The ‘Mystery’ of Training Horses.

Recently, a friend and I were discussing (again) philosophies of training horses.  Our discussion began because she was expressing her frustration with how different trainers (and different disciplines) have asked her to use entirely different aids to accomplish the same goal.  In some cases, she is successful, and in others, things unravel very quickly.  For me, the proof is in the pudding… if it is correct, it works, time and again, in many circumstances, without dramatic or dangerous reactions from the horse.  Is that to say every exercise or correction in position or aids works immediately like magic?  No, but if you’re asking for something reasonable, the horse will try.  And, as long as you recognize that effort, you’ll get the right answer after a little repetition.

A simple example:  My horse has become dead/dull to my leg aids.  I can kick and kick all day long and my horse never moves faster or more forward.  Does this mean that I need more or stronger leg?  Should I add spurs or get a bigger spur?

If your child’s clothes are all over his or her bedroom floor, do they listen more or less when you ask 500 times in a row in the same monotone voice?  Hmmm.  I believe this repetition has a name:  nagging.

It’s the same for your horse.  Less is more, as they say.  You don’t need more leg or a bigger spur, you need your horse to respond when your leg says go.  Great.  I understand the theory.  But how do I get this done?  Well, for one, you can take leg away.  That way using it means something.  Try this exercise:

Trot around on a large circle with your leg off, posting the trot.  Every 4th stride, sit two beats (changing your posting diagonal) and use your leg and seat to push the horse forward.  But here’s the deal, that’s the only time you can use your leg and seat.  So, for four beats, you allow the horse to go forward, then for two, push him forward.  Then allow again.  Not only does the horse have a different type of leg to listen to, they are allowed to relax once they push forward.  In addition, you are weighting the hind end on both sides by switching your posting diagonal which encourages the horse to push evenly from both hind legs.

This exercise is simple.  It has worked on every horse I’ve tried it with.  And, the horse is rewarded for every effort through the relaxation that follows.

Happy riding!

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Cinco De Mayo

Recently we hosted a Cinco De Mayo play day at the farm. We started off the festivities with some fun working cow events. Below is a video of Agapito on Bandido working one of our heifers. IMG_7095

After some more games, we had an awesome BBQ lunch, thanks to our friend Luis and Isabel’s incredible cooking! One of my students, Rachel, convinced her jazz band to come out and entertain us, so we had a very lively lunchtime celebration! Thanks to all the band members who came out! We look forward to hosting again!

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Let Summer Commence!

It’s official. The temperature of summer has arrived, at least until the next rainstorm. Now, we just have to wait for the kids to get out of school. I anticipate a hot summer here in the valley… bring on the sunscreen and lemonade!

This summer we have lots of great activities for the whole family! In June, a Beginner Horse Camp will kick off the activities, followed by an Advanced Horse Camp for more experienced riders. (Details and registration information is available on our calendar page). In July, more camps plus a ‘Dressage For Everyone’ Clinic and a Team Penning. Our lesson program is going strong and we welcome any new riders!

Contact us today to get your horse fix!

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The Farm…

Etcetera Farm is the home of A & A Equestrian and Agapito and Adrianna.  We love our little corner of the valley!

The farm has excellent amenities:  paddocks with shelters, 12 x 12 stalls, tackroom, warm-water wash racks and cross-ties, indoor arena, outdoor arena, jump course, trail obstacles, standard dressage arena, and miles and miles of trails!  We offer full service boarding and monitor the facility 24 hours per day.

Full and partial training and lessons are available in many disciplines with Adrianna and Agapito.  Contact us today and make Etcetera Farm your home too!

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Meet the Ponies: Quanah.

Quanah is a 6 year old Kiger Mustang.  Her dam and sire were wild mustangs from the Kiger herd in Oregon’s Steen Mountains.  She is a buckskin with a lot of wild mane.  However, mane aside, there is nothing wild about this sweet-natured and very talented horse.

Quanah has been in professional training for several months with Agapito.  Her gaits make her fancy enough for the dressage ring, but she is quick and athletic and not afraid of working a cow along the fence, roping and dragging a steer, or carefully climbing over the craziest trail obstacles.  And then, you can put a 5 year old aboard and let them cruise around the ring.

Quanah is a very special mare and we love having her at the farm.  She is very easy-going, but has put a few raucous geldings in their places as well.  Excellent things to come from this mare in the future!

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Who are these crazy people?

Ha ha! Good question!

Agapito De La Cruz has been in the Santa Ynez Valley for over 20 years and began his riding career on Trakehner horses for Susan B. Davidge of Etcetera Farm. There he learned the finite principles of classical dressage and had the privilege of training with Karl Mikolka and Charles De Kunffy in addition to Ms. Davidge. Given his family’s ranching background in Mexico, it was a natural progression to add western riding and cattle work back to his horsemanship. Today, Agapito trains horses and teaches lessons in many disciplines. He can often be seen riding a horse dressage and then jumping on his next horse to work cows or rope. (And if you bug him enough, you might even get him to jump something, but don’t tell him I said so). It is his passion to pass along the wonderful experience of better understanding your horse and he has a wealth of experience to share.

I (a.k.a. Adrianna Silvestri and the narrator of life at the farm) am a 3-Day Eventer who landed in California recently and is still in awe of the B-E-A-Utiful weather in Santa Ynez. I grew up in Park City, Utah riding with a group of three-day-eventers who are known for toughing it out in snow storms at their competitions. I studied Equine Science at Colorado State University and also have a degree in Photography from the Art Institute of Colorado. I am a USEA ICP Certified Instructor and love to get new riders hooked on the addiction of HORSES!

But in all seriousness, I feel lucky to have found such an awesome partner in crime who shares my craziness for ponies… and in such a beautiful place! We look forward to meeting more and more equestrians out there… drop us a line or join us for one of our many fun days at Etcetera Farm. Happy trails!

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Greetings from A & A Equestrian!

Thanks for taking a moment to check out our blog. Here you’ll find the latest goings-on at Etcetera Farm with Agapito and Adrianna.

Etcetera Farm is located in the heart of the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley in California. Surrounded by vineyards, every direction is a spectacular view, particularly with the Santa Ynez Mountains as the backdrop. This boarding and training facility provides complete care in addition to offering training and lessons in a wide range of disciplines: Dressage, 3-Day Eventing, Western Dressage, Roping, Working Cow Horse, Trail, Team Penning, Pleasure Riding and Basic Horsemanship.

We also have many talented horses for sale. Everything from a trusty trail-horse, to competitive Event horses. Be sure to check out our Sales page to see which horse might work for you.

We also host many clinics and fun days at the farm. Check out our calendar to find out when you can join in!

We look forward to meeting you soon! Be sure to check back for more exciting news!

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