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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Monday, December 15, 2003

Balmorhea clinic offers humans some horse sense

Staff Writer

PECOS, Mon., Dec. 15, 2003 -- New techniques in horse training were applied during a clinic on Sunday at the Madera Hills Ranch southeast of Balmorhea.

The training clinic was put together to educate horse owners on alternative training principles that utilize interactions that take place naturally in the wild.

The Parelli Principles, named after program originator Pat Parelli, uses a series of 'games' to establish a level of trust between the horse and the rider that will allow the pair to extricate themselves from dangerous situations as well as making the overall riding experience safer.

The program tries to establish a "partnership from the beginning," according to local organizer and instructor Gene Olson.

"The training is based on the games that horses play with each other," instead of fighting nature the Parelli Principles uses the instincts that are already there, Olson said.

The first of the games is the Friendly Game. "This is where the rider-trainer stokes the horse in the same way a mother would nuzzle a colt. The game uses rhythmic, uninterrupted contact to assure the horse that the rider is not here to attack the animal," Olson said. "Horses are naturally prey, and humans are predators, so we try to establish that an attack is not the intention here."

Second in the training regimen, is the Porcupine Game. "This is where the rider uses rigid finger pressure to let the horse know where to go. The pressure is applied in stages, and is released once the animal does the appointed task. The pressure is there to simulate the way in which a mother would nip at the colt to firmly instruct it where to go," Olson said

"Next we go into the Driving Game, which allows the trainer to direct the horse without being on the animal. The lead rope is held in front of the horse and the end of the rope is used to 'drive' the horse over with gentle but constant taps.

"Fourth we use the Yo-Yo Game to get the animal to trust us enough to back up. Horses naturally don't like to back up especially because they cannot see where they are going. In this game the instructor wiggles the hand that is holding the rope to let the animal know to back up."

After that, and similar to the older technique of lunging, Olson said the trainer drives the horse in a circle in the aptly named Circling Game. "The trainer looks to where they want the horse to travel, and give the encouragement to go there with the same taps with the end of the rope," he said. "However, the process is only repeated for a few revolutions, unlike the lunging technique, where the horse is driven in a circle to tire the animal."

The next game, the Sideways Game, teaches the horse to cross its legs to move laterally. "Horses don't like to cross their legs because it leaves them vulnerable to attack," said Olson. "When its legs are crossed, the horse cannot run, and it takes a lot of trust for the horse to submit to the side stepping movement."

Finally the horse goes through a series of circles, similar to the Circle Game, to teach it to trust the instructor and pass through a tight space in the Squeeze Game. "We begin with around eight to ten feet for the horse to pass though and after each successive pass, shorten the distance between the trainer and the railing. Horses don't like to pass though tight spaces, because it opens them up for attack from a lurking predator.

These principles all have practical applications during the normal obstacles and problems a rider would face, according to Olson. During a trail ride, for example, the pair might come to a tight spot where backing up is the only option, or if the pair were to come upon a boggy spot on the trail, the horse must trust the rider enough to know that they would not make the animal go somewhere dangerous.

The Parelli Principles training clinic, is just one of the activities going on at the Madera Hills Ranch.

The owner, Kate Vigneron also teaches the Alexander technique to students, which is designed to relieve the pain associated with bouncing in a saddle all day long by correcting posture and seat placement.

The ranch also host guided mule deer hunts when in season, as well as javelina and Aoudad, Barbary sheep, throughout the year. It has a bunkhouse for visitors to stay in while participating in the activities at the ranch.

The ranch has also started the Shady Oasis Equine Rest Stop and R.V. Park. A facility designed to allow travelers to stop and let the animals rest while they enjoy the town of Balmorhea. The rest stop allows the horses to get out of the trailer for a while and eat, while the owners can stretch their legs and see the sights of Balmorhea.

Vigneron said the Madera Hills Ranch specializes in the training and sale of Tennessee Walking Horses, with multiple bloodlines to choose from. For more information, interested parties can contact the ranch at (432) 375-0296 or online at

Winning homes, businesses selected for contest

Staff Writer

PECOS, Mon., Dec. 15, 2003 -- Judges toured eight sections of Pecos Friday night to look at homes and businesses adorned in their holiday lights, as part of the annual Pecos Chamber of Commerce Christmas Lighting Contest.

The contest was changed a year ago, from picking one house a week in the three weeks leading up to Dec. 25 from homes that were nominated for consideration, to selecting eight houses while doing the judging all on one night in Pecos of all homes with Christmas decorations.

"We divided the city into eight different sections," said Michelle Workman, project chairwoman for this year's contest. "One section was the north side, and we had two different sections of the east side of town, we divided the west side into three sections, and then we had the central part of town and one section on the south side of town."

"It probably took about 21/2 hours for the whole project," she said. "We had some children along with us on the trip to give their input, but other than that it was just the judges."

The homes selected were the Ramiro Lopez family home at 323 N. Walnut St.; the Joe and Maria Gomez home at 733 Martinez St.; the Sergio, Lupita and Jonah Delgado home at 806 E. Ninth St.; the Ramon and Gloria Natividad home at 804 S. Hickory St.; the Israel and Janet Natividad home at 1200 Johnson St.; the Edward Strain Sr., family home at 1417 W. Fourth St., the David and Sulema Flores home at 2005 S. Alamo St.; and the Hector and Petra Campos home, at 2235 Wyoming St.

"We also picked out a block and a business winner," Workman said. "The block was the 2200 block of Country Club Drive. They did a wonderful job, with 16 homes lit up, and it looks beautiful. The winner for the business was the Swiss Clock Inn."

"We had a wonderful time, and I hope to have more people participating next year," Workman said.

Pecos suspect faces Wickett robbery charge

Monahans News

WICKETT - A 41-year-old Pecos man remained in Ward County Jail today after being arrested Sunday morning in connection with the robbery of the Allsup's Convenience Store in Wickett during the overnight hours on Sunday.

Andrew Dennis McGrew was arrested, and an escape attempt by McGrew was foiled, after Department of Public Safety Sgt. Eric White noticed a car matching the description of the one used in a robbery shortly after 1 a.m.

Yolanda Cobos, clerk at Allsup's, located on Interstate 20 at the FM 1219 exit, had telephoned Ward County Sheriff's Department to report the robbery, which she said occurred just after 1 a.m.

She said the robber was a black male wearing a black ski mask and black leather jacket who was driving a black 1982 BMW. She said she did not see a weapon.

White, who was driving down Spur 57 (old U.S. 80) at that time received a call about the robbery and shortly thereafter saw a vehicle matching the description and stopped it at Business 20 and Colorado, just east of the Wickett city limits. White found money and other evidence in the vehicle and arrested and handcuffed McGrew and placed him in the patrol car.

While arresting officers were searching McGrew's vehicle, one investigator noticed McGrew had exited the vehicle and was running along the highway toward Monahans. White and Deputy Alan Wood pursued McGrew on foot, catching him 75 yards from the vehicle.

White said officers are checking to determine whether McGrew may be connected to other robberies recently in Monahans and Odessa.

McGrew was charged with felony escape for leaving once he had been arrested. Bond was set at $8,000 on that charge. He was also charged with one count of robbery and driving while license suspended. Bond on those charges is $30,000 and $1,000, respectively, and was set by Justice of the Peace Pascual Olibas.

The robbery is still under investigation. Assisting White and Wood in the apprehension of McGrew was Deputy Jaime Ybarra, Deputy Steve Crawford, Monahans Police Officers Elias Franco and Ruben Salazar, and Monahans Fireman Simon Porter.

Bessie Haynes choir sings at PHS tonight

PECOS, Mon., Dec. 15, 2003 -- The Bessie Haynes Elementary Choir will present their Christmas program "Christmas at the O.K. Corral" in the Pecos High School Auditorium tonight at 7 p.m. Parents and the community are invited to the performance.

The choir is under the direction of Debra Lenfest, meets on Wednesdays from 3:15 to 4 p.m. The choir is made up of 55 students, from the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades.


PECOS, Mon., Dec. 15, 2003 -- High Sun. 77. Low this morning 47. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear and windy. Lows near 25. NW winds 20 to 30 mph. Tues.: Mostly sunny. Cooler. Highs near 50. North winds 10 to 20 mph. Tues. night: Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 20s. Light and variable winds. Wed.: Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 60s. SW winds near 10 mph. Wed. night: Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 20s to the lower 30s.


Marion Cook

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