Equestrian Life,  Equestrienne Spotlight,  Interviews

Equestrienne: Samantha Harvey

I strongly believe in women supporting women. I am proud to introduce you to Samantha Harvey, a horse trainer and coach from Idaho. She has a unique view of horsemanship and one that I find absolutely intriguing. Want to learn more about her? Please keep reading!

What is your experience with horses? 

I developed Alternative Horsemanship training theories based on my equine-related experiences over the past 25 years. I offer riding lessons, groundwork sessions, lessons in jumping, Dressage, cross country, competitive trail, endurance, trail, western riding and horsemanship. My background includes 3-Day Eventing (riding under Australian & German Olympic level riders while based in Europe), working under three-time World Cup Grand Prix Jumper rider/judge, working with multiple nationally recognized natural horsemanship horsemen, working under US international Dressage Grand Prix rider/representative/judge, young horse race prep at Santa Anita, California, track, working on private cattle ranches starting colts and finishing horses throughout the western USA, participated in clinics with a range of international instructors and much more.

I also am an alumna of The United States Pony Club as a participant, instructor and Joint DC. ­ I start colts, rehabilitate dangerous and difficult horses, and finish horses for both show arena and every day practical riding. 

I work with both competitive and pleasure riders of all levels and backgrounds, horses of a variety of breeds, ages and disciplines at both a local and national level throughout the USA, and she offers clinics worldwide.  I lecture and offered demos at equine symposiums, have taught horsemanship practices to pre-veterinary students, has been a featured speaker on nationally syndicated radio programs, and is a regular contributor to publications.

What do you do?

Trainer or Instructor and Adventurer

Do you have an equine-related business? What is your business name?

Alternative Horsemanship with Samantha Harvey, Alternatively Equestrian Assessments with Samantha Harvey, The Equestrian Center

When did you begin your business?

2003, 2008.

Why did you begin your business or pursue your passion?

To “cross worlds” between offering a classical foundation in the rider, but using horsemanship principles to create willing and happy equine partners. I wanted to help folks learn how to understand and support their horse in order to have successful, confidence building rides in both themself and their horses.

What is unique about you or your brand?

I can “talk” to riders of all disciplines, work with their particular goals, give them a skillset that is efficient and effective to where they don’t have to rely on the instructor every step. I also offer an alternative approach that focuses on creating mental availability in the horse, something rarely addressed in the horse world.

How does your brand or business positively affect other equestrians or horse welfare? 

Teaching folks in a supportive, non-judgmental manner without critique allows people to gain confidence and build trust with their horse. I work with mainstream riders, I’ve worked with those suffering from PTSD, I have worked with physically limited folks, and those on the spectrum. I’m not affiliated with any program, but my teaching style creates a safe environment. Recently I was doing audio interviews from past clients for PR. No one heard anyone else’s comments and over and over I heard, “It is safe to ride with you.”

I also take in working students, no slave labor, besides the horses they learn how to drive/back trailers, run a business, learn what a horse property takes, learn how to live without tv, and as a bonus learn how to grow food, cook food, and in general become self reliant.

What challenges have you faced in life or business?

Because I haven’t gone the commercial route with sponsorship, really the PR area because I’m not selling quick fix answers, so there’s no magic piece of equipment, DVD, etc. Folks who find me have to be committed in their own time, energy and focus.

In an instant gratification society, my approach is not easily sold to the masses.

What keeps you motivated or inspired?

The horses. For years I rode never considering the horse. Now I do everything I can to help be the interpretation between the horse and human. It is part of why dangerous and reactive horses are brought to me. To diminish their fear and help rebuild their curiosity in life. It makes every trying moment worth it.

Who has influenced you and why?

Everyone. From highly-regarded horseman to those who will never be in the public eye. From how humans treat each other in general. From my travels around the world and learning the most from those who have the least. Some influenced me in how to offer a better version, others were great examples of how not to behave or treat folks.

How could your story benefit others?

This is a vague question, but I’ll use a recent FB post I made.

Lightness versus softness… I still remember the day that my sense of “accomplishment” with a particularly troubled horse became completely shattered, and it changed my world and horsemanship skills for the better. This horse had already forced me to get as creative as possible, become open minded, refine my sensitivity, adapt how and what I was presenting, and we were making progress from his initially over the top, amazing, out-of-control athleticism he would display when he was having a problem. I had sought out help of a long respected cowboy whose words unfortunately never did match his physical abilities with horses, and so I came to him to watch and learn. His eyes lit up when he saw this bothered horse, not out of a challenge, but out of the opportunity to help a very bothered equine. I had tried to offer as much honesty in my interpretation as to what I had presented to the horse, how I had done so, etc. But my words fell on deaf ears, because the horse was already telling him the real story that mattered, what the horse needed in that moment, irrelevant of my efforts. What he saw, as he gently took a hold of the lead rope just using his thumb and index finger, was something I couldn’t see at the time. My horse had been standing totally still and “quiet.” The lead rope had been dangling and the horse had his focus on us. As the horseman stood in a relaxed pasture, and began closing his remaining fingers around the rope, with his hand just under the horse’s jaw, the horse’s head shot straight up in the air and he went flying backwards as if he had been “hit” by something. I was totally shocked. There was no pull, directing, or “asking” of anything by the cowboy. Instead all he had done was created a slight feel, or pressure, on the rope and the horse had given a pretty loud and clear response as to how he felt about pressure.

So for all the light circles the horse could make around me all the while keeping slack in the rope, for as “with me” as he was when he was loose seeming to follow willingly, when I presented things with a direct physical pressure- he’d learned how to brace his entire body- WHILE- keeping slack in the rope, but he was never mentally or physically soft.

This lack of softness would become apparent when I would ask more of him, which would trigger the brace that would quickly lead to an explosion- because really, it had been in there the whole time. There had been defensiveness in his brain and rigidity in his body, even though most of the time he wasn’t ever physically pulling on the rope or the rein.

One of the biggest challenges I have nowadays is teaching people how to decipher the difference between an obediently but defensive “light” feeling horse and a truly mentally and physically soft one.  

What advice would you give to someone starting on a new adventure or business? What advice would you give?

Be sure you have enough varied life experiences before you commit to one particular area. Learn your own behaviors, decision-making processes, and look to improve potential areas you may lack self discipline or self doubt. Have a business plan, but know it needs to be adaptable after trial and error. Give yourself five years to commit to a new endeavor. Every day challenge yourself to learn or read something new. Keep balance in your life; so many folk burnout from lack of balance mentally, emotionally and physically. Learn to make and keep boundaries with your clients. It will keep you sane. Laugh, always laugh. There will be struggles, trial and tribulations, but learn from them and go on.

Thank you Sam! If you would like to follow Sam or contact her for remote coaching as well as see what she is currently doing, please visit her on Facebook at @alternativeHorsemanship

Thank you for reading along! If you would like to be featured as an Equestrienne trying to make a difference in the horse world please do so here.

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