Frank Bell's Gentle Solutions Revolution | Discover the Horse You Never Knew

Autumn ’12 Newsletter

Autumn 2012

This is easily my favorite time to ride with uncrowded trails, magnificent colors, and pesky insects on the wane. I hope this finds you enjoying fall and some of the finest riding of the year.

Cool mornings this time of year can have horses feeling pretty frisky. It is always a good idea to take that ‘fresh’ out of them prior to riding. My safety system is designed precisely for this exact situation. A few minutes of groundwork will pay dividends later on the trail. Warming up with the fifth exercise in my system, Ballet on the Ground, followed by Ballet in the Saddle gets the horse’s mind into the game because they have to concentrate to place their feet accurately. This wonderful warm -up exercise is being used by horse owners worldwide with great success and the culmination of my 7 Step Safety System.
A few important points as winter closes in:
• Put weight on hard-keepers this time of year before winter sets in
• Dentistry is of utmost importance going into winter, especially older horses. Locate a competent vet or certified dentist
• When the fall riding ends and winter sets in, a few months without shoes usually benefits horses’ feet
• If you do fall vaccines, give your horses a day or two off before hard work
• Weather conditions can and will change dramatically so be sure your horses have access to cover. Horses can handle cold and wet, but not together. Providing some kind of shelter, even rudimentary is a good idea
• Stallions and geldings develop “beans” that obstruct urination. Learn how to check for this condition or ask your vet to do so
• Worming after a couple hard frosts is the preferred timing and actual parasite testing seems to be the wave of the future. More on this trend as it unfolds.


We’re living in times that seem to be speeding up almost every single day- internet, smart phones, texting, traffic- hurry, hurry, hurry. Do you think our horses pick up on our speedy energy? Of course they do!
In August my partner Vonne and I had the great pleasure of visiting Brian and Kathleen Reid and their very special horse, a Shire named Brenda Lee in Rhode Island. Brian uses Brenda to help people rediscover the important values missing in our hurried lives. Horses Know the Way Home is the title for Brian’s interesting approach to helping people, not just horse people, but all people find these priorities.
A hulk of a man, Brian’s approach and enthusiasm is truly infectious and his message indeed timely. It is so easy to slip into patterns that are unhealthy at so many levels. But our horses tend to help us stay grounded and I truly believe this is why so many of us interact with horses. It’s not so much about the ribbon or winning as it is about slowing down and connecting. Just being quiet in the presence of horses is calming, grounding, and therapeutic.
Brian and Brenda’s time with me and Vonne was beyond special. It was a true awakening. Their message is life changing and I strongly encourage you to peruse the website and facebook presence. The pictures are world class and accompany Brian’s philosophy to a T. Better yet, get to one of these seminars.


Horses being herd animals are innately content to NOT make big decisions. They would much rather allow the strong alpha mare or passive leader to take control and follow. When this has been the norm for some time, many horses become very uncomfortable and downright insecure when that leadership disappears. When we step in as the strong confident director and ask for our horses to listen and follow our lead, we must be prepared. From a position of strength our horses prefer a proactive, not reactive leader. Reactive is after the fact- LATE. Proactive is one of the most important concepts in horsemanship and is all about good strong leadership, timing, and anticipation.
Some years ago I was conducting a clinic in Colorado. A highly competent endurance rider could not get his horse to stand still; not surprising since travelling high speed was the norm. I mounted the horse and put him right to work doing very remedial work- backing, simple turns on the forehand and haunches, half-passing, asking for the head in each direction, etc. and all with crisp releases the moment the horse complied. After a few minutes of this busy work I dropped the reins and had a horse that suddenly PREFERRED TO STAND QUIETLY.
You see, I had a lot of options besides only fast forward. I did not need to run breakneck to tax this horse’s energy. In a very small area and in a very short time I was able to give this lovely gelding enough to keep him so busy that all he wanted to do was rest. Most importantly my timing and leadership were accurate and highly effective.
With many horses, especially young ones, “the idle mind is the devil’s playground.” A busy horse seldom gets into trouble because there is no time to do so. Some horse need almost constant jobs to keep them out of trouble. If you’re searching for ideas while mounted, that can be far too late.
I’ve developed a logical approach to keeping a horse busy when ideas and lesson plans are lacking all the while improving the horse’s athletic ability AND promoting horse and rider safety.
This logical approach is well explained in a variety of our educational materials to include – Discover the Horse You Never Knew my landmark DVD, the best place to begin. Communication in the Saddle delves into the basics of riding and just what your mind, body, hands, and legs need to be doing to communicate effectively.


Over the years I’ve challenged myself to simplify what others have made vague and complicated into some extremely simple principals.

• The bottom of the V is thought
• The top is extreme pressure
• Always beginning at the bottom makes the horse and the relationship

Three T’s
• Theory-If you don’t know why you’re doing something with a horse, you should not be doing it- period. Understand why
• Technique- Perfect the physical part of it
• Timing- Get better at it. It’s all about the release

Three C’s
• Control- Leads to
• Confidence- Leads to
• Competence

Jim Rea and I have conducted clinics at White Stallion Ranch for the past five years in the spring and fall. With 130 horses we’re able to find just the right fit for our students. From experienced horsemen and women to novices seeking to gain confidence and improve their horse handling skills, the results are amazing as our students emerge walking tall and quite pleased with themselves exuding heightened confidence. Our mornings are devoted to hands on with horses in the huge arena. Beginning with my safety system we progress through the week to more advanced maneuvers, games, and horse activities. Afternoons can be hot in that dry desert sun, so after lunch and a siesta we discuss the plethora of subjects that surround the equine. Nutrition, living conditions, saddle fitting, pain assessment and treatment, typical horse problems, etc. keep our gang busy until the afternoon cools. Then we move back outside to discuss and demonstrate such topics as problem foot handling, saddle fitting, barefoot trimming, proper trailer loading, and just how to check your horse’s teeth. About then the dinner bell rings and happy hour commences.
Most participate in team penning several times during the week and our breakfast ride on Saturday is topped off with an interpretive ride as the joys of the Sonoran Desert and interesting relationships of flora and fauna are well explained. The cuisine is fabulous and candlelight dinners on the patio, well downright enchanting. After dinner entertainment ranges from interpretive astronomy/star gazing to cowboy poetry and singing around the campfire to a creatures of the desert demonstration as Phil Gonzales enlightens and entertains with hands on to those so inclined to handle snakes, geckos, and one very perky chinchilla!
There does not exist a more well-run family dude ranch. White Stallion Ranch is truly a class act!
Don’t you deserve a week of pure indulgence delving into your passion?
Jim and I will be conducting our next week-long clinic at White Stallion Nov 11-18.

“I brought more back from Jim & Frank’s March clinic than I even realized. It was a life-changing experience in so many ways.” Paula Howe- New Mexico
Our team of Accredited Instructors will be conducting clinics in varying locations throughout the world- Clinic link

From the Whole Gang at Dances With Horses- Wishing you and yours a great autumn of riding.

Remember- The Long Way is the Short Way AND
Your Success is our Success,

In Spirit,