We were featured in Living the Country Life Magazine. Here is the article:
This Oregon woman's unusual arena helps trail horses get past their fears.
Pictured here: Destiny Barney, 6, gets help from her mom, Vixen, when she is on the training course and when she is grooming the pony's mane. Nice braid!
A carpet of dust stirred by pounding hooves billows up and over the fence rails of a horse-training arena, floats over pastureland, melds into shadows of the Eagle Caps Mountains, and paints gray a group of horses and young riders.
Hands on her hips and boots firmly planted in the dirt, Vixen Radford-Barney watches as one of her young charges tries to get her sweating horse to stand, front feet first, atop a worn wooden pedestal. The horse pulls this way, then that way, nervous at the sound of its hooves' hollow clopping.
The rider is persistent, softly urging the unsure animal to put its back legs up and onto the small stage. Finally, the rear legs join the front legs, and it stands with all fours atop the pedestal. Pictured here: Vixen Radford-Barney (standing at left) helps riders and their horses learn how to step in and out of a box.
"Now that he's up there, stand up on your saddle," Radford-Barney urges. Confident the horse will hold, the young rider gets her boots up on the seat of her saddle, stretches out her legs, and reaches for a double handful of sky, grinning.
"Now that this horse has figured out this exercise works for him from his right side, she'll have to work him into it from his left," Radford-Barney explains.
"Horses have two sides to them, and they need to be trained on each side individually. When they lose their fear of something new to them on one side, they also have to go through it on their opposite side. That's just how they are!" The rider and her horse approach the pedestal from the opposite side, and sure enough, the animal balks. The procedure begins again.
Cowboy Car Wash
Radford-Barney's obstacle-laden arena is designed to drive down fear. She gives clinics at her 40-acre property near Joseph, Oregon. Horses and riders come from all over to learn confidence, to improve their riding skills, and to have fun with their animals. Radford-Barney teaches western riding, English methods, and trail riding.
"But above all, we have fun," she says. "I'm all about teaching people to enjoy their horses. I give them confidence. Horses learn through our experiential training to encounter the real world and not to freak out. That makes enjoyable riding."
Pictured Here: Destiny Barney takes her horse through the Cowboy Car Wash with ease. This obstacle helps train horses to walk through overhanging branches and leaves on a trail ride without startling.
Another rider, Midge Kliewer, works hard at getting her horse to cross a large piece of plastic sheeting that has corners anchored in the sand. The horse whirls and whirls around, not wanting its feet to touch the plastic. Finally, the animal relents, putting a cautious foot gingerly on the plastic. When the world doesn't come to an end, the horse crosses the plastic span again and again, side to side. It learned that plastic won't hurt, so there is no need to get crazy.
Another rider is hard at work trying to get her mount beneath the plastic ribbons of the Cowboy Car Wash, a horse-and-rider-size door frame that supports ribbons of yellow caution tape. One rider can't get his mount close to the tapes, while a youngster on a pony blows right through the car wash time and again like it's no big deal. Pictured Here: Jayln Barney, 9, has to do more than ride his pony. He has to learn how to care for the hooves too.
"On one trail ride, a stick went up and under the back belly cinch of one of our trained horses. That situation should have turned out horribly, but since the horse had been acclimated to all situations in the arena, he just stopped and stood there until somebody figured out to remove the stick that was poking him," says Radford-Barney. Pictured Here: Jayln Barney trains the family pony to jump a log obstacle.
It's all about fun
"You're not going to ride if you don't have fun," Radford-Barney says. "The more things you can think of to try to freak your horse out in the practice arena, the more relaxed you both will be later and the more fun you'll have riding. It's all about confidence!" Pictured here: Destiny Barney, 6, of Joseph, Oregon, loves to groom and ride her pony.
Throughout the years I have judged many rodeo title contests, as well as help girls prepare for their tryouts or season on a rodeo court.
Celeste Hillock and I spent hours working for her titles of Chief Joseph Days, Lewiston Round Up, and Pendleton Round Up and trying for Miss Rodeo Oregon.
Visiting Royalty: I have been honored to be able to share my days with visiting royalty. I have had the joys of mounting several years of Miss Rodeo Oregon's on horses at events such as Chief Joseph Days, Elgin Stampede and Eastern Oregon Livestock Show. I have been able to give numerous Miss Rodeo Oregon's lessons on my horses as well as when they are working on their riding skills for Miss Rodeo America tryouts where they ride draw horses. (Draw Horses are horses that are not theirs and horses they are not allowed to warm up.)
Mackenzie Carr 2011 Miss Rodeo Oregon/ 2012 Miss Rodeo America - Vernonia Oregon, in the words of her mom after her crowning "Vixen - a ride to the top of the mountain sounds absolutely heavenly right now. Most definitely we'll take you up on that at some point. YOU should be honored to know that Mackenzie truly believes her ability to ride draw horses, and the way to go about it, is 100% from the school of Vixen. Hugs to all of you - meant the world for us to have you in Vegas with us." In 2012 Mackenzie paid me a huge complement when she in an interview state I was her horsemanship instructor for the 2012 NFR program!
I had the joy of judging Mackenzie in her first title. Prior to Miss Rodeo Oregon, I helped her with her horse, as well as putting her on other horses so she would be ready for the draw horses at Miss Rodeo America.
Money Earning Horses
Sonnys Bar Chex and Classy Midnight Mist produced a 2006 AQHA red dun colt that was gelded named Triton. He was sold to a roper name Bob from Washington. Bob took this gelding from a 2 year old onto finishing his training toward roping. As a 5 year old in 2011, he was sold for $25,000.
Sonnys Bar Chex and Marbyles April "Lena" produced a 2003 AQHA red dun gelding named Mister Mister. He ropes both ends, and is a solid barrel horse. He has earn thousands of dollars in earnings as well as trophy buckels and saddles.
Sonnys Bar Chex and Bob's Fancy Baby "Reba" produced a 2001 red dun gelding named Traveler that has taken his youth teenage boy to the winners circle in reining and many OSHET meets in Oregon.
Extreme Mustang Makeover
In spring of 2007 at a Pacific Northwest horse judging training, Cassi Soule and I came up with the idea that we should apply for the Extreme Mustang Makeover. It was the first one ever, limited to 100 trainers and over 300 trainers applied; I was honored when I was chosen. What an experience! This challenge is designed to test your abilities as a trainer, test your physical strength, and to overcome obstacles. What a great experience! I only had 100 days to turn Chance into a mustang that was a family horse. WOW! It is perhaps the very best thing to happen to mustangs EVER! From the Extreme Mustang Makeover Advertisements:
Vixen Radford (Barney), OR "Chance" sold for $1500. Vixen and Chance finished #26 overall - Vixen was riding with two broken vertebrae! Horse: Palomino Valley (No HMA stated), Vixen Barney news story, News 2, Vixen Barney - Blog.
Extreme Cowboy Race
In December of 2007, I decided to try for a spot in the first Extreme Cowboy Race in Oregon produced by Craig Cameron. My dream was to ride in such an event on a horse that I raised, trained, and showed. I chose Lady, a mare I sold to my best friend Midge when Lady was 3. I had started Lady and had a few rides on her. Midge had ridden her for years, taking lessons with me and getting tune ups as needed. Once I found out I was chosen, I had a large task in front of me. I had to prepare not only Lady but myself for a competition in March. We had to excel at mounted shooting, roping, riding bareback, jumping and crossing water along with many more challenges. By the end of our training adventure, I could ride Lady through water with balloons floating in it. I could stand her on a podium, while I was standing up in the saddle and shooting off of her. We were ready!