Lessons in Liberty – Part 2

STORY & PHOTOS BY JENN WEBSTER

If’ you’ve been reading along in our blog series with Jim Anderson, you may have caught our last installment. If not, you can always catch it here! In the last blog, we revealed 2014 Road to the Horse Champion Jim Anderson’s foundation principles of liberty training. In this blog, we take those notions a step further and build on the first exercise of moving the horse’s hindquarters, to more advanced techniques of body control with the horse in a halter and lead.

“When we put these first four exercises together, we’re laying the foundation of our communication with our horse,” the trainer says. “At liberty, you need this so badly because eventually, we won’t have a halter or saddle or bridle on the horse. If they don’t want to to be there with you, they not going to be. However, if you can train your horse through these basic exercises, there’s never worry nor fear from him – so he wants to be with you.”

The tricky part is teaching a horse the contrast between yielding exercises and “joining up.”

“There’s a big difference in teaching a horse how to yield away from you, but not run away from you,” Anderson explains. “When you put pressure on the horse, they should yield from the pressure – but with confidence. If they yield out of fear and you took the halter off – the horse would be gone. I need to be able to use my giddy-up stick and have it mean certain cues to my horse, without it ever implying to him ‘Leave me.’”

Often, people don’t mean to teach their horses this, but it happens unintentionally.

“It’s one of the most important points of liberty training. Pressure is something that signals to the equine they should remain with us, not leave us. Horses in nature use pressure but they’re actually still joined up. They can put pressure on each other, but they still want to be together. That’s what we need to figure out as riders or handlers. Well-trained liberty horses understand this – they don’t take it personally.”

TOOLS YOU’LL NEED:
• Rope halter
• Soft lead shank (0.5” thick, 16-feet long)
• Giddy-Up stick (On average,a four-foot dressage whip – depending on the horse.)

First Exercise: Yielding the Hind Quarters. Again, you need to read the first blog in our installment for this exercise.

Exercise #2.

Second Exercise: Get the Horse’s Shoulders Yielding Away From the Handler. The horse may yield away from us, but they must remain focused on us as they yield away. So when you yield the shoulder, the horse must always have one eye looking at us.

 

Exercise #3.

3rd Exercise: Softening of the head and neck. Softening it laterally; right and left. And softening it vertically; being able to set the head and neck down. When you can put the head wherever you want, it means the horse really has confidence in us as the handler. It’s an exercise that helps to bring the focus back to us.

 

Exercise #4.

4th Exercise: The Ribcage. When the horse circles on the lead line it arcs its ribcage around us. The horse has to give its ribcage and arc its entire body around yet, their whole focus is on us as they’re still kind of yielding away. They should hold a perfect circle around us and they should not push into us at any point. The horse must keep the same radius around, with the ribcage arced to the outside.

When I point my giddy-up stick at the ribcage, the horse should bend it outward and actually give me one eye or two. When the stick goes to the ground, that’s when he should yield his hindquarters away, but come to me. This is why it’s so important for the development of subtle cues – learned through the repetition of exercises one through four. When we are successful in all of them, I can merely bend my giddy-up stick at my horse and he does what I am requesting. The important point here is that my cues are incredibly subtle.

 

Lessons in Liberty

Jim Anderson was recently featured on a television feature this past weekend. It’s all part of Equus: The Story of the Horse airing Sunday nights on The Nature of Things at 8 PM on CBC-TV. Photo by Jenn Webster.

STORY & PHOTOS BY JENN WEBSTER

Did you happen to catch Equus, Story of the Horse on CBC (The Nature of Things) this past Sunday on TV? In this beautiful documentary that will feature over three hours with anthropologist-turned-filmmaker Niobe Thompson, viewers are taken on an epic journey across 11 countries and back in time to the mysterious beginnings of thehorse-human relationship. Thompson also spends a day in the Canadian Rockies with our friend and  “extreme cowboy” Jimmy Anderson, a professional trainer who has many accolades to his name. Anderson has left the old idea of “breaking horses” behind and he showcases his concepts in the TV feature.

We’ve featured Jimmy in many issues of WHR before, but back in 2016 we had the opportunity to spend a whole day with him, his wife Andrea and their horses. On this very special day, we got an inside look at some of the very first steps in liberty training. As the equine world is constantly shifting, those lessons learned back in 2016 are still applicable today. A well balanced seat and effective discipline-specific skills are no longer the only pursuits of the western rider these days. With the desire to create an even deeper connection with their horses, many western aficionados have turned to liberty to enrich their horse-to-human communication.

Jim and Andrea Anderson.

In unrestrained, free environments accentuated by the absence of tack, a handler can take one’s horsemanship to a new level with liberty. It’s a discipline limited only by a handler’s imagination and it’s reached through a willing partnership.

With a collection of exercises from the 2014 Road to the Horse Champion, Jim Anderson that we’ll detail in a dual-part blog series, you too, can achieve a higher level of learning and ultimately, an increased state of “brokeness” with your horse. Upon closer inspection, you’ll realize that the underlying foundation of liberty is no different than that of any other discipline – it simply allows for a little more creativity upon execution.

TOOLS YOU’LL NEED:
• Rope halter
• Soft lead shank (0.5” thick, 16-feet long)
• Giddy-Up stick (On average,a four-foot dressage whip – depending on the horse.)

It’s important to note a horse must first have an understanding of your cues while still haltered and on your line, before you can turn him loose. If not, your horse will not easily find the answer you’re hoping he’ll reach because he doesn’t understand. Once you’ve laid the foundation for him how to learn, your horse can be successful with liberty. In fact, you are setting him up for success by keeping him on line until he understands your cues 100 per cent.

PREPARING THE HORSE TO LEARN
“When we put any kind of contact or pressure to a horse, he will automatically look for a release or a reward,” says Anderson. “If the horse doesn’t know any better, when you first put pressure on him, his self-preservation kicks in. He will react with fight, flight, a kick or a bite. It’s only after we’ve first taught the horse how to learn and built a foundation for learning, that we can go towards liberty.”

Anderson explains that in order to prepare a horse for learning, a handler must first show the horse how to look for his reward.

“What’s important is that you set the foundation so when your horse is faced with a task, his self-preservation doesn’t kick in and we don’t create worry and fear within him,” the trainer says. “We don’t train for liberty through pressure and punishment – we train through reward.”

He clarifies that the horse will operate from its “self-preservation brain” or from its “thinking brain.” A handler aims to get the horse thinking from the latter so he’s always looking for a reward and not worried about pressure or punishment. After that, you can begin to incorporate body control into the training.

“It doesn’t matter which discipline you go to eventually, it’s all put together by several pieces of basic body control into one maneuver. An example of a higher degree of difficulty maneuver would be the lead change at liberty. In it, you’re asking the horse several things at once. But instead of the horse worrying, he has learned how to think his way through your instruction. You do this by starting with very little, simple things.”

Holding the lead in one hand, you want your horse to walk or trot in comfortable circles around you.

EXERCISE #1
Yielding the Hind Quarters
Working with the horse in a halter on the line and a Giddy-Up stick, the very first goal of liberty in Anderson’s program is to teach the horse how to yield his hindquarters. This exercise is twofold in that it teaches the horse how to physically move his hind end on your cue, but it also brings both of his eyes back to you as the handler – an essential component of liberty. When the horse has both of his eyes on you, he doesn’t have one eye looking out to the pasture.

“In liberty it’s not enough for the horse to be attentive and focused on us – we also need to be attentive and focused on him. With a horse, the focus leaves first and the feet follow. If we don’t have halter and shank attached to it, at liberty the horse can just leave. We have to focused and attentive on our horse, so we keep his focus. We need the ability to divert his attention back to us at any time. That way, we can also join his feet up to us even more,” Anderson explains.

“When the horse’s focus is on you 100 per cent, the join up and the bond between you and the horse becomes really strong. That’s the whole foundation of liberty,” he says.

Hold your Giddy-Up stick in the opposite hand, pointed away from the hindquarters until you are ready to move the hindquarters.

 

“When I want the horse to yield his hindquarters away from me, I hold my inside hand (the one holding the lead) up near his eye and direct my Giddy-Up stick towards his hind feet.” – Jim Anderson

“The goal is to get him to swing his hind end away even just one step, but the main key is to have him put both of his eyes on me as a result.” – Jim Anderson

 

When he does, I relax both my Giddy-Up stick and my focus and reach towards my horse to pet and reward him.

*NOTE: It’s important to note that there is a balance between yielding exercises and joining up. There’s a big difference in teaching a horse how to respond to the Giddy-Up stick, rather than running away from it. It’s normal in horsemanship to train horses to go forward or faster when we longe them – increased pressure from the stick means “go faster” or “move out.” In liberty, a handler must refine the concept with the horse somewhat and teach him that we will put pressure on him with the stick, but when the horse yields away from the pressure with confidence, he is rewarded. He’s still joined up with the handler and not reacting in flight mode. When the horse isn’t worried about pressure, we can finally take the halter off and he won’t leave. Utilizing a Giddy-Up stick should never indicate “leave the handler” to the horse. It’s only after we’ve established exercises like yielding the hindquarters plus other basic body control concepts, that we can then advance into more intermediate liberty concepts. Stay tuned for our next blog and until then – keep your halters on!

Try a Bit Before You Buy It!

There’s no question – top riders across the globe favour Tom Balding’s handcrafted bits and spurs. With Balding’s meticulous attention to detail, knowledge of the horse and high quality materials used to create his bits and spurs, it’s no wonder Balding’s company is a leader in the field. Fans include the National Reining Horse Association $5 Million Rider Andrea Fappani, National Cutting Horse Association Hall of Famer Phil Rapp, and National Reined Cow Horse Association Million-Dollar Rider Zane Davis, to name a few.

If you’ve ever considered purchasing a high quality bit, Tom Balding Bits & Spurs offers a wide variety of custom bit combinations. No matter what you are looking to attain from your horse’s performance, there’s a bit that will offer customized assistance. Tom Balding Bits & Spurs knows a high quality bit purchase requires the best educated decision possible; as it is an investment that will often last a lifetime. Which is why the company created the Trial Bit Service, offered to those who would like to try a mouthpiece before purchasing – to ensure they are comfortable with the function in relation to their riding style.

Photo by Jenn Webster.

Within the Trial Bit Service, clients are welcome to try up to three bits for two weeks. Additionally, the company tries to offer most combinations; however, because of the large number of possible combinations, clients may have to try a bit with a similar shank to the one requested. The only out of pocket expense you may incur are the shipping costs. For more information about this unique service, check out the Trial Bit website page here.

There are also multiple resources on the Tom Balding Bits & Spurs website available to help you select a mouthpiece and shank combination you might like to try. They include:

•  The Tom Balding blog.
•  The online catalog.
• The bit creator.
Sample buy-it-now-options.
Endorsements.

 

When you are ready to request your trial bits give Tom Balding Bits & Spurs a call or message them with the desired mouthpiece and shank combinations. They look forward to getting you into the right bit for you and your horse. Request your trial bits today!

Give Tom Balding Bits & Spurs a call at 307.672.8459 or visit them online at: www.tombalding.com

 

EQUI-BUSINESS – True Life Stories of Success

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele

Last month on the Equi-Business blog, we talked about obtaining financial lending in pursuit of an equine property goal. We began with the reality that the equine business is a challenging industry for traditional banks to provide financial support. For young people with the goal of creating a business in the horse industry, the lifestyle can be one filled with many rewards. Equine industries are also a good way of making a piece of land pay for itself – but none of it comes without proper planning, hard work and often, sacrifice.

Last year WHR spoke with some couples in the horse industry who faced the daunting task of obtaining financial support for a farm or ranch, to help elevate their horse businesses to the next level. Each faced their own hurdles as they went through the process.

Austin and Sara Seelhof and family.

Austin and Sara Seelhof run a successful reining horse training facility in Bottrel, Alberta. Austin focuses on training, showing and selling futurity and derby horses, and has a successful coaching program for non-professional riders. His wife, Sara, owns Be Better Equine Therapy which specializes in therapeutic thermal imaging for equine athletes. They are also the proud parents to three young children. Originally, Austin ran his burgeoning training business out of Lauder Ranch near Cochrane, AB, but the Seelhofs recognized the need to invest in more equity while growing their business and investing in their future.

In March 2017, the couple purchased a 50-acre property in Bottrel, Alberta that includes a house, a 110 x 220 arena, an existing barn and a shop. The property fit many of their requirements, including a wonderful school for their children nearby.

Austin says that when they began to think about properties he had originally wanted to buy land and build on it. They went through Farm Credit Canada (FCC), with the help of a great mortgage broker. However, the FCC was leery about financing a property that would need to be built upon and the Seelhof’s wouldn’t have been able to come up with a big enough down payment. The acreage they decided on was much easier to receive financing for through the FCC.

The FCC also had a “Young Farmers Loan” program at the time that liked to assist agriculturists under 40 in keeping their family in agriculture. The Seelhof’s had a solid business plan that showed steady growth in the last six years, as well as a side business in compressed hay that could be run from the property. The couple did look at other banks who offered good interest rates, but Austin says, “We chose Farm Credit because of their flexibility. You can stall payments, and we really felt like we were a person with them, not a number. They have different programs available so if you are having trouble paying, or you break your leg or something, they can be flexible and add payments on to the end if need be.”

Another added bonus of using FCC was that the lending institution would value the entire property, while many banks won’t value outbuildings in their property assessment. For the Seelhofs, this meant that their barn and arena wouldn’t be included in their loan – not ideal for a family who makes a living training horses.

Austin says, “One thing I wish I would’ve done sooner was to talk to a banker. My dad always said that you need a relationship with a banker, or an accountant or mortgage broker. At first it was really scary, but it was helpful to have a great mortgage broker to guide us.”

Alex Alves works a horse in the roundpen.

Alex and Sonja Alves operate Hat Creek Performance Horses on the Hat Creek Ranch in Wheatland County, 30 minutes east of Strathmore, Alberta. They offer horse training from colt starting to finishing, with access to cattle, pasture, trails and obstacles. As well as lessons, cowboy challenge and flag practice nights, Hat Creek also takes in horses for resale, all the while slowly building a breeding program on strong bloodlines. The Alves ranch has 80 acres of which 50 are hay crop and 30 are pasture. The Alves’ purchased the property on August 31, 2012 after the previous owners had moved six years prior. The property had a calving barn that was too low for horses, a complete corral system to run cattle, a shop, a craft shop that had been used to make saddles and an outdoor arena that had become overgrown. Despite small modifications, the Alves’ felt the property had potential and Hat Creek was ready for them to bring horses in immediately. It needed few upgrades for cattle. Another bonus was that, at the time, Alex was working towards getting his welding journeyman and B-Pressure and the shop was perfect for his set-up.

Alex and Sonja have three children. Alex grew up in the horse industry and immersed himself in various events. It was always a dream of his to be able to make a living training horses, however it didn’t always seem feasible which is why he became a welder as well.

By the end of 2015 they had built an indoor arena on their property and by 2016 they training was their full time profession.

The main building at Hat Creek Ranch (owned by Alex and Sonja Alves).

The Alves’ did hit some snags when attempting to purchase their property. Due to Hat Creek being 80 acres and set up mainly for cattle, agricultural lenders considered it a hobby farm. Other lenders saw it as an acreage and therefore, agricultural. So, as Sonja states, “It completely fell through the cracks of the lending world. Being that we were 25 and under at the time, lenders had no interest in lending us money. The next catch was that we had to have 20% down.”

Alex and Sonja had to put together a business plan, and present it to the Agricultural Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) who offered a great interest rate of 1.86%. In order to acquire financing, the plan had to show that it was possible to generate at least $15,000 in revenue off the property so that they could be considered agricultural.

“At the time we only had about 10% to put down, so we got a loan through my parents so we could have the down payment and purchase the property. We honestly had to find a back road to be able to purchase the property. We spent at least a month-and-a-half trying to find a way to get financed. It was a nightmare.” For the Alves’, Sonja says that there is a lot of advice for young couples, and some of it seems to be repetitive in nature.

“For us, I think it is important to remember that if you wanted it bad enough there will be a way, no matter how many doors get shut right in your face, there will be a back road open. At the end of the day, success can only be achieved one way and that is through hard work. Alex says it so well, ‘You never fail, it just gives you another chance to succeed.’”

When Equi-Business returns, we’ll start discussing the important and elements of a business plan. ’Til next time!

7th Annual SK Equine Expo

The 7th Annual Saskatchewan Equine Expo takes place February 15-18, 2018 at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon, SK. Together volunteers from Saskatchewan Horse Federation, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, various equine breed groups and the staff of Prairieland Park work together to facilitate this annual event. The event presents equine related lectures, presentations, demonstrations, entertainment and opportunities focusing on the equine industry. As a participant or spectator, you can experience the newest in equine products, techniques and technology!

Tickets are on sale now and include the extravaganza, tradeshow, demonstrations and clinics. Tickets are available online and on the website: http://saskatchewanequineexpo.com/

Stay up to date with the schedule of events at: http://www.saskatchewanequineexpo.ca/events/

 

Realizing there was a need within the Saskatchewan horse industry for a quality event that showcased the newest technological advances, the latest developments in equine health, and a demonstration of horsemanship excellence, organizers created an event that is equally as entertaining as it is educational.

The Saskatchewan Equine Expo on February 15-18, will again celebrate the diversity of the equine industry with live demonstrations, breeds on display and outstanding horsemen and women. Make plans to be there, get your tickets today!

As an addendum to the event this year is the newly added, Off Track Thoroughbred Challenge. In this highly anticipated event, qualified trainers purchase a retired Thoroughbred racehorse and will spend six months to one year retraining it to compete in a variety of chosen disciplines at the 2019 Saskatchewan Equine Expo.

See you there!

www.saskatchewanequineexpo.com

Mane Event Red Deer, Post Coverage

 

BY ESTEBAN ADROGUE

That’s a wrap, folks! Western Horse Review Magazine had the pleasure of attending the 11th annual Mane Event Expo held at Westerner Park, in Red Deer from April 21-23, 2017. This year’s event hosted amazing clinicians and speakers who presented a great variety of disciplines and topics; from barrel racing and ranch roping, to dressage and jumping, to driving the horse and tack fitting. Plus, the well anticipated “Trainers Challenge”. But what would be an expo without the shopping? The Trade Show, as expected, didn’t disappoint. With an array of options for everyone, from jewelry made from your horse’s hair, to saddles and farrier equipment.


Highlights of the expo included presentations by Van Hargis and Peter Gray (over 35 years of experience in the show arena and Bronze medalist at the Pan Am Games in Eventing, respectively) who filled both arenas with thrilled spectators. There was also the “Live Like Ty” booth, which commemorated the loss of champion and an exceptional individual – both on and off the arena – Ty Pozzobon. Looking to raise awareness, protect and support the health and well-being of rodeo competitors and hosted by the Ty Pozzobon Foundation, a presentation on Liberty Training was conducted by Kalley Krickeberg. During this time, Krickeberg taught the audience how to build awareness and educate the horse’s instincts, in addition to presenting other interesting topics.

*
The always anticipated Trainers Challenge consists of a three-day event and this year’s competitors Glenn Stewart, Martin Black, and Shamus Haws went head-to-head, putting their skills and knowledge to the test. Each trainer relayed their methods to the audience while handling unbroke horses provided by Ace of Clubs Quarter Horses. In a progression that usually takes between 30-60 days, these amazing trainers managed to achieve it in just as little as 96hrs! After Sunday’s final session, Martin Black was named the champion of the 2017 Trainers Challenge.


On Sunday afternoon, Western Horse Review had a wonderful visit from the Calgary Stampede Royalty. Queen Meagan Peters, Princess Brittany Lloyd, and Princess Lizzie Ryman helped us draw names for our give-aways for the expo and delivered Western Horse Review goodie bags, plus had pictures taken with the public.

*
After the conclusion of the Trainers Challenge, people gathered their belongings and shopping articles, loaded their horses into trailers and this year’s Red Deer, AB, Mane Event came to a closing. We hope to see y’all at the next Mane Event, which will be held in London, Ontario from May 12-14, 2017!

Colt Starting for A Great Cause

The Okotoks Agricultural Society will play host to a special event this Sunday, March 19, as a one-day colt starting demonstration will be conducted by Alex Alves (Bassano, AB) and Nick Baer (Olds, AB) – all in support of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

All proceeds generated from the event will be donated directly to the hospital. This includes ticket sales, donations and any other funds raised.

 

“This is something we have been planning for quite some time and are very excited to finally announce the details!” says Sonja Alves, one of the main coordinators of the day. The doors will open at 10 am with the first demo starting at 10:30. March 19 will be an excellent opportunity to come and watch two horse trainers demonstrate their techniques and support a great cause.

Farrier Chad Lausen will also conduct a horseshoeing demo, while JR’s Hat will be offering hat cleanings or re-shapings for a donation to the cause!

Alex Alves at the Saskatchewan Agribition, Trainer’s Challenge.

 

 

Alex Alves operates Hat Creek Performance Horses near the town of Bassano, Alberta. Growing up in the horse industry allowed Alves to develop as a horseman through the many disciplines he either competed or worked in, ranging from hunter jumpers, to western and English pleasure, track and polo horses, and rope horses. Every discipline taught him something valuable. Along with every horse. Today, Alves starts young horses on the right track for any discipline and finishes them to a focus in roping, cutting, or cow horse.

Nick Baer operates Running Bar N Horsemanship and is currently a student at Olds College, studying for his advanced farrier sciences. Baer began learning at a young age about how to start his own horses and has dedicated himself to better horsemanship. Learning his techniques from horseman Doug Mills and Bob Kaufmann he began furthering himself. His dedication has shown at competitions at the Daines Ranch and Rocking Heart Ranch. Baer himself has spent many hours in the Alberta Children’s Hospital as he was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at a very early age. He lives every day with a insulin pump and is excited to have a chance to give back.

Chad Lausen is a graduate of the Olds College Advanced Farrier Sciences program and operates his business out of Strathmore, AB, currently. Lausen has earned the reputation as being extremely hard-working, with a dedication to the horse. He likes to continuously improve his skill set. Lausen also consistently represents Alberta and Canada on the world stage at farrier and blacksmith competitions across North America, as a past team member of the Western Canadian Farriers team and as an individual. This year Lausen will once again represent Alberta at the World Championships of Blacksmithing in Madison, Wisconsin.

The use of two fillies have graciously been donated for the day by Rocking Heart Ranch.

 

Doors will open at 10am with the first demo starting at 10:30. Minimum donations/admission of $10 will be collected at the door.

 

Contact Alex Alves at 1-403-909-5664 for more information.

Arizona Riding

Experience Horse Country

Diverging into Arizona horse country, is like discovering a decadent dinner buffet. Whatever your flavor or interest, there is an event, barn or picturesque part of the state that will feed what ever you’re craving.

Arizona_D3-3511_140924

From reiners to ropers- it doesn’t matter what type of riding you are into, Arizona is a melting pot of all types of industry professionals. While you are putting together your travel itinerary, be sure to investigate where all the top trainers and horses are and check out their programs. Getting in touch with the horse industry is well worth your time. There is nothing like partaking in an afternoon with some of the industry’s best professionals!

Arizona_D2-0998_140923

Taking a day to walk through a stallion station or prospect barn in the southwest, may give you some new options to check out. Having an eye on trending bloodlines in the horse game, will make or break you in many walks of the performance world. Whether you are investigating a junior stud or a proven producer, Arizona is home to an array of pedigrees options. Go tantalize your imagination and check them out in the flesh.

If you are in the market for a new prospect, the horse market in Arizona has you covered. Take a look online and see who is hosting sales this year. Maybe your next champion is in an Arizona stable.

Looking through the equine events in the Scottsdale area throughout the winter, is overwhelming.The state’s major exhibitions can put tens of thousands of horses and competitors into their shows, throughout the season.

Find all of this and more, including a feature on cowboy town Cave Creek, in our January/February Arizona special feature for snowbirds riding in Arizona. It’s not too late to subscribe and get an issue for yourself. BONUS – subscribe now and receive a free Equine Photography coffee table bookazine. Keep it for yourself or check one more gift given on your Christmas list. http://www.westernhorsereview.com/one-year-subscription-plus-equine-photography-special-edition/

Out West – Hawaii Experience

A collection of rustic ranch getaways to whet your appetite for the West while satisfying your need for the sun.

Getaways-3

The Hawaiian Islands are opulence in form. When we think Maui or Kauai, images of hula skirts and leis fashioned from delicate orchids are conjured, with lush green landscapes and rumbling volcanoes. With eight islands making up the state, the geography is as varied as the opportunities for adventure.

Travelers often visit Hawaii for the obvious reasons: the intoxicating culture, the endless ocean, the late night open-air pig roasts, the stunning and flawless white sand beaches. But it is a well-educated visitor who is aware of the long-held history of ranching and horses in Hawaii. It is a fact that it and is home to the well-known ‘paniolo’, the Hawaiian cowboy, and also Parker Ranch, standing at one time as one of the world’s largest privately owned cattle ranches, spanning over 150,000 acres.

Through the prolific working cattle ranch has now evolved from a privately owned operation into a charitable trust after the death of Richard Smart, a sixth generation Parker Ranch descendant, cowboy culture has not lost importance to the Hawaiian people. Next time you visit the Islands, be sure to fill your bucket list with an array of colourful, enriching experiences that will leave your heart calling, “Holo, holo, paniolo!”

Puakea Ranch 

Far from the crowds of the overdone resorts yet just minutes to excellent local restaurants, world-class beaches, waterfalls and rainforests lies an exclusive slice of paradise. With just four private vacation homes set upon vast and colorful acres of land, you are taken to a place where time slows down and few people are ever seen. Each authentic plantation era bungalow offers you complete privacy surrounded by sweeping ocean and mountain views. Unpretentious luxuries, attention to simple details and 5 star personal service is what sets The Puakea Ranch apart and makes it so special.

Their historic bungalows are stocked with everything you need to enjoy your home away from home. Think of The Ranch as your very own country estate with high speed Wi-fi and panoramic ocean vistas. Puakea Ranch is proud to offer an organic on-site garden, a cackling bunch of egg-laying hens, sustainable energy power and noticeable water conservation practices in impeccably restored homes.

Your hosts are always available to assist you during your stay. A personal concierge, kitchen provisioning, unique tropical flower arrangements, horseback riding, guided hikes and water sports can all be pre-arranged as part of your stay with us. Personal chef service, childcare, massage and acupuncture treatments can all be had in the privacy of your ranch home. Every detail of your vacation can be looked after, or you can plan for nothing at all except total relaxation. Formal check-in is not required. No matter what time you arrive, your home will be unlocked, lit up and ready to enjoy to the fullest.

Puakea Ranch will delight and indulge you with unsurpassed charm wrapped in comfortable, eco-minded luxury.

Paniolo Adventures

The Ponoholo Ranch on Kohala Mountain is one of the most beautiful ranches on the Big Island. This 11,000 acre cattle ranch covering three climate zones stretches from the rain forest at 4,800 feet to the ocean. It has the second largest herd of cattle on the island, 6,000 to 8,000, after the Parker Ranch. The ranch is operated in a environmentally sensitive manner through intensive rotational grazing which maximizes nutritional opportunity for the cattle thereby reducing damage to the land through erosion and overgrazing. The cattle raised on the Ponoholo Ranch are sent to the mainland in livestock ships after they are weaned from their mothers. They are then trucked to pasture or to feed lots primarily in Texas.

In conjunction with the daily ranch operations, the owners of Ponoholo Ranch also operate Paniolo Adventures. The premier open range riding operation on the Big Island, guests have the opportunity to experience the life of the Paniolo in the old days of the North Kohala ranch country.

The ranch offers awe inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean, the Kohala and Kona coastline and the Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Hualalai volcanoes on the Big Island and the Haleakala volcano on Maui.

Choose from one of six ride options to get out and see Hawaii that you haven’t seen before.

Dahana Ranch

Looking for a more immersive equestrian experience on your travels? Dahana Ranch is your place, an operation that spreads out as far as the senses can go. This ranch is the only native Hawaiian, family owned and operated activities ranch on the Big Island and possibly, in the entire state of Hawaii. Formally known as Nakoa Ranch it started as a native Hawaiian award in 1951 by William Pa’akalua Kalawaia’nui, father of the current owner, third generation Hawaiian cowboy Harry Nakoa.

Now, over 60 years later, the ranch is a comprehensive training operation. Guests can choose from horsemanship camps or colt starting camps. They are available in 14, 30, 60, and 90-day terms, and include the airport transfer, accommodations, rodeo and competition attendance, cattle work and sight seeing opportunity. Nakoa covers basic skills to more advances techniques, from ground work to roping.

The trainer assures all of his students who have accomplished 30-60 days that his methods will forever change your life, your attitude and approach to working horses. If you are looking for something more leisurely, tour their broodmare band or visit their bucking bull stock. Book a ‘Paniolo Party’ where you can choose from such experiences as a western photo shoot, equine vaulting, pony express race or mechanical bull – just to name a few. If you will decide on the ‘Roughridander Getaway’ there is no television and no computers – only the cowboy cottage to enjoy, while being treated to lessons, ranch rides, cattle drives and cowboy mai tais at sunset.

At Dahana Ranch, you are sure to be entertained, educated and leave with memories of two of the earth’s most active volcanos and the emerald green slopes of Mauna Kea, in the heart of Hawaii’s cowboy country, Waimea.

Silver Falls Ranch

Silver Falls Ranch is Kauai horseback riding at its best. Near Kilauea Town and the wildlife refuge on Kauai’s beautiful north shore, Silver Falls Ranch lies adjacent to the Kamookoa Ridge, a lush inland valley blessed with natural waterways and a beauty unique to this corner of paradise. Visit Silver Falls Ranch and see Kauai in a way you’ll always remember.

Missing your own horses while you’re on your tropical vacation? Silver Falls Ranch will quench your desire with its own string of ‘Happy Horses’. Choose your mount and explore the island, or admire their other herd. Silver Falls Ranch breeds and trains some of Hawaii’s top working cow horse cutting prospects. At Silver Falls Ranch, horses are family. From patient to spirited, these equines make everyone from the earnest beginner to the experienced trail rider, feel satisfied. Their gentle trail horses are forgiving of beginner mistakes, while the experienced rider will enjoy their responsiveness.

Choose from the Hawaiian Discovery Ride, the Silver Falls Ride, the Tropical Trail Adventure or arrange a personal guided ride throughout the stunning fauna that is called Kauai.