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Getting to know your horse

by Linda Hiller

Ask not what you can teach your horse, but what your horse can teach you.

That is the motto of Bob Kinford of 2 Lazy 4U Livestock and Literary Co., new to the Carson Valley.

Kinford, 45, has been around horses most of his life, working with them professionally all of his adult life. Growing up in Jackson, Calif., he worked on ranches around the West, including the Double Diamond Ranch in Reno before it became a housing development.

This varied experience afforded him the opportunity to see a variety of horses and breeds in action. Discovering the different personalities of individual horses, Kinford said, is one of the challenges as well as one of the joys of horse training.

“The training has always been interesting to me because I enjoy seeing what I can get a horse to do,” he said. “I basically treat each horse the way they need to be treated – I do the same thing, only a little different for each personality.”

Kinford’s nature, to meet a challenge especially when it comes to horses, is evidenced by his current favorite horse, a 17-year-old named Whistledink.

“This one was bred to be a Park Horse – a high-stepper – not meant to be a cow horse,” Kinford said. “But I like the challenge of training him as a cow horse. He’s so good, he anticipates everything I’m trying to do.”

– Learn what he knows. Kinford will be teaching a three-part training series at the Fish Springs Arena starting in mid-March.

“Each session will be four hours, and then I like to give the people a few weeks to practice what they’ve learned before coming back for the next class,” he said.

The first class, on Saturday, March 18, will be on stopping.

Two weeks later, on Saturday, April 1, students (both human and equine) will learn about speed control and collection.

Two weeks after that, on Saturday, April 15, the topic will be flexibility and getting the horse to bend.

Cost for each clinic is $50, but those who sign up for all three by Saturday, March 11, will get one class free, totaling $100. Those who would like to monitor the classes without a horse can attend for $15 for each clinic and $30 for all three.

Kinford has been teaching clinics in Colorado and New Mexico for 10 years. The enrollment will be limited to 10 riders.

For more information or to pre-register, call Kinford at 782-5406.

– Cowboy stories. While working with horses and “cowboying” throughout the West, Kinford has gathered stories that he recently compiled into a book, “Cowboy Romance (of Horsesweat and Hornflies).”

“I started reading when I was 5, and I guess I always had it in the back of my mind to write,” he said. “These aren’t poems, they’re true stories. “

They’re also funny. “The Rocking Rek,” with several hilarious characters – Myrtle, the ranch secretary who rode with her saddle leaning to the right while she leaned the left, Ralph, her son, who wore irrigating boots all the time and Roy, the ranch manager and Ralph’s idol, who wore short-topped boots (not the best idea in the muddy corrals) with one pantleg tucked in and one pantleg hanging out.

“Eat yer heart out, Baxter Black,” is about Kinford’s stint on a ranch “world-famous for its bulls.” At this “bovine penitentiary,” where he was “warden, guard and doctor rolled into one,” Kinford had to monitor 1,500 freshly-weaned calves, rounding up escapees and romantic interlopers. After a calf swallows an aluminum tube while getting her medicine, Kinford eventually finds himself with his arm in her throat trying to reach it after the veterinarian, Dr. Smyth, has anesthetized her – not enough, it turns out, though, because she comes to and stands up with Kinford still attached. The unfolding of this story is reminiscent of the late James Herriot, the rural veterinarian who wrote “All Creatures Great and Small.”

There are many other stories, including “The Romantic Life?” which inspired the book’s title, “Bulltapulting,” “Da Bull and Da Professor,” the “Bureau of Lost Minds.” and dozens more. Kinford, who lives in Fish Springs, said he is planning to write a cookbook for his next literary project.

Kinford will be hosting a book signing of “Cowboy Romance” at Laxague Feed and Supply, 1428 Industrial Way in Gardnerville tomorrow, March 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. Copies of his book will be available. For more information, call him at 782-5406 or Laxague, 782-7750.

– New breed of cattle. Kinford has spent as much time around cattle as he has horses, and is promoting a new composite breed, the Black Maximizer, a high-production bovine which is ready for the supermarket at one year. This “super cow” breed was developed by Kinford’s friend, Warren Levang of Montana. Levang can be reached at http://www.blackmaximizercattle.com.

For further information on Kinford or tips for training horses, go to his Web site, http://www.2lazy4U.com.