Clinic serves to improve training program; adoption success

After three days of intensive training at the Plan 4 Progress Forever Foundation Clinic in Murchison, Texas, Dani Horton and Wayne Elkins are ready to renew their efforts with the Hope Equine Rescue training program.

“I don’t care who you are, you’re doing something wrong if you’re not learning,” Elkins said regarding the importance of attending clinics such as this one. Horton hopes that the additional training the clinic provided will help to alleviate some of the burden she has experienced thus far in training the rescued horses.

“I’m hoping this will give us the tools to help train our volunteers to handle horses safely and assist with the training program as a whole,” Horton said. “Training can help our horses find homes faster and stay in that home once it’s found.”

The clinic, which took place November 20-22, 2014, at Doris Day Equine Center, was made possible through a partnership between The Humane Society of the United States and Carter Ranch Horse, and included representatives from 10 rescue organizations spread throughout the United States. Training was provided by Trevor Carter of Carter Ranch Horse.


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Melissa Rubin, Vice President of Animal Care Centers and Veterinary Services for HSUS, said, “Trevor is a very talented trainer and instructor of natural horsemanship. He understands and can offer special techniques for trainers on how to deal with horses who for no fault of their own have been subjected to abusive and cruel situations.

Carter said he has a passion for training others while continuing to develop his own skills along the way as well.

“I’m constantly learning and observing from other people and their experiences, as well as through my own trial and error,” Carter said. Carter is an experienced horseman who will compete in the Road to the Horse, a prestigious equine competition, this March in Kentucky.

This was a ground-only clinic in which participants learned a variety of skills to assist them in training the horses they rescue at their respective organizations. Prior to attending, most participants had already participated in the Plan 4 Progress program through virtual training videos and quizzes that were provided by Carter Ranch Horse. Training topics included equine safety, catching, leading, backing, yielding quarters, proper halter techniques, knots and tying, trailer loading and applying appropriate pressure.

Participant Kaycie McCarthy, Livestock Specialist with the SPCA of Texas, said clinics such as this one serve an important purpose in the equine community. “It was inspiring to hear everyone’s successes and struggles and to learn from them,” she said. “I feel like my skills improved immensely as well as my understanding of horse behavior. This clinic will help us all make our rescue horses more adoptable and more successful in new homes.”

Carter reinforced with the participants that there are four levels of pressure: none, steady, rhythmic and emotion.

“If I have a halter and a lead rope, I can help [a horse] through those moments of confusion without them panicking,” Carter said of applying pressure. “You never want to get to the fourth level – emotion.”

Rubin said the plan is to continue the Plan 4 Progress program in 2015, with “one regional and one main clinic at our Doris Day Equine Center.” Plan 4 Progress started as a year-long virtual training course intended to help increase adoption success rates through better training.

Those who attended the clinic this year can qualify for next year’s clinic by sending a training video of themselves to Carter Ranch Horse for evaluation.

Participants also took a private tour of the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, which is home to nearly 1,000 animals made up of more than 40 species. Many are former research testing animals. Residents include a herd of approximately 500 horses and donkeys, who are free to roam nearly 700 acres.

Editor’s note: Photos and video used with permission of Carter Ranch Horse. Not available for reuse.