By Kenny Harlow
There comes a point in your life where hopefully you have the insight to look for guidance and education from someone you consider a professional, a mentor or someone you aspire to emulate. With any luck, you will have the opportunity to acknowledge that person’s influence on your life professionally and personally.
In the early 1990’s I was searching for something, something more than the mundane 9-5 job. I had grown up on a very large working dairy farm in Virginia, where my family and I were responsible for milking over 150 cows a day. This was hard, arduous work regardless of your age. Horses were always part of our farm life and my own personal place of refuge on the dairy farm. In retrospect, that comfort and my love and respect for horses were instrumental in my decision to become a horse trainer. However, with the exuberance of youth often comes blissful ignorance, a category I fell whole heartedly into.
After getting bucked off numerous horses, I thought I must be missing something. There must be a better way and I was determined to find it. Twenty plus years ago there weren’t a lot of natural horse trainers giving clinics, nor did we have the luxury of the Google gods to search them out. Through word of mouth I heard about a clinic being given by John Lyons in Herndon, Virginia at Flying Pen Park Ranch. Knowing nothing about John Lyons, but willing to learn from anyone, I decided to attend his 3-day clinic. Simply put, those three days changed my life. With John, I found my answers. Not just answers on how to become a better horse trainer, or how to communicate better with your horse but, life answers on communication, respect and love that encompasses every aspect of not only your horse training, but your life.
After attending the 3-day clinic, I made the decision to attend another one and then from there to go to John’s home in Colorado to attend two 3-day apprenticeship clinics. While there, I learned that John had plans to offer a yearlong certification program at his ranch where students would be required to bring, start and train two unbroke horses. Though cost and logistics would make things difficult, I was determined that under John’s guidance I could become a successful horse trainer. That is how I not only became a graduate of the very first John Lyon’s certification class but, I in turn formed a lifelong friendship with a man and his family that taught me countless life lessons that I try to live by and utilize in my training.
One of the horses I took with me to Colorado was a three-year-old small blue roan paint stallion with blue eyes, appropriately named Blue, that I acquired from Marshall Virginia Stock Sale as a six-month-old. Now approaching the age of twenty-seven, I still have my best friend Blue. Together, we have travelled over 700,000 miles across the county spreading our message of “Training with Trust”. The first 10 years took place in a different state and a different barn every week. We learned together, taught together and took care of each other while trying to pass on John’s teachings of the true meaning of horsemanship to eager individuals searching for the same. While basically retired, and living a life of leisure happily grazing in the field, I still call on Blue for an occasional demonstration of his talents or to assist me with a difficult horse.
Over the years I have become somewhat known for colt starting, having started over 5,000 horses as well as problem or difficult horses. I think if I had to pick a couple of problems that owners consistently come to me for help there would be two things; lack of respect by horses towards humans and poor ground manners. Both issues can lead to major problems in training. By teaching key techniques of clear communication and patience to my students, most issues can be resolved and lead one to a journey of true horsemanship.
A valuable lesson John taught me was to open your mind and learn from others. Thus, I have had the opportunity to continue my training education with many individuals in the disciplines of dressage, hunter-jumpers, eventing and reining. Sometimes these trainers have been well-known, others not so much, but all having something to offer to one eager to learn. Horsemanship is a lifelong continuum of education. Over the years I have had the opportunity work with many of our Olympic riders, participate in private training sessions and clinics in England on behalf of UK AQHA, contribute training articles for several equestrian magazines, publish four of my own training manuals as well as DVD’s and been featured on the “Today Show” and “Hard Copy”.
Experience, education, clients need and a revamping of my training exercises allowing for a solid understanding of a firm training foundation has led me to evolve the programs I now offer at my ranch and in clinics and expos across the county. Tailored after John’s programs much of my training involves 3 and 5 day clinics either at the ranch or on the road, three week apprenticeships and the yearlong Training with Trust certification program. Currently, my equine certification program is the only one certified in the state of Virginia where you receive a diploma upon completion and graduation. Experience has taught me to get optimal results for my students it’s best to limit my class size to ten participants. However, over the years’ client needs have been instrumental in determining many of the week long special events that are currently being taught at the ranch. These include our “LOL” Learning for Older Ladies Clinic (available only to ladies 45 and older), Teen Week (open to girls 14-17 years old), Horse and Rider Training Vacation and Client Appreciation Weekend (open only to past and present clients).
Cedar Run Ranch offers countless amenities to those attending clinics at the ranch. Located on 117 acres of rolling hills in Cumberland, Virginia the ranch offers a barn with stalls, a 100’ x 200’ indoor ring, a 200’ x 300’ outdoor ring, cabins or campers available for rental or bring your own camper. Water, sewer, electric hookups and a bath house are also available. Miles of trails surround the ranch but if trail riding is your passion as it is mine, we are within a short drive to the beautiful Shenandoah National Park or James River State Park.
Whether you aspire to compete or just pleasure ride your goal should always be to establish a partnership based on respect and trust to produce a willing partner you can count on. For more information on my training programs please visit www.kennyharlow.com
Kenny Harlow is a true horseman sharing his “Training with Trust” methods with horses and students alike gaining astounding results. He is a graduate of John Lyons very first certification program and has continued his education training under top trainers in the disciplines of dressage, hunter/jumper, eventing, and reining.
Cedar Run Ranch
2266 High Rock Road
Cumberland, VA 23040
Schedule questions and feedback about clinics can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org