By Kayleen Holder
We got the chance to interview Mike Hanson, of Natalia, who has over 30 years experience in horse training and breeding, and he shared a few tips with us for you horse lovers. The Hansens have opened a new business, just 10 minutes from Devine with a top notch covered arena where he is offering lessons for beginners and clinics for more experienced riders.
If you have your own horses, bring them, and if you don’t, that’s okay too. They offer lessons on their own horses or clinics on your horse.
Hansen has taught everything from barrel racing to roping to basic riding skills.
“I once trained horses for a Civil War reenactment near Houston. They were shooting off horses and fighting with swords. You can train a horse to do anything. If you have the money, I have the time,” Hansen said.
The basic price for lessons and clinics is $60 an hour.
He teaches local clinics on:
-Basic Riding Lesson Skills (western) for ages 8 and up on our horses
“You can break most any bad habit of a horse within three days,” Hansen said including some of the most common issues like trailering, walking off while the rider gets on, biting when cinching up, or not staying tied.
“Those are the most common problems I see–he won’t load, he won’t stand still to get on, he bites while being cinched up, or he won’t stay tied,” Hansen said. “A lot of people have a horse with one of those problems and go for years not realizing they can bring it to someone like me and get it fixed for about $180.”
He estimates that any one of these common issues can be fixed with about 3 one-hour clinics, once a day. He offers to keep your horse on site for those three days for an additional $8 a day to cover feed.
“Walking into a trailer with a horse who is uncomfortable is probably one of the most dangerous things people do,” Hansen said. “In three days, I can have most any horse loading with no problems. You are welcome and encouraged to stay and watch while we work with the horse too, because if you take him home and try to load the horse the same old way you did before, it’s not going to work,” Hansen said.
Hansen has lot of knowledge in the field, and as a horse lover myself, I learned more and more as the interview went on.
“A horse has seven facial expressions, and if you learn those it will make your life a lot easier. Horses can’t speak, so they feed off your expressions. Most people don’t know it, but a horse can hear your heart beat from four feet away. If you walk up with a racing heart, all nervous, that horse is going to be nervous too, right from the beginning. They are fight or flight animals, so they are going to be wondering, ‘What’s going on? What’s this person so nervous about?’”.
Another thing people don’t always realize, he says, is how sensitive horses really are.
“A horse can feel a tiny little fly land on the hair of their back,” Hansen said. “That’s why you’ll see them swishing their tail back and forth to swat flies. Think about that the next time you go to whip a horse.”
When it comes to roping, he loves to teach beginners.
“Like any sport, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. When you learn the correct technique, you’d be surprised how easy it really is,” Hansen said.
Hansen has shown horses in AQHA and APHA and has raised both. He also managed cattle ranches for many years.
When it comes to working cows, he has plenty of experience and tips to make your life easier.
“A cow cannot see straight behind them. It’s all about your position to their eye. If you are by the eye, you are going to stop em. If you are in front of the eye you are going to turn them, and if you are behind the eye you are going to drive them. There are so many little details like that that. I’ll teach you how to read the cow,” Hansen said.
He has the kind of knowledge that only comes with experience.
“Trust me, there was a time long ago when I had more bad habits than I did good when it came to horses, but once you learn the right techniques, it makes you life a whole lot easier,” Hansen said.
Hansen estimates he has started more than 500 colts over the years.
“There are so many people out there who don’t feel safe when they ride their horse,” Hansen said. I can teach you and your horse the skills you need to get the job done and to feel safe whether you are doing competitive trail ride, playdays, rodeo, or just riding for recreation,” Hansen said.
Hansen Horses is located between LaCoste and Natalia on FM 471, just 10 minutes from Devine. They have a nice covered arena for shade during lessons and clinics.
They also offer a competitive trail riding course with lots of obstacles (water, bridge, etc).
Schedule a private clinic or lesson by calling 830-261-1072.
By Kayleen Holder