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Quincy, California
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January 17, 2001     Feather River Bulletin
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January 17, 2001
 

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Record, Reporter Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2001 B Arts & Entertainment Opinion & Perspective Letters to the Editor Vitals Pati Hughes talks with Reggle, Hughes believes in what she calls "the touch," which says horse trainers either have or don't have. Hughes does. Cougar is only two, he towers above his trainer. i ,3 apples, and a horse cookie is always wel- bananas are his all-time favorite snack, and ha taste for a long time after the fruit is gone. Iticks out his long is he pauses in enjoy the taste he ate earU- Photos by Victoria Metcalf ,L\I of Pati Hughes' Part paint, she has paint shows. more recent acquisitions. had much success in show- By Victoria Me .alf Staff Writer It would be ridiculous to say Pati Hughes was born in the saddle, but her father, a horse trader, made sure it became part of her life. From her earliest memories, Hughes said her father stuck her in the auction ring on the back of a horse he wanted to sell. It not only helped teach her to ride, but taught her the ropes of the horse industry. Those days are over, but Hughes still spends the better part of her life with horses, mucking out stalls, feeding, breaking and training, and rid- ing. "It's all I know how to do," Hughes confessed,as she cracked the tail of her long trainer's whip toward the air and the backside of her own Arab, Reggie. While Hughes may believe she only knows horses, she talks about her career with pride, and displays a knowl- edge that runs as deep as her years of involvement. The trainer Hefting the unshod hoof of a tall two-year-old buckskin, Hughes ran her rasp back and forth over the youth's unmani- cured foot. Left to himself, the gorgeous youngster hasn't known the feel of the rasp, Hughes said. To him, it's a grating feeling, something like running Finger- nails down a chalkboard. But, the exercise is neces- sary in getting his hooves in shape for a visit from the shoer in a few weeks time, she ex- plained, as she dropped the hoof and then encouraged him to picl it up again, so she could grasp it from another di- rection. It's common work for those who are around horses, but watching the petite woman and the tall horse that now reaches 16 hands high, it's in- teresting work to watch. Despite his size, Hughes said he's a baby, and she's enjoying getting to know him. Hughes explained that Cougar, the buckskin, is one of her newest boarders. She picked him up in Gilroy and will train him for his owner. The size, coloring and gleam- ing coat make people-stop and take a second look at the beau- tiful animal. But, his owner wants him easy to handle; that's why he contacted Hugh- es. Hughes probably doesn't re- member the number of horses she's broken and trained over the years, but there are many animals that have stayed in her mind. Some have been her own, others she wished were hers. But, there has always been the satisfaction of know- ing she's returning an animal that.knows more than when it arrived. Considering the number of animals Hughes has trained over the years, not all of them are with her from the begin- ning: Many of the horses have been trained wrong, had bad or unknowledgeable owners, cleaning out the stalls--in fact and heeded to be retrained, she rebuilt the stalls where she And, part of that is gaining keeps her horses at the their trust. Plumas.Sierra County Fair- In training, Hughes said she grounds. has to even the playing field. She also feeds and grooms Working with an elderly pony them, and then gives them named Billie, who now belongs their exercise. to her husband's grandson, is Following a good rubdown, one thing, but when coming up Hughes will throw on a west. against a young giant like ern or English saddle, depend- Cougar, Hughes knows she has ing on her mood or what she to immediately let the horse wants to accomplish, and lead know who's boss. the horse over to the bumper Part of this process is letting of her little pickup. the horse become accustomed Climbing onto the bumper, to her and developing a trust- Hughes sticks her foot into the ingrelationship, high stirrup of an English Hughes does work with a style saddle she has put on whip when she's in the train- Tanny, a horse that is boarded ing ring with her horses. It's with her, swings up into the like an extension of her arm; saddle, and then heads off at a that's the way the horse sees it, walk toward the big corral. she said. Tanny, short for Tantalize And, watching her, the whip Me, is a good-sized bay Hughes works as a reminder as she works with daily. It keeps Tan- sends it through the air and it ny in good form and keeps her makes a sharp crack toward from becoming bored in her the rear of the animal. Most of- stall. ten, the whip never touches Arabs are a good example of the horse; it just acts as an en- a breed that needs to be kept courager, as though that was busy, Hughes said. They have her long arm shooing the horse a reputation for being mean- along. " tempered, but Hughes believes Although Reggie, Hughes' 17- this will only happen if the year-old Arab, was trained horse isn't given something to many years ago and kept in top do. A good workout keeps the form for the show ring, she horse busy and keeps them in still brings him out for work- good spirits. outs. Reggie is an Arab, Hughes Watching and listening as said, and he's a good-spirited she sends hlm around the ring, animal. Hughes not only 'uses the long Short for No Regrets, Hugh- whip, but includes a series of es said that's definitely the whistles and sounds to tell case with Reggie. "I've never Reggie what she wants him to had any. The first day I saw do. One sound makes him trot, this horse walk out of a stall, another sends him into a can- he stopped my heart. He was so ter, and yet another brings cute." him to a full gallop as he goes Hughes didn't get the oppor- around and around the big cor- tunity to own him then, but ral. she did get to work with him. When it's time for him to "God was smiling on me and I stop, Hughes puts herself into worked with him for a year a body position that tells him and then got the opportunity to to do just that. She calls it clos- buy him," she said. ing the door. For years, Hughes won "You never know from one shows with Reggie, but then minute to the next what you're the breed changed and the going to be doing," Hughes horses he began competing said about a training session, against were becoming much The best planning won't larger. Eventually, Hughes re- work if the horse isn't willing tired him, and the training has to cooperate, she said. "I don't slowed but not stopped. preplan, because it will be Indicating an Arab/Paint changing." cross named Rahaazzatyne or What she does, is get the Razz for short, she mentions horse into the ring or corral to that he is a new horse Hughes work it a bit and then starts has justacquired. sizing up what training will Her job with him is to re- work best at the time. She said train him and turn him back the animal responds better and into a decent horse. learns faster and she remains She said a young teenager less frustrated, ordered him off the Internet, Although Hughes is always her parents paid for him, and looking for a good deal on a then when she got tired of him, horse, she keeps her own herd she tried to return him to small. Most of the horses she Razz's original owner. trains are for others. Some of Hughes said she got a call those horses come from asking if she was interested in around the area, but many are buying Razz. He wasn't in good from other areas in the state, shape. He had been kept in a Hughes is relatively new to stall, went unexercised and Plumas County, but her repu- hadn't been fed properly under tation in the horse business the teen's care. came with her when she When she agreed to bring moved here from the San Jose him to Plumas County, she area. said he was a skinny mess. Re- alizing the potential, Hughes Routines soon had him looking good, One day is much like anoth- back in training, and he's won er for Hughes, at least as far as several paint class shows the work is concerned. As her since. own boss, she's in charge of Horse whispering "I whisper, but they don't lis- ten," Hughes said about the popularity that's grown up around a book and a Robert Redford movie that has shown many different sides of break- ing and training horses. When the book first hit the stands, Hughes was working at her stables in San Jose and friends started encouraging her to read it. She finally did. "I was fascinated, because that's what I do--that's what I do," she said about her special rapport with horses. "There are many, many horsemen in the world, but there are a few that have the touch," Hughes said. Hughes doesn't call it horse whispering, she calls it having the touch, and that's what she has--a way of communicating with horses that goes way be- yond her years of working with them. Hughes takes her work be- yond the stables. She's a li- censed judge for many horse organizations, and does a good number of shows every year. Among other jobs, she's worked as a jockey on the race track, nearly paralyzing her- self with a severe back. and neck injury when the start went wrong. Determined, however, Hugh- es defied the medical profes- sion and got back on another horse. But, that hasn't been the only serious accident she's had with the large animals over the years. Plumas County When Hughes' partner, and now husband, Doug Fudge, ac- cepted a transfer to the Quincy area California Highway Pa- trol, Hughes wasn't interested in coming along She had worked hard build. ing up her training and riding program and didn't want to leave it behind. Eventually, she gave in and began looking for a place where she could continue training horses. That's when she met Mike Clements, man- ager at the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds. The two were able to work out an arrangement where Hughes would take over sever- al of the normally empty stalls in the horse area, and provide the fairgroundswith some needed funding. The arrangement has worked well, Hughes said. She has the use of two horse rings, when they're not in use by oth- er organizations. Hughes has been instrumental in helping start a new horse club called the High Mountain Riders. This program is for those who like to ride a lot and have a good time doing it, she ex- plained. Tl ere's one drawback to Hughes' location at the fair- grounds; she will have to move her horses out for a month when the California High School Rodeo Association takes over the fairgrounds in June, requiring her stalls, but Hughes has made other arrangemenfs,