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2002/02/05

Starting Under Saddle To Be Demonstrated By At Oval H In March by Tom Burris He may not be a household name in the world of "whisperers," but he should generate a lot of talk. The Oval H of Oakland, Tennessee owned by Caryn Finefrock, has partnered with Zach Johnson for a demonstration in the spirit of Powell, Lyons and Roberts. The demonstration will be held March 2 from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. For more information call 466-0620. Zach Johnson will cover topics such as starting colts under saddle, trailer loading, halter breaking, and problem solving in a demonstration format with volunteered animals. His discipline to train a horse, by allowing the horse to yield to the rider, is not based on pressure "but to build on the release." I went to go see Zach work for a while in order to do this profile. I watched him work a two year old horse with just fourteen rides on her. The two of them moved around the indoor arena at the Oval H with deftness and grace. It was apparent that horse and rider were in concert and becoming one. They had been working on reversing and although she could do it, she was struggling with his requests to do so. Zach explained, "the biggest thing for a rider is to pick up on how the horse is thinking and behaving." Zach believes whole heartedly in paying attention to the horse, because "the horse picks up on our mood and behaviors." He demonstrated and explained how to let a horse go and then bring them around to what he wanted the horse to do. "Some riders spend a lot of time trying to restrain a horse, and you can't teach them if they're feet aren't moving." Zach was raised in nearby Rossville, and has spent most of his life on horse back. His father has always had Hunters and Jumpers around. In high school he began learning to rope with some of his friends, an activity which he carried to college at UT Martin. It was here that he came across the likes of Peter Campbell. The trainer would stop in Martin on his way to one place or another, a Zach was always there when he did. He would ask questions, bring his horse or help Campbell work his own horses. After completing a degree in animal science he connected once again with Campbell, but this time in Colorado. Zach signed on at a guest ranch to work on wrangling and cowboy crews. Part of that job was to round up horses off the range and train them to be "essentially bomb proof for the guests." While doing this he began refining an art of training a bridal horse in the tradition of the Spanish Vaqueros, but he has never truly accomplished this task yet. It would take about six years to do so. "Bridal horses are very elegant," he says. They are precise and accurate in their movements, even while cutting out cattle. They are the perfect horse....at least to me." To watch the 23 year old, who appears more western than native, is a thing of art in itself. "I wanted to showcase some local talent," says Caryn. "To let people know that it is not just the big names from far away that can train these horses." And Caryn has the perfect facility to host such an event, not to mention she is the perfect hostess for such a demonstration. Caryn is one of those people who accomplishes out of sheer will and determination. In fact it was this will that got her started in horses in the first place. It was on doctor's orders to slow down, that she began taking horse riding lessons about seven years ago. Well, one night a week became two, and two became four, and four turned into seven, and she found it was what she was doing all the time. It also came at a time in her life that she was able to make a decision about her career path. She chose horses. A few years ago she set out for Wyoming to learn about training horses and then to Colorado to earn a certification in Equine Message Therapy. Upon returning to Memphis she was certified as a riding instructor. Now it was time to make the big leap. She went full bore and started construction on her own stable and arena. "I went all out to make sure that I wanted to do this and I wanted to do it right." This determination is now 17 stalls and a full indoor sand arena. She boards horses and gives riding instruction to youth and adults. "I wanted to create an honest, family-oriented facility that was clean and safe. I am really big on safety." She goes all out to make sure that everything about her facility is so that the horses have an optimum place to hang out. She goes by the motto "My house is your house, for your horse."

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