Unlocking a Horse's Potential with Richard Edwards
Story & Photos by Marilyn E. Short

The Edwards Ranch, located just outside of Weatherford, Texas isn’t a large operation, but Richard and Nancy Edwards take pride in quality training and the difference they make in the lives of the horses they train.

Richard started riding when he was 2 years old having been raised on a large cattle ranch and pinto bean farm in Mountainair, New Mexico. When Richard was 12 years old, he received his first horse for paid training - he broke and trained a Quarter Horse mare for his teacher’s husband.

At 13 his family moved to Pagosa Springs, Colorado where his father took a job as foreman on the Square Top Ranch. The 36-section ranch was owned by Richard’s mother’s cousin Hence Barrow; and he worked at Square Top until he went into the Navy.

Square Top used horses to round up cattle on the ranch, for pleasure, hunting, hauling and regular ranch activities. As a teenager, Richard also worked on the Red Ryder Dude Ranch once owned by Fred Harman, famous artist and creator of the “Red Ryder and Little Beaver” characters. Fred used Richard and his dad for subjects in some of his paintings and photographs. Richard has a Red Ryder comic book that shows pictures of Square Top Ranch and Richard’s dad.
While Richard was in the Navy, his father had moved to Weatherford to help his father so when Richard left the Navy in 1969, he also moved to Weatherford, Texas. Richard purchased 15-acres and a house adjacent to Edward Ranch to the south and married Nancy in 1979.

Richard worked as a route salesman for a propane company for 23 years while training and showing horses in his spare time. To keep the horse training separate from the Edwards Ranch operation, Richard and Nancy created Tin Top Arabians. They bred, trained and showed Arabians. Now days they go by Edwards Ranch.

“We haven’t actually changed from Tin Top Arabians,” said Nancy. “Edward’s Ranch has always been part of our operation. When Richard and I started working with horses 25 years ago, we needed a name to keep the operations separate. Richard, his dad and sister operated Edward’s Ranch but Richard and I were doing the horse business. Since we are no longer standing Al Zirr and since we are not actually raising Arabians, we decided to have our ranch sign reflect the Edwards Ranch aspect of our operation.”

Since retiring from selling propane, Richard is training Western Performance horses and he also retrains a high percentage of horses that have developed problems due to improper training. When Richard finishes with these horses, they will be steady and reliable horses used as mounts for amateur owners.

Richard considers a reliable, steady horse as one that is easy to catch, flexible and willing. The horse must be physically able to do the job, move away from pressure, to change from slow to fast and fast to slow softly and quietly.
One thing that sets Richard apart is that he always encourages owners to be involved in the horse’s training. He enjoys having the owners come out and watch him work their horses because it makes a better partnership between the horse and the owner if the owner knows what makes the horse work.

What happens when Richard gets a horse in for training that doesn’t fit what the owner wants to do with the horse? It is unusual to get a horse in that can’t be fixed, but if he does, he’ll try to let the owner know early on that they need to look in another direction.

“That’s another advantage of having the owners come watch me when I am working with their horse, “said Richard. “The can see whatever problems may be surfacing during the training.”

“Richard is the most patient man I’ve ever seen,” said Nancy. “I’ve watched him repeat the same lesson over and over and never lose his temper. He’s always ready to give the horse a rub on the head when he gets it right, no matter how long it takes. I think that is what his clients notice the most. They are impressed with his training ability, but they marvel at his patience.”

Richard believes it’s more important where you stop than where you start with a horse’s training. In other words, if the horse is giving you a positive response, recognize it and reward him for what he has done correctly. Then if you want him to learn something else, move on to the next lesson.

One of the hardest challenges to overcome in training or retraining a horse is working with a horse that has been started incorrectly and having to fix bad habits.

“It’s difficult to work with horses who have been abused by owners or trainers,” said Richard. “It takes a long time to regain the horse’s trust.”

Some problems are easier to fix than others, and although the training goes well, there’s always something that can happen. Several years ago, Richard was training a horse for the county coroner. The horse wouldn’t stand still for a rider to mount. Richard was sure the problem was fixed so he led the horse out to the paved driveway to demonstrate the horse’s newly learned lessons in front of the owner. Wanting to especially demonstrate how still the horse would be, Richard slowly climbed up and stood on the saddle. He was really feeling good until something startled the horse and Richard landed on the pavement at the coroner’s feet.

“We all teased him and told him that he certainly picked the right person to demonstrate that skill to,” said Nancy.
Richard has trained many horses over the years, but his most memorable experience was with a paint gelding named Tip. Richard raised Tip in New Mexico and took the horse to Colorado with him. He was the most athletic horse he’s owned and could sense what needed to be done before he was asked.

He ran faster, stopped harder, and jumped higher than any other horse I’ve raised and trained,” said Richard.
Richard and Nancy currently own 25 horses and there are always six to ten outside horses at the ranch for training.
The Edward’s feel each horse is like each person…all are individuals. Richard learns something from each horse that he trains. Methods that he firmly believes in and have always used may not work on a particular horse and he’ll have to look for another key to unlock that horse’s potential. “That is what makes this job so rewarding and challenging,” said Richard.

You can contact Richard & Nancy Edwards at 817-596-0180 or visit them at: www.tintoparabians.com or you can email them at: richard@tinsoparabians.com.

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