My Horsemanship Background

While in high school, I trained with PHBA multiple 1st in the Nation Reining Honor Roll Award Winner and Reserve World Champion, and Color Breed Congress Reining Champion trainer Richelle Beene. From Richelle, I learned to treat every horse as an individual-there is no “cookie cutter” training method to force a horse to perform. Richelle also introduced me to natural horsemanship, teaching me to make the right thing easy, the wrong thing difficult, and to reward the slightest try. To learn more about Richelle and equine opportunities in the Northwoods of WI, visit Richelle let me show her horses at PHBA shows (Youth riders do not need to own a horse to show PHBA.) I earned ROMs in Reining, Horsemanship and Hunt Seat Equitation. In 2005 I was 3rd in the Nation-Youth Reining 14-18. I also showed my horse, Tin Tanker, in AQHA shows earning points in Novice Youth Horsemanship, and 4H shows earning multiple Top 10 Awards at the WI State 4H Horse Expo.

WI State 4H Horse Expo with Tank

After High School, I moved away from Rhinelander, WI to attend college at UW-River Falls. There I continued learning through the Equine Program, competing on both the English and Western Intercollegiate Horse Show Association teams. I completed the Colts in Training Class in 2008 and 2010. I took every equine management and western riding class offered, including the Equine Reproduction class, breeding mares by AI, collecting stallions, and foaling care. I graduated from UW-RF in 2010 with a major in Biology and a minor in Animal Science.

My College Graduation Photo

I have applied my “book learning” to the horses in my care. I have worked with horses of all breeds and disciplines, from Quarter Horses to Welsh Ponies and even some gaited breeds. In January of 2009 I was chosen as a trainer for the 2009 Midwest Extreme Mustang Makeover, receiving two wild Nevada Mustang mares that I had 100 days to tame and train for the competition. “Renegade” and “Revolver” tested everything I thought I knew, and taught me a lot in the process. The biggest thing that they gave me was confidence-if I could teach two wild mares to not only accept human contact, but to trust me enough to actually allow me to ride them, and trust me through the commotion of the people packed Midwest Horse Fair and still concentrate enough to compete, then I could accomplish anything.

Competing with Reva at the 2009 Midwest Extreme Mustang Makeover

After graduating from UW-River Falls in May 2010, I went out on my own training horses. I became an IPHDA Professional Trainer, utilizing the IPHDA Patterns to teach both horses and riders basic body control for success in many different disciplines. Horses that I trained were successful as recreational trail horses, in 4H Shows, and at Foundation QH Shows. My biggest successes were with Welsh Ponies-Ponies that I have trained, shown, and/or coached earned over 1,300 WPCSA points in events ranging from Halter, Western Pleasure, English Pleasure, Trail, Low Hunter, and Ridden Welsh Classic, including multiple Top 10 in the Nation and North Central Region Grand Champions.

I continued my equine education by attending clinics with World Champion trainers including Sandy Collier, Richard Winters, and Mike Major. I have become a Protege member of Al Dunning’s Team AD International, to further improve my horsemanship. In addition to riding with other trainers whenever I can, I also am an avid horse training dvd and book learner. I believe that we never quit learning, and since every horse I train is different I find it to my advantage to learn a bunch of different methods and approaches to training.

Riding with Richard Winters at the 2011 Midwest Horse Fair.

Riding Mike Major’s AQHA World Champion mare Black Hope Stik at the 2011 Midwest Horse Fair.

Riding Lesson with Al Dunning Summer 2012.

In the fall of 2012 I relocated to Reedsburg, WI, to my fiance’s farm, and quit taking in training horses.  In January, 2013, I became the luckiest cowgirl on earth, and married the cowboy of my dreams. Special thanks to Mr Dunning, who not only introduced us, but allowed us to have our wedding at his beautiful ranch.

Wedding photo taken by the amazing Charles Brooks.

Since getting married, I have learned a lot about cows and am very involved in running our registered Hereford cow-calf operation. I am enjoying the resulting shift in my horse training too, instead of focusing on show pen goals, we instead focus on training our horses to work our cattle. In July 2014 we welcomed our own little cowboy to our family, which has added another set of tasks to my list, and we are expecting little cowboy #2 in 2016. I enjoy every day working with my family, taking care of our animals, and wouldn’t trade my farm life for anything different!

Cowboy Colton


Must Have Baby Items for an Active Farm Wife

I can’t believe our little cowboy is 5 months old already. Where did the time go?

colton playing

Someone asked me the other day how I did it-how did I take care of the baby, and also help take care of the 30+ cows, handful of horses, goats, dogs and don’t forget the cat!

I didn’t really have an answer for them. I thought about it that night, and it really just comes down to prioritizing what has to get done, and doing that first. Much of the time what has to get done first is feeding the baby, and I am really lucky that for the most part he is a happy, easy going baby that enjoys being outside.

That, and I have a two very helpful items that make it possible for us to be active and bring our little cowboy along with us as we work on the farm.

The #1 Most Helpful Baby Item: Baby Carrier

I got a Baby Bjorn as a baby shower gift from my Grandma, and we use it almost daily. With the Baby Bjorn I can have both hands to fix fence, carry grain buckets, or work the chute. In cooler weather I zip him up under my jacket and put a hat on him. An added bonus-I’ve worked off the baby weight faster carrying him around!

You can get one here: Baby Bjorn from Amazon

1609935_10100337173839570_8730801538416709663_nchecking cows fixing fence

The #2 Most Helpful Baby Item: Jogging Stroller

Because let’s face it-there is no such thing as even ground on a farm. And sometimes I get tired of carrying a 20 lb baby!

The big tires on this stroller easily move over rough terrain. This stroller was compatible with my infant car sear, so when he was littler I could just snap the car seat right onto the stroller. This was a shower gift from my other grandma and aunts. An added bonus-it folds up easily to store in the back of my jeep when we travel!

Baby Trend Jogging Stroller



jogging stroller shed part 1


Between those two things I’ve been pretty much able to take care of our animals and a baby. And get some fresh air and exercise at the same time!

What baby items have made life easier for you?

When the Farmer is Away, the Cows will Play (The struggles of a Farm Wife when her husband leaves for a week!)

Last Monday my Hubby left at 5 am for Wyoming for the week.

Leaving me to take care of 34 cattle, 7 horses, 2 goats, 2 dogs and a cat.

Oh yeah, and also to take care of our 4 1/2 month old son.

If that wasn’t enough, I also do have a full-time office job in town.

No big deal, right? Before he left he made sure that automatic waterers were working, that all of the pens had round bales, that grain was ordered, and the fence fixed so that the cows could be out on the corn stalks. So for chores all I needed to do was fill one water tank, throw hay to the horses, and grain the horses, calves, and the bull, and feed the goats. Chores would only take about 20 minutes in the morning, and maybe 40 minutes in the evening.

No worries-I can handle that!

At 6:30 am, I got out of the shower, looked out the window, and saw that most of our cows were out in our yard.

cows on the lawn

Well, this sucks!

It was only 7 degrees out, so I opted to put the baby in the pack n’ play where he would be safe and warm while I ran outside.

Luckily, most of our cows we raised as heifers, and they know what a bucket means. All but three of them followed me and a bucket of grain back into the pasture where they belong.

The last three, however, didn’t want to go in.

So I called my hubby, obviously upset and mad at this point. Ok, so I was crying. And maybe didn’t use very polite language.

I mean, come on. Why do the cows hate me? After 15 minutes of unsuccessful trying, I had given up and gone inside with the baby. If anyone would have shown up, I would have sold every cow on the farm for $1/head.

So Hubby calls his Dad (Paw Paw), who was able to leave work to come and help.

By the time he arrived, it had warmed up slightly, and since getting the last three cows in was not a one person job, I dressed our little farm helper in three layers of warm clothes, a hat, and put him in the baby carrier and snuggled him up underneath my coat. (Side note-the baby carrier is one of my favorite things that allows me to carry him around and still have two hands to get a job done-thanks Grandma Deloris for the helpful gift!)

Between the three of us, we managed to get the three bovine escapees back into the pasture with their friends.

Next Paw Paw checked the fence to see how the cows got out. He even tested the fence to see if it was still working. It was.

A little bit of walking around and investigating showed us the answer to the escaped cow problem.

open gate

Hubby had left a panel open, allowing the cows to escape.

It was a good thing he was gone for a week, cause it took me a few days to cool down and get over being mad at him for this one!

The Indoor Riding Arena Project (AKA I love my Hubby!)

My hubby is amazing.

Last winter I didn’t ride at all. Mostly because I was pregnant, but also because from November through April, our outdoor arena is either covered in snow, ice, or is so wet that you can’t ride in it.

This winter, I really, really, really wanted an area to ride that wasn’t snowy or icy so that I can get Molasses ready to show in Foundation QH or Ranch Horse shows next summer.

It didn’t take much persuading to get my Hubby to clear out 2/3 of our shed to make space for a 60′ x 80′ indoor riding arena.

With some help from his brother and a few friends,  over the span of three weeks working evenings and weekends they turned our shed into a really nice riding arena!

shed part 1 shed2 shed3 shed4 shed5 shed6 shed7 shed8 shed9 shed10


We were three boards short to be completely finished as you can see from the last photo.

It might be windy and snowy and icy outside, but I now have a space out of the wind with decent footing to ride this winter. Which is great, as we have a 2 year old to start under saddle, Molasses to keep legged up and get ready for me to show next summer, and a broodmare that was started as a two year old, then not ridden to restart.

And it will be a great place for Colton and our nephew to ride Mr. Potter the Perfect Pony over the winter too!



Did I mention that I love my Hubby?

Flashback Post: Our First Year

I know I haven’t done a good job of keeping up the “Farm Wife” posts. I did, however, put together a slide show of our first year this spring to celebrate our first anniversary, so it should bring you up to speed and give you an idea of what a year in the life of a farm wife is like! Enjoy!

Farm Wife In Training: Barn Cleaning

The past weekend we hit the oh-crap-winter-is-here-and-we-have-4-weeks-before-our-wedding scramble!

Dear Country Boy and I are trying to get the farm all set up before we leave for a few weeks so that it is easier for our friends to take care of all the animals.

We found a good deal on some 2 ton grain bins, so nobody has to deal with lifting 100 lb bags of grain.



Then we cleaned out a section of the old barn so that all of the cattle feed was easy to mix and measure out. (See the scale hanging?) I didn’t take a before picture, but I am sure some of you can imagine what an old barn that hasn’t been use for 5 years can look like!
Farm Wife In Training: Barn Cleaning
We managed to sneak away from the farm work for a day to go an pick out our wedding bands, and look for a new car to replace my old Honda (aka Betty) who is on her last lug nuts. Old Betty and I put on over 250,000 miles, and she only ever left me stranded once. However, Dear Country Boy always worried about me anytime I drove it anywhere, and insisted that she needed to be replaced. So after a little bit of searching, we found what we both wanted! A new Jeep Compass! Dear Country Boy is happy that we will have a more fuel efficient vehicle to drive down to Arizona in 3 weeks. I am super happy to have a 4 wheel drive vehicle-Especially since it is snowing as I write this, and the weather channel is predicting a major winter storm for the next two days with over 10 inches of snow!
Farm Wife In Training: Barn Cleaning
 I named her Dixie. Hey-if Daisy Duke can have a Jeep named Dixie, so can I!

Farm Wife in Training: Stray Voltage! (And Learning the Proper Names For Please Hand Me the What-ya-ma-call-it)

Another weekend, another project!

This weekend’s goal: change out the horse waterers. Like many farms, ours has some stray voltage issues.  The Ritchie Waterers that were in the horse pens were shocking the horses when they drank. Our options to fix this issue were 1) to pour concrete so that the horses were standing entirely on a concrete slab when they drank (making the entire area an equal potential plane), or 2) replace the waterers with the double insulated plastic MiracoFount waterers. We have the same Ritchie waterers for the cattle, but the cattle yards are all concrete so the cattle don’t have the same stray voltage issue.

In my opinion, horses and concrete don’t really mix, so we decided to replace the waterers to fix the issue.


Farm Wife in Training: Stray Voltage! (And Learning the Proper Names For Please Hand Me the What-ya-ma-call-it)
Old Tanker decided to help
Farm Wife in Training: Stray Voltage! (And Learning the Proper Names For Please Hand Me the What-ya-ma-call-it)
Ruby testing out the new waterer
My main job throughout the process was being the go-fer.

I thought I knew what most tools were, but it turns out I didn’t! I was properly educated on the proper names! I was sent to fetch the Channellock, the wire strippers, the hammer drill, the crescent wrench, a hammer, lag bolts, nuts, and washers, run over here quick and heat up the plumbing putty with the heat gun please, fetch the pvc glue, go grab the drill and make sure that it has a phillips bit on it, get the sawzall, and my personal favorite- honey please try to find a 5/8″ socket wrench in the mess of a tool box. The weather was wonderful this weekend, so it was nice to be outside.

Good thing that Dear Country Boy is an electrician and knows how to do all this stuff!

I, of course, earned an A+ on my tool fetching skills.