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... and I remind the owner that he’s not at home.”

creative sounds to communicate on the triangle. They snort. They hoot. They holler. They are silent. Some say it’s all in body language. “I say ‘walk’ or ‘trot’. Some horses pick it up and I don’t

need to say anything,” says Michael. “When I want to trot, I bring my left hand back as if I’m going to tap horse with a whip and they understand that this is the cue to go forward to trot. We practice animation at home so that I know how much I can push.” “I might snort like a stallion or hot mare. With hotter

horses it works. Other times it’s kind of futile,” says Nick. An important element in successful handling is a good whip handler who has the right timing and knows when to push and when not to push. “I think the whip assistant is more important than the handler,” admits Bruce. “The whip handler should be more tired at the end of the day because she is doing more work if she is doing it right. She has to think a lot about how much pressure. She has to go way wide around the arena or she’ll push the horse right over the handler or disturb the horse’s movement. As a handler I’m only running the triangle, not the whole arena.” These handlers have worked with a variety of breeds,

from Arabians to Warmbloods, and have found slight variations in how they are handled. Nick has shown Andalusians and Friesians at the national championship level. “With Andalusians you start out slow and build. Most are sensitive, very smart and give 120 percent. Most have

the high trot, so you have to be careful or you will just get the high trot and not extension. You keep them really relaxed and calm with you. Friesians are less responsive. To bring out their best potential, you don’t just chase them, like some handlers from Holland do. You check for overstride. You be sure they don’t jig at the walk. Those kinds of things.” Bruce also shows in all aspects of the Friesian show

world, breeds Warmbloods and Friesians and has shown many Arabian sport horses. “The difference is usually about size. Some are more willing than others. Warmbloods generally just want to hang out, but are quite willing to please.” The science and intuition applied to in-hand presentations

hasn’t always brought handlers the recognition given to other horse people. “We are the kindergarten teachers of the industry, but the professors—the riders—get all the credit for the greatness,” contends Bruce. “For example, shows announce the names of owners and riders, but rarely handlers.” “People like Michael and I have run a lot of horses over

the years and now we are establishing ourselves as riders,” continues Bruce. Occasionally there are clinics offered by experts such as Nick, Bruce or Michael to help people prepare their horses for handling. “A new generation of runners needs to be educated by us. It’s important to have education for runners and handlers and for people to school their horses properly at home because it can be dangerous.”

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