The Three R’s of Horsemanship, Relaxed, Responsive, Respectful
Nearly 40 years of being involved with horses has led to a devotion to make the world a better place for the horse and to help the people that handle horses have a better understanding of what they need to offer the horse. If I can get both horse and human off on the right path, hopefully there won’t be any troubles.
The only horse nut in a suburban raised family in CA, I lay my “horse crazy” mentality squarely at my mother’s feet. The shoe store where I grew up had a pony ride out front. At 3 years old, that first pony ride was the start of it all.
Breyer horse models sufficed for a time, then on that 9th birthday, a year’s worth of riding lessons the gift, the foundation was laid. 8 years of lessons, showing grade & Appaloosa’s in local shows, led to showing on the Paint horse circuit. Halter horses, pleasure horses (English & Western), trail, western riding, everything had an appeal.
Starting my first colt at the “old age” of 20, put the “bug” in me to learn more about how to help horses to “get right”. Not knowing I was doing “natural horsemanship”, it just seemed to make sense to teach a colt how to respond to cues on the ground first before climbing on. 11 years of success (and failure!) training my own horses and outside horses for everything from trail to games to showing was like scratching an itch, it felt good, but what was the underlying reason?
A chance led me to a Buck Brannaman clinic in Acton, CA in 1996. It was a revelation. This same year also introduced me to Doug Williamson, NRCHA World Champion and Hall of Fame Inductee, showing me the world of the reined cow horse, I was hooked on the western performance horse!
Moving to Nevada in 1997 proved a challenge to the horseman in me. Being a single mom was tough and the horses ended up on the back burner for several years, never gone, but just waiting in the wings. Every year I attended a clinic of Buck’s, sometimes riding, sometimes just auditing, but ALWAYS learning and applying. Every year I also attended the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno, helping Doug where I could and ALWAYS learning. In 2003, I went to work for Doug, traveling with him from show to show, riding, working and learning.
Moving back to Nevada in 2004, I realized that the high pressure show world just wasn’t what I wanted, there had to be a way to meld the 2 together. The next 11 years were spent working these things out with my own horses, some outside horses, lessons to
private clients, 2 stints as the Horsemanship Instructor for the Douglas County Mounted Posse and certification as an Equine Specialist with EAGALA (equine assisted therapy).
While working in the equine assisted therapy world, she realized what was missing from the “rest of the horse world”. So many people wanted to learn, to be better horsemen, to do a better job, but the really good clinicians and trainers had a tendency to skim over some of the most important fundamentals, not because they are unimportant, but because they are so second nature to these people that they tend to forget about it. Things as simple as how to move their legs, arms and feet both on the ground and in the saddle. How to handle the halter rope more effectively BEFORE putting it on the horse. Little things that have a BIG impact. Little things that people that have been riding for years, even trainers and full time cowboys have missed that are the foundation of things to come.
Now my time has come. Disliking the moniker “natural horsemanship” (there is NOTHING natural about how we want to deal with horses), I prefer the terminology “common sense horsemanship”. I offers full time training, including colt starting, restarts for troubled horses (a particular specialty), taking horses into new disciplines, private lessons, mini-clinics and workshops.
I also offer equine event organization (2010 proved a stellar year with a very successful series of dressage schooling shows) and is the Nevada clinic host for Buck Brannaman. A website is in the very near future.