Christa Petrillo :: Total Horsemanship Training

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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Clinics

Q: What topics do you cover in your clinics?
A: Currently I offer 5 different clinics using the Total Horsemanshiptm techniques that aid in mastering Total Horsemanshiptm.

* Clinics also include teaching in proper equine management: i.e. equine behavior, safety, health, nutrition, herbal remedies, conformation, emergency care, proper saddle fitting, appropriate bits and other tack, how to care for your tack, grooming techniques, etc.. Most people comment that they never expected to come away with so much useful and applicable information in just one clinic!

Common issues that people need help in overcoming that I teach useful techniques for are:

  • Trailer loading
  • Leading and ground manners
  • Fear in the rider
  • Standing to mount
  • Crossing water
  • Laying down
  • Backing up
  • Spooking
  • Barn or buddy sour
  • Bucking
  • Biting
  • Rearing
  • Runaways & speed control
  • Head shyness
  • Pulling back while tied, breaking halters and ropes
  • Pawing
  • Head tossing
  • Difficult to bathe
  • Cinch-iness
  • Difficult to lead
  • Disrespect of personal space
    …just to name a few.

New to Horses, Equine Behavior and Trailer Loading Clinic - This clinic is designed to set the new equestrian on the road to successful horsemanship, or to "fill in the holes" and to improve people's understanding of everything equine, in order to progress on the road to successful and Total Horsemanshiptm. Total Horsemanshiptm techniques are taught, including:

  • “Round Penning” useful for establishing control and respect
  • “Sacking Out” useful for desensitizing your horse
  • “Bridle Work” useful for establishing control with steering, stopping, backing with softness
  • “Calm Down Cue” useful for teaching the horse to control their emotions.

Total Horsemanshiptm Clinic I - This clinic teaches Total Horsemanship techniques and establishes “building blocks” from which other more advanced movements come from. Appropriate for the beginner to the experienced. These techniques aid in establishing:

  • Respect on the ground and then on your horse’s back
  • Choosing your horse’s headset
  • Softness
  • Straightness and bend
  • Collection
  • Shoulder-in
  • Haunches-in
  • Speed control
    … and much more. 

Total Horsemanship Clinictm II - This clinic teaches Total Horsemanshiptm techniques useful for accomplishing the higher level movements such as lead changes, elevating the withers, advanced lateral work, half pass, side pass, piaffe, sliding stop, passage, spin, canter pirouette and more. It is necessary to have the “building block” techniques from Total Horsemanshiptm Clinic I installed on your horse to accomplish these movements.

Trail Clinic - This clinic teaches Total Horsemanshiptm techniques and applies them in a trail setting.

Trail/Camping Trip Clinic - This clinic's location is at Point Reyes National Park. It is a two nights, three day camping trip. Prerequisite of Trail Clinic or equivalent experience is required. The Trail/Camping Trip Clinic includes two evening study group lectures as well as trail training.

Q: May a person audit the clinic?
A: Any individual has the option of riding in the clinic or auditing the clinic. Auditing the clinic is a wonderful way to gain insight! The benefit of bringing your horse, of course, is that I am right there to help you with him.

Q: I have serious issues with my horse. Is a clinic setting the place to start in overcoming those issues? Should I bring him or audit first?
A: It depends on what the issues are and where you are in your horsemanship. Some problems are fairly simple to overcome once the techniques are applied appropriately with success, other situations may require private lessons, while others may require putting your horse into monthly training. Sometimes the issue you are having with your horse is due to physical pain and I can walk you through the elimination process to discover if this is the case. Auditing is always a wonderful way to learn! Talk to me so we can discuss options; there may be things you can do ahead of time in preparation for the clinic.

Q: What is the minimum age requirement to participate in one of your clinics?
A: This is dependent on the individual and their level of expertise and accomplishments. Generally youth 16 years and older comprehend well and can assimilate the information. I am working on establishing curriculum and a clinic specifically designed for youth; check back often for updates on this and feel free to email or call with your interest so I can put you on a contact list. Again, depending on the individual auditing is always an option.

Q: How many participants are there in a clinic?
A: The clinics are limited to eight riders to allow for plenty of individual attention and to answer questions. The number is unlimited for auditors.

Q: My horse is young and green broke. Is it okay to bring him or would this be too advanced for him?
A: I have had green broke, young horses in clinics before and it has worked out just fine but it always depends on the horse and owner. I spend one on one time with each rider so if there is a situation that arises it may be something that all can benefit from learning from. Talk to me and together we can arrive at what would be best for you. There are options.

Q: What is the fee for riding in a clinic, what is the fee to audit a clinic and what does the registration fee include?
A: The registration fee covers the clinic and includes a free lunch each day along with curriculum regardless if you ride or audit. Please inquire for clinic rates and details on clinics.

Q: Is it possible to book a clinic at my barn?
A: Yes it is. I enjoy a change of scenery from time to time- especially out of state! Feel free to give me a call at 707-688-4358 and I’ll be happy to discuss how to set up a clinic and what is involved.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Lessons

Q: What do you teach in your lessons?
A: I use the Total Horsemanshiptm method in addressing horse and rider. Each horse and rider is an individual pair requiring specific lessons designed for them. If you have specific goals and desire to learn a specific discipline I will be happy to discuss them with you and together we can design a lesson plan that ensures your expectations are understood, realistic and met. I teach all disciplines of riding from Western Pleasure, Hunter Pleasure, Reining, Dressage, Trail and more. If your horse is conformed appropriately for the discipline you desire the Total Horsemanshiptm techniques are applicable across the board and will aid you in obtaining your goals. I have spent a good part of my life showing and have done a fair amount of judging open shows. Equitation is one of my specialties.

Q: I don’t own my own horse yet. Do you have a lesson horse available?
A: From time to time I have a lesson horse available. Contact me and we can discuss availability. If you are intending on buying a horse I do offer a horse and rider match service. A lot of heart ache and expense can be saved by having a knowledgeable trainer assist you with your purchase. I specialize in placement of appropriate horse to rider. There are many things to consider when buying a horse; I can help you with that. I’d be happy to discuss with you what to look for if you are not interested in my match service.

Q: How long are your lessons?
A: Lessons are an hour long. I ask that riders arrive early enough to have their horse tacked up and ready to go so that it doesn’t cut into their riding time unless we are working on ground work with the horse.

Q: What days do you give lessons?
A: Lesson days are Fridays and Saturdays between the hours of 9:00a.m.- 4:00p.m. and are on a first booked-first served basis.

Q: Does the horse have to be boarded with you or can I trailer him in for a lesson?
A: I give lessons for “trailered in” horses and riders. There is an additional $10.00 “trailered in” fee. Lessons are regularly $40.00, so for trailering in it would be $50.00.

Q: What ages of riders do you teach?
A: I teach the young and the young at heart. In other words if the rider can learn I can teach them. I do recommend shorter sessions for younger riders. Each lesson plan is designed around the individual pair- horse and rider.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Monthly Training

Q: What do you train and how long is the process?
A: Naturally the first part of the answer is dependent on where your horse is in his or her training, and on his or her age and their physical condition. It is also dependent on you the owner. I use the Total Horsemanship method of training. What I teach the horse, I teach the owner so when the horse goes home the owner knows how to handle the horse and what the cues are on the horse. If there is something specific that you have in mind we can discuss that and arrive at an approach that fits you, and most importantly, your horse. The horse always determines how long the training takes. It has been my experience that two months is a reasonable expectation but again, each horse learns at its own pace so it really depends on them.

Q: How will my horse be stalled and what will he be fed and how often?
A: Most of our accommodations are 12 x 12 stalls with turn outs. Stalls are in outbuildings where there are two stalls to a building. The turn outs off of the two- stall buildings are 12 x 50 and the horse is free to go in or out at will. We have found that the horses like to have space to move around and while in training it is important to have a happy horse. Stalls have rubber mats and are bedded with shavings. We do offer some pasture accommodations.

Horses are fed twice a day. In the mornings we serve up clean and tasty oat hay and in the late afternoon towards evening we serve oat/alfalfa cubes. We have found the horses enjoy the chewing satisfaction of the oat hay and we have also found the beauty of the cubes is that the horses eat every last morsel and there is no waste. This ensures they are getting proper nutrition. We weigh each horse’s portion out according to their size, condition and use. If they are in full time training they may need more than the horse that is in for part time training or is boarded here for lessons. If the horse is too plump we can control their weight loss more accurately while still supplying their nutritional needs or if the horse is too thin we can build it up over a course of time. The cubes are made by Harlan Feed and are a highly regulated quality product, free of fillers. The horses love them!

Q: Do you grain the horses?
A: We will feed supplements to your horse if you provide it. I will be happy to discuss nutrition and supplementation with you- it is one of my favorite subjects and I have done a lot of research on it and have a vast knowledge on a wide variety of products available.

Q: How many days a week do you train or work the horse and for how long each day?
A: The horses are always being trained- every day. Any time we handle a horse or even go into their stall we are training them. For instance if they pin their ears during feeding we have a lesson in manners using the Total Horsemanshiptm techniques. I like to ride the horses 4-5 days a week but how often they get ridden and the duration depends on a few factors; first and foremost on their physical condition and on their mental state. I monitor each individual and watch and check them physically each time I work them. Their mental state of mind is important too. If a horse is new and is stressed I try to make the first bit of training as pleasant as I can so I may work them lightly to begin with. If the horse is particularly objectionable to the lesson the lesson may take a bit longer than say another day when he does absolutely everything I ask correctly. On those good days rather than continue on with a new technique I may decide to reward the horse by stopping on a good note. The next day we will pick it up with a new technique. If I charged by the hour no one would be able to afford putting their horse in training. It is really more a matter of what your horse is capable of learning in a given time period- say two months- rather than how many days or hours do I work them.

Q: Do you offer part time training?
A: I do offer part time training as an option for someone that wants their horse in training but can’t afford the full time rate or just would like a “tune up” for their horse. I’d be happy to discuss the pros and cons of part time training with you and how that would pertain to your particular horse.

Q: What are your rates for training?
A: Please contact Christa for information on rates.


Christa Petrillo
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