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Rising to the top

Mike Berg and Outta Dough win Cactus Reining Open Derby title

From Horsetrader staff reports - April 1st, 2010

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Mike Berg has liked Outta Dough, the 5-year-old stallion he began training in early 2007, since the moment he laid eyes on him at a 2006 NRHA Futurity Sale. It’s not just the big stops, it’s that little extra about him – the “X” factor.
“He’s one of those horses that just has a presence,” says Berg, 39, who along with wife Christy operate Berg Performance Horses in Temecula. “When he walks into the pen, he makes folks pay attention.”

The attention on Berg and Outta Dough rose markedly March 6 at the Cactus Reining Classic in Scottsdale, where they outdueled a world-class field of reiners and came away the big money-winners. With a 227 score, they captured the $30,000-added Open and $10,000-added Intermediate Open, sending them home with $15,669 in earnings.

HITS Thermal ends; Doddridge is Hunter Circuit Champion

Rising star is 1st, 2nd in first adult-am season

From Horsetrader staff reports - April 1st, 2010
Melissa Doddridge, who rides under trainer Tracy Baer in Huntington Beach, claimed the 2010 HITS Desert Champion Hunter title on Bentley.

Flying Horse photo

Melissa Doddridge, who rides under trainer Tracy Baer in Huntington Beach, claimed the 2010 HITS Desert Champion Hunter title on Bentley.

THERMAL – Canadian grand prix jumper riders made headlines throughout the HITS Desert Circuit this winter, but in the end, joining them in the show’s Parade Of Champions was a California teen-ager who rose to the top of the hunter competition.

Doddridge went head-to-head against seasoned rider John French in the weekly $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derbies, and on Sunday, March 14, Doddridge catapulted ahead of French in overall prize money when she piloted three horses to ribbons in the feature class for hunters.

The Tustin rider took the blue ribbon aboard Best Man, the red on Delux, and she also grabbed sixth place on Bentley en route to pushing her total winnings in the popular two-round Derby to more than $16,000. Doddridge’s “Super Sunday” earned her the HITS Desert Classic Circuit Champion with Bentley and the Reserve Champion with Best Man.

Steffen Peters and Ravel

Horsetrader photo

Steffen Peters and Ravel

DEL MAR – Almost a year from their historic World Cup championship in Las Vegas last April, dressage stars Steffen Peters and Ravel set a personal best 77.660 percent to win the Grand Prix CDI at the Dressage Affaire, held March 12-14.

The victory, by nine percentage points over Adrienne Lyle aboard Wizard, continues their 2010 campaign toward the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games this September in Lexington, KY. After demonstrating at the Del Mar Arena that he and the 12-year-old KWPN gelding are well prepared for any competition, Peters plans to compete close to home until the selection trials in August.

“We will not travel to Europe this summer,” said Peters, 44, who emigrated to the U.S. at age 20 from Germany. “But, I do want Ravel to stay sharp. I will compete with him at the Del Mar CDI and later in the San Diego chapter’s summer shows. It is not good to keep a horse out of the competition arena for too long.”

WEG money grows: Top 15 reining teams to split $100,000

From the Newstrader - April 1st, 2010

LEXINGTON, KY. – Come this fall at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, it will be all about the teams, the countries they represent — and the money that will be won.

To increase reining team participation in the Games, the Federation Equestre Internationale has increased the payout. This year, the team reining competition will pay a $100,000 purse to 15 places, while the individual finals will pay out to 20 places. Countries that haven’t yet met the FEI requirements for a full team can still apply for wild-card status. The Games will be held Sept. 25-Oct. 10.

Craig Cameron makes music in Road to the Horse win

Scruffy Palomino 'Troubadour' heads to California

Special to the Horsetrader - April 1st, 2010
Craig Cameron's third Road to the Horse competition was the charm, winning in 2010.

Sara Bewley photo /
Road to the Horse

Craig Cameron's third Road to the Horse competition was the charm, winning in 2010.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The third time to the Road to the Horse was the charm for Craig Cameron, a Texas cowboy who chose a shaggy Palomino from 10 untouched 3-year olds and went on win the 2010 Road to the Horse Championship of Colt Starting on March 7.

“I always say, ‘Ride like a champion,’” said Cameron, who outdueled Ken McNabb and defending champion Richard Winters of Ojai. “Well, today I can finally say it and be it.”
The geldings came off the Wood Ranch in Heber Springs, Ark., and Cameron’s winning colt, registered to the AQHA as WR Shining Alamo, was one horse Craig thought nobody else would pick.

Friendly at the onset, the colt ended up challenging Cameron. But But by the end of Saturday’s 90-minute training session, Cameron had haltered the colt and taught him to yield his hindquarters.

It’s time! Broken Horn’s Annual All-English Sale arrives

From Horsetrader sales staff - April 1st, 2010

Grab your breeches—Its Broken Horn’s Third Annual ALL ENGLISH SALE! For two days only, April 17-18, you’ll find everything English 10 to 50 percent. You’ll find $20,000 in English saddles, English tack that is 20-50 percent off plus savings throughout the store. To add a little excitement and fun to this event, there will be hourly and grand prize drawings for thousands of dollars in merchandise, including three English saddles. However, in order to enter the drawings, you MUST WEAR ENGLISH RIDING ATTIRE (or present a photo of yourself in English riding attire)! So mark your calendar and plan on joining the friendly and knowledgeable staff at Broken Horn’s All English Sale this month! For more info and directions, see the Broken Horn ad on pages 52-53.

Dear Dana: Do you have budget tips for my show plans this year?

By DANA HOKANA / Horsetrader columnist - March 31st, 2010

DEAR DANA: I really want to show more than I did last year, but cost is a factor for me. Do you have any budget tips for the adult amateur?
–Betty Nugent, Arizona

DEAR BETTY: Many people are watching their costs of showing this year, and I don’t know a lot about you, but I can tell you some things that my clients and I are doing to watch our spending:

1. Get your goals in mind and only go to shows that will support you reaching your goals.

2. Do your best to go and show where you are giving yourself the best shot to be successful. I look at things like (1) the judges (Are they good for you and your horse?), (2) the facility (Is it one that you can prepare your horse well to be successful? and (3) the classes (Are they good-sized so you get the points that you want or need?)

3. Check prices carefully. I just recently considered going to an out-of-state show because the stalls and entry fees were less than at my local shows. The RV spots were also a lot less. By the time I factored in the extra fuel and travel time, I figured I would still spend less than at a local show and I knew the classes were big and there would be a lot of points. So, carefully check all fees — including all the little charges.

4. Do your best to have your horse really schooled and ready before you go so that you reap the most success that you possibly can.

5. You may consider smaller, one-day shows that you can go to. Close to where I live, there are many local organizations that give great year-end awards. You may choose to go for some of those year- end awards and forego some longer breed shows.

Hope these tips give you help! Good luck to you.

DEAR DANA: In your DVD,  you say the horse can get “clutchy”… could you explain what that means?   Is it the movement of the horse?
— Tonya Schnell, Boonville, MO

DEAR TONYA: “Clutchy” is a word that I have used for years, somewhat mindlessly because obviously many people don’t know what it means.  I would guess “clutchy” came from someone incorrectly using the clutch in a car, where they would surge forward and backward and be rough or not very smooth!  But my definition of “clutchy” is a horse that feels the pressure of the leg and shuts down or “clutches” through his movement.  I believe that incorrect use of spur control has created a lot of horses with this appearance. Most horses that become “clutchy” through their legs and in their movement will also become tight or intimidated-looking in their head and neck. One of the challenges of correct spur control is to prevent our subtle leg cues from being evident through the horse’s profile and movement.  A “clutchy” horse will often tell on the rider through his legs, his head, and his neck.  This usually stems from a lack of acceptance to the leg cue.

I hope this answered your question!


Have your own question for Dana? If so, click here! If your question is used in “Dear Dana”, you will be entered into a monthly drawing for a FREE “Winning Strides” DVD!

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What is the best way to teach a rider to be light in the hands?

By RAY ARISS / Horsetrader columnist - March 31st, 2010

HEY RAY!: What is the best way to teach a rider to be light in the hands? Children always tend to be harder in the horse’s mouth, and I know this can lead to a horse that will take the bit and pull threw.
— Victoria Jensen, Cleveland, TN

HEY VICTORIA: I know exactly what you mean since I have six of my own children ranging from 4 to 16 years of age. There are a lot of things that you can do. One exercise that the beginner rider should first experience is riding with no reins at all. The safest way is by lunging them. Allow them to hold on first. Later, they should be able to ride off the seat of their pants with no hands.

After they achieve an independent seat and confidence, try this next: Take one of the reins off the bridle. This is a good exercise — providing the horse knows how to give to pressure — and stop by flexing. This teaches the inexperienced rider that when things are going well, (i.e. horse is moving straight and maintaining an adequate cadence and stride) hanging on the rein will change what is already working. They recognize quickly that staying out of the horse’s face not only makes the horse happy but it keeps him moving in the right direction! When you only have one rein and the horse only direct reins or plow reins, the options you have are turning in that one direction or flexing to a stop. It might be a good idea to practice these two exercises with the rider first, before turning them loose.

This is also a great exercise for young horses that have trouble rating themselves. The moment they begin to go too fast, the only option the rider has — inexperienced or not — is to flex them to a stop, which happens to be the right thing to do. For those horses that can actually neck rein, this exercise allows the rider to direct rein in one direction and neck rein in the other.

Riders should practice this exercise equally on both sides of the bit. You know you’ve practiced enough when control is no longer an issue. It will be obvious when you achieve the timing and feel necessary to make it look easy. You should not give both reins back to the young rider until he or she clearly sees the value and importance of keeping the horse comfortable in his mouth. Don’t hesitate to take back a rein if bad habits reoccur. Remember, it’s hard to hang on a horse’s mouth when you only have one rein.

If you actually have a horse that has learned that the only way to defend himself is by rooting (pulling threw the bit downward), try this:

Back him with his poll up while pulling back on both reins equally and releasing the moment he steps back a step or two. This will deliver the picture he needs to see in order to discourage him from continuing that behavior. Continue this process until there are no signs of pulling down on the part of the horse. Don’t forget to reward for each and every rein back. It’s important not to release the rein after the horse steps back, if he falls behind the vertical. You don’t want to reward evading the bit. You may want to refer to my previous HEY RAY! COLUMN (What exactly is “ On The Bit”). Manipulate the reins in such a way that he feels light when the poll is up after the horse steps back, before releasing. There are two ways your horse will feel light in your hands. One is by evading the bit by falling behind the vertical, and the other is by staying connected but in self carriage. The latter will prove more beneficial for your horse. If at any moment while doing this exercise you feel unsafe or threatened, flex to a stop and reevaluate your options.

Victoria, on behalf of every horse with a shy mouth, I thank you for your question! Remember always to trust your instincts, and think safe.


Horsetrader columnist Ray Ariss, husband to Pippa Ariss and father of six, shares his insight into the relationship of horseand human twice each month, in print and on www.horsetrader.com. He lives and trains in “Horsetown USA”, Norco, Calif., at his bustling Starbrite Riding Academy, where he currently has 50 horses in various stages of training, including Andalusians, Friesians, Quarter Horses, Paints, Thoroughbreds, Arabs, Mustangs and more. Ray attributes his training success to the support of his wife and partner, Pippa, and a system he calls S.W.A.P., to which he credits his multiple championships in several disciplines. His passionate understanding of the “human-horse” relationship was evident when he took on the challenge of training a wild Mustang and — in just 100 days — produced the highest-priced adopted Mustang ever — $50,000. Does your “horse-human relationship” leave you with a question for Ray? Click here to submit one!