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Natural Horsemanship Riding Lessons

Personal, effective, gentle, encouraging lessons bring trust and faith to rider and mount.  Riding lessons to fit you and your horse.  Creating communication and feel, a new language you and your horse will share together after these Natural Horsemanship Lessons.

Lesson fee: $25 p/hour

Also available, group lessons including Yoga at our Equine Yoga Clinics, www.serenitywellnessretreat.com

REVIEWS:

Thanks to our customers for their kind reviews.

When I met Mitch Shelhamer I was quite a novice to the horse world. I was also in great need of a good farrier. My husband’s horse had an injured foot and I was scared silly of my horse (which took all the fun out of it). I had wanted to have a horse and learn how to ride since I was a little girl, but it wasn’t turning out the way I had dreamed it.

As Mitch took care of the injured horse and trimmed and shoed our other horses, he proceeded to give me tips and share his horse knowledge with me, which I eagerly soaked up.   As we talked, I told him that I wanted to find someone who could give me lessons because I was not only trying to learn how to ride, but felt that I needed to train my horse in the process (which I didn’t know how to do). Mitch casually said “well I could give you some lessons” and I quickly took him up on the offer.

After I took one lesson with my horse, Mitch informed me that this horse would hurt me one day and I would be smart to look for a different one. Mitch not only helped me search for another horse, but he went along with me to look at the horse I wanted to buy. We decided on the gentle horse I have now, and I was able to begin my lessons. Even though I felt I kept making the same mistakes in the beginning, Mitch was very patient with me and I became more confident with each lesson. I still have a long way to go, but thanks to Mitch I have overcome my fear and I enjoy riding again! My childhood dream has come true!

Gina – Worland, WY


I met Mitch a couple of years ago when he was highly recommended to me for corrective shoeing for my horse, who had had ring bone surgery.  I knew when I first talked to him, Mitch was the guy for the job.  He has a quiet confidence, doesn’t over-talk his abilities, just gets right to work and shows you that he knows what he is doing.  I liked him immediately.
After getting hurt when I came off my younger horse, my confidence was shattered.  I loved my horse and didn’t want to give up on him, or myself,  but I knew I needed help with him.
Just any trainer wouldn’t do – I wanted someone who cared about my horse and would be able to work with me at the same time.  Watching and listening to Mitch work with my horses, I trusted him.   I asked him if he would be willing to help me out.  With absolutely NO hesitation, Mitch said yes and started working with us (me and Fritz).
Showing me how to work with my horse on the ground, Mitch started my healing process.  Everything he did with Fritz, he explained to me – not just “how” but more importantly the “why”.   Never judging or condemning, Mitch has a natural way of connecting and correcting – with both horse and rider.
 I remember when Mitch told me that he wants everyone to have a positive experience/relationship with their horse, and to do that, you and your horse have to feel safe.  Mitch worked with Fritz and showed me the benefits of desensitizing him with bags, noise, and rope – all around, on and under every part of Fritz’s body.  Well, it wasn’t long after we started with Mitch that my horse got into a situation in the corral, that could have gotten him into some trouble.  I had put up a “hot” fence to keep him off some rotting boards until I could get them replaced.   Fritz couldn’t resist the temptation of the green grass on the other side and when he realized the fence was no longer “biting” him, he pushed through and got his back legs tangled in the line.  Instead of panicking, he waited (quietly) until I found him, after dark, to help him.  He was calm and gentle, allowing me to detangle him and I actually had to lead him away so that he knew he wasn’t in the line anymore.  I thanked God and I thanked Mitch right there in the darkness of the corral.  The work Mitch showed us of “desensitizing” paid off and, yes, I hugged Fritz and cried.
Mitch’s ability to “feel” both Fritz’s and my insecurities and build us up, showing us how to trust each other, has been life-changing for me.  We continue to work with Mitch and I value him for his horse and human knowledge as much as I value him as a friend to me and my horses.
Lisa Collen
Ten Sleep, WY

https://www.powelltribune.com/stories/ramsey-returns-to-the-arena,25977

Rodeo queen continues building confidence after 2019 injury

Posted 

It was just one lap — one quick run around the Cody Stampede arena on the season premier of the 2020 Cody Nite Rodeo. But the wind was up, Rylee Ramsey’s mount was antsy and she couldn’t stop a flood of memories.

It’s going on a year since she fell. Ramsey doesn’t remember the accident, just waking up to the flashing red and white lights of emergency vehicles and seeing her mother covered in blood. The flashbacks were hard to get out of her head as she urged her borrowed appendix thoroughbred onto the arena’s soft, manicured dirt for the first time since that night.

Saturday’s crowd had no way of knowing her story, just that she was the rodeo queen and this was her moment. Unlike many performing that night, Ramsey, Miss Cody Stampede 2020, wore a helmet during her run; it was in place of the traditional black felt, wide-brimmed hat and Stampede tiara worn by past queens.

“I don’t get another chance. There are some things you don’t get a second chance for,” she said. “Wearing a helmet is better than having a dead queen on your hands.”

The accident

It was August 27, 2019. A strong gust of wind pushed through the Shoshone River Canyon to the west, spooking her horse. It took off, Ramsey desperately trying to gain control. They hit some gravel and went down. She stayed in the saddle and came back up as the horse recovered. Then she lost her grip while holding the reins in one hand and trying to get her rodeo flag out of its boot with the other. The horse turned sharply, throwing her. She hit hard, landing on her head.

Ramsey had lacerations all over her petite body and was bleeding profusely. The arena was almost deserted that night. Her mom, Stephanie, rushed to her while calling out for help from the few who were there for the practice session.

Ramsey was rushed to Cody Regional Health for treatment. They were going to release her, but her mom could tell there was something wrong. Doctors ordered a CT scan and found her brain was bleeding. She was immediately rushed to Billings for emergency care.

It wasn’t how Ramsey wanted to arrive in the city. After graduating from the Shoshone Learning Center in Powell, she had planned to study radiology at Montana State University Billings. She was already packed and excited to start the new chapter of her life. But after the accident, everything would change. She’s currently attending Northwest College and working hard to regain her confidence in the saddle.

The training

Ramsey recovered relatively quickly from her injuries; it’s her confidence that’s taking time to mend. She suffered a setback in January, when her horse suddenly died. The Ramseys decided to seek some special training and assistance in locating the perfect replacement for her horse. They found just the right combination at Serenity Stables in Basin.

Mitch Shelhamer and his wife, Suzi Richards-Shelhamer, run an odd combination of businesses. Mitch, a former bull and bronc rider turned farrier, trains riders and runs the equine side of the business. Suzi, formerly the Pet Nanny of Worland and a yogini, works the dog kennels and deals with the emotional and spiritual side. They found that combining the two disciplines helped many riders after a wreck. Mitch knows: He had a wreck in the late 90s, resulting in a brain bleed just like Ramsey’s.

Mitch is working on techniques to take away Ramsey’s anxiety while in the saddle. “What we’ve been working on is some breathing techniques that we use in our yoga classes. When we get frightened, we have a tendency to breathe shallow,” he said. “That makes the anxiety worse. Horses can read our energy. And if our anxiety is high, their’s will be within minutes.”

The two have been working on keeping Ramsey calm and learning ways to take away her horse’s momentum when she feels out of control. He’s also helped her find her new “unflappable” horse.

Mitch found just the right combination of speed and calmness in Julio, an 8-year-old quarter horse. Ramsey took four days of test rides before deciding it was the perfect match.

“So far, we’ve both done really good together,” she said while moving Julio through a test ride. But it will take time for the two to bond and trust each other.

One exercise requires Rylee to put her hands out, like she has wings, and close her eyes while Mitch guides Julio. The exercise makes Ramsey nervous, but it’s intended to help her “feel the horse” and develop trust.

Cody Regional Health

Everything they do is intended to make Ramsey release the anxiety she has about injuries and use the lessons for her future, he said, whether on horseback or in her daily life.

“Life throws us curves and we have to either overcome or run from them the rest of your life,” Mitch said.

Suzi’s yoga lessons aren’t just for flexibility. She’s also working to help Rylee with emotional and spiritual needs.

“I hold my hands over her energy centers and basically pray. I send good intentions and clean out any negative, stagnant or misaligned energy,” Suzi said.

Her debut

On Saturday night at Stampede Park, Ramsey and her mother avoided discussing the accident.

“I tried to lighten the mood,” Stephanie said. “We laughed and joked. We didn’t talk about what happened the last time we were there.”

The Ramsey family has good friends through the Cody Nite Rodeo. They were encouraging and supportive, surrounding the two as Rylee saddled up. She placed a tiny hand-made bracelet on the saddle-horn with beads spelling out ‘FIGHTER.’

She made it after her grandfather, Richard Warren, passed away. “They had a special bond,” Stephanie said.

Ramsey had decorated the lettered beads with translucent blue and green beads on either side. Blue often symbolizes support for those fighting prostate cancer. The green beads were “just because” Rylee liked them at the time. Later, after the accident, Rylee came to learn that green is often associated with those fighting traumatic brain injuries.

“I carry it with me every time I ride,” she said.

Stephanie tried to hide her tears. She wanted to be strong for her daughter’s special night. “If I get worked up, Rylee gets worked up,” she said.

Due to the wind and her nerves, Ramsey decided to do her inaugural run without a flag.

“I wasn’t mentally prepared for that yet,” she said.

The horse started acting up at the gate, “taking off and rearing up” a couple times before the end of breakaway roping. But as the last calf was pushed from the arena, Ramsey was ready, taking off with a smile. The ride was quick, but it has taken most of the past 10 months to get her back and confident in the saddle.

Ramsey intends to continue her training, spend time with Julio and represent her crown the best she can at the Stampede Rodeo next week.

“It felt good to be back,” she said.

 

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