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  • Writer's pictureRachel Kerr

The darling of the barn, meet Dale!

For those who have been fortunate enough to have crossed paths with Dale he soon becomes a firm favourite and has been a reliable member of the lesson program at Lincourt Stables for many years. Dale is a picture of health now but that was not the case when he first came to Lincourt. He was found in June 2014, before that his history is completely unknown. This is Dale’s story as told by Patricia.

“I was with Megan Gaines from Auction Horse Rescue, she knew I was looking for a large lesson horse. We went to the hillsides in Santa Susanna Pass, CA and checked in on a report of horses that needed feed. It was a very isolated property in the canyons with no neighbors to see the animals." says Patricia.

Dale when he was rescued in 2014 and in 2020.

Patricia continues; "In all there were 11 horses, some cattle and dogs on large acreage in summer during a drought year. There was no forage to be had for the horses. Sadly two horses were found dead after having accidents on property, the rest were emaciated. The owner was an older man in his 80's who was no longer able to keep up with his intentions."

The story goes on; "Ventura Animal Control confiscated the horses and sent 3 to Lincourt Stables. A Thoroughbred mare, a Thoroughbred gelding and Dale. The Thoroughbreds turned out to be unsound racehorses, we fed them, cared for them with medical treatment and found homes for them over time." says Patricia.

"Dale was healthy and seemed to have some training so we decided to keep him to evaluate for the lesson program. Dale is 16.3H with draft breeding so he has the ability to carry adults which is what we needed for the riding school at the time. We discovered he had very good manners, was good to lunge, round pen, and had excellent driving skills. Dale was rideable, but did not know the aids for canter or lead changes, we think he was most likely a driving horse from up north.” Patricia continues.

"No one knows Dale’s history prior to 2014 but we suspect that he could have been linked to the Pregnant Mares’ Urine (PMU) industry which relies on collecting urine from pregnant mares to produce hormone replacement drugs. At the time the PMU industry produced a lot of branded and quality horses that have been spread all over Canada and the US. As with many horses that have come from breeding programs Dale has brands on his hind end but we have never managed to identify his breeder." says Patricia.

“Dale has now been with Lincourt 7 years in the riding school where he has taught many people how to ride and discover the benefits of being around horses. Aside from riding lessons Dale has successfully shown at local dressage, IEL jumpers and locally rated shows with many of our clients over the years. Several people have gone on to buy or lease horses after learning the ropes with the ever patient and kind Dale. In nature Dale is very serious, he hates making mistakes and shows his concern by gently snorting at objects and obstacles he is unsure of. The very first jumping session he took part in was on the cross country course at The Meadows of Moorpark where he excelled. Natural obstacles seem to make sense to Dale whereas coloured poles and flowers in the arena are sometimes treated with more suspicion!”

Dale is a picture of health now after a tough start, he is both versatile and kind, making a fantastic lesson horse.

A few years ago Patricia started to research and practice horse training using Positive Reinforcement methods and now many of the horses at Lincourt are trained using R+ methods in hand and under saddle. For Dale, as with many of the horses, the introduction of Positive Reinforcement using clicker training has provided motivation to work.

“R+ has been very interesting with Dale. I don't know how much his time of starvation has changed his ideas about food. He is very motivated in general and adding rewards has made the daily repetition of the riding school more interesting to him. He seems overjoyed that food rewards are part of his life and he is willing to learn new things and cope with scary items or situations.” says Patricia.

Dale has been trained with positive reinforcement over the last few years which has helped him become more confident. For example using Clicker Training to positively reinforce standing by the mounting block (please note we would never mount without equipment eg helmet!)

For those who have never met Dale, here are some of our clients to tell you what he means to them;

"Throughout this crazy life, I have ridden and leased my fair share of lesson horses, but never have I felt such a connection as the one I have with Dale. He is a genuinely caring, goofy, sweet kinda’ guy. I mainly ride him over small fences and out on the river trail, trying to keep his stable life interesting. Though he started out quite nervous on the trail, he has learned to trust me, for the most part (graffiti is the devil). Dale is the first horse that has consistently greeted me with a whinny and a good snuggle when I show up. I can’t even begin to list all the things he has taught me over the years. He has taught me to REALLY listen when I ride, with every part of my body. He has taught me to RELAX my anxiety when on his back, to BREATHE. He has taught me that if and when I fall off, he’ll stay by my side until I get back on. He has taught me that it’s okay to be a bit chunky. He is the first horse I’ve ever wanted to just have a beer and hang out with, not just endlessly ride over fences (and that’s saying something). I’ve been leasing Dale on and off for a few years and cannot imagine not having him in my life. From taking your arm off when accepting a treat, to the consistent crosstie poops, I love Dale from the bottom of my heart."


“Dale is not just my best friend but also my therapist! Dale has gotten me through some of my toughest times. Dale has taught me patience and tolerance, he will always let me know when my riding skills or form is off. He can be opinionated but that is what has made me be a better rider. Dale is such a gentleman. I love him to bits.”


“I rode Dale a little when I first moved to Los Angeles and had made the tough decision to retire my pony in the UK. I was heartbroken about leaving Fairy at home and Dale helped me come to terms with the decision. He is a very kind and genuine horse, he tries so hard for you and really helped me settle into my new life here.”


If you are interested in finding out more about leasing or training a horse with Lincourt or learning about how we use Positive Reinforcement to train horses please email us at

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