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19 “Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? 20 Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting?21 He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray.22 He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword. 23 The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance. 24 In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.25 At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, ‘Aha!’ He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry.
– Job 39: 19 – 25
Please check out some more of Chris’ pictures and horsemanship videos found exclusively through the link below:
Chris Bohenek brings over 26 years of working horseback experience, in handling both horses and cattle to his students. Having worked for large ranches throughout Montana, Wyoming, and Arizona, Chris now resides in the Bitterroot Valley. Chris manages a small cattle/ horse ranch in the valley and continues to train horses and people throughout the year.
Throughout my 26 years in the horse and cow business, I have started, finished, re-trained and helped well over 6,000 horses, as well as help their owners find a better way to get along with each other. I have gathered, sorted, calved, branded, roped, doctored and shipped more cattle than I can remember. I feel very blessed and grateful to have been given the gift of the horse to accomplish all of this. God willing I pray that this gift continues.
Like so many people, I have experienced what it is like to be frustrated with a lack of knowledge and understanding of the equine and bovine species. After several years of making things far more difficult then was needed for both myself and horses, I started to seek out advice and help from others that had gone before me. Those that understood the quiet relationship between horse, rider and cow. In doing so, I was introduced to the Vaquero or Californio philosophy and style of horsemanship.
This introduction to a more quiet and easy approach, to horse, rider, and cow, has started a life long journey for me, to not only continue to learn and better my own horsemanship and cowman-ship, but to help educate others in their journey as well. My unique experience with horses, cattle and people have given me a low stress approach that helps the rider, their horses and the cows being handled to learn from the “release” rather than be confused by “fear“, “scare tactics” or “conditioned response cues”.
One thing that I feel very strongly about is my reluctance to “name drop” or imitate others that are in my same professional field or elsewhere for that matter. I believe that I am who I am because of ALL of the experiences and situations I have had or encountered throughout my life. Not one person or single event has shaped me into who I am as a horseman.
I could easily “drop” the names of the other horseman whose clinics I have attended, and still try to attend when possible for further education. Some of these individuals I credit as mentors in one way or another, but it would only be part of the story of who I am as a horseman. It wouldn’t explain the countless hours spent reading books and articles or dissecting horse related videos in my life long pursuit of greater knowledge and understanding of this amazing creature the horse.
It would not tell the whole story of the countless cowboys and buckaroos that I have rode for or beside on the many ranches through the years. Those hands that were and are great, good and a far cry from either. They have influenced me, either in things that are a benefit to me and my horse’s education or things that are a detriment to it, all with a lesson to be learned. The trainers I have worked with or for, the 60 year old lady at the team sorting or maybe the 22 year old cowboy at the ranch roping, and undoubtedly my students that participate in my clinics and lessons, all these people thankfully have great things to offer me in my education and growth as a horseman. Of course most importantly at the risk of sounding cliche, the thousands of horses and cattle that have truly been the greatest teachers of humility, perseverance, determination and desire to continually be the best horseman I can.
These experiences have all helped to shape me and continue to develop me into the horsemanthat I am today and continue to strive to be in the future.
Anyone in this business can make all sorts of claims to validate their credentials, with little risk of being called out on the inaccuracies of those claims. There are no national organizations, unions, incorporation’s, etc. that exist that someone can send a horseman’s name to, in order to verify whether they truly know what they need to know. Quite frankly, there shouldn’t be a organization like that either. Even if one did exist, there would always be the argument among horseman of who was truly qualified to make those judgments or give a rubber stamp “OK” to someone’s skills or knowledge. The quarreling would be non-stop for sure, besides who would give those handing out the approval their power to begin with. Kind of a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg. The unfortunate but true fact is that you really have no way of knowing what someone knows or what they can do based on their website claims, brochures, advertisements or any other form of self-promotion they do.
The only real proof a horseman has to his or her claims, is the horses he or she has handled or trained and the clients they have helped with their horses. Equally important is their ability to work a horse of varying degrees of difficulty, decipher what problem the horse may be having, and then determine the best way to help the horse through the difficulties they are having. During all of this, making a change in the horse for the better.
Quite frankly that ability only comes from years of working with different kinds of horses of different degrees of difficulty. There is no other substitute, you can’t just attend a couple clinics or read a few books, unfortunately that won’t cut it in this business.
I have personally met individuals that have told me all of the clinicians they have rode with, the programs they have accomplished and the stars and certificates they have acquired, and yet they still can hardly lead or saddle a horse correctly, let alone handle a tougher type of horse or instruct another individual effectively.
Most horse owners looking for trainers or help with their horses don’t have the luxury of knowing a well skilled horseman, and are left to searching the internet or horse magazine ads. Most of these owners have no idea what they don’t know when it comes to protecting themselves and their horse from “wanna be” horse trainers with little experience, skills or ethics, or even from well skilled horseman, who might use less than satisfactory business practices. Unless an owner knows the right questions to ask, and what to be looking for, it’s hard to protect yourself and your investment.
Nowadays, there are so many “key” words or “catch phrases” thrown around. Words that people want to hear, that make them feel safe or comfortable to send their horse with a trainer or clinician. It’s really quite alarming actually to hear these words thrown around, words like feel, timing, softness, communication, partnership, natural, unity, bonding, willingness, and so on. These words are heavily used, because people “want” to hear them. Unfortunately it is not always the case when it comes to applying them. The fact is, that unless you know what these words truly describe, or know what it looks like when it is taking place; it is very easy for a person to be manipulated into “thinking” that what they are seeing a trainer or clinician do with a horse is simply a matter of what their mouths are saying. I tell my clients or potential clients to plug their ears and watch what is taking place, it is the only way to truly see what is being done. Otherwise it can be very easy to convince someone that is not knowledgeable, that what their seeing is not what actually is being done. This of course is a key element to a magician’s act, tell the audience what they are going to see, and then do the complete opposite to their amazement, yet all the time the audience is convinced they just saw what the magician said they would see, the old “slight of hand” trick.
It’s always best if owners can see a trainer or clinician first hand at a clinic or where the training takes place. That way you can see how he or she works with a horse and ask questions before any personal decisions are made. At the bare minimum, owners should talk to past clients of the trainers or clinicians and if possible see before and after videos of troubled horses or skills the horseman has actually performed. Throwing a lot of money or hours of training into a horse does not mean they are actually learning anything unless you can see the positive change.
If someone is merely a “wanna be” or copy-cat claiming they can now train horses after only attending a few clinics, watching TV shows or videos from someone else, in a short time their inexperience will show, and hopefully not at the cost of the horse or owner. Unless someone has built their skills through real personal experience, mistakes and choosing methods that have been collected from a vast library of knowledge from proven horsemanship history, they will not have the skill to approach problems unless it is presented to them exactly like it happened at the clinic or on the video. Being able to solve problems “on the go” or in new environments won’t be in their skill set. Knowing how to “adjust to fit the situation” or “adjust to fit a particular horse” is invaluable, and that’s not learned from programs or attending a few clinics, it’s learned from working with the horse, day in and day out, in all different situations with all different types of horses.
I am proud of my body of work, and I believe that my abilities with the horse and my clients speaks for itself, when one sees me at work in my element, either in my training or clinics. I am an individual and my own man; I appreciate that from my students as well. I do not expect them to be me, nor will I ask them to be like me. I have never wanted to be, nor do I desire to be a copy-cat or a cheap imitation of anyone. As I said before, each individual horseman teaches based on what they have learned in life, from their own experiences, their own mentors, their own resources and beliefs.
When you come to a clinic of mine it is a “Chris Bohenek” clinic not a knock off of another clinician’s. The real thing is so much better, and not only will you appreciate that, but more importantly so will your horse.
I believe anyone, if they “think” about it long enough can sort out which side of the fence I am on when it comes to my philosophies on horsemanship. At the end of the day, if I am able to help you and your horse, and I have been honest and true to the horse, myself and to you, the client, that is all that matters. The rest of it is, well simply put is just a bunch of “droppings”, names that is.
So with all that said, it has led me to combine good foundation horsemanship which requires “feel” and “timing” and the Californio philosophy. I’ve integrated it with one of my other passions in life, that of years dedicated to personal physical and mental fitness and the knowledge and experiences I’ve acquired in doing so. This led me to come up with my “Core Balance” TM. exercises, and my low stress cowman-ship. I believe this will help the horses, riders and cattle to better communicate with each other for a stress reduced learning environment. The importance of improving your horsemanship and applying it towards cow work greatly enhances the learning curve for both horse and rider.
I have always felt that it did not make a difference if your discipline was Western or English or whether you are a student of dressage, a reiner, rodeo participant, trail rider for pleasure, outfitter, or a working buckaroo earning a living in the saddle, nothing can replace the benefits of a “job”, and the good Lord created no better suited job for the horse, than cow work. I feel that the experience that I bring from my horsemanship and cowman-ship, can help ALL riders of ALL disciplines to better themselves and their horses with less stress, less difficulty and more confidence.
I take this approach into my clinics, demonstrations and my training that I do locally and abroad.
I have had the privilege to be featured at numerous horse expos, fairs and equine events, demonstrating my techniques and instructing clinics and lessons throughout Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, Illinois, Kentucky, and Arizona.
When I am not doing clinics or demos I can be found in the Bitterroot Valley with my beautiful wife and two boys, where I give public and private lessons and clinics and continue to operate my horse training business. I am always building quality Californio style ranch geldings, which I have for sale periodically, as well as taking in outside horses for training throughout the year.
Feel free to look around the site, if you have any questions or comments, or if I can help you in some way with your particular horse needs I would love to hear from you. You can call or email me.