Blackwell has been around the horse game his whole life.
He grew up on a ranch in South Dakota and started riding
horses when he was 2 years old. He started breaking
his first colts when he was 9. Rex's family trained
colts and owned 50-150 head of horses while he was growing
up. Rex, his father, and his brother were all horseshoers.
They shod all their own horses as well as horses for the
general public. Rex began shoeing at age 11 and was
shoeing for the public at age 14.
He went to the National High School Rodeo
Finals in calf roping and bareback riding and the National
College Rodeo Finals in steer wrestling and bareback.
He joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in
1972 and competed in bareback and saddlebronc riding and
steer wrestling. Rex became a pickup man for Sutton
Rodeos in 1972 and continues to be active in the rodeo business
as a PRCA pickup man. Rex also enjoys team roping
as a pastime.
In 1995, Rex first learned of equine
muscle conditioning from a Canadian friend. He
became interested and attended a Canadian school on the
subject. In 1997, he attended another school in Wyoming
on equine massage and, in 1998; he was assistant instructor
at the Wyoming school. Rex has used his muscle conditioning
techniques on performance horses of all kinds including
jumping, roping, reining, team penning, racing, barrel,
and rodeo pickup and rough stock horses.
October 2001, Rex relocated from South Dakota to Wickenburg,
Arizona where he and his wife Cheryl now make their
home. Rex has two sons, Jace and Jade. He has
started giving Equine Muscle Conditioning clinics at his
training facility in Wickenburg where he also shoes horses
for other horse people.
is Equine Muscle Conditioning™?
Equine Muscle Conditioning™ is
conditioning and relaxing the muscles of the horse so
that each muscle can achieve a full range of motion and
movement with no resistance or pain experienced during the
movement. This conditioning and relaxing is achieved
by deep massage and pressure applied with your hands, in
order to free the muscles and the energy of the animal.
When the muscles of the horse are
correctly conditioned, the horse can perform at the peak
of its ability. This will give the horse its best
possible chance of winning or performing to its highest
potential. The horse should perform more quickly and
more effectively than before the session. Optimum
results include a better attitude, and quicker, smoother
performance. Without pain, the attitude of the horse
can improve measurably. Among the most obvious results
during a session with a horse are the change in its body
language and attitude.
can see this for yourself while watching a session.
A horse will lick its lips, yawn, and lower its head in
a more relaxed posture. During an Equine Muscle Conditioning
treatment, the eyes change, showing very little white and
exhibiting a contented feeling.
Rex has incorporated the techniques
he learned in the Canadian and American schools with principles
and techniques he gathered from his other studies and his
years of riding, horse training, and horse shoeing to form
his own trademarked version of Equine Muscle Conditioning™.
His goal with this conditioning technique is to allow each
animal to achieve its greatest athletic potential.
Unlike some systems, Equine Muscle Conditioning™ not only
makes the animal more comfortable, it addresses the underlying
During a session, Rex will first
test a horse on pressure points to determine where any problems
lie. As a result of all of his experiences with horses,
Rex has the ability to “read” a horse, which is an important
skill in fixing a sore horse. After testing, he rubs
and stretches the animal in a logical sequence, concentrating
on the sore spots. When muscle compression is applied
correctly, the muscles and connecting tissues will relax
and allow a free range of motion. When the sequence,
which takes about an hour to finish, is completed, Rex retests
the animal and can rework any parts that retain residual
problems. Using this testing method, you can check
to see that each part of the horse is maintaining its optimum
emphasizes that good horse shoeing is another one of
the most important steps in creating a fully functioning
performance horse. Without a good shaped foot and
shoe, all the training and conditioning of your animal will
be for nothing.
His philosophy is what he calls the
“Slight Edge Advantage.” The slight edge of
Equine Muscle Conditioning™ plus the slight edge of correct
shoeing plus the slight edge of positive mental belief on
the part of the rider equals the winning edge.
Muscle Conditioning™ Schools
Rex's goal with the Equine Muscle
Conditioning™ clinic schools is to educate the interested
horse person to a point where, by the end of
five days, they are able to effectively apply the conditioning
techniques to an animal and achieve real results.
He says that he wants to educate the students so that they
can experience the same or better results than he does.
Most of the students plan to use their knowledge in a professional
capacity, either for an adjunct to horse training, horseshoeing,
or as a separate business.
Rex’s Equine Muscle Conditioning School
appeals to women as well as men. Lee Raine and I recently
attended a five-day clinic at Rex’s Wickenburg Ranch.
He gives regularly scheduled schools there and also travels
to give clinics or schools at clients’ facilities.
women were enrolled in the clinic we attended. They
all had similar goals for rubbing horses, not only their
own performance horses, but being able to work on horses
for other clients. One lady said that she didn’t want
to ride colts any more, was tired of training barrel horses,
yet wanted an enjoyable and fulfilling job working around
horses and horse people. This technique was something
that was within her capabilities.
Rex teaches that a horse need not
intimidate you. He teaches how to work around
a horse and how to do it to gain personal confidence.
The confidence level of the 5 women increased each day of
the clinic. You could see by the body language of
the individuals involved that they became tuned to what
the horses were telling them.
During the 5-day intensive Equine Muscle
Conditioning™ seminar, first Rex would demonstrate how to
rub a section of the horse. Then the students would
practice rubbing that section on two or three different
horses themselves. Students may bring two of their
own horses, but will also work on horses that are unfamiliar
to them. One student would hold a horse and another
would practice. With the small groups, each student
received a great deal of personal attention and instruction
from Rex and his assistant instructor, Mary Dolven.
wife Cheryl provided excellent family style lunches at noontime
and the students were encouraged to talk about their experiences
and ask questions during the breaks. It was apparent
that Rex is an excellent teacher, never in hurry, always
there to answer questions, and never intimidating to the
A personal note concerning Rex Blackwell:
I had a “cold-backed” horse that you had to steal a ride
on each morning until he got warmed up. After one
Equine Muscle Conditioning session, the old bronc never
offered to buck again when first saddled. This sold
me on Rex Blackwell’s program.
by Lee Raine