Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Randy Rieman Horsemanship Clinic 13-14 May 2017

My wife and I were very fortunate to ride in both days of a Randy Rieman Clinic in neighboring Las Cruces, New Mexico this past weekend. I had never met Randy before, but had talked to him on the phone about the rawhide reata my wife bought from him for a birthday present to me years ago (my wife is awesome) and about Montana history - my Granddad built a ranch North of Livingston in the early 1900's. Randy is a noted rawhide braider having learned that skill from Bill Dorrance.

 Las Cruces area horseshoer, James Eguires met Mr Rieman in Hawaii while Randy was there starting colts for the famous Parker Ranch on the Island of Oahu, and arranged for the two day clinic. The night before the clinic, James and his wife Ja-Kee, hosted Randy and clinic attendees at their home in Mesilla Valley for a meet and greet with Randy, who after a dinner treated us to a couple Cowboy poems, including 'The Man in the Glass'.

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

We appreciate that Randy took eight days out his schedule, six of those were driving days, back and forth from Montana, to come to all the way down here to help less than 20 riders. However, that worked out well for those who attended as Randy gave individual attention when asked and where needed - those are not mutually inclusive. Randy travels all over to give horsemanship and problem solving clinics including travel to Germany and Switzerland.  If he comes to your area, don't miss seeing him.

As James was planning this clinic with Randy, we advertised the clinic to the local West Texas - Southern New Mexico horse community, and were surprised to learn that many people have not heard of Randy Rieman. I did not ask but those same people likely haven't heard of Buck Brannaman, Brian Neubert, Martin Black, Joe Wolter, nor the late Peter Campbell either. These are truly great horsemen who are not going to seek you out through the over commercialization of school, clinics and products but exists to bring us the lessons of Tom and Bill Dorrance, and Ray Hunt. It was the best two days of riding I've had in years.

Right off the bat Randy had us jog circles. I rode like I always do, and tell others to do as well, by using my outside leg to push the horse and my inside leg to get a bend. In other words bending the horse around my inside leg. Randy had me try using my inside leg to get the bend by getting my horse to put his inside back foot underneath his body and in front of the outside rear foot. So from the start he had me changing what I have been doing for years. I'm glad I did not resist doing what he asked as I was surprised to feel my horse moving more relaxed in those circles. Still using your reins to tip the head slightly to the inside, Randy also had us use rhythmic lateral pressure to get the horse to find the middle and drop his nose where he got a release. My horse found that right off. And all of this in the first hour.

Randy helped others discover this as well. And with a rider who's young horse was troubled with somthing, Randy would say "stay with him,'s always darkest before first light."  A few times Randy would take a horse, like the Palomino in the photos below, a get a change in that horse to underscore a point.   

Randy is a humble man, leaning to "let's both of us see what works with you and your horse" rather than telling you what to do. That's what I call putting the "why" into instruction which is often over looked by some clinicians. 

He mentioned that Bill Dorrance, who at 93 years old, got up each day eager to see what he can learn that day. Randy said he wants to be that guy.....don't we all want to be that guy.  Before Randy left for the long drive back home, I said to him, as humble as he is, that he may not fully understand what value he brings to us, not just in his teaching from his experience working with thousands of horses, but in his inspiration - how he approaches working with a horse.

More Randy Rieman and Bill Dorrance in Lessons from a Legend below.  Horseman Bill Dorrance shares horsemanship and roping lessons with Randy Rieman in this segment from Four Strands of Rawhide.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Riding in Hot Weather

Every year I usually write a reminder on the dangers of riding in hot weather which are primarily dehydration for you and your horse. Dehydration is simply consuming less water than you are expending through sweat. It (dehydration) sneaks up on people in climates with low humidity, such as the desert Southwest where I live, as the Sun evaporates your sweat quickly, but it is a danger anywhere. Absence of thirst is no indicator of being hydrated.

If you typically go to sleep at 9:00 pm at night then get up around 4:00 am, drink a cup of coffee then get to work. You are very likely dehydrated to start the day.  You have been without water for 7 hours, then drank a diuretic - something that will make your urinate but will also remove essential electrolytes as well. One thing you can do to ensure you start the day hydrated is first of drink a large glass of water before you have your coffee.

You need to protect exposed parts of your skin from the Sun. In the picture at top right, it is 96 degrees. I am pretty much completely covered up from the Sun.  Direct sunlight evaporates water from your body faster and the elevated temperature of your skin forces the body to send more water to maintain cellular and skin health, further dehydrating you faster. Sunburns can, over time, change the structure of skin cells and bring about skin cancer, such as Basil Cell Cancer and worse yet, Melanomas. Even though I have routinely covered all body parts, even my hands, at 58 years old I have had eight spots cut off my body, from BB size to quarter sized, thankfully all Basil cell cancer - the lesser of the skin cancer evils.

Don't save your water - drink it. Not alcohol, not soda pop, but water or water products such as flavored water drinks or Gatorade type drinks. Gatorade and Powerade also have electrolytes such as sodium, potassium in Gatorade and sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium in Powerade to replace the electrolytes that are again lost when you sweat, and through normal metabolism. Both companies sell liquid and powder products.

If you become dizzy or have blurred vision, or get the beginnings of a headache then chances are virtually certain you are dehydrated. My daughter will forever remember coming to me and saying "Dad, I have a headache" and my reply was always "drink a big glass of water and see if it goes away in 20 minutes" and her reply was, "you always say that!" and my reply was "Yes, I always do because lack of water is the likely cause of your headache and drinking water is the easiest and fastest way to see if that was the problem in the first place".

Military and other organizations will often implement a "mandatory drink" policy where someone is responsible for making a periodic announcement to the group to drink water.....say, every 30 minutes the drill would be to drink 6 ounces of water. To drink water you need to have some with you. I always have a canteen of water with me when I ride out. Sometimes I also wear a hydration pack - CamelBak makes the best ones - which allows me to maintain a pace without stopping or slowing to drink from the hydration pack tube and bite valve. The two most common sizes of hydration packs are 70 ounce and 100 ounce. I like the ones with the external fill hole so you can fill the bladder of the hydration pack without removing it from the carrier. If you think that wearing one is bulky or heavy, you would be surprised to learn how quickly you forget you are carrying it. See the picture at the top and note how compact the CamelBak is.  And the advantage of wearing a hydration pack is that if you are thrown or otherwise on the ground and your horse runs away, you still have a source of water with you.

I sometimes teach tracking classes to Search and Rescue (SAR) teams, both government and civilian volunteer. I advise both types to invest in buying the Hi-Viz 70 ounce Camel Baks for each member. The rescue orange and reflector strips on the Hi Viz Camel Bak allow for the search and rescue teams to be easily spotted from the air or ground by other search teams and this would be especially important if you became injured and the SAR focus became you! Look at the picture above left and you can see how well the Hi Viz Camel Bak stands out.

Organizations, private and public, can contact Marisa Williams at CamelBak to get organizational pricing on CamelBaks.  Marisa Williams, phone 800 767-8725 x 9227 or e-mail at -

Individuals can purchase CamelBaks virtually anywhere - check with

You need to be considerate of your horse when riding in hot weather.  Horse's generally do well and don't drink as often as we do.  Know your horse's routine and feed your horses early enough so they can finish eating and get a drink before you pull them for a long ride.  When you get back from a long, hot ride horses will eat if you give them the chance.  I like to put my horses back in a pen with access to clean water, after they have cooled downed, for a good period of time before I feed them, so they can drink.  Know how to check your horse's skin (skin rebound test) and gums (gum blanch test) which are both capillary refill tests to check for potential dehydration.