605.222.5088 | HC 3 Box 121B | 16684 BIA RT 8 | Gettysburg, SD 57442 info@thedxranch.com
Help your horse get caught

Help your horse get caught

Often we get asked, “how do I catch a hard to catch horse?”

When horses are in a herd setting the game they play is, “can I move your feet, or can you move mine?”

Upon entering the pasture, or stall, with the horse, ideally, we become one of the “herd”. To be effective we have to be willing to move our feet in order to help the horse understand that we can move his. We captured a short video this week showing how we’d work to help the horse understand what we’re after.

Here’s how we’d handle that situation.

We sure hope you find this helpful, and look forward to answering any questions you may have.

Smile and Ride!

Here’s What’s Happening at the Ranch

Here’s What’s Happening at the Ranch

We mentioned, in June, the start of our project. Now you can hear Zach talk about it first-hand. He starts the video and is the last person to be featured.

We are gearing up to start accepting vacationers and interns for the 2014 season and we hope you’ll come to the ranch to visit, work, get to know us, and have a vacation!

Smile and Ride!

The Good We Can Do

The Good We Can Do

It’s time to give back.”  This is what Zach Ducheneaux said when asked to speak at the South Dakota Indian Business Alliance about the latest endeavor of the Ducheneaux Ranch Partnership (the family of the late Wayne Ducheneaux I). He was referring to “The DX Ranch” and its mission to help improve personal well-being by making an example of thoughtful interactions between humans and horses.

We realize that we’ve been exceptionally fortunate to be where we are today. We want to take advantage of the fact that we now have the ability to begin to repay a society that has contributed greatly to that good fortune.   This sentiment, coupled with the call to public service, instilled by Wayne, led to the creation of The DX Ranch, our chosen way to begin to give back.

Phase One, an all weather equestrian facility, was just completed. Phase Two is underway – we’re building configurable bunkhouses/barracks in which to house our prospective clientele.  Made possible with the help of the State Bank of Eagle Butte, Four Bands Community Fund, and by the life’s work of the family of the late Wayne Ducheneaux, the facility will enable the expansion of a fledgling horsemanship and internship program in order to target local children and young adults.

Over the last 4 years, children and young adults from Texas to Michigan and New York to Idaho have spent time acquiring life skills through hands-on experience with Ducheneaux Quarter Horses.  Recognizing that the benefits realized by the interns could be even more meaningful for reservation youth, we have sought a business model that will help ensure that we can provide those services locally at no cost.

Prior to the creation of The DX Ranch, and the construction of the all-weather equine facility, internships were only available to those who could afford to pay to spend some time on the ranch during the summer. Additionally, since the interns simply stayed with the family, the slots available were limited. The new facility will allow for the expansion of paid internships, the proceeds dedicated to providing the same opportunities to local youth and young adults at no cost.

In addition to interns, The DX Ranch will host individuals, families or businesses who have a similar commitment to society, for paid ranch “vacations” and horsemanship clinics, or retreats, to experience a cultural exchange not offered in many other locations.

The DX Ranch has already reached out to the CRST and SRST Horsemanship programs to discuss the possibility of devoting some facility time to their respective programs. Reservation wide play days and youth activities will also be hosted in The DX Ranch facility, in addition to horsemanship demonstrations and camps. Friends and neighbors who share in this commitment are lending their support and will be assisting The DX Ranch with establishing other income streams for the facility, to increase the opportunity serve our local community.

Our long-term goal is the establishment of a non-profit to carry on the mission of The DX Ranch.

For more information, please contact us using  the contact form, or via email:  zach@thedxranch.com.

Smile and Ride!

PS. To see photos of the project, check out our Flickr Stream.


A Legacy of Legends

A Legacy of Legends

This morning we find our whole crew in Las Vegas, Nevada at the South Point Hotel and Casino for an event we feel all horseman should attend.

We’re at the Legacy of Legends event. For those unfamiliar with the event, it was started after the death of legendary horseman, Ray Hunt. The mission of this event is: to “endeavor to promote and protect the teaching and ideals of legendary horsemen, Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt.”

Among the folks that will be presenting information are:

Buck Brannaman
Lee Smith
Joe Wolter
Carolyn Hunt
Jaton Lord

I’m sure we’ll have a report for you when we return, complete with photos so you’ll know what you missed. Enjoy your weekends and rub a horse for us, will ya?

Smile and Ride!

Changing Leads

Changing Leads

It’s something we’ve all wondered how to do, and maybe some of you have it mastered, but there’s things the horse needs to understand in order to make this happen, and there’s things the human needs to understand to make this happen. In this video, brought to you by Spalding Fly Predators (and they’re not paying us to share this, folks), we learn striding, positioning and we get watch a pretty, happy horse be ridden around through some lead changes. It’s 8 minutes and well worth the watch!

What did you learn from this video if anything? We’d love to hear from you.

Smile and Ride!

10 Equine Behaviors Every Horse Owner Should Recognize

Even if you don’t use Spalding Fly Predators (we do, and we love them- so if you want additional information please ask us), we can all benefit from their awesome TV channel!

Today we bring you Dr. Robert Miller, discussing equine behavior. It’s a must “see”!

What do you think of this video? We’d love to know.

Smile and Ride!

CSI Pads

Here on the ranch, we have become users of CSI Saddle Pads. We love the contour, the fact that they’re made right here in the USA, they’re green and we haven’t even talked about the technology behind them yet! WE LOVE them so much, we became dealers, because most everyone that comes to ride with us here at the ranch wants them for their horses!

Here’s a brief video, from the owner and founder, Donna Helms, on the pads:

These pads go on our first ride colts, to our finished horses- and we believe they make the horse more comfortable. And really, all a horse wants is peace, comfort and release. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding these pads.

Smile and Ride!



Some of you read the title to this post and thought, “what the!?”

Honestly, becoming dexterous is one of the best things we can do to improve our horses and our horsemanship. I’m sure that any of you reading this have been on a horse that turns, or rides better to one side than the other. On some levels that is because he may have a brace in him on one side that doesn’t show up on the other, but also, it could be because whoever has been riding him (and thus teaching him) is better to one side or the other.

As humans, we may or may not be balanced. We may have an old football or sports injury or even equine related injury that makes our right hip stiff, or our left leg not work as well as the other, and each of those things can amount to something large if we don’t consider how they affect our horse and our riding.

Most of us are really good with either our right or left hand, but few of us are just as good with both (naturally). If you’re teaching your horse to search for the release, you should consider that you may not be as quick to release with your left hand (if you’re right handed) or you may not provide the exact same signal with your left hand either. The horse can learn to sort this out, but if we truly want a balanced horse, shouldn’t we take it upon ourselves to balance us too? It’s hardly fair to our equine friend if we aren’t balanced but expect him to ride like we are!

Now that you’re thinking back on your riding and wondering how you differ from side to side, let’s talk about some things that can help your dexterity.

I find that it’s helpful to pay attention to what foot you normally step forward with first. If it’s your right, practice taking your first steps with the left. This drill is especially helpful if you’re going up stairs. I myself am right handed, so I always find myself using my right leg first. Since I’ve realized that me becoming balanced helps my horse, I will take steps up the stairs with my left leg first. I have also started to learn to handle my rope left handed, as well as brush my teeth. Brushing your teeth is a simple thing that you can do to help you get handier with your left hand. I’m also a lot stronger on my right side, so any chance I get to move hay or carry buckets, I will use my left hand.

Yesterday, as I was riding, I noticed that I tend to always ask with my right leg first. It is good to be aware of this, so that I can start to ask with both legs or just my left leg, or right leg, as they are needed. Because I tend to ride heavier to the right, I’m always either in my horse’s way, or pushing their hips to the left, which makes it harder for my horse to pick up his right lead. As I have become more aware of these things, I can work on them while I’m riding and be cognizant of the fact that I am in his way, and make adjustments according to what I’m doing that is unbalancing my horse.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to brush my teeth left handed, handle my rope and lead-rope left handed, as well as carry buckets and feed, and work more on using my left hand (and side) as much as I do my right. I want a perfectly balanced horse. How about you?

Speed Control

Speed Control

I was reading through some blogs last night, and it occurred to me, that some common trouble a lot of riders and their horses find themselves in, is that their horse has too much go, and not enough whoa.

While, “whoa” or “ho” is a good command, around here we don’t use verbal commands. We like our horses to tune into our seat and our body, so we can use the reins and our legs to refine the cues we give them for turnarounds, roll-backs, spins, or gathering up so we can do a canter pirouette. Plus, anyone else can use “whoa” or “ho” and that might mean something to our horse when we don’t need it to.

Now, some of you are thinking, all of what you’ve just said is great, and that’s what I would love for my horse, but how do you accomplish that?

I have heard, and read it as recently as last night, that the way to solve a go-ey horse’s “problem” is to ask him to go. Sometimes that may be the key- in the case of say a barn sour horse- we may want to have him go to the barn quickly and make it a LOT OF work to be there, and then we’ll ask him to walk quietly away from the barn, and rest somewhere far away. We might repeat that process until he is mentally prepared to go back to the barn at the speed we’re riding. But on a horse like that, we probably already have some speed control to begin with. The trouble with asking a go-ey horse to speed up, is that eventually he’ll just get in better and better shape, and the go-iness won’t necessarily get any better- he will just last longer (and longer) before he tunes into you.

We also need to consider this: It is never the horse’s fault. If our horse has too much go, he’s only doing what he has been “trained” to do, or thinks he needs to do to survive. If you are a very tense rider, that can cause “tension” in your horse, and more often than not, the tense horse feels the need to move his feet. It’s how they have survived all these years.

So how do you gain speed control through your seat?

You ride it. If you want your horse to walk, and he’s trotting away, the best thing to do is bend him around, by disengaging his hips (to one direction or the other), and send him out the other side at the speed you want to ride (or the speed at which you’d like him to go). When he comes out of that maneuver, walking a step-or-two, rub him. If/when he speeds back up, repeat the process. And realize when you are asking him to bend around, that you yourself need to be consciously thinking about what you feel like, and what your horse feels like at the walk, so you do not transmit any more energy to him than you need to.

It is probably most helpful to do this drill in a snaffle bit- and be quite deliberate when sliding your hand down the rein to bend your horse around. Take your time, and allow your horse to realize what is happening “BEFORE” he is asked to bend around and slow down. Horses are the masters at realizing what happened before what happened, and this is simply another way to help them. Before you know it, you can think about slowing down, and slide your hand down the rein, and wouldn’t you know it- your horse has beat you to the slow down!

Another great way to help them, is to do a lot of transitions. For example, you’d walk, and then ride with enough energy to get them to trot, then ride the walk again (or trot to extended trot or lope to trot). If they don’t realize you’ve asked them to walk (or slow down), you can bend them around and send them out the other side at the walk. Eventually, your horse will understand what’s being asked of him and he’ll start to ride as fast, or as slow, as you do and you won’t need your reins to control that speed. Then you can use your reins to collect him before a slow down, or a stop, or a backup.

Now go smile while you ride, and “help” your horses!

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