Symposium: Learn to Enjoy Your Horse
Lori Cope | Country World editor

Nov. 7, 2005 - Because about 80 percent of the people who buy a horse get rid of it within the first year of ownership, a free clinic on “How to Enjoy Your Horse” drew about 40 horse owners, and potential horse owners, to the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center on Saturday, Nov. 5.

�And those that don�t sell the horse in the first year do so within the first five years,� noted Joe Schwemin, a horse trainer and breeder who shared his knowledge with those attending the clinic that was hosted by the Hopkins County Extension Horse Committee. �Those are statistics from (renowned horse trainer) Pat Parelli, and I agree with them.�

So how can you have a horse that’s a keeper?

First thing, according to Schwemin, is to purchase one that might need some training, but not one that needs “fixing. ... Almost everyone has a problem with their horse. Maybe it won’t back up, ... or stand still while you are trying to get in the saddle” but fixing one that has severe bad habits or poor disposition is difficult.

Many horse’s “problems” can be corrected with proper training, and Schwemin went through a plethora of training tips during the seminar.

�Schwemin and his wife own J-J Ranch in Pickton, where they breed Paints and Quarter Horses. Schwemin trains in many disciplines, from dressage to reining. He is a John Lyons-certified instructor, and has also completed Levels I and II of Pat Parelli�s training courses.

When it comes to buying a horse, Schwemin suggested the “weekly horse sale” isn’t the place to go. Yet, wherever the horse is purchased, he advised the buyer to “go with someone who knows horses,” or send a knowledgeable person to buy the horse. The buyer should also expect to spend between $2,500 and $7,500 for a horse they’ll want to keep.

�Now, can you buy a good horse for $500? Yes. Can you buy a poor horse for $10,000? Yes,� he added.

Schwemin also pointed out that those attending the clinic would forget 75 percent of what they learned that morning. “But a horse remembers 80 percent of what she’s learned for 18 months.” By making that point, the horseman also explained that every time a person spends time with a horse, they are teaching it something. “You are a trainer. Every time you touch the horse or handle it, you are training it.”

Some horse owners opt for taking their new horse to a trainer. “If you do, don’t just take the horse and drop it off for 30 days,” Schwemin said. “Go there every week and make him (trainer) show you what the horse has learned, and show you how to get the horse to do it.”

Schwemin trains several horses at his Pickton ranch. A native Texan, he came back to the state in 1999 after living in Oklahoma for many years. He and his wife decided to settle in Hopkins County because “we just loved the area here, and the people. We looked at many places in East Texas, all the way down to Palestine, but decided Hopkins County is where we wanted to be.”

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