Training with Horse Sense
Story and Photos by Lyn Odom-Cherenzia
Horse Trainer Ricky Moore, owner/operator of the Standing M Ranch, in Leander, Texas, puts his beautiful, 16 year old quarter horse stallion, Lightening, through the paces of several tricks such as rearing, bowing, playing dead, counting and several other maneuvers. Then he climbs aboard Lightening and they demonstrate cutting cows. Lightening is exceptional at facing off with a cow. He cuts quick and low to the ground with his ears pinned flat upon his head. The affection and respect between Ricky and Lightening is obvious.
Ricky specializes in starting, training and finishing horses. He prefers to have the initial start on colts, but has the years of experience behind him to work through the problems that an older horse may have. Something else Ricky does exceptionally well is train cutting and reining horses. He hopes that someday cutting and reining will become Olympic Events. That would be a wonderful reward for a man who has put most of the years of his life into training horses.
At the age of 9, Ricky got a horse that was too big for him to get on. With patience and natural know how, young Ricky taught the horse to bow down so he could climb aboard. His experience shines through with the gorgeous stallion, Lightening, that he bought 14 years ago. "I believe in getting traditional with training, being honest and working for a good reputation." Says Ricky. Drawing people that have the passion to have a horse in their life, but may not be knowledgeable enough to work out the kinks or get a horse going in the right direction, seem to be the ones that seek Ricky out. "It's mostly women that are 35 years old and up, women that know what a horse can do for them and want the wonderful animal in their life. But they also want to be able to enjoy a horse to the fullest benefit. And that, is a horse that respects and minds you." The only unfortunate thing is that most owners want their horses back in a month, and Ricky says that's just not enough time. It takes time for horses to learn and trust. Ricky can get the "rough" out in 3 to 4 months, but to have that pleasure mount it can take up to a year to finish even the most brilliant horse. Finding what motivates a horse to learn can be a frustrating and lengthy process.
Ricky says there are 3 other ways to get your horse trained - have a friend that's knowledgeable with horses and is willing to put in the time and effort, have really deep pockets, or knock your head against the wall for years which can be difficult with adverse effects. "I'm an expert in starting, solving problems and laying a solid foundation for a great horse. Horses live in the "now". They learn to make the right choices after trying them all. I've learned over the past 20 years from my mistakes what works. I think it's better to learn from your mistakes how to make the right choice for each individual horse." Consistency and verbal praise lead the horse into the proper behavior. Ricky teaches horses to move away from an uncomfortable situation. "No, No, Hell No - THAT'S IT." Says Ricky. When horses misbehave or are not understanding the cue, it's uncomfortable for them too. Training them to move away from that discomfort into the behavior that's comfortable and rewarding is the basic bottom line in Ricky's training techniques. "I hope I'm a better teacher from having learned the hard way and learning from the mistakes that I have made."
General training and boarding is $600 per month and includes a minimum of 6 hours of training per week. Ricky offers offsite training as well, along with boarding, client training sessions, general public lessons and observation sessions. A monthly printed evaluation is given to clients. On the evaluation guide that Ricky supplies his clients is scoring, as in "does it for anyone", "got it, but do over again", "still trying", and "having difficulty". Several basic health care services are offered, "Attitude starts with health!" Ricky says. The Standing M Ranch is located in Leander, Texas, just barely northeast of Austin. You can contact Ricky, and his wife Virginia who also trains animals, at 512-267-3129. For a solidly trained horse, Ricky covers it all from trust issues such as loading and handling feet to all of the skills under saddle that a horse is capable of.
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