I started out like everyone else did, with a rotten pony and no saddle. At the age of 6 and after my first horse show, I embarrassed my father so much he put me in lessons twice a week, one for English and one for Western. And the rest is history.
April has owned countless horses throughout her lifetime, competing in various disciplines and breed categories. She trained and showed for many clients in Arabian, Quarter Horse, Open and Hunter/Jumper divisions. She is a Clinician, Coach and Instructor, and has taken many young and Senior riders through the show circuits.
After quietly searching for a new instructor I found April. Having 3-4 friends highly recommend her I decided to try a lesson with her. That was one of the best decisions I have made! Not only does April explain things well she is positive & enthusiastic which really rubs off on her students. My stallion is learning at an incredible rate & even in such a short time I can see & feel the improvements with both of us. I have been recommending her to all my friends & so far everyone has nothing but great things to say. After every lesson I have with April I can’t wait to schedule the next one.
Kara Lingam & Regalo, Andalusian Stallion, Bello Escasso Farm
My goodness, fantastic info. Thank you again, Barbara
“Thank you SO much for your help! I noticed a difference in my horse’s behavior the first day that I trotted him in circles. I was so amazed! He’s been doing awesome.” Christine
Having a multiple discipline background (hunter, jumper, dressage, reining, cutting, driving, breed specialties, show ring) allows me to use the best or appropriate method for the individual rider and horse.
“I am so glad you took over – now you see my frustration all along. Thank you so much for all your help!! You are awesome” … Jo Salley
I believe in respecting all breeds and disciplines. Although many of them teach and use methods that may not be of use to everyone, they still are part of the big wide horse world, and becoming a ‘horseman’ is about knowing or respecting what and how other breeds and disciplines do things.
What I do not believe in, is the abuse many of the breeds are now suffering in order to win. At what level does it cease to matter anymore? If we, as horsemen, continue to add training methods to ‘get that one step ahead of the competition’, then it’s only a matter of time when everyone does it anyway, and the entire group is right back to square one: finding another ‘trick’ to gain the edge while our horses pay the price. We have lost the real point of competition: what happens when you take the raw material and refine it without gimmicks.
I believe the horse’s welfare should not suffer for our egos. In each of my clinics I ask the students to leave their egos (plus spurs, crops, hard bits) at the gate and enter clear and willing. When the horse begins to feel constant and continual pain, physically and emotionally, and when longevity no longer matters over the dollar, we have diminished our industry to a place I am no longer willing to participate in.
What winning really boils down to is hard work. You get out of it, what you put into it. If THAT criteria was the only difference between a first and second ribbon, that would level the playing field for all riders and trainers. THAT would truly be the art of competition. It was like that in the 60’s and 70’s when I showed heavily.
Going back there would open up the chances for those who are not willing to use some of the techniques it takes to win. It would also open up the opportunities for groups and associations to gain more members and growth.
“Thank you so much for your answer! I will check out the material you recommended and I will try your exercises with Spike! I can tell from your answer that you are VERY experienced with horses. I’ll follow up and tell you how it’s working. And oh my gosh! Your website is so cool! I’m definitely bookmarking it.” Mattie
“Are you a Natural Horseman?”
I do not consider myself a typical “natural horseman” as many of the others are. I use elements of Natural Horsemanship in groundwork and many of my foundation training in both English and Western. I work quietly and treat horses with great respect, but I also train for the show ring and work with students to take their horses to the next level, whether that’s a safer trail horse or a softer show partner. There are many great ‘Natural Horseman’ clinicians and teachers such as Adiva Murphy, Jay O’Jay and Jonathan Field who do brilliant work.
I do believe however, that all riding must blend in the principles of Natural Horsemanship, in the sense that we need to understand how horses evolved and developed, and how they think, act and relate to humans. This is important in ANY discipline. I have always taught this ‘common thread’ in all riding and horsemanship.
I integrate groundwork techniques when it’s appropriate to advance saddle work and when it’s important to have a safe horse on the ground. I train horses to fit the riders that own them, not for me. In my world, safety comes first, and groundwork techniques fill that void.
A great deal of my methodology involves the use of energy work, both on the ground and under saddle. I feel it’s important for riders and handlers to fully understand what energy is, how it affects the horse, and how you can use energy to your advantage in training.
Horses are creatures with great spirit, each with their own energetic patterns. We often do not give them enough credit for their sensitivity and ability to adapt and change for us. By understanding this and learning how to read energetic pathways, you can tap into a whole new world of closeness and bonding with your large friend you never thought possible.
Can you teach show techniques?
Yes and no. Although I have competed in most disciplines, there have been changes in how horses have been ‘worked’ and ‘manipulated’ to win classes over the last 20 years, and I have ‘bowed out’ from teaching some of those methods. I strongly believe that the pressure to win has moved ahead of the horse’s priority and welfare.
Can you show us how to use certain equipment?
Yes, and that is one area I am willing to show people. I think it is important that riders understand what equipment is used for and how to USE IT PROPERLY (and sparingly). I especially love to show people how to get the same results without specialty equipment.
I have video on Youtube (German martingale) but I also state that it is used sparingly. It is not for daily use.
April produced and hosted HorseTales TV for 6 seasons. The show ran monthly on Delta Cable, and educated all levels of riders on how to improve every aspect of horse ownership and riding.
The Business Side of April Reeves
Since 1975, April has owned and operated 7 Advertising and Graphic Design Agencies across Western Canada. She has been in TV and radio production, Corporate Communications, Event Planning, Media Buying, PR, Industrial & Graphic Design. Her walls are adorned in American Design Awards, and she won ‘Project of the Year‘ for her efforts in ‘The Essor Project‘
April has renovated homes and farms since 1978. She created ‘Horseman’s Park Alberta Ltd.‘, a bare land strata Equestrian Development outside of Calgary Alberta in 1979, years before such developments became common. She also uses the name for her current farm Horseman’s Park Alberta.
April is a publisher, writer and expert author for online and print, and co-owned Trading Trends Magazine in Calgary, Alberta. She volunteered as PR and Advertising Director for Babe Ruth World Series and BC Games, and taught daytime and evening courses at Selkirk College. She currently writes for Equine Wellness magazine.