For Non-Paso Fino Owners:
I first met Robin Ratliff at a gaiting clinic in Utah sponsored by Great Western PFHA. I was the only person there not riding a Paso Fino; my horse of choice that day was a Kentucky Mountain gelding who had been started by a non-gaited trainer and tended to lower his head and trot . . . unless he was feeling a little tense, then he’d rack like a banshee. That day he was a little tense, feeding off my own nerves as we were the only non-Paso attendees. Maybe a little too tense; it took some time to calm him down. But Robin was not upset at his antics and helped us work through our issues. By the end of the clinic he was gaiting nicely and taking the sounding board like a champ. Robin is used to “spirited” horses (go figure, she’s a Paso Fino trainer after all) and is able to handle whatever they throw at her.
On a separate note, I have been to clinics where the clinician berates or make fun of horses if they are not the “preferred” breed. Robin made me feel comfortable and was very complimentary to my non-Paso horse. I would recommend Robin to anyone wishing to improve their riding skills, their horse’s gaiting ability, and open up communications between horse and rider.
For Paso Fino Owners:
Although I have several different gaited horses so am familiar with gait, I didn’t get my first Paso Fino until March 2014. My other horses have a longer stride; the shorter stride of my Paso was something to which I had to adjust. Also, Rayo is a performance horse with more animation and energy so I couldn’t tell whether or not he was in gait. I really needed to learn what the gait felt like.
Another thing to factor in is that I’d been told Paso’s are ultra-sensitive and it’s to very easy to “blow” their minds. This made me a little tentative about establishing boundaries and being a strong leader. Fortunately, Robin was scheduled to come to Utah in May for a gaiting clinic. Robin had started this horse and was able to turn me around and set me back on the correct path. Some of the things I like best about Robin:
- There’s no pulling punches; Robin tells you straight up what you’re doing wrong and how to correct it. Sometimes at the top of her lungs and with a few extra comments like, “Come on now, this isn’t rocket science!”
- I REALLY like that while she tells you what you do correctly, she doesn’t keep focusing on it to the detriment of what you’re doing wrong. While it’s nice to know what you’re doing right, it’s more important to learn how to fix what you’re doing wrong. I know some people want the accolades, but when I pay for a gaiting clinic,
- I want to focus on what I don’t know rather than what I do; Robin gives a really nice balance between the two.
- Robin doesn’t over-manage the rider. By that, I mean she says what she wants done, gives instructions on how to accomplish it, then gives you time to work things out. She doesn’t tell you to lift this pinkie or put your weight in a particular stirrup.
- She gives you the tools then lets you and the horse work together to figure out how to communicate the instructions in order to accomplish the goal.
- Robin has a sense of humor; she makes the process fun which helps relieve nervousness.
- Robin’s knowledge is second to none and she’s excited about sharing it.
- Robin will listen to questions without making you feel foolish; she problem solves in real time.
- Robin makes herself available even after clinic hours. She mingles with the masses, unlike many clinicians who sequester themselves away from the public.
There is so much more I could say, but I’ll let others tell their experiences as well. I would like to say, though, if you ever get a chance to take a clinic from Robin, DO IT! You’ll never be sorry.
Linda Bean -