golden September 15-17th.  Last year, several area riders who have travelled in previous years to Kip’s home in Iowa for clinics, brought Kip to put on a clinic at a private venue in Conifer.   This year Andrew and I have picked up the reins, so to speak, to bring Kip back again.

Born and raised in Montana, for the last 30 years Kip has devoted his life to working with and riding horses on several large Montana ranches as well as at his place in Iowa.  While working in Montana, Kip met Buck Brannaman and attended several of his clinics.  Buck asked Kip to join him on the road as a clinician, which Kip did for 5 years.

Following his time with Buck on the road, Kip was eager to use the skills he had learned to work with starting colts under saddle as well as problem horses.  He works with all breeds including quarter horses, thoroughbreds, warmbloods, gaited breeds and mules.  These horses go on to compete in dressage, hunter/jumpers, three day eventing, reining, cow horse, cutting and of course as working ranch horses and trail horses.

In his 15 years of teaching clinics, Kip has found great satisfaction in facilitating people to communicate better, have fun and enjoy their horses more, no matter the discipline.  Across the country, Kip has found that the issue that riders struggle with the most is lateral bend according to their horse’s feet.

Kips wife Missy is a dressage trainer who also seeks to emulate the horsemanship masters such as Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance and Buck Brannaman.   Missy has several regional and national titles in addition to earning her USDF Bronze and Silver medals on horses that she has trained and brought up the levels on her own.

Two, three day classes will be offered September 15-17.  You can do one class or both.  Registration is now open and ends on September 1st.  Lunch will be served and auditors are welcome!

  1. Groundwork will be from 9am-12pm all three mornings. This class focuses on groundwork exercises and ends with time in the saddle.
  2. Horsemanship 1 will be from 130-430pm all three afternoons. This is the perfect class for all levels of horses, riders and disciplines.

Think you are too green or maybe too advanced?  Not true!  No matter your level or your horse’s, the format and foundational principles embedded in this clinic will improve your horsemanship and communication with your horse.  Don’t miss this chance to advance your skills!

Read these reviews from other Kip clinic participants:

Kip Fladland’s teaching style for both the horse and human has brought me greater insight in to offering a feel to my horses.  Kip’s direction to riders both in the ground work and under saddle, supports and helps the horse clearly comprehend what is being asked of them.  His positive encouraging style of communication keeps me searching for a more refined connection with my horses.  His willingness to adjust an explanation, or explain a feel offered to a horse by the rider is insightful and has helped me understand better what a horse needs weather it’s a dressage maneuver, jumping a fence, gathering cattle in open country, or roping calves, this information they offer to teach will bring your horse to a place where they try to connect with you. Kip’s lessons will inspire you to find a deeper understanding of your horse no matter what your level as a rider or discipline of horsemanship.  Katie, Illinois

I really enjoyed and learned so much riding in Kip’s clinic!  He’s a fantastic horseman, perfect gentleman, gives individual attention, has a great sense of humor and makes learning fun.  The creative exercises that he taught were very helpful and made me think “outside the box”. Participating in his clinic improved my horsemanship. He’s the “real deal”, never boring, and always looking out for the horse’s best interests.  I’m looking forward to riding in his September clinic.  Liz Olde, Colorado

Kip is a great instructor and is able to explain things in a clear, concise, and constructive way. I wouldn’t miss a chance to ride with him!  Kelly, Colorado

I have been privileged to participate in two Kip Fladland clinics, both with and without cattle, and I have returned home chock full of new exercises and ideas for my horse time. Kip is well-educated, yet easy to understand, and is able to teach to young and old, beginner as well as advanced. My 10-year-old daughter rode with him this year as a birthday gift, and was so proud that he didn’t talk down to her!  He’s got a great sense of humor and has seen and done it all as it pertains to the horse world, but he also takes the time to get to know both you and your horse during the time you spend with him, both in and out of the saddle. Kip is a gift, and is only a stranger the first time you meet him, so prepare to gain a wax mustache, real deal cowboy friend when you ride with him!  Courtney, Colorado

Spots are limited!  Call today with any questions and to reserve your spot!  Stalls & RV hookups available with reservations at Jeffco Fairgrounds in Golden, CO 303-271-6600. Hotels and restaurants within 5 minutes of venue. See lariataranch.com for more information on Kip. Enter both classes or just one. $450/class, $150 non-refundable deposit to reserve your spot. Auditors $25.  Organizers:  Heather & Andrew McWilliams 303-638-0994.

Dominique Barbier Clinic

Summer Event Calendar!

What are you and your horse going to do during our amazing Colorado summers?  Have a horse-crazy kid?  This is the time of year to start making your plans!  Here is a list of horse related activities for our area.  More detailed information can be found under the Event tab or at the website specified.  Also under Event tab – find, add or even sync to your own calendar.   Learn something or go somewhere new!

COLORADO HORSECARE FOODBANK, horsefoodbank.org, 303-670-1474.

Flowers for Food!  Going on now!  Get exceptionally gorgeous flowers, raised in the mountains at competitive prices.  Your pots or ours.

Cattle Drive & Trail Ride – May 16-18, Friday – Sunday at Colorado Cattle Company’s 10,000 acre ranch.  Registration ending soon!

Hay Bales & Horse Tails – October 3.  Incredible annual fundraiser,  Jeffco Fairgrounds.

CAMPS

Anchorage Farm, Pine, centaurrising.org, 303-838-5086.

Basic Horse Camps (ages 8-15 )

June 10-12, June 17-19, June 24-26, July 8-10. July 29-31

Little Kids Camps (ages 5-7)

June 10-12, July 8-10, July 29-31

Intensive Horse Camps (8 & Up)

June 17-19, July 29-31

Dressage Camps (8 & Up)

July 15-17, August 5-7

Family & Kids Horsemanship Camps, Llaves, New Mexico, jubileehorse.com.

Amazing opportunity to enjoy your horses or theirs, thousands of acres of National Forest and learn something         while you are at it with local trainer, Julie Phillips.

 

CLINICS

COLORADO CORRAL RANCH RACE /WESTERN DRESSAGE CLINIC & COMPETITION – Evergreen Rodeo Grounds. See Shows for September 14th. MtnHomes4Horses.com, 303-638-0994.

September 13

COLORADO CORRAL RANCH RACE CLINIC – with Tucker Black.

WESTERN DRESSAGE CLINIC – With Train The Trainers TM Instructor, Kelly Hendricks.

 

HarmonyHorseworks, Conifer, harmonyhorseworks.com.

ESCT or PEAT Clinics and Beginner lessons – Heal the spooky horse and fearful rider.   Flexible schedule.

 

Tucker Black Clinics, Red Hawk Ranch, Conifer, tuckerblackhorsemanship.com.  303-870-8389.

April 26 Horsemanship 1 and Trail Course. One or both.
May 10   Horsemanship 2 and Trail Course. One or both.
June 21  Introduction to Working Cows
July 19   Cow Work

HORSE SHOWS

4-H Open (anyone/all age groups can participate)  – English/Western/Trail/Gymkhanas:

May 11 – Harry Horse Show, Westernaire Arena, Jeffco Fairgrounds.

May 18 – Arvada Hoofprints, Westernaire Arena, Jeffco Fairgrounds.

June 22 – Horse Feathers, Evergreen Rodeo Arena.

July 12 & 13 – Pleasant Park Clinic & Show, Mckeever Arena, Conifer.

July 20 – Jeffco Rangers/Wranglers, Rodeo Arena, Jeffco Fairgrounds.

July 27 – Ranch Race 4-H Clinic 8-10am, 10am-12pm & Open Competition. 1230pm – ~530pm.

August 7 – Jeffco County Fair – English/Western/Trail, Rodeo Arena.

August 8 – Jeffco County Fair – Gymkhana, Rodeo Arena.

September 28 – 4-H Fun Show, Table View Arena, Jeffco Fairgrounds.

Centaur Rising RMDS Dressage Shows:

Anchorage Farm, Pine, centaurrising.org, 303-838-5086.

July 20: #1

August 10: #2

COLORADO CORRAL RANCH RACE/WESTERN DRESSAGE COMPETITION – Evergreen Rodeo Grounds.(past Ranch Race Slide Shows at YouTube channel, MtnHomes4Horses).  See Clinics for September 13th.  MtnHomes4Horses.com, 303-638-0994.

September 14

DRESSAGE Schooling Show – Ride-a-Test Format, USDF Judge.

Open to Ride English, Western or Gaited.

RANCH RACE COMPETITION – All ages & levels.  

MEETINGS – Educational

Buffalo Bill Saddle Club, Jeffco Fairgrounds 7-930pm, bbscgolden.org

2nd Wednesday’s 7-930pm at Jeffco Fairgrounds.

Intermountain Horse Association, Beau Jos Meeting Room 630-8pm, Evergreen.  Intermountainhorse.org.

3rd Tuesdays – April 15, May 20, Summer off, September 16, etc.

TRAIL RIDING

Buffalo Bill Saddle Club – see ride & camping schedule online at bbscgolden.org.  Too many to list!

Colorado Corral Trail Rides – email [email protected] to get on the trail ride email list.  Casual riding with friends at local parks every couple of weeks.

Front Range Backcountry Horsemen, frontrangebackcountryhorsemen.org for information:

May 16 & 17 – Indian Creek Camp & Work Ride

June 6-8 – Girl’s Camping Trip

June 28 – Captain Mountain Work Day, 50th Anniversary

July 18-26 – Colorado Trail Ride

September 6 – Wilderness Walk, Evergreen

Intermountain Horse Association Poker Ride, intermountainhorse.com.

September 6 – Details TBD.

North American Trail Ride Conference, NATRC.org, volunteers and new riders welcome!

May 3-4, 17 – Clinics – Eckert & Larkspur.

May 24 & 25 – Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs.

June 7 & 8 – Colorado Trail, Buffalo Creek.

July 19-20 – Willow Springs, Jefferson.

RANCH SORTING

Evergreen Ranch Sorters:  Saturdays 10am-12pm, June – Late Fall: Reffel’s Arena, Pine, details at evergreenranchsorters.com.  Non-members welcome! 

RODEO

Evergreen Parade & Rodeo Weekend, Evergreen Rodeo Grounds, evergreenrodeo.com.

Saturday 14 – 10am Parade, 2pm Rodeo (with Muttin Bustin)

Sunday 15 – 2pm Rodeo (with Muttin Bustin)

Volunteers Needed for Parade and Rodeo!  Go to Volunteer tab on website.

Considering Clinics – A Lifetime of Learning

In our everyday interactions, horses always have something new to teach us.   If we are actively seeking to further our knowledge of a particular horse discipline, riding in or auditing a clinic is an excellent way to do so.  Clinics are usually individual events that last anywhere from one day up to several days and feature a nationally or even internationally known expert in a specific field of riding.  Some examples of types of clinics are Cutting, Dressage, Jumping, Driving, De-Spooking, Eventing, Reining, Horsemanship and Trail.

In 2010, the High Plains Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Dressage Society brought Dressage trainer, breeder and judge, Hilda Gurney, to 8th Heaven Farms in Castle Rock for a Symposium November 6th and 7th.  Hilda breeds, rides, and trains out of her Keen Ridge Farm in Moorpark, California and has a long list of achievements, including the an Olympic team bronze medal, and individual gold and silver, and three team gold medals at the Pan American Games, 6 USET National Grand Prix Championships, and 15 USDF Horse of the Year titles.  In this recent clinic with Hilda, horse and rider teams were selected from a number of applicants to ride at each of the nine Dressage levels: Training through Grand Prix.  The clinic was designed to have Hilda work with each horse and rider team and also include the auditors in the education process.

Evergreen resident, Deborah Carter, and her fabulous seventeen-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, La Vie Nouveaux, were selected to ride at the Prix St. Georges level.  La Vie, by the celebrated Dutch stallion Voltaire, was imported by Deborah from Holland in 2002.  La Vie is not only an amazing athlete, with an elegant style all his own, but also a perfect gentleman to be around.  Deborah is an accomplished Dressage rider, earning many awards throughout the last 25 years in the sport.   She has worked with such top clinicians as Steffen Peters, Debbie McDonald, Axel Steiner, Jan Ebeling, and Peter Borggreve.  In 2009, after showing successfully in Prix St. Georges, Deborah and La Vie were schooling Intermediare-1 in preparation for the 2010 show season; however, a tendon injury temporarily sidelined La Vie for the first six months of this year.  This clinic with Hilda Gurney was a great way for the pair to get back on track for 2011.  In this article, Deborah will help us to look at the benefits of attending clinics, as well as how to choose a clinician.

Clinic Benefits –  With horses, no matter your length of experience, education or knowledge, there is something new to learn every day.  Regarding the riding aspect, Deborah states, “any sport, especially a horse sport, if you are going to be serious and competitive about it, requires that you pursue your education.”  That education is really multi-faceted.   You have the work and the relationship you build on a daily basis with your horse at home, the foundation that you learn and build upon with your regular trainer, and the specialized knowledge you gain from participation in clinics.

By auditing and attending clinics, “you have the opportunity to work with someone who has extensive experience and specific expertise, either as a successful international competitor, a member of the U.S Equestrian or Olympic Teams, or a Dressage judge.  Such individuals have learned, seen, and experienced so much and they have brought so many horses along themselves.  Often they have increased their skills and education though successful breeding operations, judges programs and improving their own skills at riding and training.  It is somewhat like going to a brain surgeon instead of a general practitioner.”

Another benefit of going to a clinic is that it helps you and your horse get over ‘stage fright’.  Deborah states, “preparation for, and participation in, a clinic setting elevates all of the nerves and performance anxieties of both athletes, so it is almost like going to a show.  You have a bigger crowd watching you.  More is riding on your performance.  It helps you get better at overcoming ‘show nerves’, so your horse doesn’t feel you tensing up when you enter a show ring.”  In addition, your horse becomes more accustomed to being in a different environment with new objects, loud speakers, other horses, activity and spectators.

Deborah considers working with a local trainer on a consistent basis to be an imperative aspect of an individual’s training program.  However, in our region, clinics can be a great complement.   Deborah explains, “Colorado is an interesting place because we don’t have an abundance of local trainers with national or international experience.  We have some excellent trainers, and you can get a solid foundation of the basics and what you need to move up the levels with your equine partner if you work with someone with whom you get along and knows your style of riding, your horse’s capabilities, the goals to which you aspire to.  But we Dressage riders her in Colorado are blessed with many top visiting  clinicians and if you budget for this enhanced learning opportunity, you can increase your education. You can take certain revelations or exercises away from what you learn at a clinic that you then can plug into your work at home and your work with your local trainer.  It is really a whole different aspect of your and your horses continuing education.”  The key to getting the most benefit out of a clinic is choosing the right clinician for you and your horse.

Choosing A Clinician – Even though there is something to learn from everyone, it is important to choose a clinician thoughtfully.  For Deborah, she seeks out “clinicians that have the qualities I would want to have as a rider and a trainer:  understanding the horse, being kind and fair to the horse, but being precise and clear in my communication.  You must strive to be very specific about body position and movement and the way you educate and correct mistakes.”  In order to make her selection, she may first go watch a potential clinician compete and ride or watch them in videos.  She has often had the opportunity to be riding with these same individuals in the same show warm-up ring prior to a test.  This way she can see what parts of their program apply to her and appear to be qualities that she wants to assimilate.  People who are good clinician candidates inspire her to say, “I want to look like that, I want to ride like that.  I want my horse to go that way.”  Deborah adds, “I (like to) see the horses that they ride in their barns so I can see if they are happy or stressed.  That is a big thing for me.  I don’t want to force a horse through all of this and have an unhappy, stressed horse.  I have a partner.  That means something, and I want to develop that partnership over the years.“

Also consider finding clinicians who come yearly or regularly so they become familiar with you and your horse.  They then can develop and understanding of where you are at, how you have progressed, and where you need to go from here.  On the other hand, avoid clinicians who ride differently or treat their horses differently than you would want to.  Or people who ride or train in a way that you wouldn’t or couldn’t, perhaps because of their physical attributes alone.  These less well-suited clinicians, while still potentially very successful, talented, or helpful for some, are not going to be the right fit to help you take the pieces and plug them into your own training program.  Plus, if you choose to go to several different clinicians, pick those with a similar training approach and ethic.  Going to many clinicians with different styles may give conflicting messages to you and your horse.  Instead, find programs that can build upon each other, one to the next.

No matter who you are, one sign of a true horse person is the humility they possess toward the horses and all that goes with them.  Challenge yourself to continue to learn and become a better rider and caretaker of our magnificent horses.  In closing, Deborah states, “These horses are a gift.  Having them in our lives is a privilege that we need to safeguard and take care of them.  They give us so much.”

Deborah and her husband Mark have three incredible kids, four horses, five dogs, three cats, numerous fish and a love of family, friends and travel.  Deborah is intentional, thoughtful and a consummate professional in whatever she does – parenting, Dressage, painting, photography, quilting, hay farming, law, and “hands on” equine health and wellness care; just to name a few. 

Heather McWilliams (c) 2014.