Excerpt from Turning Challenging Horses into Willing Partners due for release winter, 2010
“Some show hunters are better if they never see the ring. Others won’t jump the third fence if they don’t get in and hack around. Both can be winners. The one that’s the innate jumper, the one that likes to go out and jump the new jumps, is going to be more successful. A horse that must be longed and hacked prior to going into the show ring is likely going to have much worse x-rays at the age of ten. That’s why those horses are the much more expensive horses.
“We had a gray mare that was the type that you needed to get tired to not blow up in the ring, but it wasn’t necessary to take her in the ring. She always jumped her best the first time at a new fence. Sometimes, when you were riding her to the show ring from the barn area, out of the blue, she’d go straight up, whirl and try to run back to the barn. When you get those, you just need to know where that line in the sand is and you try not to cross it. It didn’t matter what you did in the extreme either way (through praise or punishment). She would not move unless it was going back to the barn. If you forced the issue, the only answer was going straight up in the air. With those types you need to be very careful. You can still win a lot with them, but knowing the horse over time with experience and knowing what to do and what not to do is important with the particular horse. She was a very honest mount. In the show ring, over the year we had her, she finished top ten in the nation in the Older Small Junior Working Hunter Division.
About Mike Bonham
Mike Bonham has been actively training and showing in the horse business for 30 years. Bonham Stables has turned out hundreds of AA Hunter Champions and multiple Grand Prix Champions under Mike’s training. Kels Bonham (his daughter) won the Medals in 2008, and at age fourteen was an individual Bronze Medalist at Prix de States at Harrisburg (that is the Junior Jumper National Championship). Kels is now attending Savahana School of Art and Design, where she is riding on the school team. Mike admits he found his niche when his kids came along. Kels is a talented rider who has spent many years showcasing horses in training and in competitions. “When she was ten or eleven-years-old, she was getting catch rides because she was very serious about what she did and put in the work,” Mike explains. “She got a lot of breaks that way and she deserved them. She was a unique student for me and we reached heights in the sport that we thought we would never reach,” he admits. Chester (his son) is now riding and showing with Mike.