This is the first in a series about the “AH” (Authentic Horses) brand and concept. We start by introducing you to the concept behind “Authentic Horses” and the “AH” brand. Thanks to the Peter DeCabooter and Jessica McLavey for putting this together.

If you’re around the barn or out on the trail with our Hideout wranglers, you may notice an increasing amount of our horses sporting the new AH (Authentic Horses) brand. This brand represents a concept formed here at The Hideout with has a simple goal in mind: to create a positive equestrian experience for both horse and rider by fostering an honest, respectful training environment. The AH horses are chosen to enter the training program and wear the brand based on their willingness to learn and develop, rather than basing our selection on bloodlines and other traditional requirements.

To us, authenticity means approaching any situation with an open mind, objectivity and honesty. With training horses, an authentic approach allows a horse to realize its full potential, regardless of breeding and paperwork. Our AH training program was developed by closely observing poor horsemanship practiced by other operations. It became clear that financial interest, subjectivity, and opportunistic motivations can often cloud the judgment of a trainer and blur the focus of what is best for the horses. With the AH concept, we strive to divert from corrupt training practices and follow the Three Cs (character, conduct and competence); we require both our AH trainers and horses exhibit these Three Cs and corresponding positivity at all times.

With our head AH trainer, Ramon Castro, overseeing the program, we have added a diverse collection of horses to the AH string. The breeds included in the AH herd include Mustang, Arabian half-bred, registered and non-registered American Quarter Horse and Kentucky Mountain Horse. We feel that there are plenty of horses out there that, given a fair chance in the hands of a respectful and capable trainer, will develop their skill set and mental capabilities to the fullest. Only horses, like our trainers, with an open mind and a willingness to continue learning are selected to begin the journey to bear the AH brand.

While not all horses are able to meet the qualifications become an AH horse, it is our goal to eventually see each horse on our Hideout string bearing the AH brand. When we first reevaluated and raised our standards for the Hideout string two years ago, several of our horses did not make the cut and were subsequently removed from the program. Some of these horses carried prestigious bloodlines and excellent paperwork, which goes to show that authenticity cannot be achieved by cutting corners, regardless of pedigree.

The next time you’re down at the barn and see a horse with the AH brand, you’ll notice that these are among the best equine partners we can provide to our guests. These horses have proven their physical and mental worth, as well as demonstrated their willingness to continue learning with an open mind and earnest effort. Give ‘em a pat, they’ve worked hard for it!