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home : business : business June 29, 2016

5/6/2014 12:33:00 PM
Horse clinics offered at local ranch
Instructors are leading a series of clinics. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Instructors are leading a series of clinics. photo provided

By Kathryn Godsiff

When Paul and Alison opened Weston Equine Services in 2009, their aim was to establish a small and caring boarding environment. An additional few horses might come in for rehabilitation, and travelers would find the location on the corner of Holmes Road and Highway 126 convenient for overnight stops.

Fast-forward five years and the Westons are busy with their boarders, with training, and with hosting a variety of clinics. They've built barns and shelters, established dry lots, erected a covered arena and hen house. The latter has nothing to do with horse-training, but the free-range chickens are great desensitizers for spooky horses.

One of Alison's long-time clinicians, Charley Snell, recently relocated to the Weston's property with his wife, Barby, and he and Alison are working together on increasing the range of clinic options. Snell has a devoted crew of students who are exploring basic horsemanship, cow-working, improving their trail experiences and most recently, learning cowboy dressage.

Cowboy dressage, as defined on the website, "is a combination of the best of both worlds: Traditional Western and Classical Horsemanship." Alison and Snell have permission of the founders of Cowboy Dressage, Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy, to use the training information, tests and cowboy dressage court found in materials on the website.

Recently, the Westons hosted a cowboy dressage playday. Participants, none of whom had ever ridden a cowboy dressage test, tried their hand at the four Level 1 tests, each one building somewhat on the previous. All were walk/jog exercises, covering the basics of dressage - square stops, tidy and smooth circles, straight lines down the center and long walls, backing and turning.

After a potluck lunch, participants were back in the saddle with Snell coaching. He'd been watching all morning and homed in on areas that needed work. There were plenty, but the good-natured and quiet session produced softness in the horses and enthusiasm for a new discipline in the riders. More playdays are planned, with the next occurring on May 18.

More recently, Alison hosted a clinic with two Eugene-based clinicians, Katie Ebbage and Julie Staub. This one, also a new one for Central Oregon, focused on biomechanics of horse and rider, and was titled "Finding Neutral; Improving Horse and Human Posture for Increased Performance." This is a wordy title for a clinic that was the first small step in teaching participants awareness of how posture, both in and out of the saddle, affects their horses. Ebbage is a long-time high-level rider and instructor, Staub is a physical therapist and equestrian.

The morning was spent in a heated room as snow and sleet flew across the facility. Students learned that biomechanics isn't someone's opinion - its science-based and proven. A lesson in finding neutral posture on a chair was practiced, then after lunch the horses were saddled and an afternoon of slow, concentrated riding commenced. Ebbage stated that one of her favorite quotes about horse and rider training relates to the effectiveness of slow progression.

With that in mind, Alison is hoping to get a group of up to eight interested students who will commit to learning Ebbage and Staub's methods, called "Connected Riding."

For more information or to sign up for clinics at Weston Equine Services, visit, check out their Facebook page, or call 541-728-7004.

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