"What I know about the horse, I have learned from the horse." — Tom Dorrance
"I’m here for the horse – to help him get a better deal." – Ray Hunt
"Your horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see." – Buck Brannaman
"Never play leapfrog with a unicorn" – Ricky Quinn
For a guy who still can’t tell a "withers" from a "fetlock," over the past few years I’ve discovered that hanging out with horses and humans as they attempt to come to terms with one another is a rather enriching experience.
This summer they’ve been holding clinics in the corral out back every Tuesday evening and I’ve gotten in the habit of hauling a chair and a beverage under a shade tree to watch and listen to the trainer as he imparts his equine wisdom to the faithful.
Not that I speak fluent "horsey" or anything but with the horse-whisperer ethic pretty much taking over from the bronco-bustin’ practices of the past, these sessions kind of resemble interspecific studies in gesture-as-a-second-language with a bit of subtle behavior modification thrown in.
This week, however, Thursday through Sunday, the clinic landscape in these parts is set to take a quantum leap when acclaimed trainer Ricky Quinn returns to the neighborhood for a series of sessions dealing with starting colts, working with problem horses (and owners), and fundamental horsemanship.
And that has the horse folk in these parts all abuzz. For that matter, the word also seems to be spreading among the horses. It isn’t often that someone as closely associated with the Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, and Buck Brannaman schools of thought on natural horsemanship as Ricky Quinn comes to town.
Over the past several years that Mona and Tim have brought Ricky to their horse ranch up in the northeast foothills of the Heber Valley, the clinic has become a pretty big deal.
For me, it’s especially astounding at the morning sessions in the smaller round corral to watch and listen as Quinn starts colts and acts as a therapist to both troubled horses and those who have a desire to ride them.
One year it was a mustang fresh from the west desert with very limited table manners. Watching Ricky patiently get the colt to accept first a halter, then a bit, and finally a full saddle was something to behold. You got the feeling he could entice a Brahma bull to wear panty hose.
Natural horsemanship is all about creating a bond between the horse and the trainer – who may or may not be the horse’s owner or regular rider. The important thing being that the trainer serves as the guide, allowing the steed’s "horse sense" to play a role in solving whatever problem is at hand.
Ricky Quinn has been schooled in the same vaquero traditions that Tom, Ray, and Buck drew from in their formulation of "natural horsemanship" as it is now practiced. He rode with Brannaman for 10 years and is well on his way to adding his name to those of his mentors as a true keeper of the flame.
For the afternoon horsemanship classes, the action moves to the large corral where participants in the clinic work with their own mounts, either on the ground or in the saddle, to hone those lessons learned from the morning session. This is where feel, timing, and balance come into play.
The pre-game show has been underway now for at least a week, if not more. The ranch has been swabbed and painted and graded and tilled and mowed and, although I wouldn’t bet a plug nag that Mona and Tim will stop and take a breath until Ricky and his entourage of trailers, horses, and hired hands have pulled in and set up shop, it pretty much looks like the only chores left are the brushing of horse teeth and the pulling out of an extra wheelbarrow to handle the expected inundation of "road apples."
I’ve got my chair and large coffee mug ready for Thursday morning’s session but I may have to secure some additional liniment for the coffee in case something gets strained.
These are the days of miracle and wonder. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. After four days with Ricky, many of these mounts will not only lead themselves to a watering hole, but demand a drink.
For information on the Ricky Quinn Horsemanship Clinic, contact Mona at (435) 671-8487 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Park City and Summit County make the Park Record's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User