"Practical" and "fun" are often mutually exclusive ideas. Not at Raye Lochert Horsemanship, where the emphasis is on practical training so riders and their horses can have more fun together. No matter the riding style or level, competition oriented or not, Raye uses a safe, humane and constantly evolving approach to
help riders make the most of their time with
Based at he and his wife Sharon's Critter Creek Ranch in Santa Rosa, Raye splits his time somewhat evenly between working with clients at home and being on the road, giving clinics and presentations at expos and other equestrian gatherings. He also has a growing line of training DVDs that allows regular clients and those who don't have access to him in person to benefit from his effective training techniques.
Whatever his clients' situation with their horse, there is always a common theme, Raye asserts. "Everybody is primarily looking for more confidence and more control over their horse. We teach techniques and skills specifically aimed at building that confidence."
Raye is known for keeping things simple, being patient and using humor to help riders stay relaxed and the learning process stay enjoyable. "We like to break things down into simple terms. Usually what we are doing is not rocket science."
Training horses is a big part of his business, but the end goal is always enabling the rider to accomplish the same things with their horse that he can. "When I have a horse in training with me at the ranch, the owner needs to be taking a lesson, on their horse, with me at least once a week, if not more. Often it's a case of needing to retrain the rider about using certain cues, and getting that to the point where it is second nature."
Raye's next appearance date is as the featured clinician at the Western States Wild Horse & Burro Expo in Gardnerville, NV, Aug. 2-4. It's Raye's first time at this event, and he's looking forward to meeting new people and sharing his ideas. One thing for sure is that his presentations won't be geared only for those looking to start a wild Mustang. "All of the things I offer apply to any horse," he notes. "People often talk about having
a gaited horse, a dressage horse, or a Mustang,
for example, but the reality is that they are all horses first."
Always More To Learn
Although Raye's main job is to teach at the Expo, there's no doubt he'll learn something, too. That's been his modus operandi since he first became enchanted by horses as a kid growing up in Northern California. Curiosity and an open mind have been critical to his success since he turned to professional horse training in 2001.
"I watch everybody," says Raye, who recently returned from a trail ride with 300 guys out in the middle of the woods. "They're not horse trainers, but I watched them to see what they were doing and how it was working for them and whether it might make sense for me."
That approach enables Raye's methods to constantly evolve and it's one that is especially valuable in his position under the ever-growing umbrella of "natural horsemanship" trainers. Many of them, both the famous and the lesser known, are friends and all of them have something to offer. "I am constantly picking up tidbits. Horses are just like people in that they don't all learn the same way. It's best to have a lot of tools in your toolbag when you need to get something done."
Life at Critter Creek Ranch is good, especially for the horses. The 15-acre property has room for 30 horses, but boarders are usually limited to 12 to 15. Raye admits he's a little fanatic about horse care and keeping a small number enables him to do everything himself, from the training to stall cleaning and feeding. "I know it is kind of compulsive, but I like to make sure they are cared for to my expectations and to keep track of all aspects of their training."
A covered arena facilitates riding in any weather and boarding options include stalls and paddocks, plus there's ample pasture space for turn-outs. Critter Creek's obstacle course is a great stage for training at all levels and regular play days incorporate the course's challenges. The next of Raye's regular clinics at the ranch is a one-day session, Obstacle Horsemanship, slated for July 13. Participation is $150 and auditors are welcome for $15.
Training DVDs are another way to learn from Raye. The current library includes Better Stops & Back Ups, The Pushy/Aggressive Horse, Conquering Obstacles and Speed Control: Teaching The Jog, priced between $27 and $32 dollars.
For more information about Raye Lochert Horsemanship, visit www.rlhorsemanship.com or call 707-570-2470.