“Ultimate trust between the horse and his handler is essential for a successful and enjoyable partnership.”
Tommie Turvey made that emphasis for one of his educational and entertaining presentations during the recent EquipFest of Kansas at Wichita.
Headquartered in Florida, Turvey is a trainer, entertainer, professional stuntman and stunt coordinator who brought a half dozen horses to Kansas in a large semi-tractor rig complete with living quarters.
“The key in getting your horses to doing anything correctly is consistency, discipline and respect in training through day to day contact,” Turvey emphasized. “It’s not magic, like most people want to believe.
“It is understanding, and the quality, not quantity of training,” Turvey continued. “People think I train my horses for hours on end, and it’s quite the opposite.
“My training style is direct, to the point and well thought out. I do things for a specific reason,” Turvey explained. “There are many ways to train a horse, but I think of the things beyond the day’s training and what effect it has on other behaviors.
“Most important is to have fun and enjoy your horse. I want you to love your horse as much as I love mine,” the clinician clarified.
With a pedestal in the arena, Turvey brought his rescued Mustang called Blade in first.
“Our horses are our partners, and the heart and soul of our company. They are our inspiration for what we do. We give them the best care we possibly can and treat them like our family,” Turvey said.
Blade was the horse used in the movie, “Walking Dead.” Turvey explained: “He was the unfortunate horse who Rick rode into Atlanta in the movie. Most people ask me why Blade had to get eaten by Zombies instead of just running away.
“Most people look at us in shock and say ‘Blade got eaten? That’s horrible.’ Well, Blade is alive and well right here,” chided Turvey as he emphasized that all filming is overseen by the American Humane Society.
Pointing out that horses are creatures of prey and fright, Turvey related, “They want to get away from danger, but with ultimate trust, my horse will look to me for guidance before running away from what they consider a hazard.”
A horse would initially be frightened of the pedestal, but when the handler and his horse have a mutual trust, the horse can be lead right up to it without negative response. “When I want to teach a horse to stand on the pedestal, I first put one foot up, let him hold it there and then back him off,” the trainer explained.
“I continue to do this for ten times or more, until when I lead him up to the box, the horse will automatically place his foot up on his own,” Turvey described. “I reward him with carrots, but never punish him for putting his foot on the pedestal.
“The first day I just do one foot, and then the next day the second foot, continue with the third and fourth feet, and usually in four to six days, the horse will stand on the pedestal,” Turvey tallied.
Next, Turvey brought out his black and white Paint Horses, full brothers Joker and Ace.
Joker is considered the work horse of the bunch and was cast as a Breyer model horse in 2006. Joker’s younger brother, Ace, is the star of Liberty acts.
The matched pair was ridden Roman-style by Turvey standing on their backs in this year’s Rose Bowl Parade.
Several other Turvey horses were also in the parade including the bay and white Paint Horse, Pokerjoe, ridden by Mike Loades from the history channel. Pokerjoe is known for his comedy antics and is also in the Breyer collection.
Even though Joker and Ace are brothers, they can’t be put in the same pasture. . “They get along fine here, but they fight and will get scratched up when I turn them out together,” Turvey noted.
Riding Joker bareback with a neck rein he designed out of horse hair, and which is marketed through his internet sight, Turvey demonstrated various horsemanship maneuvers.
He then released Ace and worked him from the back of Joker with the long whip described as “an extension of my hand.”
Before long, Turvey slide from his original mount onto the other and rode Ace without tack in various patterns.
Commanded to rear up, the Paints responded professionally, and then bowed to climax their performance.
“Our horses live and travel with us. They each have a daily schedule of training, cleaning and care along with rest and relaxation.
“They enjoy the life in the spotlight and of course love to hear the cheering crowds. We love them all. Ride fast. Take chances,” Turvey concluded as the audience responded with loud appreciative clapping.