Our Family (L-R: Sarah, Tom, Greg, Jan, Tanner, Megan, Jaime, Tyler)
Little did we know that the purchase of Flint almost 20 years ago would change our lives forever. Flint was a 2 year old grade Draft cross that we thought would make a great cattle horse someday....his size and muscling looked full of promise. What we didn't know was that his owner had abused and mistreated him in his first two years of life. It was years later when we learned that his owner had even chased him into a makeshift barn a few months before we bought him and six men manhandled the horse and threw him to the ground and held him there to geld him. There were no tranquilizers, soft hands or gentle thoughts used, only loud men with ropes and gloves. Fast forward a year later when Flint was 3 and had grown into a big, strong gelding. Greg began working with him and eventually proceeded to put the first rides on him. Flint could buck like no other horse we had ever seen. He would seem like he was doing okay but just the slightest wrong movement would make him feel the need to "unload"! And unload he did. (At one point, there was even discussion and offers for him to be sold as rodeo stock!) One day, after being thrown for yet another time, Greg came in the house and said "Jan, I am either going to quit riding horses or figure out some other way. What I'm doing is just not working!".
It was then that we started searching for other ways to ride and handle our horses. We started going to different clinicians, finding some things that we thought might help and others that we knew wouldn't. When Greg met Tom Dorrance, he indeed knew there was something "more"! Greg has since said that "Shaking the hand of Tom Dorrance" was an honor and something he will never forget. We also met Harry Whitney, and we knew we were on to something. Soon after those meetings, we met Ray Hunt. The instant Greg saw Ray and watched him ride for the very first time, he knew that he wanted to work at attaining a level of horsemanship beyond what most are happy to have. It was Ray who helped send our family on a life-long jouney that we are enjoying tremendously. Greg, Tyler and Megan have ridden with Ray many times in past years, even spending 2 weeks for 2 recent summers on his ranch in Idaho. We have hosted Ray here at our ranch 2 times (and feel blessed to have known such a great horseman) and also have hosted other clinicians like Bryan Neubert, Lee Smith, Rick Cornwell, Larry Talsma, Jesse Munk and others.
This journey of achieving a higher level of horsemanship skill to make riding more enjoyable for both our horses and our family has become a passion. Twelve years ago, our barn and riding arena were built to help promote this way of thinking for horse owners. We enjoy meeting people and their horses and enjoying sharing some of what we are learning. We believe that the horse isn't the one who is wrong. A horse is just being a horse when it does what it feels it has to do. Many people just don't understand the horse or have the ability or skill to anticipate or expect what might be coming nor are they always able to communicate what needs to be said so the horse can understand. They don't know how to make a horse feel comfortable.
Oh, and Flint? He has always been Greg's favorite horse to ride on the trail, rope calves in the pasture or drag calves to the branding fire. He now has a job on a working ranch in Montana and is still doing well. A very happy home for a great horse that most people would have given up on for sure because they "just didn't know"......