Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks, Or Why to Choose a Lyons Certified Trainer

Rich Ferguson, pictured at the left on his gray mare Comet, is actively involved with a living history group that re-enacts the War of 1812.

I’m a War of 1812 buff. I’m also a dedicated horseman. My greatest dream a few years ago was to combine my two passions and use my retired barrel horse as a partner on the field of living history.

Now, if you ever wish to test your horse for bomb proofing, see how well she does with cannons, sabers, and the sound of bagpipes at a living history event. My quarter horse mare, Comet, was a handful. She was set in her ways and-in my naivete-I thought that by just riding these problems out, she would become more controllable. This did not happen and the fights escalated. I was so frustrated, I thought of selling this horse and finding another that was more suited to my needs. What to do? Could Comet be trained to stop the fights and work in partnership with me so I could pursue my dream?

My wife Lari Ann had found Tina Hoffmann, a Lyons certified trainer near us in Indiana, and they had been working with her mare on some issues. Over dinner one night, my wife said that I should consider taking Comet to Tina for a day to see what Tina thought. Unbeknownst to me, my lovely spouse was setting me up for some training too. When we got there, Tina observed Comet and then asked about me. I’m a police officer who has been a field training officer, firearms instructor, and a defensive tactics instructor, as well as working with police canines for several years. I teach, so therefore, am I teachable? I wasn’t sure where I was headed, but Tina explained to me that I had to learn how to ride my mare once she was trained using the Lyons methods. I agreed, and listened with an open mind. Yes, believe it or not, a forty-plus guy keeping an open mind!

Comet went to spend a couple of weeks with Tina. Two weeks doesn’t sound like much time, but a lot of training occurred. Comet learned new cues, and that her bad habits were not acceptable. With positive reinforcement and time, she started responding. Then the hard work started: training me on the cues, habits, and patience intrinsic to the Lyons system so I could become one with my equine partner! I had a lot of homework to get done before we went back to Tina’s. Frequent clinics and refresher classes helped me learn how to ride with my equestrian partner and changed bad habits in both of us. We found out just how pleasurable it is to ride as one.

Either on the trail, or charging cannons and Indians in the field, Comet has become a part of me. She’s also become a bit of a show-off now as we ride with the Indiana Territorial Mounted Rangers, providing programs for hundreds of people in the Midwest. Old and young alike stop by to touch her gray mane and marvel at her combat movements. Whether we’re on the field or on the trail, we’ve become partners in our adventures together. Avid horse people want to know how she is trained and marvel at her abilities. Hundreds have asked, “Who trained her?”

The John Lyons method and Tina Hoffmann have made our equestrian experiences enjoyable. In fact, they’ve become the biggest part of our lives. We ride safely with our horses, not just on them. As for Tina Hoffmann, she is more than just a trainer, she had to deal with my issues, train my horse, and then make us a team. And for that she is my hero and my friend! My thanks also go to John for having such talented trainers as Tina Hoffmann so that we all can get the maximum success from our horses. The Lyons methods are more than anyone could ask for!

Rich Ferguson
Indiana Territorial Mounted Rangers

Captain Parker Moore’s Company
11417 West 00 North/South, Kokomo,Indiana 46901 765-566-3877

John Lyons Trainer:
Tina Hoffmann
Ride-A-Lot Equine Center
North Salem, Indiana