In 1997 Karen fulfilled her desire to move out of the big city and into the country. She moved to a small ranch in Hollister, California and began her dream of riding and training horses. Karen was fortunate to be in an area where there were many trainers in the field of Natural Horsemanship. She first trained under two trainers: Ramona Coates and Paula Rodriguez. They had trained under Ray Hunt from Northern California, who trained under legendary horseman Tom Dorrance.
The theory they used is always working from where the horse is at, being aware of the horse’s physical and mental expression. What she learned from them was that there is nothing mystical about training horses. It is just having a passion for horses and being aware of feel, timing, and balance. Ray Hunt transcended traditional ideas of working with horses. He wasn’t the first to do this, but he’s the man responsible for spreading the gospel of modern training and horsemanship techniques literally around the world. He is the source of the modern genre of horse clinicians.
Tom Dorrance is perhaps the most widely revered “master horseman” and “master teacher” of our generation. He is recognized by many as being the “founding father,” the original source, the place where this approach to horsemanship originated—an approach that has been labeled by some as “natural horsemanship” or “resistance free training.” A phrase that sums up Tom philosophy is, “True Unity: Willing Communication Between Horse and Human.” Karen was very fortunate to be able to learn from the best Natural Horsemanship is based on a kinder, gentler way of working with the horse; one that recognizes the horse for being exactly what it is—a horse; one that works for cooperation, understanding, and ultimately, unity between horse and rider.
In 2004 Karen moved from California to Missouri. During this time, she met another Natural Horseman, Chris Cox. She first met him in Springfield, Illinois at a horse event and immediately related to his horsemanship techniques. Since 2005, Karen has been able to go several times to Mineral Wells, Texas and work with Chris Cox. His motto is “Building Confidence Through Knowledge.” This inspired Karen, so, when possible, she takes the opportunity to increase her knowledge by attending horsemanship events and clinics. The theory he uses is Keep It Simple: the less you need in the way of special equipment to communicate with your horse, the better.