Introduction to the Horseman: Vaughn Knudsen

Vaughn Knudsen

I was born with a deep desire to understand horses. With a passion to search for what created harmony between horse and rider. As I grew older, I was exposed to what I call the old conventional ways of horse training. I based my judgment on what appeared at first to be the right way to handle a horse, and later on what I felt inside of me to be the right way. Early on in my life, I had plenty of hands-on experience working with horses. I'm grateful for the experiences that I have had through the years because it has given me something to compare my judgment, thoughts, and decisions to. I've also been very grateful for the teachers who have shown up at the right time for me. I have always looked up to teachers and have referred to them as my silent heroes. What is ironic is how I have searched out human teachers throughout all of my life for those hard-to-find answers to manage my frustrations and yet I learned many of the real solutions from horses. Over the years I have also read an enormous number of books and all sorts of written material on self-improvement, and I have learned to apply this learning to training horses and helping people to work with their horses.

When I was young I learned about all kinds of different teachings and methods used for training horses. I had experiences that I could later use for comparison in developing the method in which I would like to train and relate to horses. An example of these experiences is that as a boy on our ranch, I found that my horses were dependent on my dad's horse. So, I searched for solutions to this problem. As I studied and grew, I learned that borrowing strength builds weakness. So I sought out the knowledge to help my horses to gain confidence in me and in themselves so that we could perform at our best while being centered in our own strength together as partners.

When I was high school age, I had a great teacher come into my life that I will always treasure. I was with my dad and one of my brothers on our horses, sorting yearling cattle that needed to go in different directions when Jim Dorrance arrived in a pick-up truck and parked near where we were sorting. That day I gained a mentor and life-long friend.

One of Jim's gifts was to see the horse for what it truly was. Jim Dorrance taught me a fundamentally new way of thinking about horse training. It changed my outlook on the future, and it helped me to create new thoughts of my own regarding training horses.

I traveled all over the country riding with the best in the horse industry. I paid a lot of money not only to get to where these teachers were located but also for the opportunity to participate as a rider under their instruction. I've never been one to look over the fence and just try to observe my lessons. Instead, I worked very hard to be the one taken out of my comfort zone in clinics and private lessons. I was taught and re-taught training concepts and principles. But what amazes me is how long it took for me to figure out that one of the best teachers I could possibly search out was the horse I was sitting on. I also was instructed by the teacher’s teacher, Tom Dorrance, and he told me that he had learned by observation of the characteristics of the horse itself. At the time I didn't understand how I could ever learn to get spins, lead changes, sliding stops, and the like by watching horses and understanding their characteristics. I continued seeking out teachers in the form of other horse trainers. I have to admit that after a lot of years put into riding in clinics, horse shows, and my personal experiences of training horses my best teacher has been the horse. It makes me smile because most of the answers that I was looking for were answered by the horse I was sitting on. The horse was just waiting to be asked. This takes us into our next chapter of learning and gaining an awareness and understanding of the basic fundamentals and foundation guidelines of interacting with the horse.

Institutions of Higher learning who have presented workshops by Vaughn Knudsen

University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine– Workshops -Madison, Wisconsin

Morrisville University - Taught horse training workshops - Morrisville, New York

The University of Minnesota - Keynote Speaker at Minnesota Horse Expo presented to 42,000 people - St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota

Middle State Tennessee University - Horsemanship program - Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Ricks College - Horsemanship program -Rexburg, Idaho

Utah State University - Taught a series of accredited horse training programs over 10 years - Logan, Utah

The University of Nevada - Taught horse training workshops - Reno, Nevada

Western Wyoming Community College - Taught horse training workshops - Rock Springs, Wyoming

Cedar Valley College - Taught horse training workshops - Cedar Ridge, Iowa

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville - Taught horse training workshops - Platteville, Wisconsin

North Central Texas College - Taught horse training workshops - Gainesville, Texas

Oklahoma State University - Taught horse training workshops - Stillwater, Oklahoma

Vaughn has presented horse training concepts at major Universities, symposiums, workshops, and clinics. Vaughn has taught these concepts at the University of Wisconsin, Morrisville College in upstate New York, Utah State University, University of Minnesota, and others. With 40,000 people in attendance, Knudsen was the keynote speaker at the Minnesota Horse Expo. He has taught numerous private clinics across the country.

Vaughn was responsible for the training and showing of 15 horses to their APHA and AQHA Championships. Vaughn has also trained and shown horses to earn World and Reserve World Titles as well as money won at major NRHA Competitions.

In his workshops, Vaughn teaches how to reorganize the energy balance within the horse, how to develop a deep inner connection with the horse, how to lock in a spin, build a sliding stop, lead changes, and how to lope round circles on a loose rein.

... and here's one of Vaughn's stories about growing up on a ranch near Wells, Nevada.

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