My name is Ivy Starnes (I just got married). I live in Fort Worth, Texas, and my dream has always been to help gaited horse owners to be able to get a smooth gait with their horses.
I have been training gaited horses for over 12 years. I started out with the idea that you could train any gaited horse to gait on a loose rein, preferably with a snaffle or simple bitless bridle/hackamore.
Last year I traveled around the country and was able to work with over 90 different horses! That experience taught me so much. I learned that most horses respond the same way, no matter what the breed, but some need just a little bit of something extra (lateral work) to get the gait.
I also learned that most horses will start gaiting in as little as 3 one hour lessons! The most important thing is to get them relaxed first.
How Ivy got Started
I got started training horses when I was sixteen. That was when I got my first job, training gaited horses. I started out just training yearlings, training them to do basic groundwork. Up until the previous year, I had virtually no contact with horses at all. Once I started working with the yearlings, I realized that I could train horses and I got very excited about it. I started reading as many horse training books as I could get my hands on. From there, I progressed to training my own horses and other people’s horses.
I have always been interested in the dressage movements, but didn’t like how the dressage horses appeared to be ridden. I didn’t like the reins always held tightly, with the riders appearing to lean back in order to pull harder on the horse’s mouth. However, it wasn’t until I was twenty-one years old that I learned that there were other ways to train dressage. At that time, I came across a wonderful website: The Art of Natural Dressage. The forum there had a wealth of information on how to train your horse to do dressage, but in a lightest possible manner and without bits.
That same year, I had also started spending a lot of time with my Quarter Horse/Paint cross gelding. I started to train him to do tricks. I found this to be so much fun! It really made me want to spend more time trick training, as you can see results so quickly.
I became involved with clicker training after I read Karen Pryor’s book Reaching the Animal Mind. After I read the book, I immediately started using it to train my horses and dogs. The results were fantastic! I couldn’t believe how quickly my horses started to learn the tricks and movements I was teaching them. I used the clicker to help with both the trick training and the dressage training.
I now combine trick training, natural dressage, classical dressage, endotapping, and clicker training to work with my horses. The tricks are fun to teach and they help develop your relationship with your horse. The dressage methods can help strengthen, supple, and improve your horse’s movement and balance. Clicker training has made it so much fun for me and the horses to go out and work together.