Karen opened Solitaire Ranch in 1999. Prior to establishing her own training facility she spent 10 years working with trainers in a variety of disciplines, including western pleasure, English pleasure/Park, cutting and reining, and hunter/jumper, and starting many horses under saddle.
At Solitaire Ranch, Karen focuses on providing horses a safe environment for learning basic all-around skills and re-starting horses who need a second chance. A long-time student of natural horsemanship as taught by Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Pat Parelli, Nuno Oliveira, and Dominique Barbier, Karen utilizes their teachings in her work with horses.
The key to success in training or rehabilitating horses is the active participation of the owners who must be prepared to study horse behavior and natural instincts,
the psychological and physical needs of horses, as well as
develop adequate riding and handling skills.
Horses of any age, breed or background are trained or re-trained utilizing the principles of the ONLY NATURAL philosophy to ensure that the horse has a solid, well-rounded foundation, and to fulfill the specific desires of the owner. Natural training produces mental dexterity, emotional stability and physical strength. Natural methods also prepare the equine athlete for more demanding performance skills and exposure to new and different stimuli by the time the foundation program is successfully completed.
A truly solid foundation teaches the horse how to use its body athletically and economically, respond to the rider quickly and respectfully, and control its emotions to the point of overriding its innate instincts in the face of whatever human-world "monsters" it encounters.
It takes years of professional training to equate the real world experience old time ranch horses gained by age 5 or 6. Much of the training horses receive today is in specialized arena work.
Frequently the horse becomes adept at a specific job, maybe even becomes a champion competitor. Or, in the case of horses intended for recreational use, they may get a few short weeks or months of training before being asked to perform like a seasoned trail horse. Horses rarely get a complete foundation. For the sake of their own safety, owners should understand that time is a major ingredient in the proper preparation of any equine companion or competitor. The actual amount of time is directly proportional to the owner's horsemanship skill level and knowledge of equine psychology.
Starting Under Saddle
Horses over the age of 36 months can be started under saddle. Special care is given to protect the horse from physical or mental overloads. Each horse is evaluated prior to the start of training to determine the current physical condition, general attitude and personality. A training program is then mapped out based on the owner's goals for the horse and its ability to handle the stress of training. Each horse is trained in a progressive exercise program to develop the muscle and skeletal systems within the limits of these physical capacities. Ground manners and trailer loading are included in the foundation education.
Rendered dangerous, unpredictable or non-responsive by the excesses of misguided handling, many horses lose their ability to function in the human world. Once labeled as a "problem", these horses seldom find a happy or permanent home.
Karen has successfully rehabilitated numerous troubled horses over the years. Time is a key ingredient to reaching the depths of these horses. By focusing on the actual causes rather than the symptoms of misbehavior, Karen is able to assist the horse in re-evaluating the human world.
Re-training horses consists of replacing fearful reactions to punishment-based cues with positive mental experiences which evoke the desired physical responses. However, should the horse be ridden or handled in the same manner that created the bad behaviors, it is likely that those behaviors will resurface. Therefore, especially with troubled horses, the owner's commitment to change his or her riding and handling methods, as well as his perceptions of horses, is critical to success.
Only Natural Training
Solitaire Ranch provides full care boarding in a facility consisting of barn stalls with attached runs and outdoor covered corrals. All boarding programs provide free choice, top quality, coastal hay, grain, and group turnout in large pastures on a daily basis. A farrier is regularly scheduled for shoeing and trims. A veterinarian is scheduled for standard health maintenance and is available for ranch calls if needed. Horses are paste wormed as required based on fecal testing.
Karen offers great flexibility in her teaching style in order to zero in on the issues and challenges that are most important to you and your horse. She believes that the horse and human connection is best served by a personalized curriculum designed to address safety, mutual understanding, and effective communication between the horse and human. Skills and technique are important, but comprehension of the equine mindset and primal needs which drive his behavior are what take your relationship to the highest level.
She is available for private or group lessons to improve your relationship with your horse through greater understanding of the equine psyche and the development of your horsemanship skills and ability to communicate with your horse.
Workshops can be arranged to focus on specific topics or areas of horsemanship with a small group of students.
Karen is available for clinics and can provide instruction on any area of interest with regard to effective horsemanship. Please contact her for more information.
Format and time frames for all teaching venues are customized to the needs of the students.