Friday, December 14, 2012

Mark H. Bolender, Equestrian

Mark H. Bolender is a world-famous equestrian; instructor, competitor, trainer, author and much more. He is the proprietor of Bolender Horse Park, Silver Creek, Washington, USA.  He is also a leading expert in Mountain Trail, Extreme Trail, and Competitive Trail, and a three-time National Grand Champion. 

Mark believes that good horsemanship is not about domination but leadership, and having the horse volunteer for a partnership with the handler. 

Welcome Mark!

Mark & Checkers
When was your first encounter with a horse?

I first rode a horse when I was 10.  We were ½ mile from the farm and the horse turned around and went home.  I was not impressed.  My next ride was 6 years later and it was no better and my third ride the horse ran away with the saddle on and was caught a month later.  I was no longer impressed with horses even though I love animals.

What is your favorite horse breed?

I enjoy training each breed and find that there is more difference within a breed than between breeds each horse breed has certain strong characteristics that make it a breed.  I breed a few Quarter horses which I love and both of my personal show horses are Quarter horses.  They have great minds and a good work ethic which I love.
Where do you like to ride?

I love to ride the rough mountain trails.  We have some great trails in the Cascade Mountains such as the Pacific Crest Trails.  If I am riding Checkers (Sir Rugged Chex) he is bridle-less which always amazes people.  He has been ridden thousands of miles in this manner.

What was it like to ride in the Extreme Cowboy Race?

I rode bridle-less in an Extreme Cowboy Race but I did not make the last round.  It was fun, but I was never sure what they were looking for.  The rider that came in second fell off twice.

Tell me about your awards…

Even though I started riding when I was 39, when I bought my first horse I began to show two years later.  I picked up a few wins here and there in all-around and reining, but my big break came at mountain trail where I won the all-around and high point in 2008, 2009 and 2010 in Mountain Trail.  I also won the open aged futurity in 2008 and 2009.  Checkers won it in 2008 and I won it on a horse called Princess Contesta, a cross between a Paso Fino and a Curly. I placed second on Checkers.

What is your current stable configuration?

We have several barns with a total of 37 stalls, three arenas and turn out paddocks.  The main barn is set up to host clinics and many social events year around.  Our outdoor Extreme Mountain Trail Course is used throughout the year and is a very popular draw to the farm.  It is nice to have a covered arena but we find rain coats work fine for outdoors.

What is the most important rule of trail riding?

Safety Safety Safety and good manners.  Safety means you hit the trail with a horse that is properly trained.

What has been your worst riding experience?

In 1996 I was bucked off and broke my back.  This was a big wake up call for I lead a very active life.  When you can’t move you have time to think.  I hired Steve Cornwell for seven years who taught me so much about riding, showing and horsemanship. This was the best move of my life.

What has been your most memorable riding experience?

I never get over the beauty of the rugged mountain trails.  The wonder of God’s creation can take my breath away.  In 2011 we took Lee (Sampson) on her first Cascade Mountain Trail ride along with some clients and friends from Texas.  I will never forget her large eyes when she could look 500 feet down on the trail.  Since she is from flat land Florida, this was a real experience in which she really learned to trust her horse as never before.

Any advice for novice riders? 

My best advice is never be too proud to ask for help.  Get lessons, attend clinics and read.  Enjoy the journey and don’t get discouraged if a few bumps and pot holes are hit along the way.  If you don’t hit a few then you are not moving.

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