Foundation First Mountain Horse Training™
Clinics Program


Are you looking for a way to establish a positive relationship with your horse and get the results you want?

Clinics, Lessons, or the Robert Lawson Apprenticeship Program may put you on the road to better horsemanship. If you have been looking for a way to learn more about how to help your gaited horses and haven’t known where to turn, then Robert can point you in the right direction. Individualized instruction will help you learn about the care, control, and nature of horses.

 Foundation First Mountain Horse Training™ Clinics

Plan Your Clinic

Apprentice Program

For additional information on Stoner Ridge Farm's Training Program, click here.


Foundation First Training Pyramid©

The Foundation First Equine Training Pyramid© is a guide that shows how both humans and horses grow as they gain knowledge through education.  The bottom level shows the foundation.  All additional learning and growth is built on that foundation.

Click here to download the Foundation First Training Pyramid©. 



Robert Lawson - Foundation First Mountain Horse Training Clinics

For nearly two decades Robert Lawson has dedicated himself to honing his gaited horsemanship skills and passing his knowledge on to others.  He has started hundreds of horses using his Foundation First Mountain Horse Training™ technique. Horses under his direction in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain have achieved success in every gaited equine venue imaginable. His wealth of experience includes training many World and International Grand Champions in both under saddle and conformation.  Robert’s horsemanship and teaching skills have also proved to be a winning formula for his juvenile and amateur riders who have experienced tremendous success in reaching their goals.  Robert has also been recognized for many accomplishments  -  from his skill in executing the elements of versatility, to gaited dressage, and on to competitive trail riding.  The wealth of knowledge Robert has acquired in his quest to become a true horseman, have allowed him to be the sought after horsemanship clinician that he is today. His masterful communication skills with horses and humans have made him a favorite at clinics, horse expos, and seminars throughout the country.  His patience and sense of humor keep his audience attentive and on the edge of their seat as they learn how to have a better relationship with their gaited horse.  He has conducted clinics in Iowa, South Carolina, Utah, Indiana, California, New Jersey, Ohio, Arkansas, and Kentucky. Robert continues to expand his horsemanship experience as an avid competitor adding to his to his grand championship titles every year.  

Rates depend on the number of days and the requirements of the specific clinic.  The Stoner Ridge Farm facility can be scheduled to host your clinic, Robert can come to your farm, or you can reserve a professional arena.  Call 859.988.9092 or email  for rates and to schedule your clinic.  Robert will get you on the road to better horsemanship and a better relationship with your equine partner.

SRF Clinic Programs

Colt Starting Clinic – Basic Round Pen Techniques

Robert will demonstrate his Foundation First Mountain Horse Training TM  techniques and describe his reasoning each step of the way to riding a young horse for the first time.  He will share with his audience how to establish a foundation for future communication and training.  A two or three year old horse and round pen are required for this clinic.

Training and colt starting begins by reducing a horse's fear.  An effective tool for helping with this process is the round pen.  After asking a horse to move in a round pen he eventually will start to look for a way to rest. Working a horse in the round pen, forces him to use his brain. It is just as if he is being made to think, "How can I get to rest?" Eventually he discovers that he can rest when he stops and faces his handler. Horses are basically lazy creatures. They will look for the easy way out every time. It their handler’s responsibility to help them find it and do the right thing. Robert says, “When teaching a horse in the round pen, if he turns to face me, I pet him and walk away. In essence, I am saying to the horse, ‘All you have to do is stand, and I'll leave you alone.’ I may repeat this process many times before the horse is comfortable with what I'm doing. If he loses focus and turns away, I put him back to work until he engages his brain again and figures it out. I may repeat this process 50 times before I actually get on the horse for the first time.” 

Remember, starting a young horse for the first time can be a dangerous activity if you do not have a skill level up to the task.  If this is the case, leave starting young horses to a professional trainer.

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Basic Horsemanship Clinic

The Basic Horsemanship Clinic is designed to establish trust and respect with your equine partner.  Robert will demonstrate his Foundation First Mountain Horse Training TM  techniques and use the initial stages of the Foundation First Equine Training Pyramid ©  to describe his reasoning as attendees come to understand how to use the round pen to communicate effectively with their horse.

Elements of the Basic Horsemanship Clinic include:

  • Basic horse handling

  • Leading

  • Cueing the horse from the ground

  • Yielding fore and hind quarters

  • Lateral flexing

  • Moving away from pressure

  • Establishing trust and respect

  • One rein stop

Most of the instruction is based on ground work in this clinic with an emphasis on getting your horse ready to accept cues from his back.

“Another technique we use to help prepare our horses is teaching them to bend and flex. We begin flexing them before they ever have a saddle on their back. While standing on the ground, I'll ask my horse to turn his head to the right by pulling on the lead rope attached to his halter. If he will bend a ½ inch, I release the pressure. My horse will get the message. I repeat these steps over a period of time until the horse will bend and flex equally on both sides. I want him to be able to bend his head around until his nose touches my leg with no restriction of motion or stiffness. Horses, as you know, have a right and left side that must be taught independently. Information does not transfer automatically from one side of their brain to the other. That is why whatever you do with one side you must repeat with the other.”

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Advanced Horsemanship Clinic

The Advanced Horsemanship Clinic will review and build on what has been learned in the Basic Horsemanship Clinic.  Elements of the Basic Horsemanship Clinic include:

  • Basic horse handling

  • Leading

  • Cueing the horse from the ground

  • Yielding fore and hind quarters

  • Lateral flexing

  • Moving away from pressure

  • Establishing trust and respect

  • One rein stop

Additional Advanced Horsemanship Elements include:

  • Bits and bitting

  • Riding centered

  • Moving the horse off your legs

  • Vertical flexion

  • Rein management

  • Collection

“It is essential that your horse knows how to move away from pressure and that you, as a trainer or a rider, realize the importance and power of this strategy. We begin teaching our horse to move away from pressure quite inadvertently when we lead him. When we pull on the lead rope, we are actually putting pressure on the opposite side of his head. We are not really pulling at all but creating pressure that the horse will want to move away from. With that knowledge in mind, we can begin to use our hands to help horses learn to move away from pressure. By placing a hand on their flank and pushing until our horse moves away, we begin to help them understand that they must move away when they feel that pressure in their side. Eventually, that pressure will come from our legs when we have our horse under saddle.”

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Versatility Clinic

(click image to download larger version)     

One of the fastest growing categories for showing gaited horses is the versatility division.  Most shows now offer a variety of classes in which to show your horse that allow our equine companions to shine.  The traditional rail classes are offered but often so are western, conformation, trail obstacle, pro-am, water glass, pole bending, driving, dressage, and bareback classes.  Frequently at shows these classes are tied together with a prestigious Versatility Award presented at the end of the show.  If you’ve ever thought about competing at the shows, there is no better time than now.  At your Versatility Clinic, Robert will show you how to teach your horse to side pass with is the basic element for teaching a 360 degree turn as well.

Have you ever thought of “doing something more” with your horse?  Something besides just trail riding or showing in traditional under saddle classes? If so, versatility training may be just what you (and your horse) are looking for.

Robert has developed a flexible program to help individuals and their equine partners learn more about becoming truly versatile. It is much more than helping a horse learn how to negotiate a trail obstacle course. Robert can take you from the fundamentals of learning how to use your horse’s natural instincts to reduce his fear.  You gain your horse’s trust and respect.  He will show you the importance of ground work as you learn to increase your horse’s suppleness through bending and flexing exercises that enhance his athletic ability.  Have you ever wished your horse would respond to your cues without you having to fuss and scold?  Robert can show you how to use leg pressure to create a horse that responds quickly and consistently.  If you’ve ever had a horse that refused to back, load, or cross water, he’ll help you learn how to overcome those training challenges as well.  If you have an interest in competition or trail obstacle, Versatility Clinics are what you are looking for.

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Training and Riding the Gaited Trail Horse Clinic

The Training and Riding the Gaited Trail Horse Clinic is for individuals who may be a new gaited horse owner and they want to gain confidence before going out on the trail.  Horses that have not been ridden on the trail will benefit from conditioning them to unfamiliar objects before heading out on the trail.  

Elements include:

  • First ride out on the trail

  • Introducing unfamiliar objects

  • Safety

  • How to prepare your horse for the ride

  • Comfortable attire

  • Equipment

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Performance Horse Clinic

The Performance Horse Clinic is designed to help individuals new to the show ring or for folks who want to hone their presentation skills to a higher level.  Attendees will learn what to look for in a horse used for competition and how to present the competition horse to the highest level possible. Robert and his staff are accomplished in the show ring and will help you learn how to follow in their footsteps.

Elements include:

  • Suitability of your horse

  • Safety

  • Equipment

  • Presentation

  • Clothing

  • Different Disciplines/Divisions

  • Strategy

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Teaching Your Gaited Horse to Canter

Yes, gaited horses canter beautifully.  The key is to teach your gaited horse to canter from a cue.  Robert will show you how to incorporate this element into your horse’s list of accomplishments using a round pen.  Robert was the 2009 UMH Open Four Gait High Point Winner. 

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RPM’s Squirrel’s Blackfoot –
2009 UMH Open Four Gait High Point Champion

Gaited Dressage

Can gaited horses really do dressage?  Yes, indeed.  Dressage (a French word that means training) is a wonderful training tool to help your gaited horse increase his level of flexibility and responsiveness.  Gaited dressage is growing in popularity. 

Robert has found that the elements of dressage correlate well with his Foundation First Mountain Horse Training™.  With both methods horses are willing and obedient mounts that are supple and easy to ride.  Dressage is an added element that can enhance the human – horse relationship. 

One competitive venue available for gaited dressage riders is the Three Phase Event (  It incorporates three events – gaited dressage, stadium obstacle, and cross country (non jumping).  Robert has traditionally had one of the highest dressage scores of the event.  Professional, amateur, and juvenile riders from Stoner Ridge have won the overall High Point for the last two years.

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Customized Clinic

If you are looking for a clinic that is a combination of certain elements of the clinics here or you have something different in mind, Robert will be glad to help you design a custom experience that will be sure to meet your horsemanship requirements.  He often conducts small clinics for a family or a few friends based on a specific need they have recognized in horse relationship.  He can also conduct a larger clinic at horse fairs, for 4 H groups, or any equestrian gathering.  Just call Robert directly 859.988.9092 or email  and he’ll be glad to make arrangements to come to your location.  It is also possible, to use our facility for your group.  Advance scheduling is a must.

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Plan Your Clinic

At Your Farm

Clinics are available in a variety of venues. Robert (either as an individual or with assistant trainers) can come to your facility. Rates are available by the day or week.

At our Facility

The facility at Stoner Ridge Farm is also available for your use.  There is an 84’ x 207’ indoor arena. There is also a trail obstacle course, round pens, and a regulation size dressage pad available. Clinics are custom designed to meet your individual needs or the needs of your group.

By the Hour or by the Day

Private or group clinics are also available and charged by the hour or by the day. If you plan to show or you have a juvenile who would enjoy showing or learning how to care for their horse, we can schedule clinics as frequently as necessary to insure success. 

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Have you considered becoming an Apprentice?

One More Option:  The Robert Lawson Apprentice program will show you the way to effective horse ownership. 

Would you like for your horse to be a responsive companion that is easy to handle and performs without resistance? Robert’s introductory apprenticeship program will help you learn how to build a firm foundation and create a
trusting relationship.

Included in the Introductory Level Apprenticeship Program 

  • Safe horse management

  • Round Pen Basics

  • Establishing Respect

  • Creating a Responsiveness

  • Ground Control

  • Flexing and Bending

  • Bitting

  • Mounting and Dismounting

  • Riding

  • Leg Pressure Basics

  • Stopping

  • Backing

  • Loading

For folks who need to manage their personal herd, the Introductory Level course will provide opportunities to build confidence. You will learn to build a solid foundation with your horses that will help you avoid pitfalls that lead to problems later on by establishing respect. You will gain leadership and establish ground control while improving your skills as a rider. The Apprenticeship Program is scheduled by the day (one day per week x so many weeks), weekly, or monthly. A certificate of completion is awarded at the conclusion of the program. The time commitment depends on each client and the level of expertise that is desired from his/her individualized program.

The Advanced Level Apprenticeship Program 

In addition to attaining the skills taught during the introductory phase, individuals who participate at the advanced level will focus on the business of becoming an equine professional. Robert will show you where to start, how to promote yourself, and how to build a reputation as a professional. There will be more emphasis on refinement of the horsemanship skills that have been learned as well as focusing on what is required from a business perspective..

The Robert Lawson Apprentice Program is designed to be flexible with its customized programs. For additional information, to schedule individual lessons, or to schedule a versatility clinic, contact: 

Robert Lawson, Stoner Ridge Farm, 
2469 Clintonville Rd., Paris, KY 40361. 
You may also phone 859.988.9092 or email


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