A globe-trotting barrel horse trainer has taken a chance and added Aberdeen to his list of destinations next month.
Paul Humphrey of Decatur, Texas, will offer a barrel racing clinic April 2-3 at Spurs Therapeutic Riding Arena just north of Aberdeen.
Aberdeen will mark the northernmost destination in Humphrey's travels - at least until he visits Canada for a clinic in June. Since 1996, the horseman has traveled between the U.S. and Italy, where he used to compete and still trains horses for an Italian family.
I stepped out and took a chance here on coming to South Dakota, said Humphrey. It's a step forward for me. I'm getting older now, and I want to share some of the knowledge I've gained over the years.
Humphrey said his clinics offer extras he was unable to share on the DVDs because of the restrictions of filming.
People ask me all the time how I get my horses to turn like that and do what they do. The DVDs were a response to that, but I was really limited in what I could do; there's a lot more to my program.
Originally from the small town of Temple, Texas, Humphrey - son of a barrel-racing mother and bull-riding father - started riding in play days and continued riding, showing and barrel racing.
A decade of working for reiners and working cow horse trainers while barrel racing laid the foundation for his unique training approach, he said.
I'm not a fan of big, heavy bridles or tight tiedowns. I like to use a softer approach, Humphrey said. That's how I get horses patterned, so they're softer, easier to ride - it's not such a tug and-pull-type thing.
Event organizer Jacquie Gruenwald, Redfield, said Humphrey's training method is Really admired. He really is known for his turn he puts on a horse.
Gruenwald said barrel racing has come a long way from whip 'n spur; it's all about finesse. Humphrey's reining background adds that finesse and an extra element of good horsemanship to his barrel training, she said.
Humphrey likes a softer, well-rounded approach to riders, as well. Maintaining a learning rider's confidence is key, he said.
If you're discouraged or down on yourself, it's going to be really difficult to perform the way you want to and you'll just send those signals to your horse. It's a communication thing between horse and rider.
To horse and rider Humphrey adds a third element: his close observation. Every horse and rider is different, he said, and one approach doesn't address all problems.
Yes, I have a program, but I don't say 'Everyone is going to do it this way.' I do take a different approach in that I really watch the horse, watch the rider and what's going on. I try to figure out what the horse is doing, and watch the rider to see if they're causing that to happen, if there's a communication problem.
Humphrey plans to donate a saddle to be given away to a participant during the Aberdeen clinic.
This is my first trip this far north, and I'm very excited about it.
Registrations are limited and will be accepted on a first come-first served basis. Cost is $300, including arena fee and lunch each day. Auditing is available at $25 for one day or $35 for both days. Limited hookups and staling are available at the Spurs grounds. For information or to mail entries, contact Guenwald at 605-450-1301 or email@example.com; or Val Kamen, firstname.lastname@example.org.