In our July ’09 issue, you read the first installment in our new series focusing on rider confidence with Julie Goodnight (“Start At Your Beginning”). We welcomed Julie to Team Horse & Rider in our April ’09 issue. If you missed this issue, here’s Julie’s debut article to provide you with some insight on how Julie became the renowned horsewoman she is today; plus, read Quieting a Jigger to find out how she helped a reader with her jigging trail horse.
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Name a riding discipline, and Julie Goodnight’s probably done it. Equitation, dressage, hunter/jumper, racing, reining, trail riding, versatility ranch, colt starting, wilderness riding…the list goes on. And it’s this rich collection of learned experience that spawned Julie’s career as a diverse horsewoman, trainer and educator, and later solidified her well-deserved
reputation as “horse master.”
In fact, if you’re an RFD-TV fan, you may already be familiar with Julie’s
“horse master” moniker. In the last year, Julie’s garnered much attention–and recognition–from her weekly show “Horse Master with Julie Goodnight.” It’s a reality-type show, in which Julie and her film crew travel to various parts of the country to help real horse-and-rider teams.
On her show, as well as in her clinics and other teaching programs, Julie’s
mantra is safety, kindness, and confidence. She uses these principles to bridge natural horsemanship techniques with the fundamentals of classical riding to teach horsemen and women to effectively communicate and have fun with their horses.
Julie’s life with horses began early on, but not in the West, nor on the trail. She grew up on a small horse farm in Orlando, Fla., where she competed on the hunter/jumper circuit as a youth. Post-high school, Julie was burned out on the show scene, and sought a new horizon in the West at the University of New Mexico. As she headed for college Julie admits she never dreamed she’d pursue a “horse career.” Hmm. Not long into university life, Julie began working at a breeding farm and warming up racehorses at a nearby track.
After college, Julie headed to Colorado where she plunged into studying Western disciplines. She still didn’t foresee herself making a career out of horses, but it was in her blood. Julie began her own equine operation in the Rocky Mountains, where she started colts, boarded horses and guided trail rides.
She also started a girls’ camp, in which girls from around the country came and bunked with her for a few weeks to learn horses, A to Z. Pretty soon, the parents wanted to come. That opened more doors for Julie, but because of the harsh mountain winters, it became too costly for her to feed and care for her horses during the off-months. That’s when she hit the road to educate people around the country.
With a knack for teaching, Julie earned her Master Instructor and Clinician
ranking with the Certified Horsemanship Association. She now represents CHA as an international spokesperson.
Today, Julie travels about 45 weeks a year conducting clinics and booking
speaking engagements throughout North America. She strives to teach her
students that a true horse-human relationship is founded on understanding
equine behavior and the idea that horses seek leadership, direction and assurance from humans.
“I’ve always had a passion for studying horse behavior, which has guided my training style toward what we now know of as natural horsemanship. I am considered a natural horsemanship trainer, but what I teach is a blend of natural and classical horsemanship,” Julie says.
She continues to emphasize life-long learning, and teaches riders how to excel in the equestrian sport (or recreation) of their choosing.
Today, Julie owns and operates Goodnight Horsemanship Training in Poncha Springs, Colo., with her husband, Rich Moorhead. While Julie spends most of her time as teacher, she and Rich have their own horse fun with versatility ranch competition.
It’s thanks to this invaluable set of assets that Horse & Rider welcomes Julie to Team Horse & Rider.
JULIE GOODNIGHT FAST FACTS
Hometown: Orlando, Fla.
Homebase:: Goodnight Horsemanship Training in Poncha Springs, Colo., which she operates with her husband, Rich Moorhead. Julie has one son, Hunter Goodnight, 21.
Life with Horses: 30-plus years.
Star Stats: Certified Master Clinician; named 2008 Exceptional Equine Educator; international spokesperson for the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA).
Affiliations: AQHA, Certified Horsemanship Association, Colorado Horse Council, National Versatility Ranch Horse Association.
Tune In: Julie hosts her own RFD-TV show, “Horse Master with Julie Goodnight,” a reality-type show, in which Julie hits the road to help real horse-and-rider teams.
Fave Horse: First real show horse, George. “He was the first well-trained performance horse I ever rode, and he taught me a lot and gave me the opportunity to excel in my riding and showing as a youth.”
When I’m Not Riding…: I’m snow skiing, boating or cooking.
Non-Equine Critters: Westie, Lucy; white lab, Samantha.
In Another Life: In her youth, Julie worked at a dry cleaners, taught rock climbing and white-water canoeing, and served as a house “mother” at an at-risk youth home.
Why I Love My Job: “I love riding and working with the hundreds of different horses I meet each year. And I really enjoy the satisfaction of helping someone resolve an issue or accomplish a goal.”
This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Horse & Rider magazine.