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Horsemanship lessons, Sterrett continues lecture series

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Rapid City, S.D. – Master horse trainer Lew Sterrett of Anadarko, Okla. began his 2018 Midwest tour with a return stop on April 11 at the Central States Fairgrounds Event Center in Rapid City, S.D. This was his second of a four-part series about lessons on leadership as learned from the perspective of a horse.

In 2017, his message was “Capture the Heart,” and this year, he focused on mentoring through a workshop titled, “Cultivate the Heart: Lessons on Mentoring.”

 Working together

Sterrett worked with a half Arabian/half Quarter Horse palomino gelding nicknamed “Handsome” to train a two-year-old filly that was broke to lead but had never been saddled or ridden. 

Within 90 minutes, Sterrett and Handsome transformed this filly into a willing partner, with Sterrett all the while giving analogies about the parallels of her behavior to that of human relationships. 

Before he began with the filly, however, he addressed the audience while mounted on an unbridled Handsome.

“Tonight is about the power of influence – about a life that mentors others. Encouragement is so needed today in whatever situation we’re in, whether it’s at home, at work, in coaching, in the school systems or even in civil service,” Sterrett mentioned.

  Sterrett utilized his gelding to provide a positive influence on the filly. 


The filly was brought into the arena wearing a halter and lead rope. Sterrett, mounted on Handsome, took the rope and attempted to lead her forward. She planted her feet and pulled back, staying as far away as she could. 

“Look at this rope. We could play country music on this,” joked Sterrett, referencing how tight the rope was pulled.

He began to essentially pull the filly around the arena, until it finally started to release the tension on the lead rope from time to time and stop near Handsome’s right flank, slowing earning the filly’s trust, explained Sterrett.

Then, Sterrett moved his hands over her face and down her neck and back. 

He switched her lead rope to the left side of his horse, and the filly instantly rebelled. She tried to return to the right side where she felt she could control the relationship. Alternately, she pulled back again and then tried to rush forward. 

Sterrett was patient with her until she settled down enough to again follow beside Handsome with some slack in the rope.

Next steps

A saddle blanket was then brought in the by Sterrett’s assistant Kami, and Sterrett began to add more pressure, placing the blanket over the filly’s head and rubbing it along her neck and back. He settled it on her back and led her around. 

When he was satisfied that she’d accepted the blanket, Kami appeared with a saddle. 

The first time he set it on the filly’s back, she shied away, and it dropped to the ground. He picked it up, remounted and tried again. This time, she allowed the saddle to stay. He spent quite a bit of time talking softly to her as he gradually tightened the girth. 

When he finished, he sent her away, and she bucked in a circle for a while. 

Eventually, she stopped bucking and just loped around the arena. Sterrett rode Handsome out to meet her, and she fell behind him almost immediately. 


“See how the filly borrows the faith of the older horse,” Sterrett observed. “See her share his vision?” 

After a few rounds in the arena, they returned to where Kami stood waiting. 

The filly was allowed to rest while Kami proceeded to pull on the stirrups and put her weight in them. She continued on both sides before finally settling into the saddle. After a moment Sterrett and Handsome walked the filly back out into the arena with rider aboard. There was little reaction. 

They slowly increased the pace to a trot, and she stayed right with them as they circled the arena. 

Sterrett added a final message to the audience, commenting, “Lose yourself and honor others. Humble yourself so that you may hear.”

Sterrett’s program was sponsored by Coaches of Influence (COIN), a ministry whose purpose is to reach coaches with the Gospel and encourage them in their daily lives. For more information, e-mail Director Bob Parsons at

Melissa Burke is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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