Acclaimed horseman, Richard Winters, will be presenting a clinic on Saturday and Sunday, October 13th and 14th at the El Dorado Fairgrounds in Placerville.Â The Advancing Horsemanship Clinic will revolve around the body control and maneuvers necessary for upper levels of performance.Â On Saturday Evening, All About Equine Animal Rescue will hold an evening social event where Tika, an AAE feedlot rescue that was unhandled and pregnant when she arrived at AAE in January 2012, will be ridden for the first time by Richard.
Richard is a long-time trainer and horsemanship competitor.Â You can catch his television show on HRTV.Â He teaches in the horse program at the Thacher School, a private boarding school for students with strong academic backgrounds, in Ojai, CA.Â In 2009, Richard came out on top at the Road to the Horse, the international horse competition held annually in Lexington, KY.Â That year he bested fellow legendary horsemen John Lyons and Tommy Garland in the competition.
In anticipation of the upcoming clinic, we asked Richard a few questions about his life, his training techniques, and about the clinic that heâ€™ll be presenting this weekend.
SACHORSE (SH): Â Can you tell us a little about your history with horses, horse showing and horse training?
Richard (RW): Â I always wanted to be a cowboy. I was raised in town and my folks knew nothing about horses. I pedaled a bicycle out to a stable as a grade school boy and looked for opportunities. Eventually, I worked in the mountains wrangling dude horses in junior high; went to a horse shoeing school during my high school years; [and] apprenticed for the late, great horse trainer Troy Henry. I conducted my first clinic 22 years ago and have been able to focus more on showing western performance horses in the last 10 years.
SH: Â You have a relationship with the Thacher School in Ojai. Â What is your involvement there and what will students that attend the school learnÂ in the program?
RW: Â The school has their own head of the horse program and a full faculty that run the horsemanship program. I am called the “artist in residence.” Â The Thacher horsemanship program had been active for almost 100 years. Every freshman goes through the horsemanship program: that means cleaning and feeding their stall 7 days a week and riding for 2 hours 5-6 days a week. Truly this is a “horsemanship” program and not just a horseback riding activity. You’ll see up to 100 young people saddled up and riding every day. The vast majority of them having no horsemanship experience prior to their time at Thacher. I was very impressed the first time I saw it, and I am proud to be a part of this fine school.
SH: Â What is the focus of this clinic happening at the El Dorado Fairgrounds and what can attendeeâ€™s be expecting to learn?
RW: Â This is an “advancing” clinic. It will focus on the body control necessary for more refinement, athleticism, collection, and performance of their horses.
SH:Â Is there a prerequisite for this clinic or can newcomers to your program attend with their horse?
RW:Â We recommend that those attending an advancing clinic be comfortable and confident on their horse. They should be free of any serious behavioral problems. The rider should be comfortable at the walk, trot, and lope in a group setting.
SH: Â Are there equipment requirements for riders in your clinics?
RW:Â Both English and Western riders are welcome. Riding in a simple snaffle bit or some other type of head gear that allows you to work one rein at a time is recommended.
SH:Â There are so many horsemen and clinicians out there. Â What makes your program different from other horsemanship programs?
RW:Â With our performance horse background, and modest success in the show pen, we show people how natural horsemanship and performance horsemanship are not mutually exclusive. Our advancing clinics demonstrate how natural horsemanship can be applied at a higher level to obtain more performance from their horse.
SH: Â What is the best way for someone to learn about your methods and start your program?
RW:Â We have an extensive series of horsemanship DVDs, along with the clinics and expos we do around the country. There is also the opportunity to come and work with us at the Thacher school during the summer for a weekend, a week, or even a month.
SH:Â If there could be one tip you give riders to help improve their horsemanship, what would it be?
RW:Â Ride your horse! Don’t just talk about riding. Don’t just watch DVDs about riding. Â Don’t just read books about riding. Â Don’t just go to expos and watch other people ride. Make sure that when you are on your horse, that you truly are riding him. That means going through the full range of motion: walking, trotting, loping- and doing it every day.
We thank Richard for giving us his time today and look forward to seeing him this weekend.Â If you would like to attend the clinic there are still riding and auditor tickets available.Â Auditor Tickets are $25 for one day and $40 for both.Â And donâ€™t forget the Special Evening Event where Richard will be riding Tika for the first time.Â Tickets are $15 per person and $25 for two.Â Folks 16 and under are free.Â A portion of ticket sales for both events benefit All About Equine Rescue.
For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Julie Able at firstname.lastname@example.org Â or (916) 718-6807 or Sharon Covington at Sharon@allaboutequine.org.Â Tickets can also be purchased at Lee’s Fee in Shingle Springs.