Confidence Clinics Fill More than Bucket Lists

How old is too old to ride? The answer to this question is if you have the desire, the time, and some savings, it’s never too old to climb into the saddle. Safety regardless of age surpasses any restriction our minds or our busy lives throw into the mix.

Whether riding horses is on your bucket list or you finally have the time to pursue a dream of horseback riding or ownership, building confidence with your horse and establishing a secure and loving bond paves the trail to a successful partnership.

As we all enter a second COVID summer, I’ve been sticking close to home, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t discovered equestrian gems in my own community. Loal Tucker Horsemanship, Inc., located a hop, skip, and a jump from my home, proved to be a hidden treasure, at least to me.

Last month, I attended Loal Tucker’s Confidence Clinic. I watched more than a dozen riders over the age of sixty-five years navigate lessons about how to tack up a horse correctly, lead their equine with confidence and authority, and ultimately signal their mounts to walk and trot on command.

Loal is a third-generation rancher and horseman whose family has been ranching in New Mexico for one hundred and fifty years. Honing his knowledge and skill in the Pecos Mountains, Loal embraced horsemanship based on patience and gentle training techniques. A highly respected trainer, clinician, and New Mexico Search and Rescue leader, Loal offers clinics on a host of horsemanship topics, including the Confidence Clinic.

Loal and his wife, Wendy, operate Loal Tucker Horsemanship, Inc.  Lamy, New Mexico. Buying and selling horses compliments their clinic schedule. With a forty-acre ranch with an indoor and outdoor arena, fifteen boarding stalls, and heated tack rooms, new and experienced riders build skills and confidence.

Teaching “nervous riders” who may be returning to the saddle or new to it is one of the reasons people flock to his clinics.

Accommodating horse and human personalities require imagination and humor, both traits that Loal possesses. Returning to the basic basics factors into a successful ride which is why Loal spent about forty-five minutes on the first day of the clinic evaluating how each rider had saddled the horse. Demonstrating where the cinch and the rider’s legs should be positioned surprised a few riders, but with corrections made with humor, horses wore their saddles correctly.

Learning to replace fear with knowledge settled some rider nerves. Loal’s emphasis on why it’s important to develop a relationship with a horse on the ground first, including saddling and leading the animal correctly, only fueled the hunger of riders to spend time in the saddle.

Exercises in the saddle on the second day built on lessons learned the day before. The ability to read a horse’s body language and respond with positive intentions is transferred from the ground to the saddle. Being a leader and partner to a horse lays a positive foundation in the relationship.

Carol Marthens, a repeat participant in Loal’s clinics, smiled her way through the Confidence Clinic. Sporting a wide-brimmed hat festooned with a pair of sunglasses, Carol’s relationship with her horse, Smoke, isn’t new, but each opportunity to work with Loal improves her skills and relationship with her horse.

“I have found Loal Tucker to be the real deal and a true horseman here in Santa Fe. These are qualities that are hard to find in many “horse trainers.” There is none of this “a good horse is a tired horse” or bullying your horse into submission. His goal with each 4-legged student and 2-legged student is to teach the horse to be a calm and willing partner and for the 2-legged partner to have fun in this partnership. Loal teaches horses and people to be partners in whatever their goals are. Loal takes the time to teach quietly and calmly as a true horseman will do. He has your horse’s best interest at heart. Your goals are presented in a way your horse understands,” Marthens notes.

Whether you are a returning rider or making good on your dream to connect with a horse, you’re never too old to swing up into the saddle!

Stay safe and stay horsey!