Answers to some often asked questions
How would you summarize your approach to teaching?
A summary is difficult as each horse is so different, nothing is finite when working with horses. One thread that runs through all of my work is allowing the horse to learn. Set things up in a way that he can learn, and allow them to figure it out. I am very adamant that horses be comfortable physically as well, anyone who works with me is familiar with me running my hands along a horse who looks a little uncomfortable and us having discussions about helping their bodies be healthier. If they are in pain or un-comfortable they cannot learn, this dovetails into all sorts of problems... some of which can become very dangerous. I try to look at the horse in a holistic way so I can see the connections, and anything that might hold up the learning process. Once we make sure the horse is working well physically then we can address the training, such as the horse’s understanding of their foundation, and later; refinement.
What is the most important thing you try to teach your students?
Self reliance, and solid basics about horsemanship. If we learn our own foundations as riders really well we can help out our horses so much more. I like to help people develop their own intuition to go along with their work so that they can hear that little voice that might help them out when they get into a tough spot. I don’t want a rider who is dependent on me every day for a good ride, I want to create a rider who is self reliant and can do her own self study because they are prepared.
I always try to get folks to see the horse's point of view. If a horse is reacting in a way we don't like, its often because they weren't prepared propertly, do not understand, or both. It's all too easy to say a horse is "stubborn" or "doesn't want to do something". Almost all horses are willing to do what we ask, provided they understand it and get comfort from it. Helping a horse be comfortable by slowing down, preparing them better and being consistent is often the key to solving problems.
What is the main goal of your training program?
To create a solid, happy, well balanced, all around riding horse that can “fill in” for a person when it needs to. Regardless of the job it’s being asked to do. The by-product of helping a horse have a solid foundation and understanding of its role is all the things people want: a partnership, a horse they can trust, a friend, a companion, a horse that tracks them with their eyes and nickers for them when they approach, the soft polite reach for the halter. Horses become this way because they feel confidence and contentment about their lives and jobs, and understand what we ask them to do for us.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
There are so many things! I usually end a day of teaching, or even one session so happy I can’t believe I get paid to do what I do. I love seeing the people I help when they are out and about doing things with their horses and having fun. When I see pictures of them on Facebook on a trail ride or at a horse show with a smile, and see their horse’s body language is happy and relaxed... it just makes my day.
As far as my own work with horses and my own knowledge path, I’m obsessed with learning how to do things better. I live for that moment when I find a new way to explain something to my horse, and they understand, that moment when the learning settles in, and I can see their eyes soften up and mouth begin to work. I enjoy helping horses feel better about things, and see a horse’s talent emerge as they try new things in their training. Each of my horses has presented me with a new challenge, and pushed me to be better as a rider, and a person. My reward is every day when I walk out and my mares line up for the halter to be saddled. They are just as ready to get busy as I am, and that makes me feel good about where I'm headed with them.