Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at
from Cherry Hill


May 2000

Longeing and Long Lining
Trailering Your Horse
Making, Not Breaking
How To Think
Like A Horse
Longeing and Long Lining the Western Horse
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill
Making Not Breaking by Cherry Hill
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill

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This newsletter is a personal letter from me to you,
a fellow horse owner and enthusiast.

My goal is to send you interesting stories and helpful seasonal tips for your
horse care, training, and riding.

  2000 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!      

     Thanks to many of you who responded to my query in the March and April newsletters about the video topics you'd most like to see covered in our upcoming Cherry Hill Videos.  We compiled all of your comments and suggestions into one huge file and are tabulating your needs and wants!  Thanks again.  You all were very helpful.  

Computer Viruses can be a Nuisance and Devastating      

     During the last month, our newsletter and askcherry computers received 13 e-mail messages with the kak.hta virus attached to the e-mail signatures. It is such a pesky virus that it is impossible to reply to the person to tell them they are sending a virus to everyone they communicate with because every time you highlight the e-mail message, the virus begins to try to attach itself to the Windows Start menu where it does its dirty work. So I encourage you all to invest in an anti-virus program and update it regularly (weekly).  We use Norton Anti-Virus and are very satisfied with its performance but there are other software programs available.    


     Very soon, my 24 year old Quarter Horse mare, Sassy Eclipse, will be foaling. I purchased Sassy from Chris Watson in Arizona when she was 12 months old and had her shipped up to Alberta where we were living at the time. Since then, I've ridden her for years and used her in my books and articles.  She's my cover girl on Stablekeeping.  Sassy has produced Quarter Horse foals as well as a part-bred Selle Francais and two part-bred Trakehner fillies.  This time she is bred to an Akhal Teke stallion.  I'll let you know about the addition to our herd next month.  I'm excited!  By the way, if you have a mare due to foal, I recommend you read "The Complete Book of Foaling" by Dr. Karen Hayes. 



How to Get the Most from Your Lessons or a Clinic
Training Special for Newsletter Recipients Only
New Postings on the Roundup Page
Our Recent Magazine Articles
Coming Attractions 


Have you ever wanted to go to a clinic but didn't know which clinician would be best for you and your horse?

Believe it or not, until last week, except for my dressage lessons from visiting Europeans, I have never attended a clinic. I've given many clinics, and in fact, taught college and university horse training, riding and horse care courses in the US and Canada for ten years as my full-time employment, so I essentially gave several clinics every day!

I am not giving clinics at the present time but I receive many questions from folks that have problems with their horses that would be best solved by working with a qualified instructor or clinician.  In many instances I can't give you the help you need in an e-mail. I can head you in the right direction however.  I figure that one way I might be able to help you is to point you to a suitable trainer, instructor or clinician.  There are quite a few traveling clinicians out there that might be able to help you work with your horses.

First check to see if you have a qualified resident instructor or trainer in your area so you can work with him or her on a regular basis.  Word of mouth is the best way to find this out.  Ask your horse friends, look at bulletin boards at barns and keep your eyes open in your ag papers or regional horse papers.  You can also check the website of the American Riding Instructors Association at where you'll see a complete listing of all ARIA certified instructors.

If you can't find a local trainer or instructor to help you, perhaps one of the many clinics that are offered around the country would be suitable for you. Here's a list of clinicians I'm aware of and links to their web sites clinicians .

How to Get the Most From Your Lessons or a Clinic

When you go to a clinic as an auditor, take a chair, a sack lunch, water, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, a notebook and pencil. Plan to sit quietly and observe every detail, jotting notes.  If the clinician allows questions from the audience, ask him or her to explain rather than "accuse or question" the clinician's methods. 

If someone sits next to you and starts chatting, tell them right away that you prefer not to talk but to watch and listen.  It is a waste of your time and others that chat to pay for a clinic and then spend the time visiting.  And chatting can be disruptive and really is disrespectful to the clinician.

Whether you work with a regular instructor or plan to attend clinics, you will get the most out of your experience if you think about some of the advice I offer in my book, Becoming an Effective Rider partially quoted here:

"A positive and receptive attitude is of paramount importance in your lessons. Keep an open mind and take what your instructor is trying to give you.

It is puzzling why a student with a doubting, negative outlook bothers to take lessons in the first place. Yet a great number of students are this way, often without realizing it. It seems logical that if you are investing your time and money, you should be ready to learn. Listen to your instructor's advice and apply it open-mindedly and diligently during and between lessons. Often, results are not possible in just a few sessions. Switching instructors or methods just when you are getting started may not be wise unless you find you are regressing.

Changing old habits. If you come from a different type of riding, you might be holding on to some of the principles from that discipline — unknowingly or in an attempt to feel comfortable. You must become aware of your old habits in order to change them, or else they will hold you back. Understanding the goals and purposes of your new type of riding, as well as your previous style, will help you change more easily. Most importantly, you must shed the constraints of the familiar and be willing to try a new way of doing things. It is a false security to hold onto something just because it is familiar.

Some students repeat the same pattern over and over because they are unconsciously more comfortable knowing the result of an old technique — even if it is not effective -than with a new one. But often it is just that the student does not know what the result should be or should feel like. Usually it is easier to learn something if you use a totally new procedure than if you try to modify your existing system. But you must be willing to risk in order to win.

Sometimes an instructor will ask you to work your normal routine so she can see your and your horse's skill level and tendencies and evaluate the work you have been doing on your own. Although no instructor wants to make discouraging statements at first about the work, she must at the same time be honest.

If, for example, a rider is applying incorrect aids, then the instructor has an obligation to point it out, even if the student is an accomplished competition winner. If an instructor has substantiated expertise, her observations and constructive suggestions should be respected.

It is best if you do not take comments about yourself or your horse personally. Constructive criticism during a riding lesson is considered an essential part of learning. The criticism should be delivered tactfully, however, never with the intention of belittling you or undermining your confidence. If you are sincere and your instructor ridicules you, for whatever reason, discontinue the lessons and find another instructor.

When receiving warranted, constructive criticism and advice, don't be argumentative. There is a fine line, however, between making excuses and conveying essential information to your instructor about your limitations. If you have a physical problem, state it beforehand so you are not overworked. If you claim a limitation just to get out of working hard, you are losing an opportunity to advance.

Riding is generally a mirror of your character. Your nature will show up in your lessons and in your daily work. Even with proper instruction, if a person has a tendency to be too careful or too aggressive it will show up in her techniques or in her responses to the instructor's comments. If a person does not try to get more balanced within herself, her riding will not change. Something in the person must change or the same tendencies will repeat themselves over and over.

Sometimes a student will say, "This horse hates this exercise." First of all, it is an anthropomorphic trap to assign human emotions to a horse. In actuality, it is the rider who dislikes the work. Once a rider learns the effective use of the aids, the horse's expression changes and both the horse and rider begin to like what was previously either a frustrating or a boring exercise.

In order to get the most out of your lessons, learn to interact with your instructor in the way acceptable to her. Many instructors prefer that you do not talk when you ride. If you are asked, "Do you understand?" or "Do you have any questions?", listen to how you reply. If you say "I think so" or "I don't think so," you are probably speaking with a questioning inflection. Be decisive in your thoughts and words. If you don't understand, say so.

Sometimes because of the noise of your breathing or heartbeat, the squeak of your saddle, the sound of your horse's hooves, or the wind, you cannot hear your instructor. If that is the case, be sure to tell the instructor rather than straining to hear and guessing what you are being asked to do. Your instructor should have the proper equipment to amplify her voice if it is not loud enough for you to hear.

As you receive feedback from your instructor, you will be subconsciously adding to, deleting, modifying, and clarifying the visualization images in your mental checklist. If you are not sure exactly what you are doing correctly when your instructor says "Good," then ask. The same applies, of course, when the instructor calls out for you to change what you are doing. Be sure you understand how much you should move your leg back and when it is just right, so you can register that in your mind-set.

Positive vs. negative lessons. The overall feeling you get during your lesson can be one of positive momentum or a disastrous cycle of mistakes. During a positive lesson you continue building on your successes throughout the lesson, adding new techniques or exercises that build to a greater performance from you and your horse. Your instructor will recognize the optimal time for short breaks. She will also know the best time for the lesson to end on a successful note so that you do not destroy what you have gained by going beyond your energy or skill level.

An interesting phenomenon occurs with many riders during lessons. When the instructor praises the rider, the rider experiences such a sense of elation that there is a relaxation of the aids and things fall apart. During a lesson you need to stay on Earth, concentrating on riding every step even though your instructor's approval may understandably put you on cloud nine.

The lesson with negative momentum may start with a major error followed by a strong remark by your instructor. This arouses a fear in some riders, a fear much greater than falling off — the fear of failing. A riding lesson can be an excellent opportunity for failure. Each person has certain circumstances that make them anxious: outside distractions, the opinions of onlookers, a horse behaving less than perfectly, and so on. If you let these outside influences affect you, you are setting yourself up for failure. You become flustered to the point that you cannot even perform elementary exercises correctly. This happens because external factors have caused you to focus on preserving your self esteem rather than on performing what the instructor is trying to teach you.

When a lesson disintegrates into frustration, the instructor has basically four choices: to take a break; to end the lesson; to push you through the trouble spot if you are mentally and physically able; or to go to less demanding work to reestablish a line of communication. Lesson anxiety usually diminishes once the rider is in good physical shape, the horse is better trained, and both are used to the routine of the instructor and the lessons.

It helps to have a positive attitude but realistic expectations about your progress. While a good instructor can often spot the very thing a horse and rider need to work on in the first lessons and make a significant break-through, this will not happen every lesson. There are exciting milestones but also seemingly endless plateaus where progress may appear to be at a standstill. Here again the instructor's judgment must be trusted. If you have doubts about the qualifications or effectiveness of your instructor, seek the opinion of well-respected professionals in the area. You may find that your performance is poor in part due to your teacher's low expectations of your success. Sports and educational psychologists have found that athletes and students perform to their teachers' expectations of them. If you progress consistently in your work at home and regress during lessons, it may be your instructor's opinion of your ability that is holding you back.

Working with a Clinician

Many of the principles that apply to working with a regular instructor are also appropriate when you ride in a clinic. There is one significant difference, however, between how your regular instructor and a clinician will work with you. Your instructor, who knows you well and looks to preserve a long-term relationship with you, may tend to work with you more subjectively. A clinician merely analyzes your current problems, prescribes corrections, and delivers all in a direct and objective manner.

A clinician doesn't have the opportunity to get to know every horse and rider well and it is difficult to know what is safe to give each rider to work on. That's why it is best to have several lessons with the clinician so that there is a chance for things to come together before the clinic is over. The student can look back at the first day and understand why the instructor did things in a certain way.

If the techniques you learn in a clinic bring good results, they should be incorporated into your regular training program and you should work with the clinician again when possible. If you have no success with the techniques, you may not be ready to go to clinics. You may benefit more from working with a regular instructor. If there is not one available in your area, organize some other students and arrange for an instructor to come on a regular basis.

Even if you are an experienced rider, be careful of going to a large number of clinics that promote different approaches. The contrast in theories and techniques can seem contradictory and confusing. While one clinician may emphasize rider position as the key to getting a horse round and balanced, another instructor will spend the majority of the time focusing on the horse itself, through flexing and bending exercises. And even among those clinicians who zero in on the horse rather than the rider, each one approaches the lessons with slightly different exercises and techniques. While an advanced rider may be able to see the similarity in the aim of all of these methods, the less experienced rider might easily become perplexed."


New Postings on the Roundup Page

Articles just posted:


Grouchy Horse


Arabian Saddle


Book Reviews:

Longeing and Long Lining

Trailering Your Horse


Our Recent Articles and Books

Here's a roundup of the most recent magazine articles and books by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh, the "Klim-Team":

May 2000 Horse & Rider"The Buzz on Fly Control" p. 93
May 2000 Horse & Rider Winning Ways Horsemanship Pattern, "Ride Crisp and Savvy" p. 36
May 2000 Western HorsemanBook Review "101 Horsemanship and Equitation Patterns" p. 266
April 2000 Western Horseman "Choosing a Barn Builder" p. 54
April 2000 Western Horseman "Keep Ol Paint in the Pink" (Senior Horse Care) p. 82
April 2000 Western Horseman"Cinching Without Soring" p. 194
April 2000 Horse & Rider"Field Wash Your Blankets" p.32
April 2000 Horse & Rider "Stable Details: Make a Creep-Feeding Area"
March 2000 Horse & Rider   "Filling a Hay Net"
Jan 2000 Storey Books  Stablekeeping, a Visual Guide to Safe and Healthy Horsekeeping
Jan 2000 Storey Books Trailering Your Horse, A Visual Guide to Safe Training and Traveling


Cherry Hill doesn't do endorsements!

    I don't accept payment to recommend or endorse any horse products in my articles, books or this newsletter.  I do, however, mention names of products that I am currently using and find satisfactory.  I do this to give you a starting point or help narrow the field.  Sometimes finding the right product or piece of tack is the beginning of the answer to a training or horsekeeping problem.

Coming Attractions

Foal news, clinician update, my training philosophy, and tips on buying and selling horses.

That's it for this month.

Keep your mind in the middle and a leg on each side.

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  2000 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information


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