The World of Living with Horses

Terry Berg: Western Rider


by Terry Berg

A recent Western clinic held at the facility I manage here in New Mexico, near Santa Fe, led some of the participants and me to this classic discussion:  “What do you do when the clinic is over?  How do you apply what you learned, when the clinician has gone home?”

Yes, everyone can learn from a clinic, even accomplished Western riders and trainers.  That’s why I sat in, expecting to hear a different way of explaining corrections to familiar problems.

Make no mistake: The clinic was a success. All the participants received instruction that would apply to their individual issues. The session began with “getting acquainted with your horse” – a.k.a. ground work.

Riders quickly learned that maybe their horses weren’t as easy to work with in a new environment as they were at home. They discovered that what they thought of as a partnership was really a herd of two in which one got to be the leader.  The second revelation was that if the human didn’t assume the leadership role, the horse certainly would.

What these riders were telling me, and what I knew from my own experience, is that with the clinic over, they were so full of knowledge their heads were spinning.  They said that they had to take a day off from the horses just to decompress, while in the back of their minds they were thinking, “Wow!  What will happen when I actually go out and ride again?”

Hi. I’m Terry Berg. I learned to ride growing up in Alaska, where my teacher was a retired cavalry officer who built the first indoor arena in the state out of a salvaged airplane hangar.  I am a judge with the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and have judged all over the US, Canada, Europe and Australia.

I currently show, train and instruct as well as manage the Santa Fe Equestrian Center, a large multidiscipline equine facility. My students and I have won many regional, national and world championships with the NRHA , the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), the American Paint Horse Association (APHA), the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) and other stock-breed associations.

As I have worked to become a better trainer, teacher and partner with my horses, I have experienced many of the triumphs and frustrations that accompany the riding experience.  In the coming months, I’ll be writing about all kinds of Western horse activities. I’m starting with one of the most common: the clinic. We all attend clinics, for all kinds of reasons.  No matter how good a clinic is, the trouble starts when the clinician goes home.

NEXT: After the clinic is over – creating a plan.


Terry Berg

Terry Berg has been a performance horse trainer and judge for the past 35 years. Currently she is the on-site manager of the Santa Fe Equestrian Center in Santa Fe, NM. The Equestrian Center is a multi-discipline equine facility that hosts polo, hunter, 3-day event, dressage and Western events. She has trained in New Mexico, Germany, Italy and Nevada, finally returning to Santa Fe in 2010. Over the course of her career, Terry has won numerous National and World championships in Western Pleasure, Hunter under Saddle and Reining, including Freestyle Reining.

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