Written By Lisa Breslin
Obnoxious, pushy, inattentive, nonresponsive. A horse that is “far from ideal” has many of those characteristics, according to Scott Purdum, 21, creator of Advantage Horsemanship in Union Bridge, Maryland.
The ideal horse moves when it is told, has a willing disposition, loves its job and loves to be around its owner.
For more than five years, people who have difficult horses have turned to Purdum. Some bring in problem horses; other folks bring him horses that need breaking; one client even brought him an ornery mule.
Sometimes Purdum works with older horses that just need what he calls a “tune up.”
“Ironically, there are more owners that are far from ideal than there are horses,” said Purdum.
Purdum has broken and trained mustangs, sport horses, quarter horses and ex-race horses to make hunters. He has also broken two-year olds for the track. Much of his work takes place at Fox Quarter Farm, a full-service boarding and riding facility that is family-owned and managed by his parents, Ron and Susie Purdum.
Scott also travels to people’s homes or farms, most often to teach trailer loading to clients and their horses.
Purdum studied equine management at the University of Maryland. He also worked as an intern with quarter horse trainer Ken Adkins in West Virginia.
“I learned almost everything I know from Ken. I still lean on him from time to time.” Purdum said. “He is a remarkable mentor.”
Purdum offers customized sessions for clients and their horses, as well as group lessons. Throughout the year, he also participates in exhibitions and clinics to teach both horse and handler to form a better relationship with each other.
“Ninety percent of the horses I work with have speed issues,” Purdum said. “The horses go too fast and the riders can’t enjoy them. And speed issues are the result of poor balance.”
All of Purdum’s work is rooted in his philosophy that most horses become more ideal when training incorporates a balance of four things: leadership, exercise, affection and discipline.
“Success involves equal amounts of all four of these things,” he said. “For example, too much affection makes a horse pushy and dominant.”
Purdum is quick to note that just as there are characteristics linked to the ideal horse, there are also specific qualities linked to the ideal horse owner.
“That owner,” he said, “is open to all training techniques, willing to do homework and smart enough to know that there is no quick fix when it comes to training a horse.”
As you might expect, Purdum’s work is highly regarded in the equestrian community.
One client who brought Purdum a cantankerous mule appreciated his help so much that he sent Purdum a t-shirt that states “The Ass Whisperer.”
And although he has a respect for their skills, Purdum said a horse (or ass) whisperer he is not.
“I come to the horse with a lot of respect, common sense and experience that seems to bring out the best in them, but I am not a horse whisperer,” he said.
Scott Purdum began his show career at age 6 and has continued riding and showing hunters and pleasure horses since. He considers his work with Advantage Horsemanship an extension of what he loves to do most.
“Nothing beats working with horses,” Purdum said. “Well, working with horses and helping their owners bring out the best in them; that combination makes this career ideal.”