Imagine A Horse at The Equine Expo of Texas
Trick Horse Training That Makes Sense

By Suzanne De Laurentis and Allen Pogue © 2006


Everybody loves a Trick Horse. The growing enthusiasm over Trick Training is showing up more frequently than ever on the pages of the world’s most popular equestrian magazines. Imagine A Horse at Red Horse Ranch just outside of Dripping Springs, Texas hosts an increasing number of visitors and students on a steady basis—folks that come to study and learn the secrets of modern Trick Training from Allen Pogue and his troupe of ten uniquely talented horses. No longer just a curiosity, a genuine appreciation for Trick Training by the public is one of the major reasons that Texas Horse Expo booked Imagine A Horse this year.

In the past, Trick Horses were most often relegated to providing comic relief in the days of the B-Westerns and rodeo acts. Allen’s Imagine A Horse training method has brought Trick Training into the 21st century. Enthusiasts recognize that Trick Training can be used to preserve the horse’s inherent nobility while developing adaptability, reliability and trainability. These important traits usually manifest as a genuine work ethic. Young horses that have learned how to learn generally adapt well and show a strong desire to work and perform. This rare aspect of equine potential is easily observed during the IAH Liberty Exhibitions.
   
The IAH performers that will appear at this year’s Equine Expo of Texas are Hasana, a six-year-old Arabian mare and Navegador, a four-year-old Lusitano/Arabian gelding.
These two horses are excellent examples of the benefits of Enhanced Foal Training and Enlightened Trick Training for which Allen has become so well respected. Allen and the IAH horses will give a series of demonstrations and clinics throughout the weekend.  

The Imagine A Horse methodology ideally begins shortly after birth and in conjunction with imprinting. See Imprint Training the Newborn Foal and The Revolution in Horsemanship both by Dr. Robert M Miller. Early training of a foal shapes and enhances a horse’s instinctual attitudes and abilities. Horses that are trained to be companions as well as performance horses are more likely to enjoy a productive life after their career in the show ring is over.

Each new foal at Red Horse Ranch brings another opportunity for exploring the horizons of equine learning ability. Every year Allen takes one of the new foals to Texas A&M University and gives a lecture/demo for the undergraduate students studying Animal Behavior Science.

It is common here at the ranch to see a two-week-old foal marching instep with a handler around the training stall and conquering carpet covered pedestals with boldness and obvious delight. By the time a foal first wears a halter, it is already quite comfortable to walk beside the handler in a mannerly way through turns and halts. Enhanced Foal Training usually removes the “breaking” process from a horse’s grown up training. Young horses grow up at ease with the entire process of becoming a respectful and obedient partner.
IAH methods foster communication, understanding, respect, clarity of intention and boldness in both horse and human. As a horse matures, Trick Training can become fun for both partners and the link that bonds the horse and human mentally and emotionally. The handler and the young horse can enjoy many aspects of working in unison with Trick Training long before the horse has physically matured and is capable of bearing a load. Respect for the horse’s future and the creation of a genuine work ethic forges mutual understanding that easily carries over to mounted training and with many shared adventures.

Hasana made her public debut at the Will Rogers Center as a very exuberant 13 month-old filly. She livened up the performance by adding high speed to her pattern in the Liberty Act and mixed in a few unsolicited but well-executed tricks. Now Hasana is a six-year-old seasoned Exhibition horse. While she takes her performances very seriously, she can always be counted on to add a few spicy variations to each show.

Hasana’s early education began with Enhanced Foal Training. As a foal she learned to negotiate a variety of pedestals on a lead line and then at Liberty. She learned to distinguish different objects and to retrieve hats and Frisbees. She was a reliable Trick Horse by the time she was weaned. Before she was a year old she schooled alongside her older sister, Alyah and her sire Hasan learning basic Liberty routines. As the fillies matured, Allen began to use them to help with the schooling of the younger foals. Hasana took the opportunity seriously and would reliably perform her tricks with the foals watching and they would mimic her behavior. The foals learned new lessons very quickly with their mentor and Hasana seemed to enjoy the work tremendously. When it was time for young horses to be introduced to Liberty training, Hasana would be put in the ring with them and she would help keep them in their assigned places in line much better than any human handler could possibly do. If one got out of his place, as Gater would often do, she would trot right up alongside of him and promptly push him back into the lineup. If he resisted, she would become more insistent and give him the bossy mare look or a nip until he would resign himself to his job. The precision and understanding that she displayed in this responsibility was amazing and her ability to teach other horses was a considerable help to Allen.    
As a foal, Gater grew quite comfortable sitting on the beanbag next to one of his humans and would then relax and fall asleep. As he matured he would make a game of sitting down at Liberty and would accurately back across the width of the round pen to sit down precisely on the bean bag. By the time he was a year old, the salute he had learned even before he was weaned turned into a respectable Spanish Walk.  Gater has an aptitude for performing difficult athletic feats with an audacity that is easily apparent.

Trick Training is about helping a horse to become adaptable, dependable, bold and yet respectful and to enjoy camaraderie with humans. The goal of IAH is to bring forward full potential in every horse including the potential to be an engaging partner.

Join Allen and Sue, Hasana and Navegador at the Equine Expo of Texas. You’ll see for yourself that with a little imagination and a willing horse or two, you can have a circus in your own back yard.

For more information about IAH and Trick Training, visit www.imagineahorse.com



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