Driven by a lifelong passion to connect with horses on the deepest possible level, Josh Nichol has been honing his unique Relational Horsemanship approach to horse training for over two decades. In his early years, Josh studied in the U.S. under world-class mentors who had him starting colts and learning the art of the working cattle horse. He continued to develop his skills through activities as varied as rodeo pick-up work and the study of Classical Dressage. As he explains, “My personal focus has been on blending an understanding of the functional training of the working cowboy with the High School approach of the Classical system. My ongoing desire is to continually honour both the mind and the body of the horse in order to allow both peace and proper function.”
Josh brings key aspects of his varied background together in his Relational Horsemanship training, which is based on the core principle of building a deep connection with our horses by continually striving to meet their mental and physical needs. When we make this the foundation of our horsemanship, we create a positive learning environment for both horse and rider without any need for force. Josh believes that by fostering understanding, softness and lightness in the horse — instead of the tensions that so often result from dominance-based training — we empower our horses to feel and give their very best.
Working with clients ranging from trail riders to Olympic competitors, Josh has gained an international following among horse owners and equine professionals alike. While his highly regarded live clinics continue to draw students from around the globe, Josh now also has a popular online training program that allows anyone seeking to advance their horsemanship to learn his methods.
Josh is a regular contributor to Horse Canada and has had many articles published in other magazines such as EQUUS and Western Horse Review. He has been featured in events as diverse as “The Horse” Exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, and The Mane Event in Red Deer, AB. He also gives team-building seminars for businesses and other organizations, works with equine-assisted therapy groups, and now has protégés of his own going out into the world to teach his methods. Ultimately, Josh aims to help both horses and people make the changes necessary to become their best possible selves by finding connection, joy, and freedom in both body and spirit.
Information Theatre Session – Saturday, February 15 at 1:00 pm – Developing Connection and “Feel”: How to build a solid foundation and relationship with your horse
“Is feel something you can develop?” Some think you either have it or you don’t, but I wholeheartedly believe that feel is an innate trait within all of us. I have watched countless riders improve their feel by deepening their understanding of the horse’s true needs and by working to form a relationship with their horses rather than a dictatorship. One of the first steps in achieving this kind of progress is checking and possibly changing your interpretation of your horse’s behaviour. Join me as I explain the way I see horse behaviour and how that interpretation sets the foundation for my approach to training.
Information Theatre Session – Sunday, February 16 at 1:00 pm – Unleashing Your Horse’s Athletic Potential: Understanding Self-Carriage
Improving your horse’s athleticism begins by creating peace within the horse’s mind, for it is only when the horse feels mentally calm that you can most effectively guide changes in their body. Once we have succeeded in putting the horse’s mind at ease, we can begin to work on the biomechanics of how horses should use their bodies so that they stay sound and “float on air” under saddle. In this lecture, I will walk through how to bring the horse’s mind and body together so that riders can begin to shape the horse’s body and experience the joys of riding a smooth, connected, and balanced horse.
Arena Demonstration – Friday, February 14 from 11:15 am to 12:15 pm – Preserving Soundness in the Aging Horse
Working horses under saddle has the potential to either be hard on your horse’s body, or helpful for developing the muscles your horse should be using to promote soundness well into his golden years. I have found that if you teach horses how to carry their bodies correctly under saddle in the beginning of their training, their bodies will hold up and last over time. In this demo, I will go through the bio-mechanics of how I ride and train my horses to use their bodies in a way that preserves their soundness and helps them feel content for years to come.
Arena Demonstration – Saturday, February 15 from 11:15 am to 12:15 pm – Light Reins & Conversations about Balance
In this demo, I will ride my own horse and also give a lesson to another rider in which we will work on the elements of balance. As you will see, balance is the secret to creating a light feel in your reins! I will both demonstrate on my horse and guide the rider through a progression that helps riders find centre and balance in their bodies, while also helping the horse to develop balance from front-to-back and side-to-side. The end goal is to bring the horse and rider’s balance together so that they can move as one. A horse that is out of balance will quickly become worried and tense, so I am excited to show you how to help your horse feel more confident through correct balance.
Arena Demonstration – Sunday, February 14 from 2:45 pm to 3:45 pm – Helping the Sensitive, High-Intensity Horse
In this special demo, I will be working with one of the most challenging horses I have ever had the privilege of riding. Cruz is an intelligent, beautiful, and very sensitive Andalusian gelding who brings a high level of intensity to his work ethic. In Relational Horsemanship, I don’t want to diminish a horse’s drive or power; instead, my desire is to shape the horse’s natural energy into something positive. I will work with Cruz and teach a lesson to another rider to show you how I help sensitive, intense horses channel their powerful life force into a job or purpose, creating something truly amazing.
FEI ranked show jumper, Gareth Graves, is a prime example of a hard-working equestrian. Born and raised in Durban, South Africa, Gareth began riding at the age of 9. However, it wasn’t until his family moved to Vancouver Island, British Columbia that he began to show horses seriously.
Gareth began his career by taking the opportunity to ride and learn anything he could. He took his first trip around the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in 2014. Currently the head trainer of Highbury Show Stables based in Edmonton Alberta, you can find Gareth and his team showing all over North America.
“If you stay in the sport for the love of the horse, you will always be going in the right direction.” ~ Gareth Graves
Register for Gareth’s clinic before February 3rd:SHJA Registration Form_Gareth Graves 2020
Chris and his family live on a ranch near Redcliff AB. Chris grew up on the back of a horse and at just 15, his first job was working for a trainer. Over the years he has worked with many other reputable trainers in the cow horse and cutting and continues to get out and learn every chance he gets. In 2016 Chris had an awesome opportunity to compete in the All Equine colt starting challenge in London ON, where he was crowned champion. In 2017 he had another great opportunity to try a different format of a colt starting challenge and competed in the MacGregor colt starting challenge and sale. There he brought home the title of high seller of the sale and 3rd place overall. 2018 started with a big move back to the family ranch in southern Alberta and unfortunately ended with an extensive shoulder injury. Thanks to the excellent surgeon, he has made a full recovery and is very happy to be back in the saddle. Chris now takes limited outside horses and has been focusing more on some of his own prospects. He is excited for the opportunity to be part of this challenge in 2020. In his spare time Chris can usually be found in the roping pen or out moving cows on the ranch. Our program would be best described as combining natural horsemanship and performance horse training to achieve a well-balanced and confident horse. He loves nothing better than getting the young ones off to a great start, no matter which direction their owners take them.
Rod grew up in Southern Alberta along the “Cowboy Trail,” in the small community of Leavitt, Alberta. There, he and his wife Jackie are raising their 6 children who are 5th generation on his Family’s Homestead.
Horses have always been a big part of his life. He grew up following in the footsteps of his Trainer Father, Dee Olsen. He started his first colt at the age of 8 and from there his passion for making good horses grew. In the summer of ’71, Dee invited Ray Hunt up to Canada and Rod learned early on that there was a better way. Following in the manner of Ray Hunt, Tom and Bill Dorrance, Rod learned that when working with horses, respect, patience, and a gentle hand go a long way in developing a trusting, confident and willing partner.
Rod has developed a training program that is based on helping horse and rider reach their greatest potential. He’s an accomplished Farrier and Horseman, training horses for a variety of disciplines. There’s one thing that all of Rod’s horses have in common, and that’s a great start. His love of his trade is evident in that he never tires of the challenges. He lives by the principle of, “leave ‘em better than you found ‘em,” whether it be towards the human kind or the four
legged. In relation to the horse, sometimes this comes in small successes with time, but Rod believes in “doing the right things first”, and laying a solid foundation to build on.
Rod is the 2011 and 2013 winner of the Canadian Colt Breaking Challenge as well as the 2014 winner of the Rocking Heart Ranch Colt Starting Competition. The following year he had the
privilege of judging this competition. In 2017 Rod won the Horse NAERIC Trainers Challenge in Brandon, Manitoba.
Rick grew up on a ranch by the south end of Manitou Lake near Neilburg, SK. His first experience on a horse was the practical everyday ranch work. At a young age he began to be intrigued by training methods and differing ideas of starting colts. He was drawn to the natural horsemanship methods of legends such as Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt and Brian Nuebert. When Rick was 18 he moved to the Outlook area and started working on a community pasture for Peter Gonnet who would later become his father-in-law. The long days gathering cows, roping and treating, moving and sorting large bunches of yearlings added to the experience of how to work horses smoothly and softly to be able to be a better horseman. In the winters Rick would go ride at Dale Clearwater’s and try and fine tune the art of starting colts and getting a little more performance out of his horses. When the community pasture went private, Rick and his family built a training facility of their own (Sunrise Ranch) and went full time training. Rick backgrounds a few hundred head of yearling calves each winter as well as shows in the Reining Cowhorse throughout Ab and SK in the summer. Sunrise Ranch is conveniently located 40 min south of Saskatoon and offers training, lessons and clinics year round. When Rick isn’t busy riding or feeding calves, he enjoys spending time with his wife Becky and three daughters Amelia, Sadie and Emmalyn.
Thank You to Our Sponsors!
We are excited to announce the five breeds that will be participating in the Showcase of Breeds. Each breed will have a scheduled time during the event as well as participating in each of the Equine Extravaganza performances.
Friday, February 14 – 10:50 am – Newfoundland Pony Society/Manitoba Welsh Cob Association
Friday, February 14 – 12:45 pm – Andalusion/Lusitano
Friday, February 14 – 2:10 pm – Quarter Horse
Saturday, February 15 – 10:50 am – Saskatchewan Paint Horse Club
Saturday, February 15 – 12:45 pm – Saskatchewan Clydesdale Association
Dr. Sue McDonnell will be hosting an equine behavior seminar on Friday, February 14th from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm to discuss the natural behavior of horses. Equine Behavior Seminar Learn more about Dr. Sue McDonnell and her seminar topic here: No Bad Horse Sign up before February 7th! Click to Register Now
The WCVM bus tour has been cancelled.
Wash Rack Demo
Join Western Canadian Farrier Association members February 15th & 16th in the Wash Rack area any time from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm both days.
• Forging Demonstrations
• Anatomy Tables (Saturday 11:00 am – 12:30 pm)
• Shoeing for Different Disciplines
• Learn how to correctly pull off a horse shoe (Sunday 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm)
• Identifying & Helping to maintain confirmation issues and hoof capsule distortions
Thriller Trick Riders are an Alberta based trick riding group. At the 2020 Equine Expo you will meet Shelby Thue, Keely Wamsteeker and two of their horses; Rocket and Mr. Jim Layhe. Shelby and Keely have been trick riding together for 3 years.
Shelby is 22 years from Bengough, Saskatchewan. Shelby now lives near Barrhead, Alberta. Shelby has been trick riding for 13 years! Shelby is the Canadian Trick Riding Association 2017 Open Division Champion. With this title she qualified to compete in the North American Trick Riding Championships, where she finished 3rd in the average. Shelby was also the Canadian Trick Riding Association Open Division Reserve Champion 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019. Shelby’s favorite tricks are the One Foot Stand, and the Extreme Fender! Outside of trick riding Shelby enjoys barrel racing, and making trick riding costumes.
Keely is 21 years old and comes from her hometown of Grande Prairie, AB. Keely now lives near Stony Plain, AB working as a journeyman hairstylist. She has been trick riding for 6 years. Keely is the Canadian Trick Riding Association Open Division 2019 Champion. Keely’s favorite tricks are the Stroud Layout and the Suicide Drag! Outside of trick riding Keely also enjoys volleyball, barrel racing, and joining her dad as a hunting guide/wrangler at Gundahoo River Outfitters.
Shelby and Keely’s horses are Mr. Jim Layhe (Appaloosa) and Rocket (Black). Jim is a 13 year old resisted appaloosa gelding. Jim has done a little bit of everything; barrel racing, roping, cutting, and reining. Jim and Shelby have been performing for crowds across western Canada for the past 2 years, and Oklahoma last September. Jim is Shelby’s go to lesson horse. Rocket is a 10 year old quarter horse gelding. Suitable for his name, Rocket is known for his high speed around the rodeo arena. You would have seen this guy in action preforming as an opening act at the 2016 CFR.
The Trick Riding Clinic is now full and applications are closed. Thank you to all who applied!