Monday Morning Workout Routine Logo

Good Day!

A Sunday off, at homeit doesnt get any better than that! Sunrise in the hot tub, reading, Meet the Press, workout, breakfast. Oh yeah, and the blog.

I have to make an unplanned business trip tomorrow morning to Springfield MO for a TV show taping. Its for a cool new show on RFD sponsored by PFI Western Store and will be a Western lifestyle/home shopping show. Ill be thecelebrity host in the first two shows and Leon Harrel, of cutting horse fame, will do two shows as well. I think it will be a lot of fun. At the very least, I am looking forward to being in a huge tack store because there are a few things I need. I may be doing somehome shopping on the road.

Ill be doing a section on saddles, saddle fit for you and the horse, position in the saddle and other topics. My part will be easy, particularly since it is stuff I do all the time in demos. All the hard part will be done by the crew.

I finally rode Dually on Friday evening in the wet and freshly groomed arena. To me that is as good as a fresh powder day on the mountain. After five days off, grazing green grass on top of his regularly power-packed concentrate ration, I suspected Dually might be a little fresh. To my surprise, he was pretty mellow, but I could feel a slight coil to his body so I knew wed have to make some tracks and let him blow his lungs out a little.

I do not like to work a horse hardmentally– on his first day back after a brief lay-off or even after the weekend off. To me, the work week on a horse has a pattern. Lets say hes following the M-F workweek... Monday will be aget back to work day and well get the cob webs out. On Monday, I hope to start the training session at the same place I left him the Friday before. Tuesday will be more of the samereviewing what we do well and a little more physical work. On Wednesday, well progress his training, ask a little more, be more demanding, teach him something new. Thursday will be a day to review the old and new stuff, ask for a couple hard thingspractice our weakest skills. Friday is TGIF! On Fridays, I try to have a mellow ride and do something differentpleasure ride out in the field, go on a trail ride, challenge the obstacle course. On Fridays, I make darn sure I leave the horse in the state of mind I want him to start with next Mondayhappy, alert, feeling good about himself.

In an effort to produce more riding workouts on audio, Ive been developing a workout routine for various types of rides like the fresh horse, the forward horse, the disobedient horse, the lazy horse, etc. Heres my recipe for a workout for the fresh horse— thats the one I get the most practice at.

Begin tracking right at a walk on a very loose rein, letting the horse stretch his neck and back.

Go two times around and reverse directions.

Go two times around tracking left, then slowly gather horse up into a low but slightly collected frame.

At the next corner, make at least three very small circles at the walk (about 12 or 3-4 meters), paying very close attention to the arc of the horse and the correctness of the bend.

Once the horse makes a nice circle, let him go straight down the rail to the next corner.

Repeat circles in the next three corners so the horse has gone all the way around the arena, making multiple circles in each corner.

Reverse and repeat circles all the way around the arena tracking right.

Trot on a loose rein, tracking right at a medium speed a few times around or about five minutes.

Reverse across the diagonal and longtrot for about five minutes to the left.

Transition to the medium-slow, slightly collected sitting trot and at the next corner, make three small trot circles to the left (about 20) focusing on bend and obedience on the circle.

Make multiple circles to the left at each corner all the way around the arena. After three circles, only release the horse to straightness down the rail when he has made a very correct circle.

Trot to the middle of the next short side of the arena, turn left and proceed straight down the centerline, tracking right at the trot at the other end.

Sitting trot all the way around the arena making multiple right circles at each corner.

Continue down the rail tracking right and walk, letting horse catch breath (if needed) for canter. Gather up horse in prep for canter.

Medium canter right lead around the rail or for 5-7 minutes.

Go down the rail, past the short side of the arena, then turn right and come across the diagonalto the opposite corner; changing leads at center and tracking left at the corner.

Slower canter around the rail tracking left for 5-7 minutes.

Circle left 5 times at least 20 meters or the full width of the arena.

Go past the next short side and reverse across the diagonal and change to right lead, tracking right.

Circle right 5 times at least 20 meters or full width of the arena.

Go straight down the rail and find the perfect spot to ask your horse to halt (away from the gate, horse nice and straight).

Let him stand for a couple minutes to catch his breath, then walk. The horse is thoroughly warmed up!

After 5-10 minutes of walking, gather horse up in preparation for a cue.

Ask the horse for simple but accurate transitions at markers on the rail placed around your arena: slow trot, extended trot, slow trot, walk, trot, extend, halt, slow trot, slow canter, fast canter, slow canter, etc.

Reverse and repeat an equal number of transitions in the other direction.

Cool him out and put him away.

Thats my Monday morning workout. Give it a try! I am glad to get it down onpaper so I can work toward getting it recorded. This is a long blog and I apologize! Ill try to write while I am on the road the next few days. It should be a good trip!

Enjoy the day!


Pony Power Logo

Good Day!

Leadership and authority are the subjects of today’s show, “Pony Power.” Starring Zeke and his naughty pony Frost, you’ll see an amazing transformation from an obnoxious, spoiled pony who walks all over Zeke, head buts him and drags him to the grass. Turns out the pony knows exactly how to be a perfect citizen, she’s only lacking a reason to do so.

I knew within seconds of taking hold of the pony that she knew how to act in the presence of authority. With only brief reminders of her manners, she morphed into a perfect angel. So the main goal would be to teach Zeke how to take charge—the pony knew how to act. Fortunately, that turned out to be easy for two reasons.

First, Zeke totally understood what I explained to him about authority and leadership in the horse herd and he was eager and coordinated enough to do exactly as I said. For a 10 y/o boy, he was incredible! Of course, anytime you give a young boy permission to “smack” an opponent, he’s happy to comply. After only one or two “spankings” from Zeke, Frost looked upon him with new eyes.

The second reason we had so much success with Zeke and his pony was that my dear friend, Twyla Walker, who trained with me for years was here to supervise the riders and horses through their practice sessions. With supervised practice, it insured that they practiced correctly and Twyla was able to continue the coaching so the rider’s understanding increased with their skill. I wish I could take Twyla with me to every shoot! It made a huge difference in all 5 episodes that we filmed here.







Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

Freshness Is Good In Produce, Not Horses


I decided to give Dually a break yesterday and ride a horse of mine, one of our sales horses, Doc. He’s a very cute little dun horse (QH); a turbo-charged cutter. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden him and we had a great time, well, perhaps me more than him, even though he was a little fresh.

It’s good for me to ride the sale horses every now and then and get to know them, so I know who the perfect buyer for this horse will be, and so I can do a decent job of showing the horses to the buyers. I love buying and selling horses, but I only deal in pretty high quality stock—that’s what makes it really fun. Sometimes the horses have temperaments so transparent—so solid and uncomplicated, that I feel like I know them well, even after only a couple rides. Others are more complicated and I need more time to understand them and match the perfect buyer. From dealing with thousands of horses over my career, it is fairly easy for me to type-cast different horses, their breeding and temperaments, a horse trainer’s form of profiling, if you will.

Doc is a little more complicated, which is why we’ve kept him for a while. He’s a sensitive horse—one that is highly sensitive to environmental stimuli—that’s what makes him a good cutter. That’s all stimuli—sounds, touch, movement. Dually is highly sensitive too– that’s what makes him a highly complicated horse to ride (and high maintenance, I might add). But there is a blissful side to riding a sensitive horse—the slightest thought you have about riding, the sensitive and well-trained horse will respond; he’ll respond to your slightest shift in weight.

That’s what is fun about riding Doc. First, I love his size. If Dually were that short, he’d be my true dream horse. Secondly, his gaits are glass-smooth plus he moves off the slightest cue. That’s what makes sensitive horses not a good match for novice riders—they either give the wrong cues or are constantly cueing the wrong thing without even knowing it.

Now, sensitive horses are often smart horses too—at least you hope. So they are easy to train and easily desensitized. One of my favorite horse behavior trivia is that horses are the most sensitive and flighty domesticated animal, but the most easily desensitized. Seemingly contradictions, but these two traits actually go together. If they didn’t, horses would perish in a constant state of flight.

I could go on in the subject of horse behavior for hours, and often do—at expos and clinics. But today I have a list of tasks a mile long to get accomplished. But first I’ll try to find a picture of Doc to post.

So until next time,


Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

The County Fair


Its great to be home on a Sunday, with nothing pressing to do other than read the paper and maybe cook a big breakfast to eat out on the deck. I have to make the most out of every weekend at home, because in the course of the year, I dont get many.

Yesterday was our big day at the Chaffee County fair, here in our home town of Salida CO. It started first thing in the morning with the cutting show, in which Rich and Diggs were entered. We took Dually and Tucker tooto use as turnback horses. Each rider in a cutting uses twoherd holders who stand in the corners back with the cows and try to keep them in one place; and twoturnback riders who ride opposite the contestant, mirroring his moves to keep the cow from running off away from the cutter.

There were a record breaking number of entries, with 41 horses, which is pretty good for a small county fair in the middle of nowhereand its only the second year for this show. Rich rode in the non-pro class and, as usual, drew the number one spot. That means he goes first in his class on a new set of cattle, so the cattle can be a little unsettled and you dont have the advantage of watching a few riders go to see how the cows are going to act. Nonetheless, Rich and Diggs did well. In the two minutes allotted, he cut out two cows and made some very nice turns. He had a couple small mistakes that cost him some penalties, so it was not enough to make the top three in his class of 10-12 riders. But thats okay, because his main goal at this show was to learn a little more about riding and showing his new horse. Given that hes only had this horse for a few weeks, I think they did great together!

I enjoyed being at the show and not showingits a lot more relaxed that way! I rode Dually and we helped several people with their turnback and herd holding. It was so good to get Dually in a show environment without showing. Hopefully hell learn that he doesn’t have to get psyched-up every time he is in the show ring. We were home by noon and had the rest of the afternoon to relax and putz around the house. If only all horse showing were that mellow!

Late in the afternoon, we met our good friends for dinner, then went back to the fair for the rodeo and dance. It was a beautiful Colorado evening, cool but comfortable, gorgeous sunset and the outdoor rodeo was pretty good. Actually, the rough-stock events were great (bareback bronc, saddle broncs and bull ridingthe main parts of a rodeo everyone comes to see) but the rest of it was mediocre. But it was great to watch and cheer and visit with neighbors and community members you may only see once a year at the fair.

Right after the rodeo, there is the annual rodeo dance. We danced and danced to the music of a great country band and if you werent dancing, it was great to just sit back and watch this little slice of American pie. Of course, there were local people of all ages and station therelittle girls running through the dance floor, fathers dancing with daughters, teenage girls line dancing, the serious married couples who clearly practiced their dance moves and took them very seriously, the teenage/young adult crowd intent on impressing members of the opposite sex and those of us just kicking up our heels and having a good time. You can learn a lot about people by watching them danceI dont know if any of it is true, but it is fun to imagine!

Today the fair continues with a ranch rodeo in the morning and another pro-rodeo in the afternoon. But I think weve had enough fun at the county fair for one year. Instead, a nice ride on my horse, some work in the garden and maybe some time to read a good book will top the agenda of my day. I hope you are enjoying yours!


No Fraternization!

This is the subject of this week’s episode of Horse Master which airs today at 5:30p EST on RFD-TV and for you night owls (or DVR users) it comes on again Thursday morning at 2:30a and Sunday morning at 1:30a EST.

For the next five weeks, the shows will be original airings of the episodes we filmed here at my ranch back in June. It was a tough week to film because two of the three days we filmed we were experiencing high winds (gusts of 45 mph) and even had to resort to filming inside for some of the shows.

“Close for Comfort” is this week’s episode about a mare, suffering slightly from PMS (pissy mare syndrome), who bites and kicks at other horses that she deems as too close when you are riding. She’s making unauthorized decisions that should only be made by the one in charge.

She was actually a very sweet, easy-to-train horse that has just not had good leadership. ALL horses must learn this very important rule from the youngest possible age:


This includes sniffing noses, flicking ears, showing teeth, herding gestures, swishing a tail, picking up a foot to kick or any other gestures, interaction or displays of herd behavior.

This should be one of the ten commandments for horses and it is a subject I talk about in every clinic that I do. It is of paramount importance not only for your safety and the safety of those around you (horse and human) but it is also a critical issues of manners and respect for authority. Besides, it’s a hygiene issue too—I don’t want my horse sharing snot with all the horses around him.

The safety issue I think is fairly obvious. If horses are allowed to fraternize, sooner or later someone’s going to throw a kick or bite and you or the person you are riding with might get caught in the fracas. I saw my good friend get killed this way when I was 12—so you can see why this has become an important issue for me. She was breaking another all-important safety rule by sitting on the ground by her horse at the time—never sit or kneel around a horse, always stay on your feet.

The manners issue has to do with your horse’s respect for your authority as the leader of the herd. If you are the one in charge, he has no business herding or acting aggressive to any other horses—it’s your herd. And, if he is doing his job, he is focused on you, waiting patiently for your next directive—just like a good first mate to his captain—not looking around, acting bored and looking for a party.

This fundamental rule explains why a breeding stallion can be used in the show ring or go on group trail rides and be tied up right next to another horse without incident, if he is well-trained. Horses are very good at learning and following rules when rules are clearly defined and consistently enforced.

For this week’s episode of Horse Master, it turned out to be an easy fix. First, the owner simply needed to learn about this and step up to the helm, then she needed to know when and how to correct her horse when she breaks the rule. I also taught her how to deal with kicking in an emergency situation, to make sure everyone stays safe.

I hope you get to watch! If you don’t get RFD, you can visit the website, which has links to articles and more information on this subject. There’s also some video clips on YouTube which you can link to from the website or from this blog.

Thanks for reading my rant. As you can tell, this is one of my pet peeves!

Enjoy the ride!


Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

Reined Cow Horse

Sunday we took three horses to the local fairgrounds to show in the first what-we-hope-will-become-annual reined cowhorse show here in Salida. Organized by a small and hardworking group of enthusiasts and spearheaded by my vet and her horse-trainer husband, Rusty and Leslie Harrison, the show was a big success! It was definitely geared toward encouraging novices to participate by breaking the classes down to smaller components and allowing people to ride two-handed and in any tack.

In Reined Cowhorse shows, you ride a reining pattern, then call for a cow, then box the cow on the end of the arena (showing that your horse can confine and control the cow), then you drive the cow down the fence, past the center marker and turn him back, turn him back again the other way, then drive the cow in a 360 degree circle in both directions. Since this was a “starter” show to encourage people just starting on cow work, riders had the choice to ride in a reining-only class, a rein and box only class and then the “jackpot” class had the whole thing—rein, box, fence and circle.

Diana rode Renegade in the reining-only and he placed 1st and 3rd in his classes. It had been years since he saw the inside of the show ring, but he took right to it! Diana and Tequlo rode in rein and box only and did really well. Diana has only just started working cows but lucky for her, Tequlo is an old pro—bred, born and trained to be a cutting horse. They won their first class and I think came in second in the other. It was a good day for Diana and our horses. Did I mention that they are both for sale?

Dually and I rode in each class that we qualified for—open reining, open rein and box and the open jackpot. It was the perfect opportunity for me to fix the problem I mentioned yesterday that I have been having with Dually in the last few shows. When he goes into his class to rein, he knows the cows are coming and he gets all cranked up. Being able to do the reining pattern without the cow work was just what he needed. Plus, being a small schooling show, I had no qualms about correcting my horse during the class. Some show horses are quick to learn that they can get away with certain things in the show ring because you won’t correct them like you do at home. To fix that, you have to sacrifice a show, or at least a class, and call them to the carpet in the show ring. Although Dually wasn’t terrible in the first reining class, he did get charged up and as a result made some silly mistakes, so I corrected him—right in front of god, the judge and everyone! Needless to say, we did not place well in that class, but it sure paid off later.

The next class was rein and box only—the easiest two components of reined cowhorse and Dually did okay. His reining pattern was not up to our standards– he was still pretty hot– but he did everything relatively well. The cow work went well, we did lose our cow momentarily, but we got him quickly back in control. It was good enough to win first place. The cows were perfect for this starter event. They were respectful of horses, not too fast but not dead either.

Finally, we entered the jackpot, which required us to ride the whole routine. Dually’s reining pattern started off poorly but ended well and the boxing went great, showing Dually’s impressive prowess on the cow. When I took the cow down the fence, I made an error in judgment and didn’t drive him into the corner enough so we started out off the rail—making a clean turn almost impossible. I had to take a little extra time to push the cow to the fence (all this at a fairly high rate of speed) and the end of the arena was coming up fast. We did make a great turn in the right spot but I lost my stirrups in the process. As we ran down the cow in the other direction (even faster because you are headed back to the herd) I struggled to regain my stirrups without spearing Dually in the sides and disrupting his focus on the cow. I got one right away and had to give up on the other in order to make the next turn—which was late and not pretty (all my fault) but we got it done, even riding with one stirrup. Now it’s time to circle. I had to drive him to the middle of the arena then pop him off the rail, drive towards his ear to make him turn. Dually loves the circling because he really gets to beat the cow. We circled once, dropped back, switched sides then circled him the other way.

Here I am riding without a stirrup!

It certainly wasn’t our prettiest run but it was relatively clean and good enough to win 1st place. There was a $75 entry fee in this class, but I won $80 back. I made $5 that day—yehaw! To celebrate, I took Rich to McDonalds and said, “order anything you want!” Just kidding. But we did celebrate by going into town and getting big fat cheeseburgers with a side of fries!

Anyway, it was a fun day and we got lots of good training done and didn’t have to spend a fortune. Normally, when Rich and I go to a show, it costs us about $1200-1500 by the time we pay for entries, fuel, hotel, meals, stabling, etc. Of course, everything we go to is at least 150 miles away. So I am grateful to my friends who gave their time and energy to put these local shows together so the rest of us could have a good time and test our horsemanship.

Dually had a much deserved day off in the pasture yesterday, which he thought was perfect, until it started raining. Then suddenly he wanted to be a pampered show horse once again so I went out in the rain to bring him in so he could relax in his cushy stall. Today, it’s back to work for the both of us!

BTW- be sure to check out my new YouTube channel– We’ve got clips of the TV show and if I can figure out how to do it, I’ll upload a video from the horse show yesterday!

All the best,


Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

For The Love Of Horses Logo

Happy Monday!

After a rare weekend at home, where I did absolutely no work in the office all weekend (didn’t even check email—okay, I only checked it once), I am happy to be back at work on a Monday morning. It’s not that I love the office, but it is good to get caught up and maybe even find time to move ahead a little. After being in the barn and arenas all weekend, being in the office in shorts and sandals doesn’t seem so bad.

We are working fast and furious on my 09 schedule, especially for clinics and expos. Still looking for clinic host sites for 09 in MA and CA—two key regions for me. We are already booking clinics for 09 in MO, WI, VA, OH, CO and HI. We hope to have my 09 clinic schedule finalized by the end of August, so stay tuned!

Saturday Rich and I went down to watch the local pre-fair horse show, which happens here in our small town once a year, the weekend before the county fair. It’s a mixed bag of tricks in the arena, with a huge variety of breeds, disciplines and ability. Most of the horses were pulled out of the pasture to get here but there were a few that had seen the inside of a show ring before. Definitely an interesting job for the judge—she got to see everything from runaway cow ponies to Percheron-Paints to Halflingers and minis—all in one class!

Our local “show committee”—consisting of a small but dedicated group of friends who pull the local show together, plead with the fair board to waive the facility rental fees, plan and recruit for the show, take entries, announce, work the arenas, pick up trash and everything else it takes to put on a small show. They spend hours in devious creation mode trying to plot the most imaginative trail course they can—people from all over came to wait in line to ride the course full of obstacles, flowers, alligators and snakes, popguns and more. All of this hard work is for the simple love of horses and horse showing, and the satisfaction derived from getting local horse owners to challenge themselves and expand their horizons. Spearheaded by our vet and our farrier’s wife, the day was fun, entertaining and a wonderful time for horse lovers and neighbors to visit, laugh and cheer each other on.

Rich and I hauled a few of our horses down (it’s only a five minute drive) to watch the show and do a little schooling after the show. With Diggs and Dually, we waited patiently for the end of the trail class so we could sneak our horses in for practice, just for fun. Rich was very happy with Digg’s total lack of interest in most obstacles—although he was confused by the rope gate—he’ll open just about any ranch gate you can imagine, but the rope hanging from the flower laden jump standards just didn’t look like any gate he ever had to ride through, so he had no clue what to do. Dually walked like a champ through the whole course—not a care in the world—he has bigger and better things to worry about than a few silly gee-gaws. It was a fun, fun day for everyone—winners as well as the “also-rans”– thanks to a few over-worked and under-appreciated horse lovers and community volunteers.

After we played on the trail course, we went and schooled in the big arena, where the reined cowhorse show would take place the next morning. Dually worked okay but our goal in this schooling show would be to try and get a handle on his emotionality in the show ring. In versatility, when you ride the reining pattern, it is right before cow work—which really charges him up—so he gets very hot in the reining, especially since the cows are right on the other side of the fence and he knows they are coming. Once we get down to the cow work, he’s all business, but reining is one of his strengths, so he should be getting plus points there too. The last three times I’ve shown him, Dually’s gotten quite hot in the reining—it’s sort of like riding a runaway freight train. The only way to fix it is to do some “schooling” (correction) in the show ring—sacrificing the class– that’s what schooling shows are for.

Dually stayed pretty mellow in the show arena Saturday night after the show— and no cows in sight. But it was good to get him used to the footing (horrible for slide stops) and I was able to school him a little on his other bad habit—gate gravity. He does not like performing in an arena by himself (which almost all cowhorse and versatility requires). He much prefers standing around with all the other horses on the outside of the arena—who wouldn’t! Sometimes he’ll cop an attitude. So I’ve been creating schooling opportunities by waiting in the arena until all the other horses have left—boy does that piss him off! But we work through it and as soon as he is working focused and relaxed, I let him leave and join the other horses. It really helped in this instance and paid off at the show the next day.

Sunday was the reined cow horse show and we took three horses: Dually and I rode in three classes, Diana and Tequlo in two and Diana and Renegade, a reining/ranch horse I have for sale, went in two classes. Check back tomorrow for the sequel to see how we did. Right now, I have to get back to work!

Enjoy the ride!


Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

It’s The Little Things That Matter… Logo


Yesterday we had a tremendous electrical storm and about a dozen drops of rain—just enough to make the dust stick to your car. It’s getting a little scary here because it is bone dry but the lightening appears every afternoon (dry storms, they call them) making the threat of wild fire greater every day.

My son, Hunter, is a wild land fire fighter so he is ready and willing to jump to the cause when needed. It’s a tough and dirty job, not to mention dangerous, but he loves the adventure and the excuse to be outdoors and get paid (well) for it.

I’ve been riding  a lot this week, in preparation for the reined cowhorse competition this weekend. I am determined to fix the little flaws that Dually and I have—to improve our spins, get a more consistent big stop and to keep him emotionally stable. The first two things are easy because he is a talented horse. But the emotionality is a tough one.

Lately I’ve been paying attention to tiny little infractions he makes, like bowing his ribcage out in a turn or moving a few inches off the center of his spin toward the gate. When I feel his emotions well up, I’ve been stopping, flexing him laterally then circling him to break him at the poll, lift the shoulder then disengage the hips. By then he is usually back in focus. Pretty soon, this becomes a pattern that leads to focus. We’ll see how well it works at the show.

Dually is a horse that responds well to correction. For the most part, he tries really hard to be a good horse but he occasionally has lapses of judgment, like inching toward the gate in his spins. It would be really easy to ignore the little things, but then it continues and gets worse. By correcting the smallest infractions, he straightens up and flies right. If I let the little things slide, which is easy to do, later it blows up in my face at a competition.

No matter how hard we work and how good it gets, it can always be better. It’s mostly the pursuit of perfection that I love—I’m not really all that keen on showing. But it’s only at the shows and clinics that I can really judge my progress and find our holes. I am excited about this weekend’s show and I think we’ll do okay. But with cow work, you never know. The luck of the draw has a lot to do with it. I’m working extra hard on my good karma this week, so maybe I’ll draw a good cow.


Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

This Week On Horse Master Logo


I’m enjoying my time at home this week and looking forward to being home this weekend for a change. I’m getting some good riding in too. We brought the cows in last night so I can do more practice work with Dually on cattle.

This Sunday we’ll be showing in a reined cowhorse show here in Salida for our county fair. Here in this part of the country the county fairs are a big deal for the summer and ours is no different. There’s horse shows, the 4H auction (which is a huge social event) and a dance on Friday and Saturday nights.

In reined cowhorse, you ride a reining pattern, then call for  a cow, box it on the end of the arena (showing your horse can control the cow) then you take it down the fence, turn him back twice, then make the cow circle in each direction. If we can make it through the reining without Dually getting too hot, he’ll do the cow work just fine. It’ll be easy compared to Versatility!

This week on the TV show, we are showing the last episode filmed in Florida back in February. It is about a woman and her very cute Palomino. She is interested in showing him a little in Western pleasure but needs to get a more consistent head set and frame on him.

As is usually the case, the horse is actually pretty easy to hold in a frame, she just needs to improve her riding a little and understand how to ask him to frame up. We cover that in the show.

Next week, we’ll start with all new shows which were filmed here at our place back in June. It’s hard to believe it was so freezing cold back then, but you’ll see how much snow is on the mountains. It actually frosted a couple mornings during the shoot. We start filming at sun-up so when it is that cold it’s a little tough!

The first episode from the CO shoot, which will air next week, is about a mare that kicks and bites when you ride in company. It was a pretty easy fix for her—she just needed some correction and rules to follow.

Don’t forget to set your DVR to record the show. It comes on RFD-TV Wed at 5:30p est, Thu at 2:30a est and Sun at 1:30a est.


Stay cool and have fun!



Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

Hot And Dusty But Fun! And Photos Of Diggs!

Dear friends,

We had a great weekend at our Versatility Ranch Horse clinic and competition this weekend in Longmont CO. The clinicians were Jim and Jill Cook, who are reined cowhorse specialists.

Rich and Tucker (his old horse–but I attached some photos here of his new horse, Diggs!), Diana (who exercises and grooms horses for me) and Tequlo—an awesome little buckskin cutting horse we have for sale, and Dually and I all headed up to Longmont on Thursday evening. We settled the horses in to their weekend accommodations then headed to town for dinner and hotel.

Our good friend Tonya (aka, Big T Cody) was with us, visiting from FL and as a trainer/instructor, she enjoyed soaking up all the info through the weekend. T ended up scribing for the judge on Sunday—a really fun learning experiencing. If you ever get a chance to scribe for any judge for any show, jump on it.

Friday we were up bright and early to get the horses fed, saddled and warmed up by 8:30. We started with cutting since it was so hot that they didn’t want to work the cattle in the afternoon. Apparently horses and humans handle the heat better than cattle. The cows were big and wild and a challenge to work.

In the afternoon, we did “dry work”, working on lead changes, stops, rollbacks, etc.– all the skills you need for working cattle. This is the origin of reining.

Saturday was pretty much a repeat of Friday. We all learned some great exercises and made big improvements with our horses. We had 100 plus degree temps and with typical desert dryness, it was probably less than 5% humidity (the only thing that makes it bearable). It was hard on poor Dually—who is basically black (actually a black liver chestnut—but very black) and by the end of Saturday, he looked like he was returning from the mines.

Sunday was the competition, starting with Ranch Conformation. They judge each division then place the horses overall. Dually was first in both placings. Sadly, since I was the only pro rider there, our placings didn’t count so it was merely for practice. But it was still nice to win! Rich and Tucker were 3rd place in the advanced division (he actually won second once they took my placing out) and Diana and Tequlo got third in the novice division.

Next, we did Ranch Cutting. Even though the cattle were very sticky, we all did pretty well. I think I would’ve probably won it—we had a pretty clean run. Diana made a fatal mistake in the end of her otherwise very good run and allowed Tequlo to “turn tail” to the cow. She looked at another cow for a split second and it was enough to make Tequlo switch cows and start cutting the wrong cow, causing him to turn his tail to the cow he was supposed to be penning.

Ranch Riding, where you ride a pattern that has almost every upward and downward transition in it, went well for all of us. Unfortunately Diana went off pattern, but in spite of these two big mistakes, she still managed to win the reserve championship in the novice division! Pretty good for your first show! If she had just not made one of these mistakes, she would’ve easily won the championship. Oh well, we all make these kind of mistakes at some point. It’s good to get them over with early.

Ranch Trail went fine. Tequlo won his class and I think Rich was up in the top three in his division. Dually would’ve been too if they’d placed us.

The end of the day and the class everyone dreads is Working Ranch Horse. For this, you ride a reining pattern (this one was pretty hard—four lead changes) then call for a cow, “box” the cow on the end of the arena, showing you have control over the cow; then drive the cow down the fence, past the center marker, turn him back at high speed, pass the center marker again and make another high-speed turn. After all that, you get your rope out, build a loop (all while tracking the cow) then rope him and stop him. It’s a VERY challenging class. In the novice division, you only rein and box and Tequlo stole the class again.

Rich and Tucker had a horrible cow that just ran at high-speed from one end of the arena to the other. Luck of the draw. Dually did awesome cow work but got really hot for the reining, as he tends to do when he knows the cow work is coming. I’m gonna have to figure out a way to fix that little display of emotion before we start competing for real.

All in all it was a fun and fulfilling weekend. There was nothing better at the end of the day than an ice cold Corona and a cool shower to wash off the pounds of dust, followed by a nice relaxing dinner.

I am glad to be home again and to have a few weeks before I have to go anywhere. It’s even hot and dry here in the mountains so we are all hoping for some afternoon thunderstorms!

All the best,


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Fresh As A Daisy Logo


It’s been wonderful to be home for a few days, but this week has gone by far too fast. Rich and I will load up the horses today and head up to Longmont CO (about 200 miles north of here) for a weekend of Versatility Ranch Horse clinic and competition. After having five days off last week, Dually was a little on the fresh side on Tuesday. Nothing about an hour of loping wouldn’t cure. Sure enough, by Wednesday, he was Mr. Mellow. And I am hoping that will carry through the weekend.

This morning I’ll give him another good work and then bathe him and pack up our gear and hit the road. We’ll be doing a clinic all day Friday and Saturday, working on cutting, reining, working cow horse and hopefully roping. Then Sunday will be a schooling competition. It’ll really just be practice for me since I’ll be the only Open rider (pro), so I’ll be a class of one—I’ll come in both first and last in my division.

Rich is really doing well with his new horse Diggs, although he’ll be showing Tucker this weekend. He did a clinic on Diggs last weekend and they really made a lot of progress, but he is not ready to show him yet. In the meantime, Rich is riding Tucker much better. I think learning to ride a more powerful horse and having to work at it a little, has sharpened up his riding skills and it shows when he rides Tucker.

It’s amazing how riding different horses will turn you into a better rider. It’s one thing about my job that I really love. I ride a lot of different horses—some good, some bad, some indifferent. I have no idea how many horses I’ve ridden in my whole career but I am certain it is in the thousands. At expos, since I fly in and fly out, they’ll set me up with various horse to ride and sometimes they are outstanding horses. I got to ride the star of Sea Biscuit last weekend. In clinics, I’ll generally get up on almost every horse there to help sort out a problem or show the owner what the horse can do. And of course, after over 30 years of training horses, there have been hundreds of different horses come my way of every breed, type and discipline you can imagine. It has made me a far better rider and trainer and it is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. I sort of feel sorry for the trainers that haul their horses around everywhere—they don’t get to learn from all the different horses that I do. Of course, they probably feel sorry for me (and I do have to admit, it is a real luxury when I get to ride my own horse in a clinic or demo).

I’ll try to report in over the weekend to let you know about the great new things I am (hopefully) learning this weekend about me, my horse and cattle. Until then…

Enjoy the ride!


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Home Again, Home Again Logo


As usual, on Monday morning I am spending time in airports in transit home. It pretty much takes me a whole day to get anywhere, since most of my travels take me to either the east or west coast; once you factor in my three hour drive to and from the Denver airport to home, it makes for a long day. But, I enjoy the down timetime to read, catch up on emails, write in the blog. Since I fly so much, I have a fairly high status with the airline and the perks that United offers to its premium flyers takes a lot of the sting out of air travel (no waiting in lines, extra baggage, upgrades to first class).

I am returning from Raleigh NC and the Equine Extravaganza horse expo. It was a fun weekendalthough expos involve long, hard days for the people that work there. Generally we have 10-11 hour dayson the floor  (concrete floor) often followed by a late business dinner. Its lots of fun to do my presentations and visit with people all day, but it does take a lot of energy.

This weekend, I emceed theTrainers Challenge, which is a colt starting contest amongst three up-and-coming trainers trying to break into thebig time. I enjoyed narrating the contest, telling the audience about the techniques the trainers are using, why they are doing something and pointing out the behavior and responses in each of the horses. That took about an hour and a half all three mornings. On top of that, I did my regular presentations in the coliseum and round pen, plus Q&A/autograph signings; in-between, I spend my time talking to attendees and answering questions, with the occasional business meeting thrown in for good measure. Its fun to talk to all the peopleone man even told me he wanted to see my newly painted toes (obviously a blog reader!)

On Friday I had three presentations, four on Saturday, two on Sunday. Two presentations is a lotfour is bordering on ridiculous. Although I thoroughly enjoy doing my presentations, the energy it takes for the articulation and beingon stage” for an hour at a time is significant. Ive been doing it long enough where I dont really have to plan it out or prepare in anyway or stress over it, so that helps. But its no wonder that by Monday, I am ready to chill out with a little alone time where I dont have to talk for the whole day; and airports are a great place for that.

I was very pleased this weekend with all the people that told me they were watching Horse Master and really enjoying it. Even though it was a pretty small expo, the number of people mentioning the TV show gave me great encouragement that our viewership is growing tremendously. We are only six months into the show now and I feel pretty good about the growing number of viewers and the fact that weve already won two awards.

A lot of the people that spoke with me this weekend mentioned that they thought I was much funnier in person than on the TV show. Ive had the same comments about my videos. Its a whole lot easier to crack jokes in front of an audience than when it is just me staring at the camera. If no one laughs back at my jokes, its hard to keep them coming. On the other hand, working in front of a live audience makes it a lot easier, since I get a lot of energy back from the crowd. After a while, the crowd is expecting you to make a joke and sometimes they even laugh at something I didnt even intend as a joke. Or they laugh at the silly antics of the horse. Although people come to my clinics and demos for education and information (and I try to make sure they are never disappointed), entertainment is really important tooeven if it takes me acting like a clown sometimes. If I can figure out how to do the same thing without a crowd present, just imagine how great the TV show would be! Ill have to work on thatmaybe we need to film in front if a live audience.

In the meantime, I look forward to getting home this eveningmaybe if I am lucky, Ill get home in time to ride. Although that is looking doubtful since my Chicago to Denver flight has already been delayed twice and its only 8:00 am. Oh well, you just have to take what comes your way when you travel. Thank god for the Red Carpet Club!

All the best,


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On The Road Again… Logo

Good Day!

Once again, I am headed out for the weekend– this time to Raleigh NC for the Equine Extravaganza horse expo. This is the second year for this expo and the one last year was great—so I’m sure this one will be even better! There aren’t too many expos in the summer—it tends to be a “shoulder season” type of activity. This time of year, horse people are generally pretty busy on the weekends—going to shows, trail rides, clinics, camping, whatever it is that we do with our horses.

Rich is no exception. He and his new horse Diggs are headed out this afternoon to a two-day clinic and one-day competition. He’s unsure about competing on his new horse—he’s only been riding him a week. But it is a schooling show anyway and as long as he doesn’t have unrealistic expectations, it would be a good way to start figuring out what their strengths and weaknesses are. It takes a long time to develop a tight relationship with a horse and there’s no real short cut. It takes thousands of cues and transitions, lots of mistakes and many corrections before your horse can have a true understanding of what you are asking (articulately or inarticulately).  Doing the clinic on Diggs this weekend will give Rich lots of concentrated time on his new horse and with the help of several professionals, help him come to a closer understanding.

In the midst of packing fro my trip this weekend, I had a lovely surprise yesterday from my dear friend and neighbor, Cheryl. She called to say she would pick me up for lunch at precisely 12:15 because she had made a reservation. I thought that was odd, since there’s absolutely no place in Salida where you need a reservation for lunch. But instead, we went to a lovely little day spa where we had manicure (Cheryl), pedicure (me), neck and shoulder massages (both) as we sipped our wine. What a lovely afternoon! Then we did go to lunch and sat out on a great patio overlooking the river and mountains and soaked in the glorious Colorado summer day (it’s a very short season here—so you must enjoy it!). What a treat! I never in a million years would’ve done something like that for myself—but it was SO relaxing! It took some covert planning on Cheryl’s and Brenda’s (my office manager) part, but it was an afternoon well spent.

I got home just in time to ride my horse one more time before leaving. Although I hated to put on socks and boots after getting my first pedicure (for god’s sake, I don’t even own any open-toed sandals—Cheryl had to lend me hers just so I could appreciate my pink toes!). After that mellow afternoon, Dually and I had a really relaxed ride—which is how I wanted to leave it before my trip. I’ve had some interesting revelations on him lately—stemming from an off-handed remark someone made to me a couple months ago, having to do with what my body language looked like while I was riding Dually. Riding a high-test, sensitive horse is really challenging, although rewarding. It’s a what-comes-first thing—the chicken or the egg? I’ve written about this before—does Dually anticipate or do I anticipate his anticipation and subsequently send him a subtle signal?

I see this all the time in clinics with spooky and volatile horses—is the horse causing the reaction in the rider or is the rider causing the reaction in the horse? I know from my experience in clinics that it is usually the rider because if I get up on the horse, riding with confidence and with no pre-conceived notions, the horse immediately relaxes and does fine. So in the past few weeks I’ve been really focusing on this as I ride. And low and behold, if I stay totally neutral and relaxed, so does he!

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Don’t try to prevent your horse from making a mistake. Let him make it, then fix it. That’s the only way he’ll learn. No micro-managing. It’s the same reason why a kid can’t truly learn to ride a bicycle until you take off the training wheels. As long as the crutch is there, he’ll rely on it. But take them away and he has to balance himself or fall down. It’s the same way with a horse. Ask him to do something, then release him. If he makes a mistake, correct him—but then leave him alone to do his job—give him some responsibility to do the right thing. If you constantly micro-manage to prevent him from making a mistake, he is learning the wrong thing—learning to rely on the training wheels. Horses don’t need training wheels—they are very capable animals.

That’s my thought for the day. Soon we’ll be landing in Raleigh and I’ll be scrambling all weekend. More form the road later!


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Summer Reading Logo

Good day!

Wow. So this is what it feels like on Monday morning after a relaxing weekend off, like normal people have! It’s tough when your work schedule is opposite the rest of the business world. For me, I mostly work on weekends—so does Rich in the winter. So everyone else expects you to be in the office first thing Monday morning to attend to business, regardless of whether you worked 12 hour days over the weekend and hadn’t had a day off in weeks.

Rich and I had a great three-day weekend at home, got lots of riding in, watched Wimbledon matches (wow- Federer/Nadal match was incredible!), did some back-burner chores and I even had time for my favorite recreational activity—reading!

I started a new book this weekend which is incredible. Although I normally love spy books, this is a different genre, and an awesome story about horse people. My dear friend Polly, a colleague from Lexington KY, sent me the book with “must-read” instructions. Polly and I share books a lot, so I knew it would be good.

It’s called The God of Animals, by Aryn Kyle. Incredibly, it is a first novel for her and I believe it is destined to win awards. It’s a story of grief and family attachments and a young girl, the daughter of a show horse trainer/instructor, whose older sister runs away to marry a rodeo cowboy, leaving the 12 year old girl to deal with the brunt of her family’s heartache and strife. Here’s a lovely excerpt from the first few pages.

“My father was being kind when he said I didn’t have the temperament for showing, because what he meant was that I didn’t have the talent. I couldn’t remember to smile and keep my heels down and my toes in and my elbows tight and my back straight all at the same time. When I focused on smiling, I dropped my reins, and when I thought about sitting up straight, my feet slipped out of the stirrups. My father said that he needed me more outside the ring anyway, but I saw how it was. We had a reputation to maintain and a livelihood to earn. In the end, I wasn’t good for business.

But Nona was good enough for both of us. She smiled and laughed and winked at the judges. Outside the ring she would let little girls from the stands sit on her horse. While she showed them how to hold the reins and where to put their feet, she would aim her voice at their parent’s and say, “You’re a natural!” Then she would flash her smile at their mothers and say, “My daddy gives lessons. You all should come out sometime.”

I have a feeling this is going to be one of those books that you hate to finish, so I am savoring it slowly, like a fine scotch. I don’t have a lot of time to read anyway, but this one is hard to put down. I’ve read another great book recently called Modoc, by Ralph Helfer. It is the true story of “the greatest elephant that ever lived” and the boy-turned-man that shares his life. It is a remarkable and inspiring story and a real page turner—hard to believe it’s a true story. Thank you Heidi, for that one (she’s not always the slave driver). I’ll have to reconsider my choice of books, since none of the spy/adventure novels I have read lately are worth mentioning to anyone. Well. There was the one called Quickie that was pretty good.

Now, it’s Monday morning—so I’d better get back to work. No reading or recreating for me this week (although I do get to ride—thankfully that doesn’t count as recreating for me). I head to NC early Thursday for an expo, so it’s a good thing I’m rested up because three 12+ hour days, bookended by two full days of travel, set-up and tear down can take it out of you!

Hope you find some time for reading!




Julie Goodnight Horsemanship Training ·
Horse Master TV Show— Airing weekly on RFD-TV beginning January, 2008 ·
PO Box 397· Poncha Springs CO 81242
phone (719) 530-0531 · fax (719) 530-0939


Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

It’s Summertime! Logo

…And the living is easy.

Hello friends,

What a relaxing few days it has been! Just to update you on the new horse, we had a nailing biting couple days waiting for the results of the vet check. Diggs showed a positive reaction to the flex test on the left front and right hind; so xrays were ordered. Fortunately the xrays did not show anything surprising—the left front was clean and the right hock showed some arthritic changes that would be expected on a horse that has performed to Digg’s level since he was a three year old. We were not under the illusion that his joints would be as smooth as a baby’s bottom—just needed to know they were manageable.

So, it’s official! Diggs is Rich’s new horse and they had their first “official” ride together after the positive results came in from the vet exam. They looked awesome together—what a great match! Rich rode Diggs beautifully—much more relaxed than when we were trying him out. Diggs was right there with him every step of the way and I couldn’t help but notice the sh*#-eating grin on Rich’s face as he rode.

We’ve started Digg’s on Cosequin ASU, a high-potency joint health product for performance horses and I think once that takes hold and his conditioning program kicks in, he’ll be good to go.

Our July 4th celebration was pretty mellow—worked around the house, rode, BBQ at the neighbors, watched the fireworks in town from here—some 7 miles away. In bed by 10:30 and up early this morning to enjoy more hanging around the house. Putzed around in the garden, did some work in the office and now I am headed out to the arena for a late afternoon ride.

We have some friends coming over for a BBQ tonight, then we’ll play a little pool. We are hopeful that this will be one of those rare summer evenings when it is actually warm enough to sit outside and eat. Those nights are few and far between up here at 8,000 feet above sea level, but we have the deck heaters to keep us warm as long as the wind is not too bad.

What a great weekend; and still one more day to go! It doesn’t get any better than that. I hope you are enjoying some relaxing time with friends and family this weekend.




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Too Many Horses– Not Enough Time! Logo


Boy, it’s great to be home and to be able to ride every day! Rich’s new horse arrived Monday night. It was dark by the time they got home so our welcoming committee, consisting of my friends and neighbors, couldn’t see much of the liver colored horse in the dark. But first thing Tuesday morning, we were all eager to see him again. He’s a gorgeous horse and a sweet heart—at least to people. I hope to have some pictures to post soon.

His name is “Chics Dig Him” but he’s called Diggs. I don’t know what it is about Rich but he’s going from a horse named Tuckers Loverboy to this. I can just hear the announcer now as he rides into the show ring, “And now, here’s Rich Moorhead and chicks dig him!” (I know at least one chick digs him—that’s me!). Actually, I think that mare’s (and the chicks) would really dig this horse because he’s one handsome hunk of horse flesh.

Diggs let the geldings know right away that there was a new kid in town and that he would be a force to be reckoned with, posturing and squealing for their benefit. Most of them went the other way, wanting no part of this stallion. But my younger horse, Gunner, thought he’d strut his stuff in front of Diggs.

While the geldings were out yesterday in their turnout, we put Diggs in the alleyway that runs behind the barn so he could stretch his legs a little. There was a gate that prevented him from getting too close to the turnout pen. He went up to the gate and pushed on it twice with his shoulder to see how much give hit had. Then he calmly turned around, walked back about 100’, turned back toward the gate, ran at it full speed and bumped it off the hinges with his shoulder. Not a mark on him but the gate went flying! It was an impressive show for the geldings and by that time even Gunner decided it was okay for Diggs to be king of the mountain.

Although Diggs has no qualms about being strong to the geldings, as soon as you put a halter on him, he’s mister manners and you can stand him right next to another horse and he won’t even look at him. Nonetheless, his little display yesterday may have bought him a date with the vet and a sharp knife a little sooner than we had planned.

Today Diggs will have his vet exam and we’ll know for sure at that point that we’ll keep him. I don’t expect any problems, even though I’ve been having bad dreams about that. We are fortunate to have known this horse for some time, know the sellers well and know that they have stellar reputations.  So I am not too worried.

Dually and I had a good work yesterday. I’m working a little more on practicing his reining maneuvers. This is not something I practice too much because he’s pretty good at it all. But I’ve noticed that if I don’t practice enough, his maneuvers become a little rusty. We did a lot of counter bending, counter canter, then worked on spins, roll backs and stops. It’s a couple weeks before our next competition, so we’ve got some time.

Maybe I’ll have new horse pictures tomorrow!

Until then,




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