I grew up with horses, mainly long packing trips riding endless miles into the back country of the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountains of Idaho. Because of all the time I spent with the horses in this rugged terrain I had to learn how to understand, communicate, read and trust them. By doing this at such a young age a deep intuition about horse communication was ignited in me.
At the age of 13, I started working with wild BLM mustangs. I did not have any formal training, just me in a pen with a wild horse. All I knew was what I learned from watching the horses out in the pasture. I realized I had to learn how to mimic their body language the best I could in order to be understood by them. It was very apparent to me that these horses were just behaving in the only way they knew… flight or fight. It was at this time that my first horse teacher came into my life.
Sadie was the horse that started my life long journey. I had no idea what a blessing she was going to turn out to be and the passion she was igniting in me. Sadie was originally adopted from the BLM as an untouched three year old. Six years later she was up for sale again. When she was brought into the pen, someone was riding her bareback and in a halter. My Mom had been looking for a large, quiet, reliable horse and Sadie appeared to be all those things. She was loaded up that day and we brought her home. It wasn’t until the next day that we realized she had been drugged and that she actually had very little training, if any.
The next morning I went to the pasture to visit her and she charged me. It was obvious she was afraid and mistrustful of humans. At that time, I had no idea what to do but I knew I could never out run her. Instinctively, I made myself big and ran right back at her, waving my arms and slapping my thighs with my hands. Luckily, it worked! She turned and ran into the round pen where I shut her in.
My mom was furious and scared for how I could have been hurt, and wanted to sell Sadie right away. Somehow I convinced her to give me two weeks to at least get Sadie safe to be around. She agreed and Sadie was soon following me around like a dog, looking for affection at all times. In the next few months I was beginning to ride her around the pasture bareback in a halter.
My mom now says she saw the light in my eyes and couldn’t ignore the passion stirring inside me. I am so thankful she was wise enough to recognize this as the start of my journey.
Since working with Sadie, my heart is always happiest working with horses that seem to have no future with humans. I have grown to love the many tests they give me in my horsemanship, to see their confusion and fear disappear and to watch them explore what its like to have a deep fulfilling relationship with humans.
At the age of 17, I started working at a high end dressage barn. I worked there for 3 years caring for over 60 horses and assisting in their training. I learned a lot, including what I didn’t want to be as a trainer. I recognized the many ways in which horses were forced in their training. This left no room for willingness.
During my time at the dressage barn, I met my future husband, Ben. At the age of 20, we married and started our life together. He was a highly certified welder at the time and I continued working at the dressage barn.
We have always been a couple to follow our hearts. We knew we would never achieve our dreams if we simply settled for our comfort. Within 6 months we decided to take the first step toward my dream of owning a boarding and training barn.
We quit our jobs, packed up what we had and moved to Longmont, Colorado where I found a job working as a ranch hand for a well known trainer. Ben got a job at a 4×4 shop near by to help make ends meet.
Even though Sadie continued to teach and support me for years, she was too old to safely make the move and stayed with my mom. She enjoyed a few more years of retirement before passing and taking on her true form as a magnificent angel.
At the new barn, I soon started training some of the horses and after 6 months the owner approached me with a proposition. She decided to move with her husband and start a new training business in Nebraska. She offered to me the business, the lease of the facility and the clients.
I was ecstatic about the opportunity to begin my journey towards my life long dream, however, very doubtful that this would be the right timing. My husband and I had very little money. At 21 years of age, I had no experience being self employed, running a business or taking care of clients. I was nervously excited to share this opportunity with Ben that evening. I was uncertain of his response and if he would share the same doubts I had.
After explaining everything to him, he pulled up our checking account and pointed out the $13.00 balance. He turned to me and said, “Can we really go down from here? Let’s do it. Let’s see what we can make of it!”
And so it began… We had a month to get everything in order. I wanted to make the business my own and create a smooth transition for my new clients. It was a whirlwind of a month and I quickly learned a lot about owning a small business.
November 1st, 2011 was the first day of EAH being in existence. I already had my first horse coming in for training that day. We have never looked back.
About two months into owning the business, one of my new boarders had her farrier out to shoe her horse. After finishing chores, I walked in the barn and saw Ben sitting on a turned over bucket watching the farrier work. Ben was intent and asking many questions.
The farrier, Steve Foxworth, seemed enthused about Ben’s interest. After finishing the horse, he turned to Ben and asked if he would like to start as his apprentice. Ben’s eyes lit up. I became excited about the potential of my husband being a farrier.
Two weeks later, Ben started a two year apprenticeship. During his training, he was introduced to the Equine Lameness Prevention Organization (ELPO), of which Steve is president. Ben realized he shared that passion and we eventually became more involved in the ELPO. After graduating in 2014, he was a Certified Barefoot Trimmer, Shoer and Lameness Specialist.
By 2015, the ELPO was inviting him to their clinics to assist in teaching their protocols and certify other farriers. Ben is now a well known lameness farrier in the area and provides amazing hoof care to the horses here at the barn. He also holds many clinics at EAH to teach our clients about the hoof and why what he does prevents further lameness.
Ben is a huge asset to the success of EAH for many reasons. He helps me extensively when it comes to lameness issues, whether it be one of my personal horses, a client’s horse or a horse we have rescued. In addition to his farrier work, he is very gifted in several talents including welding and mechanics. He is a knowledgeable handy man and helps out frequently with fencing, repairs and anything else needing attention.
Ben and I thoroughly enjoy the life we have created together. We are blessed that we are able to do something we are passionate about and enjoy sharing with other people. We are often reminded how fulfilling it is to make a difference in a someone’s life, whether it be a person or horse. We always wonder who is being touched deeper, them or us.
Ben and I also share a love for dogs and have taken in four. They have all needed our support through emotional or behavioral issues. Once they learned to trust and find comfort in the family environment, they have flourished. Three of the dogs hang at the ranch with me all day. The other one is Ben’s farrier pup and keeps him company while driving around from stop to stop.
I enjoy many activities with my horses. I like connecting with each of my horses on a deep, individualized level.
It is absolutely awe inspiring to see what EAH has become. It is so much more than just a typical boarding and training barn. Those that are attracted to EAH have a commitment to partnership and continued growth. We all support each other through the ebbs and flows of horsemanship…and life in general. I am honored to have the community here that makes this place what it is, for both the horses and people alike.
We here at EAH are very excited about the blessings in store for us as we continue our journey. We would love to have you join us, if you feel this is a good fit for you. Thank you for reading our story and we look forward to adding to it through the years to come!