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Fun and Learning with Paso Finos


Rufino "Rufo" Figueroa, Tony Micheletti, Jaime Gascon, Johnny Lanier, Carmen Micheletti, Bobby Yunits, Cindy Griffith, Robert Otero, Vickie McQuinn and Cary Hardiman. Not pictured: Michael Gascon, Justino "Jolta" Lopez and Alice Page

Erica Ladd successfully getting all four of her horse’s feet on the obstacle
By Martha Veon

On the first weekend in March, 2014 Paso Fino trainers from around the country arrived at the beautiful Clearview Horse Farm in Shelbyville, Tennessee for “A Weekend of Fun and Learning,” a clinic and fun show hosted by the Tennessee Valley Paso Fino Horse Association. The clinic brought together a diverse group of Paso Fino trainers who shared their expertise with riders interested in broadening their horse training knowledge and improving their horsemanship skills. They were:

·              Rufino “Rufo” Figueroa and Cindy Griffith from Georgia
·              Jaime and Michael Gascon from Mississippi
·              Cary Hardiman from Alabama
·              Johnny Lanier and Vickie McQuinn from South Carolina
·              Justino “Jolta” Lopez and Alice Page from Tennessee
·              Carmen and Tony Micheletti and Robert Otero from Florida
·              Bobby Yuntis from Massachusetts

Participants traveled from many states to participate, including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. There was even interest from a rider Spain wanting to attend with her trainer.

The clinic began on Saturday morning, March 1, with an introduction by each trainer and a demonstration of ground work techniques and how they apply to developing the horse’s body and mind. The trainers highlighted the importance of presenting yourself as a calm, confident leader, and discussed how the level of pressure applied to the horse in ground work will dictate the horse’s response. The clinicians explained how the balance of the horse and rider impact the horse’s ability to move correctly.

Like people, horses express individual personalities. While the fundamentals of classic foundation training are the same, the trainers discussed how the personality of the horse must be considered in order to facilitate both the horse’s understanding and compliance.

After the lecture and demonstration phase, participants were able to apply their new knowledge from the clinicians during the hands-on sessions with their horses. The trainers floated from group to group giving sound critiques and helping the participants make adjustments.

The afternoon was filled with more riding time. Riders interested in improving their show ring skills in received coaching in pleasure, performance and equitation. Riders interested in building their horses’ confidence, as well as improving their riding skills, received coaching on a very well-planned obstacle course with varying degrees of difficulty. The benefit of the obstacle course, beyond just plain fun, was clearly demonstrated when the most insecure, nervous horses and riders realized that they MUST TRUST each other to get through it. When the session was over, each horse and rider was much more relaxed and confident.

The clinic delivered everything promised, with lots of learning sprinkled with fun and fellowship. Lee Ann Williams-Maley and Carmen Micheletti organized the clinic, with assistance from Hollis Gammon, Bobby Hall, and Deanie and David Yoest. Mauricio Calvo brought the Kuda Store to the clinic where participants and auditors could purchase tack recommended by the trainers.

Find out more about the Tennessee Valley Paso Fino Horse Association at: Kuda Store is located at:

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Additional photos from this month's events.


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