> Saddlebred Training Tips

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Why Worry Farm

Just read your comments from 2009 about why worry farm...

enjoyed the hell out of it.
Stan hired me as an assistant in 1972 and I worked for WWF for about a year before my girl friend's dad decided I needed a respectable profession and gave me a job in his civil engineering company in Santa Clara.
I got to know Stan through Ralph Corpe, who trained Mrs. Roth's western horses. Stan hired me when I was training hunters/jumpers at Charter Oak Farm (woodside)
I had the big room at the end of the hall, upstairs in the groom's house. Used to spend a fair amount of my down time looking at the carriages in the carriage house. wonder what ever happened to them. an incredible collection.
Frank Felt was still there, Johnny Chanteloup, Jack York (the cranky tack man). Harry Smith bounced in and out. Used to call everybody "jazzbo". I really liked Harry, he just never beat the bottle. Same with Doug Robb. 
My background had been with over fences horses, some western, and it was an incredible experience working with old time horsemen like Stan and Harry, even Doug Robb, who was there briefly when I was.
Working Apollo's Heir with Stan watching was pretty intimidating at first, he didn't cut me any slack. Nor should he have; those were champion ponies and saddlebreds and didn't need anybody screwing them up. I learned quick from Stan. Had to.
I also helped Stan's wife, Viola, with her race horses--had to get my groom's license--and learned a boatload about keeping a horse sound.
I would also head over to Filoli to feed in the mornings and check on the yearlings. They had coming 2 year old colts who had hardly been handled. I remember trying to load one of them one day to bring him over to WWF. What a circus. Stan's standing there with a lunge whip, flicking the back legs of this 16 hand, 1000 pounds of "not interested at all in getting in that damn thing", yelling ,BOYS?! WHATS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!" We've got our arms locked under his rump, he's rearing and striking, trying to cow kick. We wrestled that horse for 20 minutes before we could get his hind legs off the ground and push him into the trailer. Gorgeous son of a gun, big chestnut with flax mane and tail, about an inch blaze. Don't know what ever became of him. Stan worked him about a year before I left. He was erratic as hell, but when he was right he was a show stopper. had him started in harness.
Only met Mrs. Roth a couple of times, but the first time I met her, she knew my name, how I came to be employed by her, that I knew Ralph, who I was working... just an incredibly nice lady without being patronizing at all.
The best part was probably listening to Stan, Harry, and the grooms talking about the heyday of showing. Seeing the photos on the tackroom wall. The names; Chief of Longview, Sweetheart, Wing Commander...
The farriers, Vern Smith, Dave Fraser... 
Johnny and Frank Felt, heading down to Harry's Hofbrau for dinner, same time every day...
Anyway, you and I are the same age, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.
Best wishes to you.
bob naegele
san diego

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bitting Up

I talked about bitting a horse up in the post about the mouth. I would like to emphasize how important this is. A horses mouth is either get tin better or worse. Much like my golf swing. Bitting helps keep it good or getting better.
Dumb JockeyFor this discussion and for Saddlebred Show horses we are going to try teach the horse to move away from pressure. We want this because when we want to raise a head or tuck a chin, we don't want em pulling back on us in a tug of war.

A common bitting rig consist of a surcingle and a side check bridle. Another type is a Dumb Jock. We have seen a few of these. LOL. This is like a surcingle but with a tree on the back so the reins may be fixed up higher where your hands would be.

Make sure your rig is fitted properly to your horse. It should fit well but nothing should be to tight or pinching anywhere.
Don't try to do it in one day.
Training horse is like bending an oak.
impossible in one day, inevitable over time. Tricksters can trick a horse into something in one day but the trick doesn't last. The horse figures out the trick then reverts back and is harder to deal with in the future and is not dependable.
Its better to ingrain in his mind and muscle memory. Much as a golf swing

This is really easy, simple and when you think about it makes sense.

Start easy. Use a bit that is comfortable for you horse. Connect the side lined to the bit. Adjust the length of the sidelines loosely at first. Make the horse reach for it. In other words in a relaxes position the horse is not feeling the bit unless he reaches out to touch it.
He reaches to touch the bit after he returned to the relaxed position. He or she learns that moving away from the pressure of the bit is more comfortable.

Gradually over time shorten the side lines a little at a time until the desired head set is achieved.
This takes time. Bit three times a week for about 15 minutes more or less depending on your horse.
Temperament and conditioning factor into the timing. Make it a regular part of you training program.
Be especially careful with a curb bit. To tight could cause the horse to panic and invoke the flight or fight response mostly flight with horses.
I do this in the stall. I also turn out in a bull pin loose in the bitting rig.

Now when you use your bridle your horse will respond to you.

Remember horses can be dangerous and you could be hurt so be careful or better yet have a professional help you.

As always be respectful and kind, to your animal. Gods gift to us. We are to be good caretakers.
The World was built with horses. Through out history all Mans great accomplishment.
There was a horse helping him do it. Pulling his wagons, carrying  him to battle and dieing with him.

These post are my opinions and observations and are recommended for professionals only.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Hi y all.

Thank you for visiting my blog. In appreciation, I am going to post a couple of my Video's I made.
Many have seen me at the shows carrying around a black camera bag. These are some of the results.

This is and exciting Five Gaited Stake. Featuring CH Boucheron in I think his finest performance. Please let me know what you think.


This is a nice Pony you may enjoy watching.



Saturday, January 23, 2010

Horse training tip. The Mouth

In horse training discussion training the horses mouth is a deep subject and I am sure there will be some in the horse training field who differ in their opinions about aspects of what I say. Its OK because what works for you is what is important and there are many ways to do the same thing. Horse training tips are just that a tip.

Wile at a horse show some years back, I observed a old time trainer biting up a horse. This horse was a champion many times. I ask him why do you bit this horse he is perfect already. He said Son, I'll give you a horseman's tip. A horses mouth is always either getting better or worse. The horses mouth never stays the same unless its so bad it can't get any worse. Like hooking the reins to a fence post.

What is a good mouth?

If you lack balanced and control of your hands a good mouth for you would be one that is forgiving of you. Not too sensitive.You will be able to keep your balance wile holding on to the horses mouth. Its kind of like water skiing. This is not a bad thing. a lot of armatures are riding like this. The horse takes care of them and is tolerant of the bad or wrong input to the bridle. Children need this kind of mouth on a horse until they develop their balance. Older adults and people with disabilities search out these mounts.

If you are an accomplished equestrian training your horse, perhaps your professional or seasoned armature, you will want a very sensitive mouth. Why? You can do so much more. If a horse responds to your little finger then tiny corrections are possible at critical times. You can also help your horse balance. Change his motion, Check his cadence. In other words it gives you a lot more control. This would be like a responsive sports car as opposed to say grandma's Buick. A person with poor balance and bad hands would drive this horse crazy. If the horse is game and you have this control then you really have something.

Having a good mouth then could mean different things to different skill levels.

Biting a horse is essential to creating a sensitive and dynamic control of your horse. I always let my horses wear the bitting rig at least three times a week for about fifteen minutes at a time. This is in addition to his regular work out. Work in the morning bit in the afternoon. If you are not familiar with the procedure I will write more in a later post.

One thing I want to stress in horse training, is never do anything to cause your horse pain. Gentle pressure is OK. I like to think of training the horse as a process of bending over time. Horse training should be enjoyable for both you and your horse. I have seen those with little manhood  do battle with an animal just to prove who was boss. Well It only proves who was the fool.
Have fun, love your animals.

Rich Swiger

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Who is this guy blogging here

My name is Richard Swiger

I was born in San Jose CA in 1948. Yea I am an old fart. My parents were in the horse business and I came by it naturally. My Father dealt in pleasure horses and ran a livery outfit trail rides, lessons, the usual. I rode and drove horses at an early age. I remember driving mules to a hay rake when I was eight or nine. The trick was to press the pedal at the right time to release the raked up hay. I messed this up wile day dreaming of a show horse I forgot and the rake became too full and jammed. I can remember the words. "Whats a matter with ya" yelled in the background.

One day a friend of mine Larry Cook, who rode at our place every weekend told me about a place in Woodside CA that had really fancy horses. I was curious to see it. Larry made arrangements for a tour of Why Worry Farm.

We turned left off of Woodside road onto the pea gravel drive at Why Worry Farm entrance. The tires on Larry's new 1965 Pontiac were making a popping sound as the gravel spread from beneath the wheels. The long drive was lined with 5 rail wood fence painted green. On the right was cyclone fence, it too was green. At the end of the drive we entered a court yard. On the left was a tutor style barn with a ships lantern above the huge double doors. It looked more like a large home or mansion rather than a barn. On the right was the boarding house for the help, and carriage room full of old but like new coaches. This two was elegant looking from the outside. The whole thing together was as a large elegant compound. Later I learned that the owner was the daughter of Captain Matson. He had started the Matson Steamship Line.

It was Sunday. There were caretakers on duty to feed and clean but that was it for Sunday. A little guy named Johnny came out and volunteered to show us around. We entered the horse barn through the double doors. to the right was a tack room with work tack all hung in perfect order. An older gentleman sat in the corner reading the paper. Johnny opened the door and hollered " Felt" what are you doing. Felt answered " kiss my ass". OK OK Johnny replied, and closed the door. Felts been here for forty years; said Johnny. On the left was another office and tack room for the show tack. Johnny let us in there to see. The show harness was hung in perfect order in glass cases on blue velvet. Brass shined like gold. This covered two of the walls and it reminded me of a jewelery store.

It was a short walk down the Aile to the horse stalls. The Aile was clay brought in and packed. each time a horse would step the shoe would leave a perfect impression. This was easy to walk on . At the end of the day this floor was swept and watered down. There was a smell of pine mixed with the clay that gave it a pleasant earthy smell.
The walls were painted a glossy royal blue and the ceiling was a creamy yellow. The electrical switch plates, door hardware were polished brass. On the walls pictures of past show horses. Sweetheart On Parade. Chief of Longview. Doug Rob, Bobby Winkler, Stan Morrison and some others I can't recall. All very impressive to me, just a kid.

This truly was a show stable. In front of each stall was a tack trunk for that horse. Blue and Gold were the stable colors. The trunks were blue with gold trim. The bars on the stalls were gold the fronts were blue. On the door was a cooler rack with a plaid blue and gold cooler. To the right hung the halter and lead shank, brass polished like gold.
Johnny slid open a stall door and immediately this horse that had its head down browsing rose up like a giraffe. It was winter and he was wearing two blankets blue and gold a full hood to match, a tail set, and four white cotton and flannel bandages on his legs. The stall was bedded up to the tail boards with beautiful golden straw. The rest of the barn looked the same. I had never seen anything like it. I knew I liked it and wanted to be part of it.

The following week I went back and got a job rubbing horses. I was a professional groom. Back then in that barn it was a profession. Men had been there twenty thirty and forty years doing it.
I had my own room in the boarding house. The French laundry picked up the sheets every week. There were three meals a day in the Kitchen. Bertha the cook saw to it. Her husband Newt ran overall farm operations. I can tell some stories about the goings on in that boarding house. Perhaps later if anyone is interested.

I had three horses to take care of . We rubbed these horses. When your horse came in from working he was hot. You sponged between the legs, scraped of any excess, and hit the towel. You put on two coolers and walked until it quit blowing. Then you rubbed the horse dry. With the straw on the floor or a burlap rub rag. You kept the horse covered and only uncovered what your were rubbing keeping the rest of the horse wet until you could get to it with the rag. No air drying. No bathing. When you do it this way it takes all day to work three. That said you wouldn't believe the coats on these horses. Shine like you could see yourself in.

Each man had three and there were 21 horses in the barn. Seven grooms, Tack Man, Assistant Tack Man, Saddlehorse Trainer, Assistant Trainer, Pony trainer, Assistant Pony Trainer, Manager Trainer Stan Morrison. The round barn was behind the main barn. It had eleven stalls for use with Hackney Ponies. It had its own complement of trainers and grooms. The blacksmith shop was in between the main barn and the round barn. It was the center of many story telling sessions. Discussion of training techniques and strategies.

After a couple years there my goal in life was to become a Saddlebred Trainer. I didn't get opportunities to work horses at WWF. There were already too many trainers. I had great balance on a horse and had ridden since I was a child so I knew under the right supervision I could be a good horseman. I wanted people to say. That Rich is a good horseman.  I had known many horsemen. Some had personal problems, Bad marriage, cheating, drinking, gambling, but in the end people would say, Yea, BUT he's a good horseman. So if your a good horseman that's your saving grace. Or not I don't know but at the time I noticed that being a good horseman could get your frogiven for a lot of stuff.

I moved to Kentucky to Plainview Farms as Assistant Trainer. I worked for Billy Tway under Jimmy Arnold and Tom Stone. (Stone Man)
I worked there until the farm Sold at dispersal sale. I still have the sale catalogue. We had Shelby's Folly, Plainviews Commander, Plainviews Sherry Lynn, It was there I learn to gait a horse. Plainview was a thousand acres. It ran between Hurstbourne Ln. and Moser Rd. There was a lane that ran through the farm to Moser Rd and there was a saying. " That horse need to go to Moser Rd. Meaning it needed some miles.

After Plainview sold. I worked for several trainers. I picked jobs that would give me opportunity to learn and develop my training skills. Rex Parkinson, Tom Moor, Bob Robinson, Bob Lewis. After Bob Lewis I had several private jobs. Green Oak Farms, Michigan, Pine Tree Stables, Chicago, Intrepid Farm, Santa Barbara.
In the late seventies. I went back to Why Worry Farm as head trainer. I started Filoli Jewel or(Buck Rogers) Mountain Storm and many others. WWF was on its way out so I decided to do my own thing.
Terry Konkle followed me in there and stayed and helped Mrs Roth until they sold out. He was a great help to them.
Terry now operates Light Star Horse Transportation http://www.lightstarhorsetransportation.com/

I leased Stone Gate Farm in Woodside and took whatever I could get. Morgans, Saddlebreds, Ponies. At the turn of the century I moved to Morgan Hill and built my own stable. Over the years I have enjoyed some wonderful customers and great horses. I am retired from the horse business now due to injuries.

Nothing has ever compared the the grand old Why Worry Farm. I am thankful I was lucky enough to experience it in its hay day.
We took the train to the horse show. Mrs Roth had a coming out party for the Debs. Two bands played the party. The Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead. Imagine that party.

In conclusion. When I was coming up, information was hard to come by. Trainers did not part with knowledge easily. You got some of your information after a couple at the local Gin Mill and some of it by watching and observing what was happening. I worked for some of the best when I was comming up. I was lucky to have some of the best customers. People who loved their horses and would give them what they needed. It was all about the horse.

Now you know where I am coming from. I am not claiming to be a guru of any kind. I just want to relate my experience so someone might benefit. There are many ways to accomplish the same goal. Take it for what its worth.  As my gift.

Qusetion or suggestions for future topics can be sent to richardswiger@yahoo.com

Thanks for reading this.

Rich Swiger

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Unbelievable Horse Training Techniques Revealed

I have to pass this along to my friends and fellow horse lovers.

You can obtain a book of incredible horse training methods from old time master horsemen. Solve any problem, train any problem horse quickly. This site contains some FREE publications yours just for looking. Please use good judgement emplementing any training technique.
Click Here Go To This Site

Friday, January 11, 2008

Horse training tip. Stretchies

Most everyone who trains a Saddlebred. Morgan. or Arabian are familiar with a training aid called Stretchies. These are two leather dog collars covered in lambs wool, fitted on the horses ankles with a piece of surgical tubing attached between them. The idea is that the resistance of the tubing will build muscles and as a result cause the horse to become more athletic with his legs. Stretching the tubing will cause the muscles to develop. When a horse feels resistance his tendency is to push against the direction of the pressure. This is well and good and it will warm up the muscle,but there is more to the story.
Sixty years ago there weren't any stretchy tubing. The old master horsemen used a piece of rope. What! didn't the horse fall down. I am sure some did from time to time. The point is that this was not about stretching anything. A horse who is stretching the tubing is cheating them. This was all about limiting the distance between steps, or stride. When you cluck to a horse and ask him to move up, in order to go faster he has to increase his stride. If you limit that stride or the distance he can step and ask him to step on and cluck to him, he has no where to go but put his leg up higher. Different lengths of rope were uses for different speeds. If you wanted the big motion to manifest it self at a high speed then longer rope was used.
I am not suggesting anyone go back to using the rope but the principles still apply. The length of your stretchy should be compatible with the horse's stride and the speed that you want to have the most effect. Each horse should have his own individual length.
The second effect is to get a horse off the bridle. A horse that is trying to balance in the stretchies wont be running through the bridle.
Remember this and don't take the Stretchies for grant it. There is a whole other layer of skill level to learn. Once you think about it you can see this is more complex than just stretching the tubing.
Good Luck

Rich Swiger