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Trainer Interview with Dan Grunewald
Articles from the may not be republished without permission.
Posted on January 30, 2007   By:  Christy Lovenduski Midwest Stallion Directory
Renowned Trainer, Dan Grunewald, speaks to the Midwest Stallion Directory about his training philosophy, his hopes for the horse industry, and how he balances his busy training, judging, and clinic schedule.
Photo Credit: Holman Photography

Printable Version

Your Farm:

Contact Information:
W2924 County Y
Jefferson,  WI  53549

Breeds that You Train:

We train a little bit of everything.  Our primary focus is on stock horses.  Most of the horses in our barn are Quarter Horses and Buckskins.  We show a lot on the Buckskin circuit.  We do get Paints, Appaloosas, Arabs and Pintos in for training as well. 

Class Specialties:

 Western Riding/Hunter Under Saddle/Showmanship/Western Pleasure-We’re really an All Around Barn.  I’ve also had success showing reiners and won the state Buckskin Horse Association in Reining last year. 

Though we specialize in these events, we get calls even from Barrel Racers on keeping shoulders up;  Mounted Shooters too.  It doesn’t matter what discipline you want to do, if you don’t have the horse paying attention to you, then it will be difficult to teach the horse.  This idea is where I got the name for my farm, Focus Farms.  A lot of times the riders haven’t given the horse enough work or hard enough (challenge). 

What is your typical day like?

6:30 AM- Wake up and do paperwork.  I figure out what horses are coming in or leaving.  8:30-9 AM.  Arrive at barn.  The horses have already been fed by the time I get to the barn. 

9 AM-5 PM-Start Training.  I start off riding the horses that might need a little more work, then work my way through the horse barn.  Each horse is ridden 4-5 days a week.  I have a great barn staff that helps out a bunch.  The staff saddles the horses, warms them up and then I get on and train.  I then hand the horse off to the staff, and jump on the next horse.  This rotates through the whole day and sometimes we have lessons going on too.

This year, we’re pushing everybody a little harder than in the past, because they’ve come to this barn to be successful and with success comes a lot of determination and discipline. 

How Many Horses do you have in training at a time?  How long do you work a horse each day? 

Our barn averages 12 horses in the barn at any time.  Work time for each horse various, but they are kind of like college kids.  If you don’t have their attention in the first 20 minutes, it’ll be kind of hard.  Each horse gets about 30-45 minutes each.  You don’t want to get them to the point where they’re mad and they don’t want to ride the next day.  They’re such a big animal that you have to work with them.  My theory is to outsmart them rather than force them. 

When did you know that you wanted to be a horse trainer?

 About 12 years ago, I was showing this dark grulla horse named, Cougar, at a horse show a long time ago and he’d won the class.  Someone came up to me and asked if I gave lessons.  I started giving a little help to someone, then they went and told someone else, and it went from there.  Then the lessons turned into showing a little more, then into judging, then into being a clinician and eventually into sponsorships form Purina. 

Which area do you enjoy the most?  Showing, Training, Clinics, or Judging?

I really enjoy clinics.  I have such a good time.  Everybody is enjoying themselves and seeing results.  The clinics that we offer push people a little bit- not just trot, walk, and loping in circles.  I meet so many people and really enjoy helping and teaching. 

What clinic that you offer is the most popular?

It’s really hard to do the same type of clinic-  you adjust to the level of horse, the personality of horse and rider.  When I am heading to perform a clinic, I ask the people in charge of setting up the clinic to customize it to what the area needs.  For example- Choosing the Right Equipment for the Horse and Rider is used quite a bit.  Looking Through the Judges Eyes- How to get into the Winners Circle. 

Where Did You Grow Up?

Jefferson, WI- I am just about 5 miles from where I grew up. 

Where Did Life Take You After High School?

On Graduation Morning, I was hired at UPS. I have worked at UPS for 15 years now.  I also became an EMT.  At that time, I was doing training on the side.  Now, my focus is more on training, though I still work for UPS a few nights a week and am on call as an EMT a few nights a week as well.  You want something bad enough, you work hard enough to get it. 

Tell Us About Your First Horse.

Cougar was one of my first horses.  He was the reserve Buckskin National Champion Senior Horse Western Pleasure.  He was grulla colored, but very close to black.  Cougar was a horse that a lot of people saw me riding and that got a lot of people to come up for lessons.  He was a really, really good mover.  He is standing out in a pasture, enjoying retirement at my folks place.  Cougar would have to be my favorite horse, he helped me start everything.

If you could change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?

 If I could help the industry more. I wish that the county youth programs would be better.  The counties that are not as financially strong tend to get forgotten with the youth program.  There are counties that don’t get a lot of help, but I go there and help them out with the help of Purina.  We really need to take the time to help the kids and the parents get to the next level.  There was one girl that wanted to get out of the level she was at.  She wanted to compete at the state show.  They had some clinics and I helped her figure out what the judges were looking for.  Her county leaders told her that the show was too competitive for her.  She hauled down to our barn a few times, then went to the state show and was grand or reserve out of 62 kids!  Next year, we have seven kids coming for help from that county.

Favorite Song/CD

Back Where I Come From by Kenny Chesney

Favorite Movie:

 Top Gun and 8 Seconds

Is AQHA’s new “Forward Motion” Rule Changing the Look of Western Pleasure?

 I think that at your state shows it’s made a difference.  It’s going to take a while to change again.  I think that the horses are moving out a little bit more.  It took a long time to get where we’re out now.  At one time somebody won a class with a slow horse, and then everybody said I want my horse to move like that!.  It’s going take a trend to change it back.  Time will tell.  They are moving out a little more true now.  The lope a little bit more free through their shoulders.  These really top notch pleasure horses, like to go that slow and like to be that collected, deep hocked and flat kneed because they’re genetically bred to be that way now.  You could push that horse out and he’s going to say “I’m made to go slow!”  It’s not all up to AQHA saying, “They’re heads are low and they’re too slow.”-the horses are genetically getting bred to be that way.  They don’t know how to move out!  It’s not the horse or the trainer- that horse just does not want to go any faster

What effect, if any, will AQHA’s new Performance Halter class have ?

 I don’t know if it’s going to help or when its going to help.  It took such a long time to get how a halter horse how it was years ago to how it is today.  It’s just going to take a long time to revolve back to where it was.  You really don’t know if it’s going to help until you see a couple years down the road.   It’ll actually be up to the membership.  It’s people placing their concerns, they’re the ones that need to see if they can change the formalities. 

Tell us about your two stallions, Farenheit and King Page Fox.

Farenheit is a 3 year old, 16.1 hh stallion.  AQHA, IBHA, ABRA World Champion, own son of “Kids Classic Style”.  King Page Fox is a 6 year old Buckskin foundation bred stallion.  His bloodlines go back to “Joe Bailey, King Eternal Sun and Man Of War.”

Is there anything that you would like me to ad to this article?

 I’d like to say thank you to Christy and the Midwest Stallion Directory for giving me time to share with you some of my view points and answer some questions that we have in the horse industry.  Good Luck to everyone in 2007 and the years beyond.  Give us a call to book your next 4-H, youth or any other association’s clinic or judging.  We can also help with any other training needs.  Multi-state and breed carded judge.

“See Ya All Down The Rail”

Dan Grunewald


Posted On January 30, 2007 By:  Christy Lovenduski
Midwest Stallion Directory
 © 2007
Articles from the may not be republished without permission.















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