The Stenberg Family has been training and using horses as far back in our history as available records can show, at least since the 1880’s in America and for many generations prior to that in Norway. Horses have been and will continue to be the centerpiece of the Stenberg Family.
While we love working with horses and the whole western horse lifestyle, and yes we become very attached to our favorite buddy horses, we fully understand that in order for a horse to develop mentally he has to be trained in a way that gives him a clear purpose and meaning to the direction of his rider. It has to make horse sense to the horse. Horses have to be taught the way they naturally learn, BY DOING!
A huge gap in understanding exists between the modern systems of ground work and arena based training and the time honored systems used on many working ranches of both yesterday and today. Most modern systems of horse training spend countless hours and days on ground work and then very slowly, being careful to not stress the horse, advance to more countless hours of round pen and arena training. A method thought by well respected horse trainers to be abusive to the horse because of the monotony of endless repetition. Most of the time even after months of training, these horses have never left the arena or maybe they went on a slow trail ride down a groomed horse trail These horses were never stressed but also, they were never faced with a challenge. We strongly feel this is a set up for a dangerous situation; it is much like learning to drive a truck from a text book.
With a traditional ranch horse system of training the green colt is started in a round pen taming and gentling him. Once you gain his trust and sometimes affection you progress to working him under saddle for a minimum amount of time in an enclosed and controlled arena. As Soon as the horse is ready he is given an open gate and a job to do in open country. He learns to rein; by actually having to rein. He learns to stop and turn because the cow in front of him stops and turns or there is a gully or windfall… that forces him to think and change direction. This gives him immediately, a true meaning to his rider’s directions. The horse is being taught the way he was meant to learn. One day of this focused type of training which is basically on the job training is worth a month in a round pen. We are now learning how to drive a truck from the driver’s seat instead of a text book. Both systems are equally gentle on the horse, however, with a traditional ranch horse system of training which gives the horse a cow or a task to focus on, the horse is learning by doing which is long lasting rather than by just being schooled in a controlled classroom. Of course the traditional horse used on western ranches has been of cow horse breeding. But this type of training will work super on any breed. An Arab horse may not have as much natural instinct to follow a cow, but a river, a windfall or a deep gully provides a huge focus point for him to receive the same effect.
It is common for a 2 year old green colt with just a few days under saddle to be working cattle in rugged range country and loving it. His classroom cousin is still in the round pen or arena learning how to trot in circles on the end of a long line.
Ranch horses have been exposed to, and are expected to, and have learned to, deal with an incredible range of situations. Just to name a few would be the rugged mountain and range of Montana, Bear, Elk and Deer, creeks and river crossing, and the endless challenges of handling cattle in an uncontrolled environment.
Our program is to accept the responsibility to gentle your horse while at the same time teaching him how to reach his full genetic potential by giving him purposeful challenges that teach and reinforce what he is being directed to do. This is the natural way a horse learns. A wild mustang or even a range broodmare and colt never had a pretty boy horse whisperer in a designer hat and 3 foot silk scarf teach them how to survive and thrive in wild range country. Now these horses learned and refined their survival skills by God given instinct and by actually doing. Our commitment to you the horse owner is that we will train and develop your horses by exposing him to a wide range of challenges and showing him how to deal with these challenges. Depending on the length of time you allow us to train your horse, he will be well on his way to becoming an accomplished ranch horse, competition cow horse or family pleasure horse. We start colts all the way to the finished horse.
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We do not do clinics. “We don’t rent pigs”! (Gus from Lonesome Dove.) We are multi-generational ranchers and traditional horsemen that have a gifted ability for training horses in a system that has been passed down through the generations of Stenberg’s. On weekends we go on mountain or Flathead River rides, these rides are not part of any training program but rather are purely a social get together that you can take your horse and a lunch and enjoy the grandeur of Montana.