Sunday, November 4, 2007

My Take on the Jesse Saldana Clinic for Arabian Horses

As I posted yesterday Rachel and Grandma and my Arabian horses went off to a clinic this weekend. The clinic was sponsored by the Daffodil Arabian Horse Assc at Creekwood Farms in Puyallup, WA. The featured clinician was Jesse Saldana of Santa Rosa, CA

Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know that I'm not just passionate about the Arabian horse, I am passionate about the way that horses, all horses, are treated. I have expressed in such posts as Are You a Good Advocate for Your Horse and Speaking Out Against Horse Abuse my strong opinions about how I think horses should be treated and trained.

As a breeder the last thing that I want is one of my horse children to go off to a trainer or owner who uses force and intimidation to cram a horse into a frame. That's one of the reasons that I do most of my own training. I don't have to worry about how my horse is being treated or trained.

For me to be able to accomplish this, I have relied on clinics with big name trainers to help keep me on track in developing my training abilities. Over the years, I have participated in clinics sponsored by the Daffodil Arabian Horse Assc with such clinicians as Bobby Hart Jr, Bill Porcher, Tommy Garland and Brett Becker. This year's clinician, Jesse Saldana, was actually at my suggestion to the Daffodil board.

In past clinics, I have learned many things. Some that I was willing to take home and try with my horses and others that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. Not to mention the fact that I would probably assualt (figuratively) anyone who tried to perpetuate those later things on my horses.

Over the years, I have seen Jesse Saldana show Arabian horses from time to time in halter and western pleasure at the Region 4 Arabian shows. During those times it always appeared to me that the horses seemed to be happy and doing their job well. However, I had never met the trainer before the clinic this weekend, my recommendation had been based on my few observations and a request by a friend.

Trusting that friend, I actually took five horses and my granddaughter to participate in this clinic. I hoped to find a clinician who's techniques would fall within my parameters of fairness to the horse. I don't care whether it's labelled natural horsemanship, horse whispering or vodoo as long as it's reasonable and fair for the horse.

I have to say that Jesse Saldana fit all of my criteria and more. Not only was he good with my horses and my dyslexic granddaughter, he was good with each and every horse and rider/handler thatparticipated. It didn't matter what the horse's or rider's problems might be, he dealt with them all the same. He dealt with any and all questions with the same consideration.

Jesse's demeanor was always thoughtful and calm. His instructions were informative and clear. His methodology was quiet and easy for both the horses and riders to understand. And the most impressive part of all, they were effective.

I witnessed an entire weekend with twenty Arabian or half-Arabian horses at various levels, some with an assortment of problems, where not a single horse was met with any form of harsh treatment. The horses were ridden western or hunter, one was ground driven and a handful done halter. There were no magic tricks, special training methods known only to blah-blah-blah, or pieces of tack designed exclusively for. It was nothing but good honest horsemanship.

Each riding horse was ridden soley by the owner with Jesse on the ground methodically guiding the rider to a softer, more supple horse. From a horse that had only seen the trails, a barely broke 3 year old stallion, to a couple of fried show horses and every thing inbetween, each and every pair was able to attain an impressive improvement within a remarkably short amount of time.

The same was true of the halter horses. Good ole' Arabian halter with its reputation for harsh treatment of the horses to get "expression," was quiet and methodical. All corrections were subtle . Whips, if used at all, were nothing more than an mere extension of an arm for a tap. Not a single halter horse showed even a drop of sweat from stress, nary a possibility of a welt or a wild, scared eye.

They tell me that Jesse Saldana is loved by his amateur riders/handlers and I'm pretty sure I can tell you why. He not only did a wonderful, clear, quiet job of guiding each to her goal but he treated each, even before and after their rides and throughout the weekend, like they were important people that mattered to him.

In my fifteen years of going to clinics only twice have I been treated as anything more than a paying customer before the ride and "now get out of my hair " after the ride. While the treatment was always subtle, it was always clear. The clinicians were there to promote themselves.

That was not the case with Jesse Saldana. Jesse and his wife, Juana, were kind and gracious the entire weekend. They socialized with every person who was there whether the one who hired them or someone who just came to watch and maybe bored them with incessant chatter (like wind bag me). I found them both to be very real people. The kind of people I would be proud to call my friends.

Should Daffodil decide to bring Jesse Saldana back for another clinic would I be there? You're darn right I would. For those members of Region 5 who didn't attend this clinic, you really missed out on a great clinician and a really fun time.

While there are a number of trainers in the country who are considered to be "the experts" in Arabain western, there are a handful who rise like cream to the top. They train the horse to go into the extreme frame required for today's western Arabian show horse without the use of intimidation.

In my opinion, Jesse Saldana is definitely one of that select few. But to find a trainer with that kind of talent with the horses, passion for the Arabian horse AND who really cares about his clients as people makes him indeed a rare bird! So for anyone who loves their horse and wants to be sure it is trained kindly and humanely, I would easily recommend Jesse Saldana.

Tomorrow's post I'll tell Rachel and Grandma and the Arabian Horses story at the Jesse Saldana clinic.


  1. He sounds like a wonderful trainr. It's always awesome to be able to tap the brains of people like these and even better when yo find they are all-round good people

  2. Great post! That sounds like one heck of a fun weekend!

  3. That's a very strong recommendation coming from your experience. Very good.

  4. Now that sounds like one of my type of trainers. I hear so much about the trainers out there that it's scary to even consider sending a horse out to one. Like my Korey man. The lady that was training him when I got him darn near ruined his mind completely. It took months and months to get him back to being the nice gentle calm horse his eyes told me he could be. I never want him to go back even one step in that direction again.

    It sounds like you have a wonderful time at a wonderful clinic.

  5. Sounds like you had fun! It's cool to read about what a great person/trainer/teacher he is, but it's sad that there are so few others you can recommend!

  6. This is great to hear, as you well know I have not had a happy experience with a "trainer" recently and dont think I will ever be able to trust one of my horses to one away from home again, apart from the fact that I can't afford it LOL.


  7. That sounds like it was all that you had hoped for. I've gone through so many crappy trainers in the past. The one I really enjoyed had passed away three years ago from a car accident.