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Valerie Gray-Nelson - natural horsemanship practioner

Best Buds!Hello, thank you for taking a moment to read about me. My name is Valerie. I have been a resident in southwestern Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh for 17 years. I have lived in Arizona, California and sprouted as a buckeye in Ohio.

My love of horses began at a very young age with my neighbor’s cute, snotty pony. I always knew I would have my own horse someday. My first horse was a “gift”, 25 years old, who refused to do anything for me. Many unpleasant experiences soon led me to realize how much I needed to learn about owning and riding horses.

Determining that education in how to be a safe and effective horse-owner would be a good idea, I attended Feather River College in Quincy, California; graduating with a Certificate in Basic Horsemanship and Pack Station Management and Stable Operations. During the course of these programs, I was introduced to the ideas and methods practiced by John Lyons, who participated several times as a guest instructor.

Following graduation, I invested 3 years working as a trail guide and children’s riding instructor. Spending more than 4,000 hours and 2,000 miles in the saddle. Guiding rides provided me with a golden opportunity to practice the skills I had learned on difficult, jaded rental horses. Completion of the college programs and experiences in working with up to 30 horses allowed me to gain confidence in my ability to attempt horse-ownership once again.

This is what I think!After many years of riding other people’s horses, I finally purchased my own. A beautiful 2 year old Quarter-Arab. Black as night, I named him Shadow. Beauty hid his true nature. He turned out to be a crazy, incredibly ill mannered bully, whose only use for humans was feeding him chocolate donuts. After many trials we are still together. I could write pages about his antics. Let us suffice it to say; over the previous sixteen years he has practiced every trick a horse can imagine, on the ground and in the saddle. Before we made any attempts at connecting he had to learn: just to allow me to approach and stand beside him. Talk about returning to the basics. Owning and riding him meant I had to be at the top of my game at all times. Learning to “read”, "speak" and “comprehend” horse language was required to stay a step ahead of him and in my saddle. For our relationship to be safe and successful, it was my obligation to make sure he understood I am his herd leader and he must respect humans and our space. Regardless of whether it is myself, or small children who are near him. Shadow has proven himself to be the best instructor anyone could ask for, also providing continuing “on the job” education. Together we have forged a wonderful partnership, spending thousands of hours covering miles and miles of Pennsylvania countryside.

For fifteen years I have trained a variety of horses belonging to friends, along with Shadow and more of my own. In the course of working with horses I realized how much enjoyment I achieve in teaching general respect for humans to a horse, any horse. Retrospection on the many difficulties I have witnessed between various horses and owners allowed me to recognize a simple fact - In many cases the relationship is unsatisfactory or even dangerous due to nothing more than improper manners.

My desire is to assist you in laying the foundation to create and enjoy a safe, comfortable, and close bond between you and your horse. Communication and trust is vital before the house of true partnership can be built. I accomplish this by adapting the methods practiced by John Lyons and the thoughts of Clinton Anderson with my own experiences in horse ownership and training.

A perfect lineupI enjoy spending time with my family, trail riding, camping with my family and horses, and participating in parades. My herd consists of “Shadow”, truly my friend. “Sport Blue” my first colt - I raised and trained Sporty for my husband and friends to ride.“Echo” – the old man, the kids’ timid black quarter horse, and “Blazer”, now almost two, the next colt for Shadow and I to raise and train.

I wish to share my gratitude for all the family and friends who have encouraged me, especially Terry, for doing everything a "Dad" can do.

I offer training options including: I will travel to you for onsite training, or basic horsemanship lessons, also full service training and boarding. I encourage owners to participate and learn along with their horse(s).

Please click here for more information on training options.


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