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  I came in from riding one evening and my wife was watching a cooking show called the “Pioneer Woman” with Ree Drummond.  I sat down and watched while Ree took several different ingredients, implemented them into specific recipes, and the end result was several tasty dishes that made me very hungry.  A few days later I was working a colt and I started to think of all the similarities between cooking and training.  With cooking, the quality of ingredients is very important.  With training, the quality of the raw product that we start with is very important also. With cooking it looks to me like it’s all about how you mix/prepare the ingredients that determines the quality of the end result.  Now you could take Ree Drummond, Rachael Ray, and say Paula Dean and give each of them the same ingredients and they all may have a little different method of mixing and preparing the ingredients; however, I would bet the end result would be very pleasing to the pallet in each case.  The concept of training a horse has many similarities to preparing a tasty recipe.

          In my opinion, in this country we raise the best raw product of horse flesh in the entire world.  So that being said, the majority of us get to start with the very best ingredients available.  It’s from this point in the training process that some get off track.  How you prepare and train this horse’s mind and body is what determines what you will have as an end result. 

           Just think about this:  Why does one restaurant flourish while another fails?  Is it location?  Is it the building and how it looks?  Is it their daily schedule of when they are open or closed?  I think the answer for most of us to these questions would be NO.  It all depends on the quality of the food.  My family is just like a lot of others, we will drive 30 minutes out of our way to eat at a restaurant in a crappy little building that has great food!  And why does one restaurant’s food taste so great and another be a disappointment?  The COOK and the COOKBOOK!  Ingredients and preparation determine the end result.

          I’m sure some of you at this point in the article are saying, “This Phil Haugen’s kind of a weird dude but he might be on to something”.  Well, I’m laughing a little myself as I write this article because I never know what I am going to come up with for comparisons to training; an idea just pops in my head and I write about it.

          Back to the training part though, just as we all love a good meal, I think we all appreciate and love having a well-trained horse for whatever discipline we pursue.

       I know that in an earlier blog I wrote about how I enjoy the training process now, and after 30 years of being in the training business, more than ever.  And after thinking more about that, I realized that it’s because my end product is so much more consistent than it was in the early years of my career.  I have the same ingredients to work with now, for the most part, that I did 20 years ago.  The difference is, just as a great cook, I am so much better at preparing the ingredients to get the maximum product as an end result.  My Dad used to have a saying, “The proof is in the pudding”.  Which meant; if you do what you’re supposed to, and put in the time and effort along with having the knowledge to prepare the ingredients, you will get a great end product.

          Horse Training and Horsemanship is just this simple.  You do not have to be like me and have spent the majority of your life working with the training horses.  All you have to do is find a great cook with a great recipe and learn how to prepare the ingredients into the end result that you want.

          My advice to you is this; remember my Dad’s saying, “The proof is in the pudding”. If you are going to get a training recipe from somebody they better have the reputation and track record of putting out one great product after another.  A great cook takes the ingredients given to them and puts out a tasty item every time.  It might be a cake, pie, twice baked potato, steak, vegetable dish, etc.  It’s all in the preparation of the ingredients. 

          Horsemanship and training are exactly the same; it’s all about understanding your raw product, implementing your training recipe, and getting a great end result.  Without the right recipe this will never happen or at the very least it will take much much longer than it should have.                                        

          We are all in the same boat and our time is precious.  We all have numerous daily obligations that take a toll on the time that we have to spend on our personal activities.   We are in the training business here at our facilities 365 days a year. 

          My wife and daughter are both very accomplished riders and really good “hands” with a horse.  Yet, with that said, they are going to a World Champion Barrel Racer’s Clinic this spring to see if we can “tweak” our recipe any and make it even better. 

          We feel the minute you stop trying to get better you start going backwards.  Just like at a clinic like this, if they can come home with even one thing that could slightly improve their training technique, which in turn could slightly improve their times, it can make a huge difference for a horse and rider’s career together.

          I think a couple great questions to ask yourself, if you want to improve your program are; What Cook and What Recipe am I using to produce my final product?

          I hope you enjoyed this little twist on Horsemanship and Horse Training.  Until next week, safe riding!

 Courtesy Phil Haugen
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