Phillips Linda

Phillips

POCATELLO — On a hilltop just north of Pocatello stands one of the area’s newest boarding and training facilities: Diamond Stables & Arena.

Owned and operated by Rick Merzlock and Cynthia Cox, the 3-year-old business is going strong with boarding options of private stalls, shared paddocks or shared pastures. On-site storage for tack and supplements is offered. Access to the indoor and outdoor arenas is included with the boarding fee.

Merzlock trains the horses, while Cox has taken on the jobs of bookkeeper, barn manager and events organizer. The arrangement plays to the strengths of each partner.

Merzlock has 45 years of experience in rodeo and training horses. He has qualified for the American Cowboys Team Roping Association national finals in Reno, Nev. However, he is most proud of the years he spent working clinics with well-known horsemen Ray Hunt and Les Vogt.

He is a proponent of Hunt’s natural horsemanship techniques and his training results are proof they work.

“We have people from all over the western U.S. sending us horses,” he said.

“People Rick has trained horses for are our biggest advertisers,” said Cox. “Rick is very good at starting colts. He can really communicate with them.”

“It came from Ray,” Merzlock said. “He is the one who taught me to humble myself so that I can communicate with the horse. It is giving him (the horse) the opportunity to work with me.”

At the stables, Merzlock’s training covers starting colts, horsemanship, roping, barrel racing, pole bending, trail riding and tune-ups.

Cynthia also has a strong equestrian background. She was raised around horses and competes regionally in barrel races and AQHA shows. At the 2018 AQHA World Show she placed third in the Amateur Level 2 stake race.

The horsemanship lessons they offer are popular, with clinics geared toward beginners, intermediate and advanced riders. Students are awarded certificates upon graduating from the levels. Individual and group lessons are offered.

Beginners are taught groundwork and safety, including bridling, saddling, grooming, how to lead and hoof care.

“If they can’t get the horse to respect them on the ground, they won’t get it in the saddle,” said Merzlock.

Intermediate classes cover riding at a walk, trot and posting with confidence as well as an introduction to leg cues.

Advanced students revisit earlier lessons plus seat position, lead departures, how to collect the horse and how to move the horse with leg pressure.

With the training, lessons, offering clinics and competing, Cox and Merzlock keep busy.

“We are never bored,’ said Cox.

While the business is doing well, the couple puts an emphasis on building an equestrian community.

“We want to keep young people interested in rodeo, roping and the equestrian lifestyle,” said Merzlock. “If you look at 4-H, they aren’t doing as much with horses (as in the past). ... We are here to help people. It’s not about making money. It’s to help people enjoy their horses.”

Rick Merzlock can be contacted by phone at 541-303-3150 or by email at diamondstablesandarena@gmail.com. The business’ Facebook page can be found by searching for Diamond Stables & Arena or go to www.diamondstablesperformancehorses.com. The stable and arenas are located at 314 Cutshalts Road north of Pocatello.

Photojournalist Linda Phillips has 25 years experience as a journalist, photographer, copy editor and graphic designer. To contact her, email Farm & Ranch Managing Editor Bill Bradshaw at freditor@post register.com.

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