The Horse Is My Teacher

Lessons from the Ranch: Training, Riding, Luck, and Love

Van Hargis



Stories from a rural working life that teach us how to be better horsemen—and better people.

Van Hargis grew up in the saddle on an East Texas ranch, training his first horse at age 12 and eventually making a living starting cutting and reining colts, many of which would leave his hands to become champions. Naturally outgoing (labeled a “talker” by teachers in grade school), Hargis shared stories and lessons from his work with horses early on. Here, in his first book, he reaches out to readers with a collection of down-to-earth, highly relatable tales—experiences that, over the years, have impacted his own horsemanship and life in significant ways. Readers absorb fundamental knowledge of horses skillfully embedded in genuine anecdotes straight off the ranch:

  • How Grandma's cross-stitch laid the groundwork for more patience when starting colts and trailer loading.
  • How a daughter's temper tantrum helped perfect timing of the release of pressure.
  • How the way Mom worked the gate when sorting cattle taught you to look for what the horse really wanted to achieve.
  • How playing on championship football teams provided the understanding of true partnership between rider and horse.

With easy-to-remember quotes to anchor what readers learn and practical tools that can be used in the arena or on the trail, by Western or English riders, The Horse Is My Teacher imparts the principles of great horsemanship while also inspiring each of us to apply those same principles to further our own personal growth and success.

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Additional Information

Author: Van Hargis

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 208

Illustrations: 50 color and black & white photographs

ISBN: 9781646011810

By Van Hargis

Van Hargis started riding horses when he was four years old and launched his career as a trainer at age twelve when the wife of world-renowned saddlemaker Billy Cook hired him to train her horse. Hargis and the horses he’s trained have excelled in show and rodeo events like ranch horse versatility (his specialty), Western pleasure, trail classes, calf roping, team roping, and steer wrestling. He moves easily between the Western and English riding worlds, and has worked successfully with horses from many additional disciplines, including working ranch, hunter-jumper, and dressage. His wide-ranging experiences have taught him valuable lessons about horses in particular and life in general, and he began sharing his stories through unique horsemanship seminars in 1991. Hargis currently resides just outside Victoria, Texas, where he specializes in colt-starting and ranch horse versatility. From his Texas home base, he travels extensively as a highly requested clinician at equestrian facilities and events across the country (

Colorado Horse Source Says:

"It's sure to engage any rider, as well as teach great lessons along the way."

Western Life Today Says:

“A recommended read for horse lovers passionate about living life to the fullest.”