Welcome to Allison Acres ~ Galt, CA ~ (209) 748-2658

EXTREME RANCH TRIALS: We have gone several times now and it is always super fun.  It's in Clements at the rodeo grounds.  For a mere $20 you can ride from 8 AM to 1 PM practicing all their amazing obstacles. Then if you want you can enter the jackpot.  Lots of parking, lots of friendly folks. Check out their flier here.

Lots more pictures below!

Second set of pictures here




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Allison Acres
13512 Alta Mesa Rd.
Galt, CA 95632
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A day at the Extreme Ranch Trials ~ June 30, 2007

Allison and Q approach the water obstacle.  When we got Q a few years ago, he would not even cross a shadow on the ground.  Allison has done a lot of work with him!

Allison and Q do the big steps:

Allison and Q take a rest break out by the trailer:

Later they do the water again and Q plays in it:

Roxy, now owned by Madison's mom Karen, needs some encouragement from the ground to do these steps:

But she loves to jump:

Tarzan, my boyfriend's lovely sweet athletic awesome TB gelding, tries to help Madison get Roxy in the water.
Today he's being ridden by Florent, who is from France and who rides with us when he gets a break from his
PhD work at UC Berkeley:

Of course, an hour before, Tarzan himself wasn't sure he'd ever get in the water, even though above he looks
like an old pro.  Here I am working him from the ground on the water obstacle:

I know I can't force him in; he's bigger and stronger than me!  But I can make it easy for him to check it out and try to figure out how to
deal with it, and make it hard for him to ignore it or try to leave it - all by using pressure and release.

When working a horse thru a scary obstacle like this, it is imperative that you already have in place a "don't smash me with your gigantic shoulder"
habit, or at least a cue for that!  No matter how scared he is or how badly he'd like to do anything BUT get in that water, he absolutely must not,
under any circumstances, run into me.  This is about the only time I get really assertive, because my safety is first and foremost.

When he's honestly checking out the obstacle and trying to figure out how to negotiate it, I leave him alone.  If his attention wanders elsewhere or if he tries to leave,
I politely pressure him until he starts trying to figure out the obstacle again.

Above he pawed and pawed and tried hard to figure it out, so I gave him a big reward by backing him away from it and letting him rest, as seen
below.  It's human nature to want to force them into something like this, especially when they look like they are about to get in anyway.  We need
remember that we are supposed to REWARD the good behavior of thinking about getting in the water, and it's NOT a reward to get excited and
try to force them in.  That is a punishment, or pressure, not a reward.  So when they do the right thing, like thinking about getting in, reward
them by letting them back away and rest.  It's the same for trailer loading or any other obstacle.  Then after their little break, send them up to it
again.  This keeps them happy and curious because it gives them a chance to think and to realize what we want and to not feel restrained or
claustrophobic or forced.  They learn that we keep the pressure on when they are doing the wrong thing (trying to avoid dealing with the obstacle)
and that we give a release for doing the right thing (trying to figure out the obstacle).

After his rest he is way more motivated to try to figure out the water - he has now learned that he's supposed to be working on figuring it out
and that if he works on that, I leave him alone.  If (when) he stops working on figuring out the water, that's when I put the pressure back on.

Another rest break:

After that break he's even more motivated - backing them away when they've tried hard is the best way to get them motivated and interested in
doing more next time.  It's our nature to try to force the behavior but that just makes it worse.  The horse gets upset and doesn't think.

And he's in!

And I send him in again so he gets more experience with it:

Even though it looks really cool, I don't want him getting in and charging thru and jumping out unless that's what I've actually asked him to do.

So after he jumps out without being asked, I send him in again:

There, now he's in, and staying in, and is nice and relaxed and not trying to charge thru and jump out.

Now his rider thinks he's a simple horse to get into the water, when really I did all the work!  :-)

Here's our group in the water:  Florent on Tarzan, Allison on Q, Stephanie on Chex, and Madison holding Roxy:

I worked Tarzan in hand over the other obstacles before Florent rode him.  He was great.

The end!  Time to head home with some tired horses.