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					El Paso Floor of Arizona, Inc.
Po Box 90368
Phoenix AZ 85066
602-955-3755
Fax 602-304-1158

                                         Memo

Attention Walking Horse Owners!

Last weekend Bucky & Nancy Sparks from Colorado conducted a clinic at the Miller
Ranch in Rio Verde. It was a wonderful weekend (other than the arctic-like
weather....brrrrrr.....come on....this is suppose to be Arizona!) filled with learning and
comraderie amoungst gaited horsepeople. It was truly wonderful to watch all of the
horses make tremendous progress throughout two days and made me proud that
Arizona has some really nice quality Tennessee Walkers!

The Miller Ranch is an absolutely magnificent horse facility and they were wonderful
hosts (yummy chow & snacks provided daily). They do rent out their covered arena
for clinics (I believe there is a Missouri Foxtrotter clinic going on there this
weekend). This was a super clinic (thank you Lynn for all your hard work.....you did a
top notch job).

It seemed that all of the riders were very happy with what they learned in just two
days. The Sparks teach how to get your Tennessee Walker to gait using a mixture of
basic dressage and natural horsemanship that anyone of us can use to help our
Walkers become more balanced, supple and athletic.

It was very revealing for me because for the last 1 1/2 years I have been following
along this basic same principal with my Walker gelding who has made tremendous
progress. I started showing him last spring and have been having the most fun......it
is remarkable when I think of the change in him. (I defer credit to this incredible
change to my fabulous riding instructor, Barb Hanes, who continually leads me down
the path of better horsemanship).

Folks, you do NOT have to resort to the gadgets (heavy shoes, radical hoof trimming
angles, severe curb bits, martingales, tie downs, etc, etc...) to get your Walker to do
a true running walk in almost all cases (yes..breeding and conformation do,
ultimately, play a part). The added benefit is that you will end up with a safer,
calmer, more willing partner that you can call on in a chaotic environment to listen
to you and respond because you will have some very solid basics trained into
him/her, enabling you to call on them and get them to respond to you, rather than
what is going on around them.

If you could not attend the clinic, I highly recommend a book written by the Sparks
that covers these basic principals which they teach. It is available on their website:
www.blessyourhorse.com . I think that this book would even be of benefit to riders
of any other breed, gaited or non-gaited. We all need horses that are B.L.E.S.S.ed!
Hey everyone. I couldn't agree with Jolene any more. I rode my champagne mare, Coria, in the clinic. I
was SHOCKED that I was able to get her to flat walk consistently after only two days, AND she was doing
it at speed! She and I had some trouble with the round pen exercises that caused me to end up on my
back, but it was completely a problem between her and me, NOT because of what I was being told to do.
I jumped back on and after another round in the arena at a true flat walk, I walked away WITHOUT a sore
back!

I wanted to emphasize how amazing it was to watch these horses come away with softer mouths, a more
relaxed frame, and a true, natural flat walk under their belt. The information we were given was
amazingly easy and basic, but it made a world of difference. I even saw the difference in Coria when we
went trail riding over the weekend--her frame is different, and how she responds to me is different. I was
getting her to flat walk with no problems, when usually she's nosing out and performing a very smooth yet
very wrong stepping pace!

It was also great to see that everyone who came to the clinic already knew that a good fitting saddle and
tack and basic riding knowledge are key. So the whole clinic was about gait work and softening the
horses, and it was nice to get into the nitty gritty of the work!

This is by far THE BEST clinic I have ever been to. I have not worked harder with my TWH since I was in
riding lessons as a kid! However, the work was fun, refreshing and produced amazing results. And the
best part was NO GADGETS OR GIMMICKS! I learned that everyone can get their TWH to flat walk and
do it completely naturally. My view of the TWH has by far changed!

Thanks again to Lynne Thompkins and her husband for all their hard work in preparing the food and
securing the location. Miller Ranch is a wonderful facility--a very homey yet private atmosphere that
helped everyone feel welcome (www.miller-ranch.com). They also were extremely helpful and kind to all
of us. And last but not least, we should all be very thankful that Bucky and Nancy have chosen to share
their "magic" with us and let us learn what they have taken years to perfect. They are by far amazing
ambassadors to the breed!

Happy NATURAL gaiting!

~ Andrea
How wonderful it was to see so many Walking Horse owners receptive
to a more classical style of training. Watching horse after horse
improve using simple suppling and softening exercises provided
everyone an opportunity to see tangible results from solid, basic
training principles. No tricks, gimmicks or useless pieces of
equipment were used, suggested or offered for sale.

Balance, suppleness, impulsion, timing and collection are necessary
components for all equine athletic endeavors and the gaited horses
are no exception.

Simple lateral movements and other flexion exercises when used
correctly, consistently and gently will create a more round, soft
frame which in turn aids in the development of self carriage.
These qualities not only produce a more relaxed and responsive
horse, they enhance the clarity and timing of gait.

Bucky and Nancy are wonderful ambassadors for use of these highly
effective training techniques on the Walking Horses. For many
gaited horse owners, the Sparks' system represents a new and
refreshing breath of fresh air in an often stale world of gaited
horse training.

I too commend Lynne and her husband for bringing Bucky and Nancy
Sparks to AZ. Your selection of location was excellent and the
hospitality, superb!

On a side note to Jolene - thanks for the kind words, but it's your
hard work and dedication that make me look good. THANK YOU!

Barb Hanes




Finally, more request for a video!
Wonder if they'll have a video, soon? I don't process text
information as well as visual information. If I can see it, I can
grasp it easily. Trying to translate text into motion, that's
usually very, very hard to force through my brain.

				
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posted:4/17/2010
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