California Riding Magazine • March, 2014

Cowgirl Bootcamp
Horsemanship and health emphasis make for an empowering experience.

by Truen Bergen

Armando Rios, trail guide and trainer.

Last fall, a group of us, including my pals from Rockin'CW Ranch, and some folks from Australia, flew in to Texas to attend a three-day clinic in Stephenville, on the ranch of a well-known horsemanship clinician. Of course, we returned with a whole new bag of tricks, CDs, training tools and lots of enthusiasm.

Within the week we started our work with the 15 rescued horses and ponies my friends at CW have taken in. Armando Rios, partner and trainer at the Rockin'CW, fine-tuned our clumsy attempts at desensitizing, holding the training stick, backing the horses, disengaging the hindquarters and so on. We were on a roll and the horses we were working seemed to get the message: We meant business and there was no going back to the old ways those critters had of walking all over us with disrespect. As Armando said, "I am the colonel and you are my soldiers!" Yes Sir! What a great time we had! The horses, too, enjoyed the activity and their new "job" with "two eyes" at attention!

Trail riding in Nobel Canyon.

At the end of my "bootcamp," I was surprised to find that I could once again get the zipper up on my favorite jeans, and better yet, wear them without cutting off circulation! I felt vigorous and enthusiastic, looking forward to working my horse each morning. I was marching around that arena at the CW like I knew what I was doing and my horse was in shock. "Where did this wild cowgirl come from?"

I was proud, full of fresh air and energy, and fell into bed at night with a sense of accomplishment. A light bulb came on and an idea started to build. This was great exercise, and I felt fantastic and empowered. Not only that, I love being with horses. Why not share this feeling of accomplishment with other horse and fitness lovers?

Cowgirl Bootcamp was born from this idea. We are so thrilled that we can offer an experience like this to the public. We have designed a two-and-a-half day all-inclusive fitness/equine experience that includes some exciting, life enhancing activities, as well as horsemanship and trail riding. The Rockin' CW Ranch/Splash of Passion, owned by Christina Walker, with trainer Armando Rios, sponsors the equine activities while Michelle Ray, certified yoga instructor, leads us with her special energizing yoga routines.
Accommodations and meals will be provided at the Buckthorn Lodge B&B, a rustic, western style lodge just around the corner from The Rockin' CW Ranch and two blocks from the trail head of the magnificent Nobel Canyon riding and hiking trails.

Christina at Rockin'CW Ranch.

We strive to offer fitness, horsemanship, healthy eating, coupled with new friends and the bounty of nature. Put together, we hope that you will leave feeling empowered and competent with a new respect for horses and your ability to manage the equine mind, as well as have a jump start on your own health and fitness goals.

Our clinics will be held in Pine Valley, just 45 minutes from the San Diego metropolitan area. Pine Valley is just off of Hwy 8 East, adjacent to the Cleveland National Forest. We will start our clinics around 4 pm on Friday afternoons with a meet and greet and horsemanship lecture; Saturday morning the intensive starts with power yoga, hiking and ground training with the horses. After lunch we will continue our ground work and and riding in the arena, followed by relaxation yoga, dinner and bedtime at the Buckthorn Lodge. Sunday, our schedule resumes with early yoga and ground work, a picnic lunch on the trail and riding in the Noble Canyon Area throughout the afternoon, returning to the ranch to end our adventure around 5 pm. All levels of riding ability and experience can be accommodated.

Our clinics are ongoing through the spring and summer and special rates for groups of five to eight are available. We also offer five-day clinics for those who want to explore horsemanship and fitness on a more intensive level.

The equine portion of the workshop is sponsored by Rockin'CW Ranch/Splash of Passion, where they are passionate about horses. Hospitality offered by Buckthorn Lodge B&B, where your comfort is my passion.

For more information call 619-473-0291 or visit