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In the Beginning…
I began riding for fun on barefoot and bareback on a few backyard ponies but with
lessons I began to focus on jumpers. The United States Pony Club expanded my
knowledge and experience and I quickly was drawn towards Three Day Eventing
after a few cross-country rides. I loved the adrenaline rush of galloping up over hills,
down through streams and then out over huge fences! I left home at a young age
to focus on training and competing: my riding brought me throughout the US and
finally to England.
Although my main focus was Three Day, I wanted to expand my field of knowledge and experience a variety of disciplines, training styles and breeds. I worked in Jumper and Dressage barns, schooling, conditioning and training horses. I attended jockey school, to learn the the ins and outs of several race tracks and a glimpse of the racing world.
I trained with instructors of various backgrounds throughout the US, and
was able to experience all aspects of Three Day from the competitor's standpoint,
the training standpoint, the course designer and competition host. I was surrounded
by international caliber competitors, taught by national and international trainers,
chef d'equipes, olympic competitors and coaches with varied backgrounds.
I found that the more I saw, the increasingly frustrated I became with the lack of concern for
what I would consider as a quality foundation- in both the horses and riders. I found the lack of concern for either the horse and/or rider's mental, emotional and physical well being was a crucial missing key to the "big picture." I realized the "higher up" I got, the more I was surrounded by folks who seemed to have had lost sight of why they were riding and competing, and had let politics and the continual stress of finances cloud their perspective, values and goals.
I was beyond disappointed to realize the goal I
had been working so hard towards, would not in the
long run make me or my horses happy. So I left the sport.
Even though I was not riding, I continued to stay in touch
with friends from the equine world. My interest was slowly rekindled accidentally when I became involved with a Pony Club in Hawaii. From there, it evolved when I went as a spectator to an event in Kalispell, MT. I saw people who were riding for the pure enjoyment of the sport. This encouraged me to once again become involved with the sport.
Being reacquainted with United States Pony Club, but this time as a trainer and District Commissioner, and I began to teach and ride again. And somehow, troubled horses kept seeming to "find" their way to me.
I also was reunited with one of the finest horseman I've ever met, but this time, I was mentally available to finally appreciate what he was offering. He helped me re-evaluate my underlying basic thought and interaction with the horses. And although for many years I had survived riding the crazy or unpredictable hrose, I now had to re-evaluate everything I thought I knew, in terms of the quality of the partnership between the horse and I.
Years have been spent (and I still continue to focus) on refining my own level of awareness, ability to assess, my sensitivity and timing. Every time I teach, it improves my riding; every horse I ride, improves my teaching. Opportunities learning from quality horseman have continued to inspire my own equine experiences and my students learning. My journey has allowed me to share with others others the tools and aids to clearly and effectively communicate with their horse to build a quality partnership whose foundation is built on respect and trust.
I now travel as a clinician throughout the United States and world wide during the winter months; in the summer I'm based at The Equestrian Center, LLC in Sandpoint, ID offering lessons, training and Full Immersion Clinics. For the past 14 years I’ve used Yuma, AZ as my winter base.
By now my experience has allowed me to step back and “see” more of the whole picture; I use a mixture of ideas and theories that I've developed to hone my personalized training and teaching style for horses and students, whether competitive or pleasure riders. My goal of achieving a horse's mental availability so that they are open to having a "conversation" while we work together is the foundation of my teaching principles. From watching, clinicing, and auditing with quality horse folks throughout the world, and mostly from the horses themselves, it has become abundantly clear that winning over a horse’s mental availability completely changes the entire relationship. I encourage riders of all experiences and disciplines to peruse this website and also to visit my blog for more on my training theories and philosophies!
For a more in depth explanation check out the Alternative Horsemanship and RESPECT pages to learn more about ground work philosophy and the Riding with Sam and Riding Basics for lesson style.