My training philosophy

It all started when my family moved to a small farm in Northwest Ohio when I was five years old. I was obsessed with horses and my great uncle Red was delighted and helped build our barn. To this day he remains the greatest horseman I've ever known. He wasn't famous, didn't medal in the Olympics but he could read and understand any horse and trained with humility maintaining a healthy sense of humor. His Father was a teamster back when they drove horses and he learned about horses sitting next to him on the wagon and helping him care for the team. He served in World War 1 in the cavalry where he learned that the best horses in the world are "ornery mares" because they will always save your life on the battle field. With that in mind off we went to the local auction to buy my first pony.

The auction was crowded and I wanted every horse that passed through the pen. I waited impatiently watching my Uncle closely as he inspected each horse. Then he said "the cream colored ponies, those are the ones". Two completely feral pony mares, wild eyed and manes and tails full of burrs were run into the pen and the bidding started. They were beautiful and I named them Taffy and Ginger. The next few months I watched my uncle gentle and tame them and I learned the basics of grooming and eventually tacking. It was a great day that first time my Uncle sat me on top of Taffy and led me around. A few days later I begged him to turn us loose and he reluctantly agreed. Taffy promptly bolted across a plowed field bucking me off. I was scooped up and put back on the mare and led around while Uncle Red explained that I was one step closer to being a horseman. I learned a lot that day. I learned that sometimes you have to fall before you succeed. It also set me on a path of discovery wanting to learn as much as I could about horses. The following days I spent every possible moment with Taffy trying to figure out what went wrong. I pestered my parents and Uncle to help me ride her again and instead they purchased an older Shetland pony trained to drive with minimal riding experience. Orbit was the pony that should have been my first pony at the age of 5 but I will never forget Taffy.

A lot of horses and people have passed through my life since then. I learned something from every single one of them. I made mistakes, lots of them, but I learned from those too. I was fortunate to learn from horseman from many disciplines including Tom Dorance who reminded me of my Uncle Red. I learned that there are many ways to train a horse. In college I learned from different instructors and many fabulous school horses but also studied the great riding masters throughout history and of course classical dressage. I graduated with a B.S. in equine sciences but the learning never stopped. I've learned that both people and horses learn very differently as much as each individual horse is unique. Therefore no one training technique suits every horse or rider. Horses and riders are living breathing puzzles and no two puzzles ever come together the same way. I find that training is more a path of discovery and I find great joy in leading riders down that path to success by being creative and finding what works for each horse and rider.