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David is a certified natural horsemanship trainer, certified by Kenny Harlow. He spent a year studying with Kenny and passed Kenny’s certification course to his very high standards. Kenny is in turn certified by John Lyons in the first trainer certification course John offered in 1994 (Kenny’s classmate was Ken McNabb). David also has trained with Frank Bell, Buck Brannaman, and Colleen Kelly. He has studied methods and techniques of Buck Brannaman, John Lyons, Kenny Harlow, Frank Bell, Clinton Anderson, Tom Dorrance, Bill Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Mark Rashid, Pat Parelli, Richard Shrake, Robert Miller, Ken McNabb, Sally Swift, and Cherry Hill.
David has a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Behavioral Science (USAF Academy, 1976), and a Master of Arts (MA) in Psychology, Guidance, and Counseling (Univ of Northern Colorado, 1983). This helps him be particularly adept at providing effective leadership and training to horses, at alleviating loss of confidence in riders, and mending broken relationships between horse and rider. He can teach effective horsemanship to both horses and riders. If you have a horse you haven’t ridden for quite some time, but would like to realize the joy of riding your calm, relaxed, confident mount after renewing a wonderful partnership with them, David can take you there, whether it has been 6 months or 12 years since you have last ridden.
David insists on putting an extremely solid foundation on any of his equine students such that not only are they relaxed, calm, brave, and steady trail partners, but can rapidly excel at any discipline, whether it be equitation, hunter, jumping, dressage, reining, western pleasure, performance, or cattle work, or in or out of an arena. He gives horses a lot of responsibility to carry themselves, to make effective decisions, to focus their attention on their handler/rider, and to respond to rider requests. He finds that the more you expect from your mount, and the more responsibility you give them, the more performance they will give you, and thoroughly enjoy it as well.
David is also a professional teamster, and enjoys occasionally driving Belgian teams for Harmon’s Hayrides and Carriages. He was chosen to assist in delivering the 2007 White House Christmas Tree to Mrs. George Bush at the White House in Nov 2007. He can start or finish your horse, pony, or mini-horse not only under saddle but also to the harness. His 147 pound frame permits him to start and jump most ponies. He personally owns 5 sizes of horses and 2 sizes of donkeys. You’re always welcome to come visit him at Morgan Springs Farm and socialize with his 18 equines.
David provides personal service. Practical Equine Training, Inc, is a very small operation. He conducts all of the training himself—no one else rides, drives or trains your horse. He takes on a maximum of 3 horses resident at a time, emphasizing quality, not quantity. Normally in a 30 day start, he conducts about 40 training sessions of variable length, each session being goal-oriented (when the lesson objective is satisfied, that session ends).
He personally rides and teaches both English and Western, and bareback.
David insists on involving the primary owner or rider as much as possible or feasible, and frequently conducts his training at their home barn or facility. He provides training to the rider/driver–included in the training price. You will always be welcome at any and all training sessions, especially on the rides out. Normally the 3rd backing of a horse is a trail ride trailered away from Morgan Springs Farm, oftentimes to Lake Anna State Park, or up into the Shenandoah National Forest from Graves Mountain or Old Rag. David conducts a lot of walk/trot/canter/whoa transition training on the trails, usually a horse’s first canter is on this trail ride. He works on improving impulsion, control, balance, and suppleness, and of course obstacle negotiation, and always take the horses into the Lake wading up to their belly (and swimming, seasonally dependent). The owner/rider is always welcome to accompany these rides on another horse (he can provide you a suitable mount), schedule permitting, all included in the price of training. This trail ride is where the horse learns to respond to requests for both physical control of the feet and body as well as emotional control to achieve a calm, relaxed disposition while attending to the rider.
David does not claim to be a horse whisperer, but does listen very very closely to his equine students and partners. He treats each individual with respect and dignity, and takes the time to introduce himself and bonds with each horse. He is as kind as possible, but provides extremely effective leadership, which is what horses crave beyond all else–it is the basis of their survival as a species. They much prefer effective leadership to affection, though they have their own hierarchy of needs—safety & security, then comfort, eating, socializing, and play. David has met many people who love their horses dearly, but are bucked off their horse. That same horse, whom they love dearly, may also try to bite and kick them. At the same time they love their horse, it scares them, and is out of control. But leaders care very much for those they lead (to the point that they hold the lives of those they’re charged with as more important than their own), and if they don’t care very much for their charges, they’re not leaders, they are tyrants. David leads the horses he interacts with—and gives them the responsibility to be in control of themselves, both physically and emotionally. They never fail him.
David uses three guidelines, or rules, as he conducts training:
If at any time it appears any of these rules could get violated during a training session, he re-directs to end on a positive note, steps back, and re-assesses his approach.
Should you want to evaluate a trainer, those three rules form a good measuring stick—if a trainer violates them, you should consider going elsewhere. Also, if they do not permit you to observe training sessions, you should consider going elsewhere.