Groundwork: Art From a Horsewoman's Perspective

One of my favorite phrases to use is “if six-year-old me knew what 23-year-old me was doing- she’d pass out on the floor from excitement.” I use this visual frequently when I am describing my current career path. I am a full-time, year-round professional wrangler in Big Sky, Montana.  My job encompasses horsemanship, a deep knowledge of the natural world and outstanding customer service. The combination of such efforts ultimately provides clients with the adventure of a life time. I have been entranced and enamored with horses as far back as I can remember. Throughout my life, I have found horses in various ways and places. My experiences and lifelong passion have helped me realize dreams I never even dared to dream were possible. In order to get the horses trained and safe for clients, we must begin with groundwork. Groundwork, in regards to horsemanship, traditionally refers to exercises done out of the saddle with the purpose of building a relationship of respect, response and confidence. Groundwork is how I experience what I understand as art on a daily basis. A horse is so much more than a color, a movement, or a shape. Few people understand that horses are very much thinking, feeling and seriously empathic creatures. Each individual equine that I get the honor of teaching is an entire universe unto itself. Taking the time to perform groundwork with a horse is how the art is made. The groundwork, and ultimate relationship made with the horse creates art in the form of peace. Peace as understood as an art form is not a visual delicacy. The art of peace is dirty hands, wind-blown hair plastered to your face, sweaty backs, and that shine in your horse’s eyes when you finally begin to understand one another. Groundwork creates incredible art.  

 This is Lilly Belle. She is a palomino Missouri Fox Trotter mare. Here we are exploring Porcupine Creek Valley on a stormy July day last summer. She is a particularly sweet girl and i really enjoy spending time with her. Being with Lilly Belle is a relaxing salve.

This is Lilly Belle. She is a palomino Missouri Fox Trotter mare. Here we are exploring Porcupine Creek Valley on a stormy July day last summer. She is a particularly sweet girl and i really enjoy spending time with her. Being with Lilly Belle is a relaxing salve.

 This is Clem and I atop Lemon's Knob. Clem is one of the first wrangle horses I started riding for the outfitting company. To this day, I am still trying to understand and appreciate this horse's extraordinarily complex personality.  

This is Clem and I atop Lemon's Knob. Clem is one of the first wrangle horses I started riding for the outfitting company. To this day, I am still trying to understand and appreciate this horse's extraordinarily complex personality.  

 The gang patiently waiting for me to stop taking silly pictures and get on with the adventure. Here we are in the forest surrounding Moon Lake. Our final destination this day was Deer Lake. Time, my mount, is the small brown mare. She is my unlikely partner and we have bonded strongly. She is one of the few horses that trusts me enough to put her head in my arms, and fall right asleep. I love her dearly.

The gang patiently waiting for me to stop taking silly pictures and get on with the adventure. Here we are in the forest surrounding Moon Lake. Our final destination this day was Deer Lake. Time, my mount, is the small brown mare. She is my unlikely partner and we have bonded strongly. She is one of the few horses that trusts me enough to put her head in my arms, and fall right asleep. I love her dearly.