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.