Joe Wolter’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 Wolter’s young horses.
First off, it’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.
”A lot of guys will lope circles,” he says. “But I go up and down the hill at a walk.”
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.
”The best way I can be productive as a trainer is to find a place where my horses are insecure” he says. “It builds a relationship. It gets them farther along and ready for the world.”