Horse Talk

My visit to the Circle Z Ranch

CIRCLE Z GUEST RANCH

By Jen Zeller

If you’ve ever dreamed of riding in a place that looks like it could be from a Western Film, then you’ve got to get to Patagonia, Arizona, to Circle Z Guest Ranch.

The ranch was started in 1926 and is the original guest ranch in Arizona!  It’s everything you think a ranch in the Southwest should be.

There’s turquoise everywhere. Turquoise is good for your soul. Seriously.

Their dining hall is so cute. And don’t get me started on the food. The foooooooooooood

They serve continental breakfasts, as well as a hot breakfast. Everyday. Everyday, people!  And if you have dietary restrictions, no worries, the staff will accommodate you!  You will likely over-eat. At each meal. I don’t know what to tell you except that you’re on vacation. Go for it. That’s what they told me!

The ranch is an incredible home away from home. It’s the perfect way for you to get away from it all. Put your cell phone away during meals, and visit. You won’t find Wi-Fi anywhere but in the Cantina, where the daily happy hour is held. Happy Hour is BYOB — so grab a bottle of your favorite wine or preferred spirit and they’ll have whatever you need to mix with it. Plus, they provide fun little appetizers each night — on Mexican Food day you’ll find fresh guacamole and homemade tortilla chips (and let’s not forget Huevos Rancheros in the morning!)

If you’re looking for a television, don’t bother! You won’t find one.

But who needs a to when there’s a corral full of horses?  Everyone here is treated like family! The riding environment is so friendly and the horses are incredibly well trained. They’re great at their jobs, happy with their lives and it shows. Once you’ve been a guest and found your dream horse, you’ll get to hang with them on subsequent trips to the ranch. How cool is that?

The staff are awesome!  They’re all very helpful and super fun!

And it’s okay to forget that the staff exist when you meet Tony, the ranch donkey. He’s super lovable.  He’s the best distraction!

Every day your ride will find you in a different terrain. You won’t ride in anything that looks remotely similar from day to day! I’m not gonna lie though, one of those trails scared the poop out of me!  However my gorgeous horse, Taffy, took great care of me whilst I bit my fingernails, and avoided looking down! I’m not even scared of heights, I’m just slightly claustrophobic and the narrow trail didn’t help me. At all! The view from the top was certainly worth it, however!

Is Taffy not about the most stunning girl ever? Holy wow she’s gorgeous… I wanted to pack her up and bring her home with me. They quickly said “No!!”

Way to rain on a girl’s parade, people! In their defense, she’s super awesome, and if she were mine I’d not part with her either, so I get it!

When you’re ready, if you feel up to it, you can lope on your ride! If you don’t feel up to it, that’s okay too! they’ll send you on a walking only ride!

The scenery will blow you away. Seriously.

Their new covered arena is pretty killer! You can schedule yourself a riding lesson before your day of riding. Not gonna lie — the barrel racer in me thought to myself — I could smoke a run in here!

And speaking of barrel racing — they have a gaming day! You can work cattle, learn the poles and run barrels. For some reason I was chosen to give a barrel racing demonstration. I don’t know how I got volunteered for that gig! Hehe!

A highlight at the end of each day is watching the horses get turned out.

Each day is something new and exciting. The food is great, the staff is great, and often, you’ll find Diana Nash, the owner, as your host.  She’s is so enthusiastic about life, the ranch and the guests you’d have to be a serious cranky pants to not feel welcome and comfortable with her.

A highlight of the week is the Friday ride in the San Rafael Valley.  This valley is where they filmed the movie Oklahoma. Several other movies have been filmed here as well.

On Saturday they ride into town, to the local bar, have drinks, lunch and otherwise get rowdy in the way they once did in the old west!!!! I missed that ride, because “home” called and said I had to get back, but if I ever get to go to Circle Z again, I think the bar ride sounds like a must-do event.

If you’re interested in keeping up with the goings on at the ranch make sure you follow them on Facebookand Instagram, and for more photos from my trip, check out the hashtag: CirlceZRanch.

Until next time, Happy Trails!

Jenn

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This post was brought to you, courtesy of Circle Z Guest Ranch. I cannot find the right words to explain how fun this vacation was.  I combined my love of the outdoors, photography and riding into one phenomenal trip and I’m so grateful to Diana, and the ranch, for giving me the opportunity to capture the spirit of Circle Z. I hope I did it justice and I hope you’ll choose to come here when you’re in search of an epic riding vacation.

By |March 20th, 2018|Community, Horse Talk|0 Comments

Horsemanship Clinic with Carlos Tabernaberri

My friend (and horse-sharer at home) Charley and I have been coming to Circle Z for 13 years now, and always enjoy the varied trail rides with such spectacular scenery.
But this year our annual trip turned out to be even more special than usual as we participated in the Horsemanship Clinic given by Australian clinician Carlos Tabernaberri.
The title of Carlos’s book — “Through the Eyes of the Horse” — (and yes, I am now the proud owner of an autographed copy) tells it all. His training methods are all based on understanding how a horse in a herd thinks and communicates, and then using that understanding to become the human leader that your horse wants you to be.
Carlos’s motto is CCKL = TOR: a human who provides Confident, Consistent, Kind Leadership will obtain Trust, Obedience and Respect from their horse. In Carlos’s world, you never kick your horse in the ribs to get him to go nor pull on the reins to get him to stop. Cues are much more subtle, and much more acceptable to the horse as they never involve pain. The watchwords are softness, lightness, and class (as in classy).
And the most fascinating thing about it? It works!
The 10 Circle Z guests who rode in the clinic each took a Circle Z horse – all of them kind, responsible trail horses used to fearlessly navigating the narrow trails and rocky hillsides of the south Arizona desert. But none of them had any experience working in an arena, learning to move each leg independently in response to a rider’s cues, or working with other horses in a group rather than in a line on a trail.
Yet after five days with Carlos instructing the riders and the riders instructing the horses, all were able to perform such maneuvers as turns on the forehand, turns on the haunches and rollbacks, and all were learning to carry themselves in a classical dressage frame.
I can hardly wait to begin trying out some of the same techniques on my horse here at home!

Written by Barb McLintock

By |February 1st, 2018|Horse Talk|0 Comments

Horseback Riding Covered Arena

This past summer, the owners of the Circle Z Ranch decided to build a covered riding arena on our large field located between the day and night pasture. This is a full size arena, measuring 150 feet X 250 feet. Being in the planning and hoping stages for several years, the final push for building this arena was our move into offering more horsemanship clinics, ensuring there a nice working space that was protected from the elements. We did not anticipate how much its’ popularity would go beyond these clinics, and our guests have responded very positively to this addition to our riding program.

Every Monday morning, our new guests are taken into the riding arena for their riding orientation. Wanting to make sure that each of our guests are clear about our riding hints for the trails, our wranglers cover all of the horse and trail riding safety tips. For those riders who are beginners, we further offer a quick horsemanship lesson on the basics on turning, stopping, self carriage, and how best to ride our horses based on western riding horsemanship.

On Tuesday mornings before the scheduled trail ride we are offering riding lessons to any guest that would like to learn more about riding, from trotting, to loping and anything in between! And guests are welcome to ask for lessons on any day they are at the ranch. This has been a huge success, and we have probably given more lessons since the start of the season than we have in the last 10 years! On any given day, guests have been in the arena learning and growing in their comfort with riding, and as a huge bonus we are including these lessons with our all-inclusive ranch pricing. This is such a testament to how important it is to have a designated space where guests feel comfortable and safe, and the footing is perfect for the horses.

Here are some of the comments we have received: “I wish this had been here when I first started riding here years ago, just in the two days of lessons before the trail ride my level of riding has improved so much”, “I am an experienced rider, but had not ridden this horse before, so it was extremely helpful to be able to try him at a lope inside the arena before going out on the trails”. You get the gist, this has been an amazing addition to our riding program as we continue to be fully committed to offering the best horseback riding program of any guest ranch.

In the future, perhaps even this summer, we will offer the arena for large gatherings during the guest off-season as well as a place for different horse related trainings. If you have a use in mind please let us know!

By |January 10th, 2018|Horse Talk|0 Comments

Training with our young colts

Apollo is a rising 2 year old ranch bred horse.

Introducing young horses into the riding herd at the Circle Z Ranch is a process that takes several years and starts with the foundation of trust, which is the basis for all future training. Their first year of life is spent out in the mare pasture with their moms, growing and maturing, learning to navigate the terrain with mom in the lead. Our 2 yearlings Cocoa and Apollo, born in the Spring of 2015, were separated from their mares this past spring and spent the summer passing away the hours at the Bar Z Ranch. They are now ready to start learning how to be around humans and to be a part of the herd.

We first had Cocoa and Apollo in a pen adjacent to the main herd’s day pasture so they could all get acquainted over the fence. It was amazing to watch how many horses came to greet them, to touch noses, and how it thrilled these young ones. When they were ready to be turned out with the herd during the day, the process was seamless. Now, they are part of the herd, learning who the leaders are, how to behave in the group, and who to stay away from! The two are inseparable from each other for now, and are often seen running and kicking up their heels, moving in unison, all while being tolerated by the older horses. They still spend nights and Sundays in our corrals rather than being turned out to the night pasture, as they are still too young to protect themselves.

I have been working with these two for several weeks now and have seen great things from both. The most important thing is for them to trust me, to see me as a confident and consistent leader, and for me to show them kindness and patience. This means lots of head scratches, touching them all over, and to always show them respect while they are learning. At this young age I am focusing on the basic tenants for the rest of their learning; good ground manners and to be relaxed around humans. This means, in part, to walk confidently on a lead and to follow my feet; to stand calmly while I am at their side; to accept my hands touching them; to stop when I stop and not walk over the top of me; and to not nip at me or use me as a scratching post. This is a time of setting boundaries for acceptable behavior, just as the herd dictates on a daily basis. Interestingly, each took to these things with different levels of ease, revealing their insecurities and curiosities. It is so important during this process not to judge or label their behavior, but to work softly and patiently while they are learning to accept me as a human who means them no harm. It is also imperative to introduce things in a non-threatening way.

Cocoa and Apollo have much different personalities. A small black horse, Cocoa is the more daring and for sure the leader of the pair. He is curious about everything and likes to be at the center of the activity. Apollo is a stunning sorrel with a blaze, a little bit shier but so wanting to please. He would rather hide behind Cocoa, and does not like to be separated from him, and is slowly learning confidence through Cocoa’s examples. Both have very soft eyes, and both are very smart. The more time I spend with these two, their trust in me has risen dramatically. Both now come to me when they see me in the pasture. At first they were both a little resistant to haltering, but with patience on my part they are now very accepting of this. Both take a lead nicely and pass through gates without concern. Some of these things seem like such basics for a seasoned horse, but for a young one it is all new territory.

We are looking forward to starting their official ground work when Australian trainer Carlos Tabernaberri returns to the ranch this January. Stay tuned for more posts and photos as their training progresses!

By |December 17th, 2017|Horse Talk|0 Comments

Horsemanship with Carlos Tabernaberri

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Working with a large herd of horses requires endless amounts of  patience, plus knowledge of how horses see things in their hierarchical world. Patience can be learned through conscious effort and practice. How horses see the world is often more elusive. Working with a horse trainer and clinician who has spent their lives training horses and studying horse behavior is key to keeping consistency in how we treat our horses.

Carlos Tabernaberri is such a person. I first met Carlos at the Apache Springs Ranch, located at the base of the Santa Rita Mountains. With my wranglers and several young horses in tow, we participated in a three day horsemanship clinic under Carlos’s guidance. What I admired so much about Carlos was his philosophy, which is not a bunch of steps, but a bunch of well thought out ways of how to treat horses, and how to create a relationship that puts the horse first always. That with consistency, confidence, kindness and leadership we can achieve the trust, obedience and respect of our horses. By the end of the clinic, and after I brought my little Mexican horse Chispas back to the ranch, I realized that my relationship had been changed with this horse, and his life had been changed as well. Once untrusting and reactive, Chispas is now a joy to ride and a trusting partner.

I had been to other clinics, and had worked with others who were self proclaimed “horse whisperers”, yet I never felt completely comfortable with how they treated the horses. Snapping the horses on the nose with the reins to “get their energy up” or running them wildly ad liberty in a round pen so they would be “focused” when it was time to work under saddle. Or bumping them harshly on the nose with a knotted halter to get them to back, or to stop, or to behave while doing ground work. These things just seemed wrong, yet I could not explain why. Until I started working with Carlos.2016-12-11-09-58-03

I invited Carlos to come to the Circle Z Ranch the following winter, both to work with my staff as well as to run a week-long horsemanship clinic for our guests. Carlos is the best thing that could have happened for our ranch and for our horses, because he truly gets horses, and has a comprehensive way of explaining why the above techniques lead to behavioral problems, when the horses are labeled bad, or dangerous, or high headed, or head shy. These issues stem from their handling, and not the horses inherent “personalities”. I realized that we had unknowingly created problems, and how with patience and sensitivity to the horses needs we would be able to remedy these issues.

Now I do not mean to insinuate that our horses were mistreated in any way. But sometimes it is refreshing and empowering to hear others, and to take to heart their philosophies, in order to weave them into your own mentality, and your own way of being. For me it is all about the horse, and putting them first, so that what we do with them is merely helping them to understand why it is ok to do what we ask of them. That what we do is never unkind, and is never forceful, and is always in the moment, the way horses are in the moment.  So much of what we do is right on, yet there were some things that were just not working. And the beauty of all of this is that my staff took the teachings of Carlos to heart, and admired him not as a “clinician”, but as a good friend who has excellent advice, and has a way with horses that was quite honestly astonishing.

We can’t wait to have Carlos come back next year, and for our guests to be able to learn from this gentleman who is profound and charismatic and kind. For our staff, our guests, and above all our horses, life is good, we are all grateful for the presence of this man.

For more information, please consider reading “Through the Eyes of the Horse” by Carlos Tabernaberri, available on Amazon.

 

 

By |February 20th, 2017|Horse Talk|0 Comments

Caring for the ranch horses

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New shade port for day pasture

The Circle Z Ranch owns one of the largest private horse herds in Arizona, and keeping our herd healthy, both physically and mentally, takes diligence and a concerted effort amongst our staff. Giving the highest levels of care is what good ranches do, and the rewards are reaped every day by our guests and our happy horses alike. So what all goes into the care of our family? I sat with Miko and Jennie to list all the things we do for our horses.

Here are some interesting numbers: We feed an average of 250 tons of alfalfa each year, give on average 200 influenza and tetanus injections, and deworm 200 times. The herd is supplemented with 750 pounds of psyllium each year to prevent sand colic. We also supplement their regular diet of alfalfa with grain, bran, and fodder.

Starting in the Spring, when we close the ranch to guests, we prepare our horses to be turned out onto their 3000 acre summer pasture, where the grazing is unlimited. We brand our 3 year old horses and the new horses that have passed Circle Z scrutiny. We use the freeze brand method which is a more humane method than burning on brands. We also vaccinate each horse with the Tetanus and influenza injections, as well as de-wormer. We allow their shoes to fall off naturally as they roam the property.

The horses’ summer pasture has 3 large stock ponds, access to the creek, as well as plenty of shade trees for those hot days. We check on the horses at least twice a week and sometimes more, especially after a big storm. The horses tend to stay in their small group of buddies, and hang out in the same areas, making it easier for our cowboys to keep track of them. Our staff carries along basic horse first aid for those rare injuries, and are able to provide most of the vet care needed. Only rarely do we have to bring a horse in for extra care. A few of the horses get tender footed, so they are kept shod, helping them  move about easily.

Spring is also our time for breeding our five brood mares. We are currently using a stud by the name of Shiny Sparks, who is an AQHRA registered horse. He is a stocky sorrel stallion with a white blaze. We pasture him with our mares at our Creek Ranch property for one month, and usually know by three to four months if the breeding “took”.

As the summer months’ wane, it is time to round up our herd. Some of the horses start heading back towards the corrals as their internal clocks wind down, but many like to hold out for the last minute. Once the horses are all in, we start getting them ready for the guests. During one season, there are over 900 horse shoes expertly placed on our horses by Miko and Tavo. Once shoed we give them another dose of influenza/tetanus, and de-worm them again.

As our staff clears the trails from the summer storms, they also start exercising and tuning up each horse. We try to get 2-3 rides per horse before the guests arrive, which helps to get them back into shape and get their minds back on work.

Once the guest season starts the end of October, our winter schedule of care begins. We feed 16 bales of alfalfa daily between the morning and evening meals. The horses are on a strict time schedule. They know that when the feed truck runs, and the gates open in the early morning and at the 4:30 pm bell, it is time to move to their day or night pasture. For the horses who are working any given day, we feed them prior to their ride with 1 ½ scoops of grain and ½ scoop of bran. We give each horse 1 cup of psyllium daily for seven consecutive days each month to prevent colic. Each horse is also rotated into the fodder feeding area at least once, and sometimes twice, per week for that extra boost of nutrients from the freshly sprouted barley.

For most injuries we are able to take care of our own vet care. Minor cuts, abscesses, and saddle sores are treated with stitches, medications, and rest. For cases of colic, which happens rarely, we administer Benamine and Dyperone, and call the vet for tubing only if not relieved with conservative treatments. We have found that the psyllium works very well for colic prevention.

To keep our paddocks and corrals clean, there is the daily scooping of manure, which seems endless! The large day pasture is cleaned out 4 times each season with the tractor. The seven water troughs around the property are drained and cleaned with bleach 4 times each season.

We provide dental care for our horses as needed, and with their time spent out foraging naturally is not required as frequently as if they were fed hay year-round. This year we will be trying a new method called Natural Balance Dentistry. Stay tuned for another article describing the process, and benefits, of this particular method.

Thanks to our hard working and knowledgeable staff at the corrals, we are able to accomplish all this work on top of providing individualized attention to our guests. We are 100 percent committed to the health of our horses throughout their lives.

By |October 16th, 2016|Horse Talk|0 Comments

Training colts with Wranglers Val and Johnny

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We take great pride in breeding and training many of our horses right here on the ranch. Getting each one to the point of being a good guest horse takes time, consistency, and patience. We rely upon our wranglers, who are expert equestrians, to work with the young horses. Two of our wranglers, Val and Johnny, are doing an exceptional job with their three-year olds: Athena, a beautiful sorrel filly, and Charles, a handsome paint gelding.

Consistency is the key when training young horses, with the majority of their early learning taking place from the ground. The trainer uses lead ropes and training halters to teach them to walk, trot, and lope on cue. Backing up, yielding the fore and hind legs, and flexing are important to teach as well. Moving their feet from the ground makes the process smoother when they are under saddle, and each horse requires a different amount of time and energy to make this happen.

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For both Val and Johnny, their horses had already been through basic ground work when they started working with them in October. Val shared her thoughts on her early days with Athena “We struggled a lot in the beginning. I had the same experience with her that I had with a lot of mares, it takes a long time to gain their respect and trust. You really have to prove yourself, and once you get it, they will give you the world. They try real hard and never give up”. At first Val’s time spent with Athena was short, often only 10 minutes, and when Athena got something right the lesson would end. The key to successful training is in building the trust and respect, so the horse knows they won’t be put in danger. “Now we get along great. She understands the cues, and what I want her to do.”

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Charles and Johnny have a trusting relationship, and Charles is often seen searching over the fence for Johnny from the day pasture. “He is super good, really calm and patient with me because this is a learning process for me too.” Johnny does not profess to be a horse trainer, yet his laid back personality and ability to be consistent is making the work with Charles go smoothly. Not much bothers Charles, and it did not take long for Johnny to have him under saddle. “Laying over him and hanging out there on his back, petting him on his butt and shoulder while laying on him. Then it was super easy to swing up and start sitting on him. We worked on flexing to each side, then started getting forward movement in there. He’s a little like me in that any work to the left is a bigger hurdle.”

It takes time for the young horses to figure out how to balance with a load on their backs, so starting them with easy walking, trotting, and working in circles helps them figure out how to move under saddle. They are also still growing and are susceptible to injury if pushed too hard. “I am a big guy, so I will probably have someone smaller lope Charles when he is ready,” Johnny said.

Val has come a long way with Athena, and she is frequently seen riding her in the large round pen. They practice working on leads, steering while in a lope, and side passing on cue. Together, she and Johnny took the two horses out on their first trail ride down the polo field, across the creek, and back to the corrals via the railroad bed. Charles spooked a little at the sound of a tree branch scraping Johnny’s hat, and Athena didn’t like the shadows of the cottonwood trees, but they’ll get used to it. With consistency and lots of miles under saddle, they will make fine trail horses for our guests.

By |March 2nd, 2016|Horse Talk|0 Comments

Shoeing the Circle Z horses

When October rolls around countless tasks need to be completed before guests arrive for their ranch vacations. Shoeing our horses is one of the most time consuming; it demands skill, precision and strength. I visited with Miko, our corral manager and head farrier, along with Tavo from the corral staff for more insight on how this is accomplished.

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The Circle Z Philosophy

Circle Z horses run barefoot for the summer. Climbing over the rocky terrain helps to strengthen their hooves and allows their hooves to breathe and grow naturally. When they come back to the corrals in the fall, their hooves are trimmed from the terrain, making that first shoeing much easier.

During our guest season, we use over 1000 horse shoes, shoeing over 330 horses over the 6 month period. Our philosophy and practice is to have our horses shod when needed, as opposed to a strict schedule. For some horses, this means every 4 weeks; others may keep their shoes for 6 weeks.

Having our own farriers on staff as wranglers—as opposed to hiring farriers to come in—makes the process much less stressful for the horse as they are at ease with our wranglers. Miko and Tavo also know the tendencies of each horse and any issues they may have, making our instances of injury very low. All of our wranglers closely monitor the condition of each horse’s hooves, as well as their performance on the trails, to help determine when a new set is needed.

Each horse takes approximately 1 hour to shoe. Between Miko and Tavo they can shoe 12 horses in a day. Some colts are new to the routine and take longer, or may need a little something to calm them. And there are a few who just don’t like it. For the most part however, our horses are cooperative during the shoeing, accepting it as part of their jobs.

We use a cold shoeing method, while some of the ranches in the colder climates may use a hot method. Over the years, our corral manager has developed a hoof stand that makes it easier for both the farrier and the horse during the shoeing process. The horse is able to support his foot and to balance his weight on the opposite leg, rather than leaning in on the farrier.

The Shoeing Process

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The first thing to determine when shoeing a horse is the size of the shoe relative to the size of the horse’s hoof. We have a large farrier’s closet with shoes ranging in size from OO for the smaller horses to size 2 for the larger horses.

Next comes the meticulous rasping, or shaping, of the hoof. Farriers use a rasp to make the surface smooth and even, being careful not to file too much into the hoof. With a trained eye for detail, they determine the shape the horse shoe needs to take, and return to the anvil to pound the hard, yet pliable steel shoe into the correct shape. It can take several trips from the horse to the anvil to get the shape right.

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Placing the shoe requires precision, making sure it lines up evenly and is centered with the frog. The process of nailing the shoe has a specific sequence to ensure the shoe fits perfectly. The nails must have enough bite on the hoof, and protrude through the hoof evenly. Doing this incorrectly can cause a horse to go lame.

Some of our horses need to have their front hooves blocked; these are the horses that have a tendency to trip. Blocking involves placing a slight upward bend in the shoe on the front feet, allowing the horse’s hooves to glide more freely over the terrain.

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Shoeing horses in an art. It requires not only precision but an intimate knowledge of the horse and is very important for preventing injuries. Correct shoeing is imperative to keeping our herd healthy under a demanding riding schedule. Our ferries are masters of their art, and we are most grateful for the good care they give to our horses.

By |October 31st, 2015|Horse Talk|0 Comments

A Conversation with Kelly, Circle Z Ranch Horse Trainer

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Many of you have seen Kelly working with the young horses at the corrals, marveling at her patience and ease with these horses, as though they are talking the same language, which is her objective. Here is some background on Kelly, and her thoughts on Natural Horsemanship.

Kelly has attended numerous horse clinics over the years, from Tom Lynch to Chris Cox. She “lived horse” for twenty years, working with colts at the racetrack. By practicing with young colts everyday she developed her own style, one she uses with the “babies” at the Circle Z.

“I teach the colts how to get along, and to make things easier on themselves. Horses are reactive by instinct. The reactive side of their brain is huge while the thinking side is small. I teach them to use more of their thinking side, to figure out that they can trust me to help them make the decisions. It’s important for them to make good decisions for themselves, as opposed to simply reacting to every situation.”

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This is where the partnering is key, and when communicating on the horse level—as opposed to the human level—is so imperative. “I always look for the “try” from the colt when I ask them to do something. These can be the smallest of indications, like a slight lowering of the head, or are they looking at me instead of through me, even a flicking of their ears. After a lot of repetition, and consistency, they begin to learn that it is easier to give the “try” than to give the attitude.”

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When not leading guests out on rides, Kelly is with her babies in the corrals. “I love to teach. I love to see the light go on. With some, it just takes more time, more patience, but with a positive approach and giving lots of rewards, it really pays off in the end. I am only 100 pounds, I can’t compete with 1000 pounds of attitude. Giving respect, looking for the smallest of tries, and always starting with the simplest first. It makes all of our lives easier.”

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We will see the results of these “tries” this fall as our wranglers take the training to the next level. The babies Kelly has been working with since she started at the ranch are now 3 years old, and it is time for them to be ridden out on the trails, and to learn how to get along outside of the corrals. They will spend another three to four years before they are completely ready to be ridden by guests. But these early steps are critical ones. These young horses are so fortunate to have had Kelly as their leader, which makes us confident that they will ultimately be amazing horses for our guests.

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By |September 18th, 2015|Horse Talk|0 Comments

The Story of El Sultan, a Carthusian Stallion

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Since our inception in 1926 we have been known for our fine breeds of horses. Circle Z Ranch’s first and most notable stallion was a Carthusian Stallion named El Sultan, and this is his story.

Heavy in foal, a Spanish mare from the Spanish royal stables of Marquis de Domecq of Jerez de la Frontera was gifted to a stable in Havana, Cuba. Arriving in Cuba in 1931, she soon foaled El Sultan, who would become the stallion for the Circle Z Ranch by the age of five.

A Carthusian Horse, El Sultan’s bloodlines dated back to the late twelve hundreds. After the Moors left Spain, the Carthusian monks in Andalusia bred this larger Moorish Arabian stallion with a larger type of mare from central Europe. This original stallion was named Esclavo. The mare’s bloodlines went so far back into antiquity that her exact breed was unknown.

After 300 years of breeding and meticulous record keeping, the Carthusian monks considered their breed firmly established. Taking the purity of the bloodlines seriously, it is said they even refused royal orders to mix their stallions with other breeds. When the monks disbanded in the 1800’s, the horses were taken in by Juan Jose Zapata, who diligently continued the purity of the bloodline. Called the Saintly Horse because of its extremely gentle disposition, these pure bloods were jealously guarded by the Government and the Spanish remount system as they were excellent cavalry horses.

The Carthusian horses are known for their proud and lofty actions, a showy and rhythmical walk, and a high stepping trot. Their canters are rocking in nature, with natural balance, agility and fire. Today Carthusian horses are raised around Cordoba, Jerez de la Frontera, and Badajoz, Spain on state-owned farms. Nearly all of the modern pure Carthusian horses are descendants of Esclavo.


In 1934 El Sultan was the first Carthusian to live in the United States, and at the time only the sixth to be let out of Spain. Given as a gift from the Cuban Stables to a family in New York, he ultimately ended up in the hands of Mr. R. A. Weaver of Cleveland Ohio. Mr. Weaver was a sponsor of the Kenyon College polo team and a frequent guest at the Circle Z Ranch. Not interested in breeding, he decided that the ideal place for El Sultan would be the Circle Z Ranch, where breeding him with the smaller Mexican range horse would make an ideal guest horse. And he was right.

El Sultan not only sired countless foals for our guest ranch, his gentle disposition led him to serve many functions. Taking well to stock work, he was used for roping at the fall, ranch sponsored rodeos. He also was a frequent show horse at the Tucson parades, winning numerous awards for first of show. Standing over 16 hands, he was said to have been able to jump 6 foot high fences. He was also used during the polo matches at the ranch, which Mr. Weaver helped to establish. He was so gentle that guests rode him as well.


El Sultan was much beloved by the ZInsmeister family, so much so that he had his own stable and corral, and was insured for $10,000. When the Zinsmeisters sold the ranch in 1948, El Sultan stayed with the Zinsmeister family, and was exercised every day until his death on January 2, 1953. In the words of Helen Zinsmeister, “He was more than anyone could expect, and a natural performer and jumper.” His stunning profile still adorns our ranch walls, where El Sultan will forever be remembered as the Circle Z Stallion.

 

By |September 18th, 2015|History, Horse Talk|0 Comments