The off-season means time to prepare for the coming year for Sunni McCormick, a California-based trainer who owns Encore Performance Horses. McCormick looks at the downtime as the perfect opportunity to work on new goals or “fix” what didn’t work the previous year with clients.
“The next show is always around the corner during show season,” she said. “I use the off-season to get ready for the next year.”
McCormick leverages her relationships in the industry to schedule clinics and lessons with other professionals to keep clients active in the fall. She brings in recognized names in the cow horse industry such as Don Murphy, Jake Gorrell, Ruben Mageno and Nicolas Barthelemy to help clients work on different aspects of the sport.
“My clients love working with these amazing trainers,” she said. “I have an amazing village in my corner and use their knowledge during any downtime.”
Keeping a program fresh and fun also helps to keep boarders of all ages active during slower months. The goal should always be correctness and safety, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun at the same time. McCormick introduced a training strategy Gorrell taught her. Instead of riding a horse to practice the correct position for working a cow on the fence, he used a four-wheeler vehicle. She surprised her clients when asking them to do the same.
“I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was mad,” she said. “Watching me on the four-wheeler made everyone crack up. Soon each of my clients was going down the fence in the correct position, even just the boxers. It was pretty amazing.”
Stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something new keeps boarders active in your barn year-round. It mixes up the monotony of the day-to-day routine and helps foster a good relationship among boarders.