Grady's Biographical Sketch

Dr. Grady Carter and JewelLike Pat says, "There are two types of people, those who love horses and the other kind." I am definitely of the first variety. Growing up around horses (my parents had Palomino show horses, then racing Quarter Horses, then Thoroughbred racing horses) my equine experiences were confined to someone helping me get on an already saddled horse, then being told to, "Kick 'em to go and pull 'em to whoa and if he runs off, you'd better hold on." Having the good fortune to grow up in Texas with its mild winters, I was pretty much horseback year round from the age of 8 until I went to college. Much to my regret, there simply wasn't enough time in college, medical school, or during my anesthesia residency to have or play with horses. But, periodically I would find myself going to a local rodeo or horse show just to smell the horses. I just love that smell.

I vowed to get a place in the country as soon as I could, and the first order of business would be to buy some horses. This dream came true in 1980. At our ranch, during the following 15 years I became quite competitive in two distinct disciplines. I learned how to team rope and got pretty handy at catching those horns. I even won some money at local jackpot ropings. In the early 90's I changed disciplines to cutting. I secured the teaching/training services of a nationally-known cutting horse trainer, and he taught me how to ride those wonderfully athletic horses. I was doing pretty well, winning at local and regional cuttings when family obligations caused us to shift our focus from country things back to city things.

In the late 1990's things settled down and that "horse itch" that I had sublimated for so long came to the surface. The opportunity to scratch that itch was not long in coming. Each January the city of Ft. Worth hosts the Southwestern Exposition and Live Stock Show. As part of that great event, there is an Invitational Ranch Horse Show and Sale. "What a perfect chance", I thought, "to get a good, gentle, well trained horse".

During the Ranch Horse competition I watched intently, scoring each horse, and when the competition closed there were a few that had caught my eye. Still, I was not completely sold on any one horse. What caused me to keep my hand up to become the last bid on the horse I finally bought, was how the horse responded to the owner's daughter. After the owner finished showing the horse's talents, he unsaddled and his 9-year-old daughter climbed up on the horse, bareback, and rode him around. She got off, rubbed him all over, and the horse put his head down to let her stroke his ears. I was sold. I thought, "What a wonderfully gentle attitude this horse has." Yeah, right!

After the sale I met the owner and his family. We talked and arranged to have "There's A Ten" delivered. I wanted him delivered to me early the next morning, but the seller said (what I was later to find was a very telling comment), "It might take me awhile to get everyone loaded-up in the morning." Well, I didn't think much about this statement at the time since he had come all the way from west Texas and was staying in a motel. I thought he meant he might have a hard time getting his family organized, out the door, and loaded-up. Yeah, right!

When we met at the stable the next morning to unload 'Ten', I thought it rather odd to see him blow-out the back of the trailer. "What happened to the docile, gentle attitude this horse had?" I asked myself, but didn't give it too much more thought. We all said our cordial good-bye's as the previous owner and his family headed home. I was once again in the horse business, yea! Yeah, right!

I spent a few days getting to know 'Ten', but not long after I got him I just couldn't stand it any longer, and I had to get on him. I hopped on him bareback. Mistake! I found myself on the ground in very short order. Over the next several weeks I rode him with a saddle. Yep, no ground work, just saddle him up, get on, kick to go and pull to whoa.

After about 6 weeks of trying to establish a relationship with 'Ten', some friends asked me to bring him to their place and show him off. I readily agreed, but had some trepidation about loading him in a trailer. When the day of the visit came, we spent an hour trying to coax and cajole him into our new trailer. No luck. I was embarrassed when I had to call our friends and tell them we would be late because I couldn't load 'Ten'. They said, "Don't worry about it, just go get two nylon webbed lunge lines. Tie one end to his nylon webbed halter and run it around the center post of the trailer, tie the other nylon lunge line to the end of the first one, and run it around the horse's butt. Then stand in front of the horse at his side and PULL!" Being a 5-star guncil, I did exactly what my friend had suggested. I won't go into all the gory details of the major battle that ensued, but suffice it to say it was just plain UGLY! Thank God neither 'Ten' or anyone else got physically hurt. I had to cancel our outing. Needless to say, my ego and pride were crushed, and 'Ten' knew he didn't want any part of the guncil on the other end of that lunge line.

The trailer loading fiasco fell closely on the heels of an acrobatic stunt, performed by me, when 'Ten' showed me where his ejection button was located. I wasn't getting anywhere with this horse. My first reaction was to blame the horse. That was the easy thing to do, and when I got through with that I still wasn't getting anywhere with the horse. I didn't know what to do or where to turn.

I was lamenting my horse woes to a nurse anesthetist friend of mine at the hospital, and she gave me a book to read. It was Pat's Natural Horse Man Ship book. I was incensed. My macho Texas cowboy ego bristled. I thought to myself, "I don't need no stinking book!" But the truth of the matter was that I desperately did. I took the book, out of courtesy and only a small amount of curiosity. After a few days of it languishing on a shelf, I gave it a cursory glance. Interestingly, I noticed that Pat used many of the same encouraging phrases that I had used when I managed a select youth baseball team that earned their way to compete in the AAU Junior Olympics (and won a Bronze medal). I thought, "This Parelli guy can't be all bad if he thinks the way I do."

That cursory glance at Pat's book turned into serious consideration and ultimately into an in-depth study. I ordered the 7 Games video and watched it over and over, each time wishing I had that kind of relationship with 'Ten'. With the encouragement I got from the videotape, the office in Pagosa, and with no where else to turn, I committed to Pat's levels program. I found that learning the program on my own was much more difficult than I had imagined. I couldn't seem to break that old aggressive predator behavior pattern.

Grady with one of his favorite girls, Ms. OakThroughout my previous experience with horses I had seen them as a mode of transportation or a way to win a prize. I came to the awareness that I had never had a close, trusting relationship with a horse and didn't know how to establish one. I didn't know how to begin to think in the new way that Pat was talking about. I called the office in Pagosa and plaintively pleaded for help. The customer representative told me that an approved instructor lives about 50 miles south of me. I called her and asked for HELP!

Our first lesson was a hoot. I was all decked-out in my cowboy best. Before we began, my instructor said in her most gentle and kind way, "Pat thinks that students shouldn't wear spurs until they have completed Level 3". I thought, "What kind of outfit is this, anyway? I wore 'em when I rode my cuttin' horses." In deference to her request, I reluctantly took them off. In retrospect, that was the best thing I had ever done to further my relationship and communication with horses. She asked me if I knew any of the Games and I said, "Yes". She said, "Show me what you know." I started playing the first 3 games and 'Ten' got so reactive, so spooky, and so fearful of me and my big and fast gestures that he got all right brained. It was a mess. My instructor just watched me, and when I got through terrifying my horse she said, "Let's see if we can do it this way." She proceeded to show me how Pat wanted it done and 'Ten' responded like a different horse. He went where she asked, he did what she asked, and was calm about it. She then proceeded to show me how to modify my behaviors so that I could achieve the same results. I was amazed.

After this first lesson I was hooked and earnestly committed to Pat's program. Ten and I played with each other daily, my instructor gave me "homework" which I enthusiastically did, and gradually Ten taught me how to begin to become a horseman. We completed Level 1 in 6 weeks, Level 2 in 3 months, and Level 3 in 2 years.

Miss Oak enjoying a bite of grass.

On September 8, 2001, Pat awarded me my Level 3 in front of 1,000 Savvy Conference attendees. Two days later, as Pat and I were having a conversation, I told him that I wanted to be an instructor. Pat was very kind and complimentary of how far Ten and I had come, and told me that he was pleased to give me his unqualified endorsement as a 1-Star PNH Instructor. My joy was beyond description. Since that time I have progressed to earn my 3-Star Instructor rating. Ten and I continue to pursue Level 4 horsemanship competencies. The real beauty of the path I have chosen is that there truly is no end to the learning -- from my horse, Pat, Linda, Ronnie Willis, other PNH instructors, and my students.