"Ask the Trainer Online"
Hosted by Lonnie Lavery

"A well trained horse is not an accident but the product of many thoughtful hours!"


... This website will continue... for now with reposts of some favorites but possibly with guest trainers answering questions. ...

Nov 15, 2012
While real "new" Q&A from the master aren't possible :-(,
reposting of Lonnie's favorites has now begun.

A new page of pictures has been added,
Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012.
Lonnie Pictures...

The full PROOF version of the Jan 7, 2013,
Saddle Horse Report article on Lonnie
can be read/downloaded here.
This proof version is only 1.7MB.  The full final version,
virtually unchanged but in a higher resolution, is 11MB.

And Saddle Horse Report's obit for
Paul St.Charles from the same issue.

Click the image below to go to the new "In Memory of LFL" page.

Click image above to visit the "In Memory of LFL" page.

For the most part this site will be left intact with continued posting
of some of Lonnie's favorite old Q&A on his Facebook page.


Additional tributes to Lonnie can now be found on Facebook.
Look for L.f. Lavery

Visit the "In Memory of LFL" page here.

Nationally known Judge and Trainer of World's Champions has written these informative answers to assist you with your American Saddlebreds, National Show Horses, Morgans, Arabians, and Hackneys.

Training Issues: Attitude, Biting, Cantering, Driving, Gaiting, Gait analysis, Health Concerns, Shoeing, General and Specific Training Problems, Etc.

Lavery's Grooming Products
will continue to be available.
Now also available at World Champion Horse Equipment,
the Winner's Circle, and Rhode Island Horse Supply...

Click to view Lavery Old Tyme Grooming Products

Click to view Lavery Old Tyme Grooming Products
Click above for additional information on Lavery's Old Tyme
Grooming Products

Links To Questions & Responses and
Selected Best from the Ask the Trainer Archives ***
Date Subject Search Criteria
Aug 19, 2013 From LFL to You
from the American Saddlebred World's Championship
Nov 15, 2012 A Boy and His Pony light hearted Q&A between friends!
Obituary & Memorial Notices have been moved to the Bio page
Nov 1, 2012
Oct 31, 2012

Lonnie's Last NEW Posts
Date Subject Search Criteria
Aug 13, 2012 He is little but Mighty......Mighty BAD! Misbehaving Mini
Aug 6, 2012 I don't know "Wither" this fits or does it make Her Ass look Fat? Saddle Fit


CAUTION: Many procedures recommended by Mr. Lavery are best administered by an experienced Professional Trainer.

Lonnie was very pleased to have joined the Avalon Stables team in 2010...

Avalon Stables at Harvest Days Show 2010
Trainer, Carly Duggan
Resident Training Consultant, LF Lavery..
Avalon Stables Owner & Trainer, Pam Roush.

Lonnie demonstrates calming an over-anxious horse during an Edwards Training Stable consulting visit.

To SEARCH all PRIOR month articles:
Go to our
Site Map which includes all titles and search criteria since the inception of this site.
the search box at the top of that page to invoke a Google Site Search.

Selected Best from the Ask the Trainer Archives ***

August 19, 2013
August 27, 2009

From LFL to You
from the American Saddlebred World's Championship


Tip of the Day - Some people find it a greater reward tieing fifth in a large class of great horses than winning in a small class of mediocre ones!

As I am certain you are aware, I seldom use this vehicle as a place to express my personal opinions. Today, however, I wish to share something with you who are fans of the American Saddlebred Horse. Last night I was privileged to sit next to an old friend who is a very famous horse trainer of another breed and a different discipline. It was his first visit to the Worlds Championship American Saddlebred horse show. I was thrilled to see the delight on this great horseman's face as he watched and savored his first five gaited class. He was enthralled, impressed and generally taken by the power, performance and athleticism of our extraordinary breed as they competed in the class they were bred for. I tried to answer all his questions about what this class truly entails but was reminded of something I had recently written in response to a similar question. I will quote myself here as I think it covers it all....

Unlike any other breed in the World, the American Saddlebred, shown at the five gaits, the job he has been developed to do, enters the show ring to compete against others for 20 minutes not 2 minutes as in racing. He will show with a group of horses not individually as in Dressage, Jumping, Reining, Cutting, etc. He will be wearing a bridle with two bits, not a single snaffle. His hoofs may be 5 inches long, he will be wearing protective boots in front and his shoes may weigh 16 ounces, not 4 ounces as in the aluminum plates on racehorses. He might be wearing a tail brace to insure that he looks the part thought of as the ideal so that his 4-6 foot flowing tail can be shown to its best advantage. He will have colorful braids blowing in the wind flopping around his head with ribbon colors accenting his coat of hair that should shine as if it was covered with diamond dust. He will be required to execute 5 distinct gaits, displaying extreme athletic motion and great speed at the Trot and Rack and yet come back to the walk, canter like a "hobby" horse and stand quietly in center ring to be judged for conformation. While doing this, he should maintain the high "swanlike" head carriage and form that sets this breed apart from the breeds and disciplines like the Quarter horse, Thoroughbred, Hunter etc, whose polls rarely are found much higher than their withers. Since, "they called the thing horse show" his demeanor should be that of a stage performer with his ears always alert and an air of excitement about him yet subject to penalization should the excitement lead to a mistake. This demeanor is often called "the look of eagles" and although not mandatory, it is truly what separates the show horse from one just going through the motions, not making mistakes. Quite often, unlike the Thoroughbred race horse, the Standardbred at the track, the Grand Prix jumpers etc. which are most often ridden by professionals and non- hobbyists, the American Saddlebred must do all of the things described while being exhibited by a child or adult amateur. It is easy to see how truly remarkable this breed is.

My friend is now truly a Fan of the five gaited American Saddlebred and would like me to let him ride one. I will.

November 15, 2012... One of Lonnie's favorites
Sept 26, 2008

A Boy And His Pony

Mr Lavery

Before I state my problem, I want to commend you on a very necessary project you are doing!

Years ago I had some horses and ponies....now I have a Hackney mare I would like to show at Louisville next year. She is only 27 yr. old but I have her leading good and eating sugar out of my hand!

My two questions to you are....Can I wait to cut her tail until a couple days before the show? I hate to change sets!

The most important question......When should I start hooking her to drive?

Waiting for your reply.

Dudley Abbott

Tip of the Day - Waiting 27 years to wean a pony...is very hard on it's mother.

Thank you so much for your question. It seems you have made great progress with your pony over the last 27 years. I assume you took to heart my advice about not rushing the training program, . I am truly amazed to hear she still has enough teeth to eat sugar from your hand.

As you know, teaching them to lead correctly is an invaluable part of training and after all those years, I am certain she leads the best. I would not rush into cutting the tail. The way I see it, by the time you get her broke to drive, she'll be in her early 50's and by then maybe they will have outlawed tail cutting and Louisville might be called The PETA International. One good thing, by that time I am certain, Rich, Jimmy, Rodney, Larry and Darrel will be retired leaving only Gib as the one to beat. I would love to see a picture of your wonderful filly. Do you have any Tin Types?

Thanks once again for your question, Good Luck and Good Napping!

LF Lavery.

Readers....This of course was not serious. This "Question" came from an old friend of mine, very old! Beside being one of the founding members of the United Professional Horseman's Association, Dudley trained some of greatest horses and ponies of the 60's and 70's. The great World's Champions Bellisima and Ambition being only two of many. Additionally, and now it is confession time, I am not a genius who came up with the ASK THE TRAINER concept. It was in fact, Mr Abbott who first suggested it many years ago. So long ago, in fact, it was decided it would not work well on the telegraph. So it had been on the shelf until Mr Gore invented the Internet and now the rest is history. I feel proud to tell you about Dudley and to give you this sample of his humor. He is truly one of a kind and a great friend of the horse industry.

Thanks for everything Dudley.

Lonnie's Last NEW POSTS

August 13, 2012

He is little but Mighty......Mighty BAD!
(Misbehaving Mini)

Dear Sir

I have a miniature horse gelding named Clayborn he is a sweetheart but I've noticed that he has some behaviors that I find dangerous such as striking, bolting, biting, circling when you lead him, rearing, halter-pulling. heard-bound, balking bucking and pushing up against you, I have tried a couple methods but none seem to work he is kept with 4 other miniatures that I own the other three belong to a friend two quarter horses and a Shetland pony I am wondering if these aren't caused by the other horses, both spoiled and at times vicious and extremely dangerous at times with the same habits above along with a few more should I keep my minis with them or remove them? By the time a horse is acting dangerous, no matter how big or small he is, I was wondering if mental or emotional issues might contribute to these problems. Any advice you might have would be welcomed and not just with my minis but with the quarter horses again thank you.

Tip of the Day – After being kicked by a horse, it matters little how small or large the hoof was except for how big an ice pack you will need.

Thank you so much for your question. With so regal a sounding name as Claiborne it seems horrible for him to have adopted such uncouth, undignified and unmannerly behaviors. He, indeed, sounds like a one horse wrecking crew! No amount of "cuteness" could possibly make up for the vices you describe.

To be sure, the "herd" environment you mention him to be living in could well be having an effect on your tiny gentleman. As with all herd animals, the laws of nature come into play to some extent. Pecking order, survival of the fittest, dog eat dog etc, can have a way of bolstering the bluster of the smaller of the herd members as sort of a self defense tool. Those so vertically challenged as he, often resort to aggressive actions so as not so easily be taken advantage of by the larger members with their herd mentality. This being said, that is still not a free pass for his current interaction with you and other humans. Also, I would suspect some other factors have entered into creating these problems and instead of nature, I fear it is human nature.

Those adorable minis and ponies so coveted by children and adults alike are more often than not bombarded with love and affection while being starved for a little discipline. Although, nearly all of us understand the concept that a cute puppy will not "housebreak" itself, correcting and teaching some respect to these little equines seems to be more difficult for many to conceptualize. Unfortunately, it is often only after one finds out how sharp the teeth are, how strong the kick is and how hard and high those front legs can punch, that they realize the situation is out of control. If you have not already found those things out, you are very lucky. Today is the day to start turning things around.

First, it will be virtually impossible to correct these issues other than in a one–on-one situation for at least a week or two. If you can get him in a stall, that would be best. Alone with him you have an opportunity to teach him to come when you call him...Yes that is what I said... And more importantly, have his complete attention while you work with him. No matter what size the horse, we can utilize three tools at our disposal to completely control the equine even with their superior strength. Number one is our intelligence, the second a walled enclosure and lastly, our ability to use the leverage of a lead shank to control the horse's head. Those three tools have, in one way or another, been the basis for all horse training since horses were first domesticated. Today, from the Pat Parrielis to the Bob Bafferts, they are still in use.

First task, he must learn to immediately submit to pressure from you on his halter. If you pull on the lead, he must come forward and follow, if you push he must back and he must turn the direction you ask. It is much like leash training a dog. A reward to encourage him to come forward, (A repeated whistle or call of his name followed by a reward or treat each time you ask him to come forward will eventually lead to a horse that will come when called, even when at liberty) firm pressure when asking to back even to the point of discomfort and the same for turning left and right with these also followed by some reward. Make these training sessions short, 5-10 minutes twice a day for a week or two, make him uncomfortable for any transgressions and well rewarded for the good things and you will be shocked at how remarkable your progress will be. When he is performing all perfectly, there is no end to the things you will be able to teach him so he not just a lawn ornament but a productive member of your extended family. At that point you should be able to turn him back out with the occasional refresher course always in mind.

I thank you so much for your wonderful question and do hope I have given you some food for thought. I wish you good luck and good riding.

LF Lavery

August 6, 2012

I don't know "Wither" this fits or does it make Her Ass look Fat?
(Saddle Fit)

Hi, I have two questions I'd like to ask.

Basically I recently got an unregistered saddlebred mare (think she's out of Razzle Dazzle Royale) who was trained as a 4yr old and then had a foal or two she's supposed to be 7 years old now. Because she has had foals she is 'out of shape' for a saddlebred. I have a 21inch Blue Ribbon cutback saddle and I don't know how to tell if it fits or not. I know the size is fine but two people who know nothing about cutbacks said it didn't fit. I was wondering how do I tell and if it doesn't what are my options? I thought most cutbacks were the same fit?

My other question is, what's the best way to go about starting this horse back up riding? The lady I got her from knew nothing about saddlebreds but walked round on her and that was it. She is a very nervous,forward going mare. I have been 'lunging' in tack but that's it. Any tips on where to start? I've seen rescue saddlebreds and others being ridden in a german martingale, do I need to ride her in this?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Tip of the Day - Unlike skirts, coats, shoes, slacks and dresses, when it comes to saddles, although it may fit you, "off the rack", it might not fit your horse.

Thank you for your interesting question. What really impresses me is the fact that unlike 99% of the riders today, your first concern is not how nice your saddle looks or how wonderful you look on it but you are more interested in if it fits your horse. That is the type of thought process a horseman uses not one hobbyists usually possess.

Saddle fit? The criteria, size and fit, for those sitting upon the saddle, has less to do with the width of one's posterior than the length of the thigh bone. Correct position dictates the size of the saddle. When displaying the proper position (a straight line bisecting the shoulder, hip and heel) there should be a full palm width from the end of the cantle to the base of the spine with the knees on top of the stirrup leathers and never in front of the skirt with the stirrup iron contacting your foot, when hanging down out of the stirrup, immediately below the ankle bone. Sitting like that, in the "sweet spot" of the saddle, is the most comfortable for you and your horse.

There are, however, many more variables that apply to how the saddle should fit what it is placed upon. First and foremost for the American Saddlebred, Saddle Seat, rider... How the gullet and pommel fit the wither. The ASB, being an historically high withered rather than a mutton withered one such as a Quarter Horse, can easily and painfully suffer "pinched" withers with an ill fitting gullet and cut back. The pommel should fit very generously around the wither area. Secondly, care should be taken to assure the saddle has the proper length and breadth of tree to properly fit the horse's back. Bars of the tree extending the cantle too far back or those too short can cause some difficulty as well as a tree too narrow causing things such as fistulas. Here the shape of the horse's back, short, long, soft, low, will have a great deal to do with the proper fit. A time tested and very simple way to indentify the fit can be accomplished by folding a "bath" towel to saddle pad size placing it on the horse saddle over it. Ride the horse for some time at all gaits. Dismount and take everything off. Areas of possible stress will be damp or wet while all else will be dry. If it appears the wither or kidney area are in distress, rethink your saddle.

Putting a horse back to work should be no problem. It appears you have taken the first step with the lunging in the "bittens". Long lines, jogging in the cart, riding in a snaffle, all should be part of your horse's return. I, myself, can think of no reason to use a German martingale at this time in your training but whatever works for your horse should be fine. Just, take it slow and easy.

I hope this has been of some help to you and thank you so much for your question. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.

LF Lavery

Archives ===>