This Chowchilla chap is aware of methods to learn a horse. He’s skilled them for greater than 50 years.

If there’s one factor Leland Decker will educate you, it’s this. Individuals who like to be round horses, they actually like to be round horses. There’s no grey space. 

“My work is horses, my spare time is horses, my passion is horses,” he says.

His trip is horses. 

“I don’t have a ship. I don’t have a camper. I don’t play golf. I don’t play tennis. I don’t go fishing. I don’t go looking,” he says.

He constructed the horse observe on his 30-acre property. He welded the pipe fencing round it

He trains younger riders to train the horses. 

“All proper they’re gonna go round once more after which they’re going to tug up after which go to the gates,” he says as two horses flip the nook on the observe.  

For many years, he galloped the horses himself, into his 50s. However at age 72, his effectively worn cowboy boots stand firmly on the bottom.  

 “Concerning the time you get the expertise and your mind’s working actually good, the physique’s carrying out,” he says laughing. “In order that’s why I’ve these guys which might be youthful however I watch what’s getting accomplished and I inform them what I need accomplished and I be certain that it is getting accomplished the best way I need it.  

And that’s from day one when younger horses first get damaged in at Inexperienced Valley Coaching Middle.    

“This horse simply bought right here. We simply began him,” he says pointing to a two-year-old thoroughbred strolling in circles inside a spherical pen.

“He’s studying to hold his saddle. He’s studying to offer to the bit so you may information him,” he says.

From there, the horse will progress to studying the basics, from stopping and going all the best way to galloping and racing. It may well take from three to 5 months.  

“Individuals say ‘effectively how lengthy does it take to coach a horse?’ How lengthy does it take to coach an individual? It will depend on the person, the talent and data of the trainer and what you take into account educated? Would you like an eighth grade schooling or a PhD?”

Leland’s motto is you have got to have the ability to learn the horse. Nothing is extra necessary. It’s what he tells younger trainers who work for him like 24-year-old Fallon O’Neal. She grew up on a farm and began using horses only a couple years after she discovered to stroll. At one level, she says, she actually wished to be a jockey. 

“I used to be simply obsessive about it, I’m like ‘oh my gosh’ I can do this. After which with there being so few ladies within the business, I used to be like ‘sure that is, this what I need to do,” she says.

However now she simply likes working with the younger horses (she calls them the infants) and studying from Leland. Nonetheless, when she’s on the observe with one other coach, Narcizo Sanchez, they wish to act like they’re jockeys. 

“The closest I get is on the market on the observe when Narcizo pretends to be Seabiscuit and I’m Secretariat,” she says laughing out loud.

Seabiscuit and Secretariat, two champion racehorses of various eras. Years in the past, Leland says, one of many horses he skilled later made it to the Kentucky Derby. However it’s actually exhausting to foretell the success of a horse.  

Leland laughs exhausting on the considered calling a thoroughbred an funding. 

“OK, they name it an funding, and so they name it enterprise, however you’re playing. You’re playing. Once you buy a horse, you’re making your greatest guesstimate that these horses shall be profitable. Perhaps 10 % of them are,” he says.   

The peak of horse racing, Leland says, was within the Nineteen Forties and ‘50s. It was extra well-liked than baseball.

“If you happen to take a look at the previous newscasts, after they constructed and opened Hollywood park. The film stars have been there, the stands have been packed, you understand, I imply, effectively that’s gone now. They tore it down, Hollywood Park now not exists,” he says.

However Inexperienced Valley Coaching Middle nonetheless has loads of thoroughbreds within the stalls.

Leland says he nonetheless rides for enjoyable. He even competes in roping occasions on the Chowchilla Stampede. However he’s had seven surgical procedures however horse accidents. 

“About ten years in the past, I had a horse cow kick me,” he says, imitating a kick from the facet as a substitute of immediately from behind. “Took out each knees,” he says, including that his knees are fantastic now.

His tolerance for ache appears to rival his love of horses.

He has 5 horses of his personal, however he nonetheless goes to horse auctions. 

He can’t be trusted, he says. “I’m liable to come back dwelling with one I do not want.”  

I ask him what his spouse thinks when he goes to the auctions. “At this level in our life, we’ve been married for over 50 years. At this level, she simply form of shakes her head and goes ‘Oh God,’” he says.

Simply the opposite week, he says, he noticed this unimaginable bay mare on the market. It had a superb pedigree and…effectively let’s simply depart it at that.


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