Friday, April 4, 2008

Come Say Good Bye to a Friend April 11th

Come say goodbye to a friend we have come to know!

The Mustang, who has been named JP, will be leaving Sunday, April 13th to head to the Midwest Mustang Makeover competition in Madison, WI and adoption held by the Bureau of Land Management. Come see his premier public performance on Friday, April 11th, at 6 PM. Ruben will be demonstrating the progress he and JP have made in their partnership as trainer and trainee. JP arrived January 12th as a wild mustang and will be leaving Benton City well on his way as a trained horse. Come help celebrate their successes!
There will be other Horsemen's Western Dressage horses performing as a prelude to JP's debut.
This will be a fundraising event also defray the costs of taking JP to Madison. The Mustang Heritage Foundation (a NonProfit Organization) provides $500 toward costs, which are in excess of $4,000. Donations are appreciated, but not mandatory. Come end the work week with the end of JP's stay here at HWD and probably Washington State. There will be several horses of different breeds performing, to include Lyla the Lipizan, Lluvia the Quarter Horse, Shadow the flashy Polish Arabian and D'Artagnan the Morgan. Riders will include Ruben and family members.
Enjoy the show, eat some barbeque, visit with friends and listen to the music and warm yourself by the bon fire as we say farewell and good luck to JP and Ruben as they go to represent Washington State in the Midwest Mustang Makeover. Admision is free however, donations are accepted. There will be a raffle and more fun and games.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Let's try video again!

I want to see if this will work. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!! I have posted some short video clips on Search under RUBEN AND MUSTANG and hopefuly they will pop up. I giveup.... I cannot load video here for some reason. Maybe later. If anyone has a clue about what I am doing wrong, please get my attention and educate me. Thanks!

He's Back!

I do apologize for the last few weeks. Between business away from the facility and technical difficulties I haven't been posting, but now I'm Back!
We are making plans for the actual trip to Madison. We are still looking for sponsors to assist in travel expenses. Presently it is looking like the cost of fuel alone will be over $2,000 round trip. It is not too late to be part of the Midwest Mustang Makeover 2008!
For the most part, the mustang is trained and ready to go. Ruben has been refining movements and having fun. A signature move Ruben likes to end his exhibition rides at horse expos across the country with is the bow. The mustang seems to like doing this and performed it the first time when asked under saddle. I will be sharing videos of it as soon as I work it out with Seems there is a problem still uploading videos and I get booted off line and have to start over again. I can be a slow learner at times. I may have to put them on Stay tuned or leave a comment and I can e mail them to you. If you search for ruben mustang makeover on, you may find them there.
You can't really see the action in this picture of the passage, but it is pretty and look at the head set!

The mustang does jump them, but he also side passes over the barrels.
I am not sure how big the squares are that they have to do spins in, but we are making it smaller and smaller all the time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thank You Hands On Horses!

Ruben watching his daughter in her first exhibition ride at age 6 on Lyla, a 15 hh Lippizan/TB cross Ruben trained and is owned by Rose Martinez of Findley, WA

We would like to say thank you to Silver Buckle Youth Equestrians Center for inviting Ruben and Horsemen's Western Dressage to the Hands On Horses Expo in Vancouver. Silver Buckle Ranch provided three Mustang Socialization Clinics that many enjoyed. It was an opportunity for the public to see one of America's Symbols of the West. It also gave attendees at the expo the chance to watch Ruben work with the mustang in a public setting. We received many visitors at the booth asking about the mustang and the training he had received. The Hands On Horses Expo was at the end of the third week of training. We appreciate the Certificate that Silver Buckle provided for participating in their first fund raising expo. We all look forward to working with them again in the future.
Silver Buckle Youth Equestrian Center ( Silver Buckle Temporary Home Page) is a non- profit organization that provides equestrian programs as a venue to work with at risk youth. The Hands On Horses Expo was the first shot out of the gate using the expo as a fund raiser to replace funds lost in other fund raising venues. Winston Churchill said the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man. Silver Buckle has taken that to heart and offers this great opportunity for at risk youth. Please visit their web site and if in the area, stop and visit the ranch. Thanks again!
Sorry for a lack of updates on the Mustang. Next week we should have more videos, pictures and narratives. I can tell you he is progressing very well.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Interested in Bidding on the Mustang at the Auction?

We've been asked many questions about the mustang and the adoption. It's not Ruben's horse to keep after the competition. He only has it for 100 days of training before the competition. At the completion of the competition in Madison on April 20th the mustang will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. At the present time the horse belongs to the Bureau of Land Management (the public).
We would like to offer to those between the west coast and Madison, WI a chance to bid on the mustang. We will be back hauling Diana and Gerwyn Jones's Polish Arabia stallion (Shalwyn Arabians, Walla Walla, WA). Ruben will be riding Shadow in the Dancing With Horses exhibition at the Midwest Horse Expo. Should you be the highest bidder, we will also back haul the mustang for you.
If you would like to bid on the mustang, we will carry your bid to Madison. This way, you are represented at the auction and not have to pay an unknown agent to act for you. If you were to be the high bidder, you would not have to find a shipper and spend the high cost of shipping. We anticipate gas will cost approximtely $2,000 to drive to and from Madison.
How does this benefit you? You could be sending a bid for the winning horse in the Midwest Mustang Makeover 2008. First, you have the opportunity to see this horse in training and be familiar with it. You are buying a horse you know. Second, you have the rare opportunity to bid on a horse trained by Ruben. I cannot say at this time if the horse will need additional training for what the future owner may have in mind for the horse. I can say the horse will be very ridable and safe. Ruben will, as he prfers to do with all the horses he trains, provide riding lessons to the buyer at the HWD facility for a few days so the rider understands how the mustang was trained and how to cue the horse. He will have been exposed to more things than most horses available for sale ANYWHERE. You can refer to an earlier post to what he has done and/or been exposed to at only five weeks of training. You can save in shipping costs. We will be arriving in Benton City, WA 4-5 days after the close of the Expo.
What are the benefits? You get a horse that has already been through a rigorous 100 days of training that you will not have paid for. You will always be able to call on Ruben if you have questions or concerns. You will be buying a symbol of the American West that is NOT wild.
And maybe most important of all, we will act as your agents and we have a vested interest in the horse and will watch out for your best interests monetarily and the horse's interests should you be the high bidder.
The bottom line is you could easily make a bid of a few thousand dollars and be money ahead for what you would get in return. If you are interested in bidding, please contact Ruben.

First Trail Ride of the Year Sunday

For those folks that enjoy trail riding in the southeast part of Washington State, this is for you. Sunday, March 9th, is the Chilli Trail Ride. I believe it is over Rattle Snake Mountain. Ruben will be taking the Mustang on the ride. It should prove interesting. Though Ruben and the mustang have been riding in the open in the same area, it is the first time with a lot of other horses that have not been out riding much yet this year. First trail rides of the year are always fun and full of excitement and surprises.
If you make it to the ride, please say hello and visit with us. Ruben, family and friends will be riding together. For details, you can call Horesmen's Western Dressage.
Happy Trails!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

We want to thank a few folks

We want to take a moment to thank a few folks that have been behind us from the start on this project.

First is Dr. Richard (Dick) Root, DVM. He has made himself available from day one. The mustang arrived with a swollen knee and a bit of a club foot on the same leg. Dr. Root was there to examine the leg and give him a check up. Dr. Root has donated his time and services to include x-rays of the knees, medical advice, supplement advice and support from the get go. Dick is an avid horseman who has worked with Ruben for several years. Ruben, having done a good amount of endurance riding and always finished in the Top 10 in both time and Best Condition , has trained Dick's endurance horses and works with Dick on technique. It is always kind of funny to see Dick (not a spring chicken), tell his horse to "park" so he can get into the saddle. Dick is a firm believer in Ruben's training and often/usually rides in a bosal from Ruben. As a horseman and as a Veterinarian, it is rewarding to see his belief and trust in Ruben's training philosophy and methodology. His support is very much appreciated.

Nutrena has been very helpful with advice, conditioning charts and feed for the mustang. Ruben feeds Safe Choice to his horses in training to include the mustang. In the first month the mustang grew one inch in height and is filling out and building muscle daily. Safe choice offers a feed "scientifically balanced for horses in all life stages—and carefully designed for simplified feeding, added safety and superior nutrition". The mustang also gets Empower, a supplement for performance horses. Empower is added to make sure the mustang gets the Omega-3 and 6 he needs as well and the trace minerals from organic sources needed, including selenium and Vitamin E as anti-oxidants, which are lacking in the soil and grass forages in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Nutrena, their products and equine nutrition at their web site:

Ruben teaching the horse to cross over the front end (spin) on day four of training.

Last, but not least, is Pegasus EquiCare, Inc. Pegasus Air Boots are used on the mustang for a few reasons. They are comfortable, easy to apply and remove, reduced sweating under them, easily washed and, most importantly they give the support/protection needed. With a slight club foot and recovering from a knee injury, we wanted to provide the mustang with the support and protection needed while he finished healing and learned he has four feet, where they are and how to move them to maintain balance and move properly. We find Pegasus Air Boots fit the bill. The photos are from the fourth day of training. The mustang was a bit unsure and apprehensive when the first (right) one went on, but then stood perfectly still while the second was applied. Since that day he has accepted them without reservation. They have have taken a beating and that is because the mustang, like many horses being taught how to move properly, often hit themselves as they cross over in the front end. Again, Pegasus Air Boots provide that protection! If we can do it, we will post a video of Ruben fitting the boots for the first time. Eric has seen it as has some of his customers. You can visit Pegasus at The New Spirit HOME PAGE

Thank you akk for your support!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just a reflection on Ruben's Training

I think it is appropriate to make comment about Ruben's training of the mustang. Some have asked Ruben if he can do the same for their horse in four weeks as he has with the mustang. The answer is most probably no. The next question is often, "Why not?" Well there are many reasons. It depends on the horse's ability to learn. Some simply learn faster than others. Some are more willing than others. We have been blessed with a mustang that is very willing to trust and to respond to Ruben's training. Some horses have been spoiled in many different ways. Some are treat trained and will do things for a treat. When there is no treat they get stubborn or lose interest in training. Others have been spoiled with excessive stimulation (petting and being loved on) and they are used to getting the reward without ever having to have earned it.

Ruben hws been fortunate to have a willing horse and the horse had no preconceived or learned habits taught to them be well intentioned people. He does not train to a schedule of 30 or 90 days. He trains on the premise of the horse's ability and what you want the horse to know when he is finished. A very important quality of Ruben's is that he is very careful NOT to exceed the horses psychological ability to learn. Their ability is based on many factors that include, but are not limited to their age, physical conditioning, previous training exposure, their ability to learn, their level of exposure to other people and many other factors. To illustrate this point, Ruben trained a very expensive Andalusian horse that was a basket case when it arrived. At an early age (6 months), a trainer had used a cattle pro on the horse and it had learned not to trust anyone and fought even Ruben's gentle techniques. Eventually, Ruben won the horse over and it became a very highly trained and willing partner. He was used in many demonstrations and rode by other family members in parades, exhibitions, etc., before returning to the owner. Was that horse trained in a month or two? Absolutely not.
Ruben is a last chance trainer for many horses. These are horses that had a very uncertain future. He has never lost one of these horses because of his training. Have they been "90 day wonders"? Not a one of them. However, they all are now willing partners and have a secure future as a safe and ridable horse. I personally know of an Appaloosa gelding that was gelded because of his vicious and aggressive nature brought about by aggressive, forceful and over all poor training. Ruben was his third and last hope. After Ruben's training this Grandson of Goer, a Hall of Fame Appaloosa, is a great horse. He stood in a field for two and a half years and I was able to saddle him, put a bosal on him and ride him. He remembered his training and even others were able to get on him and ride him in the round pen.
Ruben trains the mustang on his own time. Ruben usually works the mustang twice a day, first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening for 20-30 minutes. Some days there is not enough light left to video tape the session. This is not his normal routine with a horse in training. The horse usually let's Ruben know when to proceed with training to the result the owner desires from Ruben and their horse.

Approaching the Halfway Point of Training

Ruben in a moment of reflection.

Well, we are entering week 6 of training with the Mustang. Things are looking good. Saturday Ruben exposed him to the sound of gun shots using a friend's training pistol he uses in training his bird dogs. The mustang did great. He flinched the first two times and after that he was fine. Yesterday, Ruben worked him in the large arena. He is side passing prettier every day. He was introduced to jumps, barrels and a rope. I hope to be able to post a clip of the rope training. He stood like a bro after the first couple of twirls and then Ruben had him moving with the rope twirling and being thrown. Then again, Ruben exposed him to a twirling lead line on the second day of training. Next will be cattle and actual roping. Ruben's goal is to produce the most rounded horse for the eventual adopter in Madison.

At this point in the Mustang's training he has been exposed to or trained as follows:

  • Giving to pressure of the lead line and halter

  • Walk on the lead

  • Lateral flexing (always done before The 5 Essential Ground Exercises.)

  • The 5 Essential Ground Exercises: Moving the Front End, Rear End, Side passing, Backing and Stopping.

  • The 5 Essential Ground Exercises transferred to the saddle

  • The basic Piaffe, Passage on the ground

  • The Spanish Walk on the ground and in the saddle

  • Shooting

  • Roping

  • Jumping (inside the round pen and arena, not out of them)

  • He trailers, allows handling/cleaning of his feet, blankets, stands nicely for the farrier

  • Has performed in clinics inside large exposition halls with crowds and noises he was not accustomd to.

  • Exposed to several people petting and stimulating him at one time. (he is a glutton for attention/affection)

  • Has been out on the trail here at HWD

  • Been through Trail Rider Competition Trail in Boise, ID at the Horse Affairs

  • Was used to collect a loose horse and worked it (cornered it/penned it) so that it could be caught.

  • Stands well to be groomed. Again, likes the attention.

  • Is socialized with other horses

  • Exposed to non-equine species such as dogs or all sizes, in the yard and on the trail. Live llamas and deer mannequins in the trail course.

  • He stands for bicyclists and walks through tarp strips. He even tries to eat them if you stand there long enough.

I am simply amazed at how far this horse has come is such a short time!

We are still experiencing a few technical difficulties on transferring the video tapes to DVD. Luckily, we have a friend that is doing it for us, but there is a time lag in getting them recorded delivered and processed and back so we can post them here. We do appreciate the assistance Brian (BK Builders).

There are lots of comments coming into Horsemen's Western Dressage from former students and clients. They are asking how they can help out. It is very nice to hear them say they do a lot of this or that type riding and they are always complemented on their riding or their horses abilities. They tell Ruben, they have him to thank for that. I guess what goes around does eventually comes around. It is heart warming and rewarding to have people come back and are still appreciative after several years and to know they and their horses are still working together and doing great. That is Ruben's goal: To produce a light and responsive horse that is trained for the remainder of it's life.

Until next time (and hopefully with video's and pictures), happy trails. Be safe out there. Spring is coming, I swear it is, hang in there!

Friday, February 22, 2008

First Trail Ride

Well, I will try to recap particular days in the past couple of weeks while we were busier than one armed paper hangers. On the 19th, Ruben and the mustang went on their first trail ride. It was out in the back of the ranch. Nothing special other than it was the first time they had been riding outside an enclosed area. The mustang did great. the next day Ruben repeated this with a purpose. A horse had decided to go wandering and Ruben used the mustang to go out to collect him. In the process, the mustang had his first exposure to working other animals. I watched in amazement as Ruben side passed the mustang to push this horse back into the pasture. I am beginning to believe there is nothing a mustang cannot do with the proper training and trust to follow the cues of the rider. Ruben never forces a horse to respond. He teaches the horse to trust that he will not hurt him or put him is an unsafe position. Then Ruben asks the horse to respond because he can, not because he is being forced. I think this is why the mustang has done so well at the expos over the past two weekends. He trusts Ruben and knows Ruben will not endanger him. I cannot wait to see the final product after the next two months. I know whoever adopts this horse in Madison will have a great horse.

These videos are of poor quality, and from the second day of training. This is the first time the mustang was saddled. Please note that this is NOT a gentled or calm back yard pet. It is a wild mustang experiencing things for a very first time. Ruben's philosophy about a pulling horse sort of goes like this: Let him pull. He will figure it out and then it becomes the horse's idea that standing still is a good thing. There is no way you can hold a 1,000 pound animal that wants to pull away from you. Let the horse figure it out and he teaches himself not to pull and to give to pressure. By the way. he stands perfectly now and is amazingly calm and gentle while being blanketed and tacked up and untacked.

Speaking of the adoption! We have decided that if anyone in the Pacific North West would like to adopt this wonderful willing partner, we will carry your bid to Madison and if you are the successful bidder, we will back haul him for you.

He will have a traveling companion to Madison as Ruben has been invited to perform in the "Dancing With Horses" presentation at the Midwest Horse Expo with one of his finished horses. It is too hard to say if the mustang will be ready for that level exhibition at that time, otherwise we would use him. If you have not seen the intensity and action of Ruben and his finished horses in exhibition, please check out the link to Ruben and Shadow the Dancing Horse on It was recorded by a friend, Brian, at the opening of the Walla Walla Rodeo here in Washington.

Well I am afraid that is it for now as I have to sort through videos and see if I can get some action on here for you to look at. Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Back to Back Expos kept us busy.

Sorry for not posting for a while. We have had a crazy three weeks. We had back to back expos in Vancouver, WA and Boise, ID. Now it is back to posting and working toward the Midwest Mustang Makeover at the Midwest Horse Expo in Madison, WI.

Ruben used the mustang for most of the clinics in Vancouver and ALL of them in Boise. He had the choice of using a trained horse or the mustang. He decided to use the mustang and not lose 10 training days which is 10% of the total training time we have. We had the chance to meet a fellow makeover competitor in Vancouver, Bill Campbell. He is from Michigan where he operates Common Sense Horsemanship.
Vancouver was crazy with a couple behind the scenes people missing. It was also the first expo put on by Silver Buckle Ranch. They did a good job for their first time out and we hope to continue our relationship with this very worthy youth equestrian group. Please visit their web sit and see a great group working with youth and horses. They were excited to have Ruben bring the mustang and let the public know about the Mustang Makeovers and the efforts of the Mustang Heritage Foundation. They set aside a one hour clinic in their main arenas each day for people to watch Ruben and the mustang train.
We were prepared for the worst Friday evening when the mustng enterd the building for the first time. He had never been exposed to the noises and crowds of an expo or the temporary indoor arenas they had set up. We decided to use the over head door rather than the man door. The mustang hesitated momentarily and then ealked right into the exhibition hall and the arena like a pro that had done it a thousand times. We will post videos of it when they are converted to disc.

Boise is a great expo to visit. We always enjoy being part of Horse Affairs for the past everal years and look forward to spending a weekend in March with these fine people. We were visited by Richard Shrake and he was complimentary in regard to Ruben's training methods, knowledge and his progress with the mustang. Below are a few pictures of Ruben and the mustang in Boise on the Trail Ride Competition course. The mustang must have figured he was back home in the wild with live llamas, tumble weed covered arbors, deer mannequins, logs and rocks to cross over and little hills. The trail course, a near by jogging path along the Boise river and the surrounding woods were the setting for a video shoot on Monday morning.
Ruben used the mustang for all his clinics at Boise. He did well but got a little resistant toward the end. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity to validate Ruben's training methods on a raw product virtually untouched or influenced by humans. The custom bosala that Ruben uses are soft and easy for any horse to become accustomed to. Some of the clinics the mustang participated in were: Fitting and using the bosal: The oldest known tool used to train horses; The Five Basic Ground Essentials; Lateral Movements (Richard Shrake particularly liked this one.) The mustang was side passing from one corner of the arena to the other. The crowd loved it.
It was a pleasure and made us all proud when people challenged us by saying the mustang had to have been gentled and halter broke before Ruben got him, otherwise he would not have been able to get as far as he has in four weeks of training. It was nice to be able to play the video of the first day of training when it took Ruben 30-45 minutes just to get the horse from the stall to the round pen. A few jaws dropped when they asked if this was the same horse. We hope to make shorter clips of these "special" moments to share with all of you.
The mustang was on display inside the exhibition hall a lot of the time at the Horsemen's Western Dressage booth. He was a perfect gentleman in the stall and welcomed attention from kids and horse lovers of all ages. We had many questions about him as a horse, the Mustang Makeover Challenge and the Heritage Foundation and the Bureau of Land Management's Adopt a Wild Horse Program. We were also pleased to be able to speak to and share time with the folks from the Bureau of Land Management's Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program. It was a nice to have them nerby to refer people to who had questions we could not answer about adopting and the program itself. They had plenty of printed material on hand, and a variety of other mustangs that were adoptd, trained and are averyday parts of other people's lives.
these are pictures of Ruben and the mustang "playing" on the trail riding competition course in Boise at the Horse Affairs Expo. Many that watched said he should have entered him in the competition. Note the lightness on the reins and how these two work so well together.

We will post videos as soon as they are available. Hope everyone had a Happy Saint Valentine's Day! Less than 2 months to Madison.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Day 3: First day in the saddle

The mustang (still not named) continues to impress us. He trusts and accepts most anything Ruben tries with him. He is intelligent has learned a lot in a few short days. Ruben takes it slow, but does not treat the mustang differesntly than other horses. Caution is exercised with all horses and Ruben's ability to read a horse is phenomenal. This mustang has yet to buck once. I believe it is because Ruben develops a raport with each horse he trains. The horses learn to perform because they can, not because they are forced.

Day Two: Adding a saddle

Ruben tried saddling the horse and the mustang had accepted and trusted Ruben. He had no rection to the saddle and so it was off to the round pen. Ruben is very careful not to exceed the horses psychological ability to learn. This makes the each training session a lerning experience and gets the lesson across to the horse. Using this method, Ruben starts each lesson/training session with a goal in mind. If that goal is reached in 10 minutes he is basically finished for that session. If it takes an hour for the horse to accomplish the goal of tht training session, then it takes an hour. The bottom line is the goal of the training session. I believe that is why he has such a good response from the horse. Work till you get it and then reward the learning experience. Day two was accepting the saddle and building on day one of leading, grooming, being tied in the cross ties, handling of feet and lunging. Day two also began lateral flexing and giving to pressure amnd moving the rear, front and side passing from the ground.
Below is a poor quality video of the horse saddled for the first time. There are better videos however, I am having problems uploading them. You can see a clip of Ruben and another horse on youtube under a search for Ruben and Shadow

Day 1: Learning to move on a lead line. Day 1: Adusting to the bosal for the first time.

Day 1: Adding a lead line to the bosal. Day 1: Learning to lunge and giving to pressure.

Day 1: More lunging. Day 1: Twenty minutes later, a willing partner.
Training sessions have not yet exceeded 20-30 minutes. Baby steps at first to build trust and learn the basics. Ruben trains in a bosal. The bosal teaches the horse to give to pressure without pain. A bit in a horse's mouth at this point would be a distraction and not a very affective tool.


Well, here is the wild mustang Ruben will be training for the Midwest Mustang Challenge (part of the Extreme Mustang Makeover sponsored by the Mustang Heritage Foundation ). He (as of yet still unamed) was rounded up from a herd in Nevada and made the trip Ewing, IL. From there he made the trip to Missoula, MT and then to Benton City, WA. Upon arrival Ruben looked him over from the trailer windows and decided to get in and halter him. That took a less than five minutes to get the halter on and he let him adjust to it. Ruben then attached a lead rope and lead him to his stall. It took little effort to get him into the stall. I think he just wanted a rest after all the traveling.

Sunday the mustang rested and had a visit from the veterinarian. All the traveling had been hard and he had some swelling in his legs. Otherwise, I think he was happy to be someplace that didn't move for a bit. Little did he know his training was about to start on Monday.