Working together helps both rider and horse, expert says

Even experienced riders need to look for ways to learn from their horse—one of several lessons imparted by an expert trainer.

Kerry Kuhn, Medicine Lodge, Kansas, on March 19 showcased different aspects of horsemanship inside the Special Events Arena on the west side of Western State Bank Expo Center, Dodge City, Kansas. His presentations were part of the annual Western Kansas Manufacturers Association’s 3i SHOW that drew farmers and ranchers to see the latest in innovation March 17 to 19. All of the activities were inside the expo center.

Kuhn said regardless of age or experience riders need to regularly work with their horse. He likes to share techniques to help horse enthusiasts. Kuhn says he has earned his share of bruises yet he says that horsemanship has brought him much joy, which is only outdone by his family and relationship with Jesus Christ.

During one of his demonstrations he worked with Leah Becker, Ingalls, and her mare to answer questions.

Even an experienced rider, Kuhn said, needs to know the animal because a horse can tell when the rider is uncomfortable and when that occurs so do accidents.

His goal is to answer, “What can I do to get the horse to do what I want?” he said.

“You can put a bridle on a horse but that doesn’t mean he wants it,” was another of Kuhn’s nuggets to the audience.

Kuhn said a comparison might be to parent who has a young child and who sees a bowl of candy and wants to dive in. If the parent tells the kid he can have one piece and he listens there is no problem, but what happens if the kid eats a lot of candy out of bowl? “He gets sick,” Kuhn said as the audience nodded their heads in agreement.

Kuhn liked the 60-foot round pen in the arena because it is practical and helps the trainer, too.

“When a horse gets spooked it goes from point A to point B,” he said. “The good thing about a circular pen is it brings the horse back to point A.”

One of Kuhn’s goals is to help the rider understand he or she can help dictate the horse’s mindset. Ultimately, the rider’s confidence is what a horse can respond to as he noted the reigns and bridle should not be considered the rider’s security blanket. Becker demonstrated by riding hands free as her mare loped around the arena.

“I’m not telling you to take your bridle off,” Kuhn said, adding it is a tool to help communicate with the horse.” My idea is ‘could we meet together in the middle.’”

In a way the bridle serves as the translator so the horse knows what to do, Kuhn said, as he likened it to traveling to a foreign country. If he can only speak English then at the airport those countrymen may not be interested in visiting to him, but if he can communicate to them then they will gravitate toward each other.

“The horse thinks the bridle is the Holy Grail,” Kuhn said that brought smiles from the audience.

Kuhn what fascinates him about training horses is there is no guarantee how the animal will ultimately perform, but if the rider is willing to practice and learn the odds of success are much greater.

Other 3i SHOW events included daily electric safety demonstrations undertaken by Victory Electric Cooperative, Pioneer Electric Cooperative and Wheatland Electric cooperative that covered all kinds of scenarios.

A mower demonstration was set up and people of all ages participated in a regional cornhole tournament. A gun show also brought enthusiasts for a variety of lawful weapons and other collectibles.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].

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