Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Baby Boomer Learns Arabian Halter

With the recent posts What's Up with Arabian Halter? Good, Bad, Ugly? about the video of the Scottsdale Show halter class, the timing was great to be doing some posts about the mechanics behind Arabian halter. Wouldn't you know, life jumped up and provided a clinic offered by the Daffodil Arabian Horse Assc on March 8 & 9 at Dana Arabians in Roy WA. The clinician, Mike Neal of Delavan, WI is one of the "big boys" of halter.

How I came to the point that I was even interested in attending halter clinics has been kind of a twisted road. I started off as one of those people who believed that this method of showing could only be accomplished by abusing the horse. Because of that I had no interest in showing halter.

It took me a while to learn that abuse wasn't necessary. But even once I realized that halter could be fun for the horse, I didn't really put much effort into learning how to show in that division. Then the time came where I learned that the basics for halter were actually good basics for all of my horses. Having the kind of control it takes to show in halter has a huge impact on how horses behave on the ground and under saddle.At that point learning how to properly do halter became important to me.

Most of what I've learned about horses I've learned by watching or going to clinics. Fortunately for me in regards to halter, I came across Kelly and Larry Alcorn who were able to get it through my thick head that the horses didn't have to be abused. They were the ones to fix Legs after he had been abused So now I had a horse who knew how to do halter but I still knew nothing about training or showing in this division.

After Kelly and Larry I crossed paths with Jean Frieday Keilman. She helped me enough to get me through Legs's Region 5 Amateur Owner Halter Championship. The horse stood up great for me. I knew the cues but didn't know how to accomplish the training. Then later Jean gave me enough lessons to learn the basics of setting feet for a halter stance. It took some practicing but I've gotten really comfortable with teaching a horse how to set its feet.

It wasn't really until last year at this time, however, that I got serious about wanting to show in halter. The Mike Neal clinic was set for this same time last year and I was all signed up with two horses to go when Mike got very sick and doctors forced him to cancel his trip.Because Mike had to cancel just days before the clinic, Eric Krichten came in as a substitute for Mike Neal.

I wrote about Eric in One Halter Trainer with Integrity and Class Obviously, I have a lot of respect for Eric and I was pleased to take a clinic with him. Looking back through my posts, I can't believe I didn't do a post about that clinic. Guess that shows that I've not really felt all that comfortable explaining the mechanics of showing Arabian halter.

I learned an important step about the process through that clinic with Eric. That was the importance of backing the horse and how to keep the horse straight in that process. Grooming and conditioning horses for Eric for a couple of years, I saw him work on backing lots of horses but never quite understood what it was all about until that clinic last year.

Then in the fall, Daffodil sponsored the Jesse Saldana clinic At that clinic I was able to learn about teaching the horse to elevate. By this time I was getting pretty close to feeling like I had a clue what I was supposed to be doing with my horse both schooling and in the ring.

I've only recently reached the point were I feel comfortable that I know what I need to know to show successfully in this division. While I don't have all the answers, I now know enough to be confident. The finishing touches on this confidence came by way of this recent clinic with Mike Neal.

The timing of this clinic was perfect for me. I had just gotten to the point I had all the parts but I needed to know how to put them together in the most effective way so my horses and I can be competitive. I'm going to post about Mike Neal and his five point method of training halter horses in the next several posts. I figure if I do it while it's still fresh in my mind I won't forget anything important.

to be continued........

Meet Mike Neal

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  1. GREAT post! Can't wait to read more!! :)

  2. Thanks for doing this series, MiKael. The extent of my training in halter has been the breeder spending ten minutes with me telling me what to expect, but not how to train the horse for halter. I can appreciate how much preparation is involved to show halter.

  3. I will be looking forward to learning more about halter classes, as I know nothing about them. I always like to learn new things so this should be an interesting series. Thanks for always doing different things for us to read about.

  4. *sigh* I have so much to learn about these horsies that I love so much...

    PS Who is the stunning arab in the pic... I may have drooled a little.

  5. equinespirit, I'm glad your interested in reading more. I was hoping I wasn't going to be boring folks with halter posts. lol

    nuzzling muzzles, some trainers make it look so easy. You'd think there wasn't much training at all.

    grey horse matters, I can't believe I'm actually doing posts on halter but there were so many comments about that video, I thought maybe there was enough interst. We'll see.......

    lovelee, that would be Storm. He is my halter guniea pig. He's the horse I took to the clinic. 6 yo stallion.

  6. Thanks for visting my Blog.

    Beautiful pictures of your Horses!