Joe Wolterâ€™s property in West Texas, surprisingly, has a tall, steep hill in the back pasture. The California-raised trainer and clinician appreciates the elevated ground for a number of reasons. Not only does it give the typically flat landscape some character, the hill serves as an excellent training area for Wolterâ€™s young horses.
First off, itâ€™s great for conditioning and warming up a fresh horse. Rather than trotting or loping in countless, mind-numbing circles, Wolter would rather send his horses up and down the hill.
â€ťA lot of guys will lope circles,â€ť he says. â€śBut I go up and down the hill at a walk.â€ť
Climbing a steep rocky slope requires the horse to think, develop different muscles and become sure-footed. It also gets the horse outside of the safe, familiar confines of an arena, something Wolter believes is ideal for training.
â€ťThe best way I can be productive as a trainer is to find a place where my horses are insecureâ€ť he says. â€śIt builds a relationship. It gets them farther along and ready for the world.â€ť