At Spirit of Texas Arabians we specialize in training the Arabian and Half-Arabian horse for trail riding, trail obstacles and the basics of dressage. Through our individualized Combined Training Program you have the opportunity to acquire all of the skills necessary to have your horse perform as well for you as he does for us. We encourage active participation by the owner in all aspects of your horse's training, so you can experience personal growth in your skills, knowledge and confidence. A good training program begins with good communication between the trainer/coach and you. We want to understand your goals, past experiences, current skill level and get your feedback along the way.
Your horse will learn to stand quietly in cross ties for clipping, tacking up, bathing and farrier work, load, haul and unload easily and tie to the trailer. We strive to have all of our training horses comfortable and confident on the trail, crossing mud, creeks and bridges, and meeting bicycles, motorized vehicles and dogs. Through training in the company of experienced horses they gain confidence in leading, following and passing on the trail. Hank has taught several well-attended Spook Clinics for desensitization of trail horses. He was also the featured trainer in an article in the October 2007 issue of Horse Illustrated on opening gates from horseback. We strongly believe in cross training, i.e. our trail and endurance horses are trained in the basics for dressage and horses being started for the show ring receive time on the trail. Correct arena work is invaluable for promoting balance and correct carriage necessary for long-term soundness in endurance competition as well as increasing responsiveness and confidence in the rider.
We teach horsemanship from the ground up, including nutrition, grooming, lunging, tacking up and caring for horses on overnight camping trips. You will learn simple, gentle methods for establishing yourself as a dominant, trusted leader in your equine partnership. Your confidence will increase as you gain a balanced, centered seat perfect for the trail, how to post the correct diagonal and the proper cues for canter leads and lateral movements. You will also learn how to handle a refusal or major spook with confidence and do fun stuff, like opening gates from horseback, crossing wooden bridges, creeks and jumping logs.
TRAIL RIDING VACATIONS
As soon as you and your horse are ready you can join us on our trail riding vacations. Everyone in the barn is invited and we generally have from 4 to 12 people that join us on these long weekends. We even had 1 former client who drove all the way from Georgia to attend several of our Spirit of Texas Trail Rides. Two to three times a year we choose someplace scenic with great camping facilities and well-marked trails. We usually have a delicious pot-luck dinner one or both nights where everyone brings their favorite dish. We will either ride on all-day rides with a packed lunch or take 2 short rides with lunch and a break in camp, depending on what the group wants to do on that trip. We usually do 1 fall and 1 spring ride and look for some place cooler to ride in June. Some of the places we have been or plan to go to are the Ouachita Mountains in Oklahoma, Robbers Cave in Oklahoma, Cedar Lake in Oklahoma, the Ozarks in Arkansas, Pole Canyon and Caprock Canyon in Texas, and for the June trips we like to head for the higher elevations in the Pike National Forest in Colorado and the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests in New Mexico.
If you have never tried endurance, you may be hooked after your first ride. We no longer compete in endurance, but if you have your own truck and trailer and just need good advice on selecting the right horse, buying the right tack, outlining a good conditioning program and a good nutrition program, we can help you get started. Our endurance students learn how to pace and monitor their horses. The most important part of endurance competition is knowing how to read and listen to your horse, to know when he is tired, dehydrated, or just not feeling his best and how to best manage and care for him during a competition. You need to acquire a good feel for your horse's gaits so that you can detect a minor lameness before it becomes serious and before you arrive at the vet check. If you think you might want to try the sport, but don't have a suitable horse, we can help you find the perfect horse for you.
Hank and Selena Copeland have each worked with horses for over 30 years. Hank grew up on a cattle ranch in Alabama riding Morgan horses. In later years his passion turned to Arabians and showing Country English Pleasure. After training and showing Country English Pleasure horses on the Class A circuit for 15 years, he refocused on endurance riding. Endurance riding offers the opportunity to not only compete in a timed event, but to see miles and miles of beautiful scenery in our National and State Parks. Hank's career as an Army Officer, including two years combat experience commanding tactical reconnaissance teams, a national police strike force, and 10 years coaching children's sports has given him a strong base of skills to instill confidence in both his horses and his students to help them overcome their fears and become the best they can be. He also never loses sight of the fact that having fun, being safe and always learning are the cornerstones of his program. Hank also believes in building athletic horses that last - his first personal endurance horse, American Xpress was still winning 50-mile AERC competitions at the age of 18.
Hank's next personal horse, BA Bearcat started endurance by placing 2nd and getting BC on his first 25-mile ride and continuing to improve over time. Hank and Bear placed 1st and BC on the 2nd day of Bear's first 50-mile per day multi-day ride. After completing his first 75-mile ride with Hank, he was sold to Barry Waite of California. Bear has continued on to win his first 2 100-mile rides and place 9th at the 2009 Tevis Ride ridden by Jennifer Niece.
Hank and BA Bearcat
Photo by Selena Copeland
Hank's favorite endurance horse was our breeding stallion, Envoy BBF++. In addition to Endurance competitions, Hank and Envoy competed in Sport Horse In-Hand, placing Top 10 in the Open Stallions class at the 2005 Arabian US Sport Horse National Championship. Hank has also shown 2 of Envoy's get, HSC Strike Force and HSC Phoenix to Reserve Championships in the Region 9 2-yr old and under Jackpot Sport Horse In-hand classes. Hank's last main endurance horse was his Envoy son, HSC Strike Force. He completed 14 competitions on him, before we decided to stop competing. Now Hank enjoys taking him on scenic trail rides and practicing team sorting.
Hank and Envoy BBF+
Photo by Stephanie McLaughlin
Selena Copeland has an Animal Science degree with advanced courses in Equine Nutrition, Genetics, and Reproduction. She is also a trail advocate. She was instrumental in establishing Trinity Trail Preservation Association, the non-profit association that built and maintains the 9-mile Lake Lavon Equestrian Trail, serving on the Board of Directors for 6 years in various positions, including President and Trail Steward. She enjoys riding the trails on a fast horse and the training it takes to get there. Selena is very proud of her first endurance horse, Sioux Warrior who placed Top Five in the 50-mile Region IX Championship and was 8th Lightweight at the AERC 50-mile National Championship in 2002.
Selena & Warrior
Blue Bonnet Endurance Ride 2002 IAHA Region IX Championship Top 5
Photo by Ardell
Selena's next personal endurance horse, DA Propane was not only a joy to ride on 50-mile rides, but in the arena he could perform leg yields, back-up, do trot and canter patterns and halt from a trot or canter without a halter or bridle. Lynn De Vrie in Vancouver, Canada now proudly owns him. Click Propane to see his arena video. Lynn continues to send us photos and video clips of their adventures, including photos of the bears they pass on trail! Selena also competed in a few FEI endurance rides on MW Doctor Z & HSC Phoenix. In addition, she has managed an endurance ride and served as Education Director of TERA, conducting endurance clinics and authoring several educational articles published by TERA. She started several horses in the sport of endurance while simultaneously training them in basic arena work. Selena loves training horses to maneuver through our obstacle course and develop good basic dressage skills. Her personal horses have shown through First Level dressage and trained up to 2nd level movements. She started HSC Encore in Competitive Trail (NATRC), winning Novice Sweepstakes Champion at her first competition and placing Top 5 in the Region 9 AHA Championship the following year. Encore has also placed Top 5 in the Intro class at her first Working Equitation Show, which was an International Level Competition and recently showed at her first Dressage Show. She loves working with horses on gymnastic exercises to improve their gaits on the trail and make them more responsive to light aids. She also really enjoys working with riders to improve their position and technique to get the best communication with and performance from their horse.
Selena & HSC Encore
Old Glory Endurance Ride
photo by John Nowell
Selena & MW Mister Z
Dressage Schooling Show
Photo by Terri Cage
Selena & HSC Encore
16 Stall barn with hot water shower stalls
16 acres of improved Bermuda pastures with large oak shade trees
Steel pipe with non-climb 2x4 horse wire fencing
Outdoor standard size dressage arena
Indoor small arena
Gate opens to 75 miles of equestrian trails at the LBJ National Grasslands