My Best Training Tool
by Catherine Madera
Last month a halter worn by equine superstar Zenyatta sold at auction for over $6,000. Dubbed “The Queen of Racing,” Zenyatta soared to popularity after breaking numerous records on the track. She failed to win the 2010 Breeder’s Cup Classic (placing second), but nothing could remove the lovely black mare from the top spot in the hearts of horse people everywhere.
Zenyatta’s halter, if it was leather, probably cost around $100 new. A halter is the most basic, humble piece of horse tack used daily for routine care. This was no race winning headstall—the equine equivalent of Michael Jackson’s white glove (which, if you’re interested, sold at auction for $350,000 in 2009). Its inflated value was based on the celebrity—the name—of the owner. Not only am I lacking a $6,000 piece of equipment in my tack room, I don’t have a horse on my property worth that much!
I’ve been tempted at times to focus on tack and tools thinking that if only I had such and such bit, saddle, or training DVDs then I’d be able to accomplish more with my horse. It’s a perspective that shifts the responsibility for growth and learning away from myself and places it on a name or brand. John Lyons once said the strongest lead rope exists in your horse’s mind. I’ve found this to be true. It matters little whether you are communicating to him through a curb or snaffle bit, hackamore, or the lead rope attached to his halter.
This month our focus is on tack and equipment—“tools of the trade” for all horse owners. On page 6 we spotlight Alaskan horsemen for The Great Alaska Horse Expo coming up at the end of the month. Also, trainer Jim Winney reminds us that while quality tack is a worthwhile investment, the most valuable training tool is our own hands. Send your thoughts and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published June 2012 Issue
Catherine Madera served as editor of the Northwest Horse Source for five years. She has written for numerous regional and national publications and is a contributing writer for Guideposts Magazine and the author of four equine-related books. She has two grown children and lives with her husband and three horses in Northwest Washington.