Strong Spirit Stables LLC

Strong Spirit Stables LLC {Private Facility - By Appointment Only}
Horse training, tuneups, trail horses, barrel horses, consignment horses, haul in lessons, coaching, trust and confidence building

Making a difference, one horse at a time! “Quality OVER Quantity”

Operating as usual


Not all days are good days.

Some days are hard.

The hard days are the days that teach us the most.

If you will allow it you will learn humility, build character, build strength and wisdom.

Or you can let it define you. You can allow it to be all you are remembered for.

Be more than that! Let the hard days mold your scars and imperfections into the individual you will become.

Use the skills and lessons that come with the hard days to improve. To become stronger and more intentional.

To build a better you.

📸: Bee Silva Photography


You know I love a horse fun fact!

Timeline photos

Timeline photos

Riding through it.

Most riders can think back to a coach or trainer who was heavy handed and believed in riding a horse through it, or using increasing force to get their way with horses. Be it riding a horse harder to a jump after a refusal, or swapping out tack to exert force and control, to belittling the rider and saying they're not strong/tough enough on the horse and they're being "walked all over".

What these supposed coaches and trainers fail to understand is that coercion and force are not part of proper riding, neither is inflicting pain, physical or psychological. That all falls into another category which is miles away from compassionate, correct, proper riding.

When a horse is ridden through what some deem as bad behavior, we're telling the horse that we don't care about their physical and psychological well-being, and that they had just better do what they're told or face the consequences. If I were to swap out the horse for a child, or even a spouse, those same people would now say that it's abusive, but strangely enough it's not when it's inflicted on an animal.

That pinning of the ears, rooting at the bit, running away from the leg, biting at the girth, that is ALL communication. A horse can't exactly sit you down and have a chat about what's bothering them, so they communicate it in the only way they know how, and depend on us to listen.


"Hollywood sells the romantic myth of horse-whispering, but the best trainers don't whisper - they watch, listen, learn and think. The horses do the whispering. Let's try to connect with animals at their level, instead of demanding that they constantly adjust to us."
-Horse Brain/Human Brain

Photos from The Osteopathic Vet's post

Photos from The Osteopathic Vet's post


Training clients for 2023! Please get your deposits sent in if you haven’t already to hold your horses training spot for next year! Along with your 1st and 2nd desired start date/month of training and duration! Starting in May and ending in October.
🔵The deposit will go towards your first 30 days of training. The deposit amount is $100 per 30 days. If you’d like us to put your horse down for 90 days, please send a deposit of $300. Deposits are non-refundable. But will ensure a spot for your horse as we only take on a limited number of horses at a time. We will take horses in on a first come, first serve basis if we have room at that time. We do have references available and we do appreciate your testimonials!
🟡Should you need to reschedule your horses date of arrival due to an unforeseen circumstance, we will try our best to accommodate you and will offer your original date to whoever is next in line with a deposit down!
🔴Please be sure to get your horses new coggins pulled far enough in advance so that you get the results back in time, before your horses set date of arrival. We will not take horses without proof of a current negative coggins test.
Thank you! And I look forward to meeting you and your horses next year!


Whenever you speak with a potential client, ask yourself - “Am I the right person to help this individual?”

Not every client is a good fit for every practitioner.

Likewise, not every practitioner is a good fit for every client.

And that’s perfectly okay.



Horse people have only one job. And horses have only one job. It’s the most important job and it's the job that supersedes all other jobs. Nothing is more important when it comes to training. The job is to be focused and connected. That’s it. That’s the job. Even when doing other jobs, staying focused and connected to our horse and our horse to us overrides all other jobs in importance.

The one condition to the “one job” principle is that focus and connection are only important if you want a good relationship and a partnership. If you only care about a horse being an employee and doing a learned job, then focus and connection are less important provided the job gets done.

A question you may be asking is how can you tell if a horse is focused and connected? The answer is pretty simple. Most people believe you can tell by the way a horse is performing or moving or how light it is to respond to pressure. But that’s not always true or reliable. You can’t be sure of a horse’s connection with you by what it is doing. A more trustworthy indicator of focus and connection is how a horse feels and responds when you interrupt what they are doing. When a horse is performing one job and you ask it to think about doing a different job, how braced is the transition? How expressive is their body language? How troubled are the emotions?

When moving from one idea to another causes a horse zero trouble, it is a good sign that a horse is attentive and in a conversation with you. But when interrupting a horse in the middle of a task creates any level of ill feeling and resistance, the probability is high that the horse had either mentally left or was blocking out any conversation with you.

Perhaps the best example of this is trailer loading. Some people have horses that load into a trailer trouble-free. They just walk in when they see the back of the trailer open. However, in my experience, the majority of those horses will melt down if you asked them to walk into the trailer halfway and stop, back one step and stop, forward two steps and stop. Their minds were in the back of the trailer and if that were interrupted, many horses will re-model the inside of the trailer - for free!

Another example was my old showjumping horse. Most jumpers see a fence approaching and get more committed to jumping with each stride. But Luke did a pretty good job of staying focused and connected. I could stop him in front of a jump with minimum resistance. I could stop him two strides after a jump, walk him to turn, and jump over the fence from a walk that he just cleared. He was not very fast around the jump course and could not compete on speed with most of the TB horses. But he was so much “with me” that we could cut corners and approach fences at impossible angles that most other horses couldn’t.

In dressage, the half-halt is taught to riders as a substitute for having a constant connection with a horse. It’s because a significant proportion of dressage training is NOT about the “one job” being focus and connection, but the movement. Focus and connection are down the list of most important jobs, despite the rhetoric and good intentions. When focus and connection are strong and the conversation between horse and rider is flowing, the half-halt is redundant and perhaps even a nuisance.

I want to add that focus and connection are not just about better performance. They should be the priority in everything we do such as picking up feet and saddling, trail riding, dressing a wound, fitting a blanket, catching and leading, hosing - even brushing! Being vigilant about always asking for focus and connection is what makes the relationship work. It can't work if we only require it when we need it.

I never expect a horse to focus 100% on me at the cost of blocking out the rest of the world. That would be silly and dangerous. But with all the things I have to teach my horse, nothing is more important than focus and connection. Nothing supersedes it. When I lose it, I stop what I’m doing and do whatever it takes to get it back before going on with the task at hand. The number one job I have is to encourage my horse that in everything we do, we do together. Everything else follows.

Photo: At this clinic I was working my hardest to do my number one job of building a focus and connection between myself and this sweet horse.


We have been seeing a higher than average volume of choke cases recently. The good news is that choke is probably the most preventable horse emergency we treat. So, let’s get into what choke is and how you can help prevent it!

What Is Choke?

Choke is when a bolus of food gets stuck in a horse’s esophagus during swallowing. It’s important to remember that the food becomes lodged in their esophagus, NOT their trachea. This means the horse can still breathe normally. However, this experience is still quite distressing to the horse and the owner.

Clinical Signs of Choke

Horses experiencing choke will show signs of agitation, such as head shaking, coughing, and neck stretching. Sometimes they will even lay down and roll on the ground. Additionally, they will often have feed and saliva coming out of their nostrils. Some horses will clear the obstruction on their own by coughing the food out or loosening it enough to fully swallow it. When they cannot dislodge the material in these ways, a veterinarian must pass a tube into the esophagus and flush the obstruction out. NEVER try to clear a choke on your own with water!

Why Does Choke Happen?

Choke most commonly occurs when a horse eats excessively dry and coarse feed materials such as pelleted grain, senior feed, beet pulp, or hay cubes. The mouth of a horse is not designed to masticate small pellets or cubes, and in their eagerness to feed, horses may consume this material without properly chewing it. The unchewed food then expands in their very long and narrow esophagus and gets stuck there.

How Can Horse Owners Prevent Choke?

There are some very easy things you can do to keep your horse from choking.

1. Offer Hydration.
If your horse has been out to pasture or is coming off of a trailer after an event, offer water and a small amount of hay BEFORE any pelleted material.

2. Slow Down Eating
Add large rocks or bricks to your horse’s feed bucket to make them eat around them, as this will slow down the rate of consumption. Many chokes in young horses occur because they are bolting their food.

3. Regular Dentistry
Keep your horse’s teeth in tip-top shape by having your veterinarian examine and float their teeth at least once per year.

4. Add Water
Wet down pelleted feed, hay cubes, and beet pulp. By adding water to your horse’s dry food in advance, the pellets or cubes will swell and break apart before your horse eats them. This is especially important for beet pulp! NEVER feed horses dry beet pulp.

By Dr. Melissa Johnson
Co-author Scott Seres


Fall can be a beautiful time of year for horseback riding; however, frost can negatively impact horse health. Frost damaged pastures can have higher concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates, leading to an increase in the potential for founder and colic, especially in horses diagnosed with or prone to obesity, laminitis, Cushings, and Equine Metabolic Syndrome. To help prevent these health issues, wait up to a week before turning horses back onto a pasture after a killing frost. Subsequent frosts are not a concern as the pasture plants were killed during the first frost.

Why do nonstructural carbohydrates increase during the fall? During the day, plants carry out the process of photosynthesis. In this process, they make carbohydrates as an energy source for the plant. A second process, respiration, is carried out when the plants use up the carbohydrates they produce during the night for energy. Plant respiration slows down when temperatures are near freezing. As a result, the plants hold their carbohydrates overnight. Freezing can stop respiration and lock the carbohydrates in the plant for over a week. Thus, plants tend to contain more carbohydrates in colder temperatures or after a frost. Often, horses will prefer forages after a frost due to the higher carbohydrates levels.

Next year we will be offering a option to haul training horses with us to some local horse shows! 🔥Jackpot Barrels 🔥WSCA...

Next year we will be offering a option to haul training horses with us to some local horse shows!
🔥Jackpot Barrels
🔥WSCA games
Need a horse started on the patterns? Hauled to shows to get used to the sights and sounds? Brought back after a few seasons off? Slowly pushed? Coaching and lessons are also available to help improve your communication with your horse!

Sunset ride with the girls and a group of beautiful bay horses!♥️

Sunset ride with the girls and a group of beautiful bay horses!♥️

I think this picture answers a question I was asked today.🤣 When you run/own a horse barn how many hours a day do you sp...

I think this picture answers a question I was asked today.🤣 When you run/own a horse barn how many hours a day do you spend in the barn?




A dull horse is a dangerous horse.

Responsiveness is what keeps you and your horse safe in all situations.

It doesn’t matter whether you want to trail ride, arena ride or have a performance/sport horse- your horse needs to be responsive.

End of story.

Photos from Whole Horse Dissection's post

Photos from Whole Horse Dissection's post



A horse’s brain works best when the emotions are calm. A horse is better able to engage its problem-solving skills when it does not feel the need to save its life. The emotions that accompany “survival mode” definitely hinder a horse’s ability to think through a challenge AND learn from it. If you know this simple fact, it is easy to see why we all want our horses to feel calm and relaxed.

For this essay, I want to focus on the premise of a horse facing a challenge and learning from it.

By its very nature, anything a horse perceives as a challenge creates the opposite effect of calmness and relaxation. It’s because something evokes anxiety and stress that the horse perceives it as a challenge. That’s the very definition of a challenge.

But challenges are not all bad. I would argue that challenges are both desirable and necessary for a horse to be okay in life. I think it is true whether it is living in the wild or living a domesticated life among humans. Challenges or pressures or trouble or whatever you choose to call them are important because they motivate a horse to learn. They force a horse to change habitual and reactive behaviours that are counterproductive to safety and comfort. Instead, they learn to replace those behaviours with new coping skills. This is how a horse evolves from the day it is born to the day it dies. A horse that does not face challenges and learn from them has a miserable life repeating the same mistakes over and over. We can’t protect our horses from pressures and challenges, but we can help them learn coping strategies that make life easier.

Now I come to the reason I am writing this article.

I have noticed in recent times more and more trainers on YouTube, Facebook, and magazines (print and online) talking about how to calm and relax horses by removing pressures and challenges. I’m not talking about just lowering the pressure when it gets too much for a horse. I am referring to removing any pressure that would cause a nanogram of anxiety for a horse.

One example that comes to mind was a video of a rider with a seasoned older horse demonstrating that when they applied an inside rein to ask a horse to turn, the horse braced against the rein and hollowed its back. The rider then showed that by letting the horse travel anywhere it chose without the rider applying the inside rein the horse travelled much more relaxed. The difference was clear. But the problem is that allowing a horse to go anywhere it chose is not training. It is simply being a spectator. There was no benefit to the horse because it was learning nothing about how to feel okay when a rider did start using the reins to direct its thought. There was no help or clarity for the horse with how to feel okay about the inside rein.

The rider intended to not upset or challenge their horse when they should have been teaching the horse how to find comfort and security in the face of their worry about the inside rein. In the bigger picture, what happens to that horse when it refuses to go into a trailer if the human if the training is designed to avoid crossing comfort zones? What happens to that horse when it refuses to let a person inject a life-saving drug? What happens to that horse when it thinks running over a person is a better option than running around a person? Considering horses have to live in a world, where they have to learn to get along with humans what favour does a trainer offer a horse when they avoid teaching that life is best when the horse learns to problem solve their way out of discomfort?

If I had been the rider on that horse, I would begin by using my inside rein to direct the horse at a walk. I would carry the feel in the rein until my horse offered something closer to a softening than it was giving. I would not care if it took several laps of the turn or circle before the horse stopped resisting and softened its back before I released the inside rein. I would wait for the softer thoughts that would result in a softer back. What the feet were doing would be far less important to me than the softer thoughts and emotions. I would be adjusting the feel of the reins constantly to help guide the horse to quieter emotions AND the thought to follow the feel of the inside rein AND finally a softer way of moving. I would not remove the feel in the rein until something changed for the better. In this way, the horse can learn to feel okay about pressure from the inside rein and change its thought to go with it rather than fight it.

I am seeing more and more examples of people teaching students that the way to get along with their horse is to avoid exposing them to trouble or challenges or pressures or anything that might result in raising a horse’s blood pressure. I don’t believe this is the purpose of training. It is not possible to direct a horse to an idea it doesn’t have or doesn’t want or doesn’t like without creating some degree of anxiety.

To avoid anxiety is to avoid training. We should never push a horse beyond what it can handle or can recover from because that turns pressure into punishment and damages a horse’s trust and confidence. But at the same time, without pushing a horse from comfort to discomfort and back to comfort there can be no learning. The purpose of training is to help a horse get along with us in whatever we do together with the minimum amount of trouble. We can’t help a horse by riding it in a padded cocoon. We must keep pushing the boundaries of its comfort zone so that one day a horse’s limits for what causes its anxiety is beyond the horizon and out of sight.

Photo: A new challenge for this horse.


To my students

I want you to feel comfortable and have fun, but I want you to work very hard. I want you to feel inspired to push your limits. I want you to feel relaxed around me, but I want you to feel like you have to mind your words, mindset and technique. I want you to be so aware of your habits that you don’t do anything mindlessly, but I want you to be able to laugh off a mistake or brush off when you notice yourself doing something sloppy.

I want you to feel entirely yourself, but push yourself to be better than you are. I want you to laugh, but I want you to take learning seriously. I will push you, challenge you, and I will not accept less than your best- but I understand that your best changes day to day. I might not give you information you like to hear, but I will always give it from a place of caring- because I know your potential, and I believe in you. I know how hard it is to be a student and to stay aware and sharp to this degree- because I am a student myself, and am humbled by my teachers regularly. I know that if you didn’t care about your potential, you wouldn’t be my student in the first place.


Sunset Trail
Welch, MN

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 5pm
Tuesday 9am - 5pm
Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 9am - 5pm
Friday 9am - 5pm
Saturday 9am - 1pm




Young Living, Summit Joint Performance


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It has been my dream for years to have a farm to call my own that I can share with others! A peace filled place where all the noise of the world will be made quiet so you can just enjoy your horse! I promise to take care of your horse as if it were my own! I will provide extra care to the horses that need it and am happy to care for your old or retired horse for you if you cannot.

Nearby food & beverage services


I'm so proud of this horse! Last year at this time Bad Kisser aka Smooch (Callaway's Northern Kiss x Heart's Victory) was afraid of everything. This week he went to his first horse show, did everything he was asked and finished with a reserve championship in the Open English Pleasure Driving. Thank you, Stan Bodnar & the crew at Merriehill Farm and Jessica Wilson at Strong Spirit Stables for making it possible.
A couple custom shirt orders completed yesterday!

Have a design or quote that you’d like pressed onto a shirt? Let’s talk 😄

Personal Training with KT memorial shirts
Strong Spirit Stables LLC custom shirts for the owners

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