DbarH Equine Training. Natural Horsemanship
Medicine Lodge Valley, Dillon, Montana

Who is DbarH

Basic Background

I'm Donna other wise known as DbarH.  DbarH or actually  "reverse D then a connecting bar with a connecting H" is my registered Montana cattle brand as shown above in my logo.  

I am the 4th generation on our ranch Hildreth Livestock Co., which was establish and homesteaded in 1893.  The ranch is one of the oldest continuously owned and operation ranches in Beaverhead County and in Montana.  The Hildreth's came to America in 1635.  My great great grandfather and his brothers were the first cattlemen to bring a large herd of cattle, and bands of sheep to California from Missouri in 1851.  Fresno Valley was there cow camp.  More of my ranching history can be read at either our Guest Stay section or Cattle section.

Another activity I am in involved in is the position of Vice Chairman for the Farm Service Agency County Committee.  

Horse Background

In the 1940's my father studied the art and science of horsemanship through J. King Ross's School of Applied Horsemanship to expand his knowledge of horses. The horsemanship techniques that I use originate from my father from the over 75 years of his life around horses. My father used horses for work and companionship. He used draft teams for feeding livestock and other ranch work until the tractors, and vehicles took over the jobs. He also herded the family's band of sheep on the mountain ranges starting as a little boy. This required a good saddle horse, one that would not become nerved at anything.

Since the horses were going to be his best friends, he treated the horses like a best friend. He taught them to be best friends. To bomb proof the horse he sacked them out starting small and lead up to the more scary things, led them behind the feed wagon, taught the horse to walk when a rope was around one of their feet and taught them to lie down. When out on the range there were no night corals to stick the horses in so the horse had to learn about ground tying on long ropes so the horse could feed freely.

The first ride I had on a horse was before I could walk. And ever since it was my passion to be around horses. And did so every chance I could on the ranch. My favorite discipline was and still is working cow horse / cutting.

My training since I was young was the concept let the horse perform the task that the horse was asked to do, freely with lightness, without becoming dependant on the rider/handlers maintenance of aids. And only give an aid when a different task was asked. Even though the proper phrase or origin of the type of horsemanship that was applied was not known until my college years, and that origin French Classical method of training.

I attended and graduated from Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. While there I was taught the riding techniques of Sally Swift who created Centered Riding, Mary Wanless , Linda Tellington Jones, and the French and Baroque school masters in the art of dressage/horsemanship. Most all disciplines were taught including; reining, trail, western pleasure, English equitation, hunter jumper, dressage, horsemanship, showmanship, young horse training, and judging, all of which had the foundation of dressage. Most all the horses I was taught on and trained were of Stock Horse breeding - Quarter Horses, Paint, and Appaloosa. I Received 2nd place with a young horse that I had only put 6 rides in a walk trot class, being the only student with a young horse project that was ready to participate in the show. I received 2nd thru 4th places in English and Western classes in the NWC Commencement Horse shows.

In the fall after graduating in Equine Science I continued another year to gain my Agri-business degree and to be the head Equine instructor's teacher's aid/student teacher. It was an opportunity to teach the freshman riders alongside my instructor, which I gained further awareness in instructing the rider. I also trained horses on the ground and in the saddle during that time period for a local farm. I gave some clinics, with another student teacher, to a local group of 4H children in Powell that varied in ages from 8 to 18, and another clinic for NWC college of agriculture students on showmanship. In the summer months on the ranch I gave lessons to a select few of the guest's children.

No mater what type of saddle you prefer or what breed of horse you like, a solid foundation of horsemanship training will let your horse strive in all disciplines. Reining can be performed in an English saddle as can a dressage test be achieved in a western saddle. Each need good horsemanship and balance not only for the horse but more importantly the rider. If the rider is not balanced and centered the horse cannot develop balance and movement required even for fundamental horsemanship

I taught 45 Holsteiner and Holsteiner cross warmblood weanlings up to five year old's until the Montana herd was moved to the main Oregon Farm. Knowledge of different personalities of each horse deepened my understanding of how the horse reacted to different aids. Most of the training was focused on exceptional ground education. When it was time for the horse to go under saddle, it would become undemanding. I believe that anything that a rider executes on the horses back should first be taught and experienced on the ground.

When we were fortunate enough to get the Internet in late 1997, I began conducting online instruction with people that needed help with various problems and questions with their horses and/or the riders own body position. I started my own Website to share with everyone the techniques I utilize.

There have also been standards that I have stuck with after dealing with some not so good horse people. My piece of mind knowing a horse was given a chance exceeds the quick buck (money).

Such standards are:

U Training for the benefit of the horse, not competition/showing or the rapid progression to have a quick thrown together so called finished horse.

U Give the horse time and development for what is being taught with common sense horsemanship.

U No use of a lunge whip while lunging.

U Not cantering a horse while lunging or riding until the horse is balanced in the walk and trot.

U Quality not quantity in a task. If the horse does the lesson correctly in 5 minutes or if it takes 1 hour then the lesson is done.

U Will not ride a horse until at least age 3, in short intervals at a walk and periodic trot situations to minimize the stress on the underdeveloped back and legs. But preferably not until age 5 to 6. Some horses are not mentally or physically ready to ride until older. The skeletal and muscle systems do not fully mature in a horse until age 8.

U Gadgets such as martingales, tie downs and draw reins only puts the horse in to a stiff premature fixed position that allows the rider to have unfair leverage to accomplish a false head set.

U The owner/handler is required to learn what the horse has learned. If the horse learns the new communication, but the owner/handler did not the horse would be confused and the teaching would have been a waste. Example: someone from earth trying to talk to an alien from mars. Neither knows what the other wants. All of the basic three rules would be broke with the foundation training.




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Donna Hildreth 1998 - 2009
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