Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Lifestyle series 3: Conversation with a young trainer

By Mary Gallagher and Colton Crouch

Colton with two young trainees, Kiveaho (left) and Hilo (right).
I was talking to Colton Crouch, a former Freedom Farm student who now has his own training business, the other day. He said something that made me proud, and I was inspired to share it with you:

CC: Doing things the right way takes more time, and you have to work harder, but the end result is worth the extra time and effort.

MG: Most of us have heard Pat Parelli’s saying, "Slow and right beats fast and wrong," but it was a good feeling to hear one of my own students showing just how well he understood. And even better, he had worked that wisdom into his training program. I am so proud of Colton and the quality he is bringing to his work with horses.

I asked him to write down his thoughts on the subject, and have taken some time to reflect on both our experiences:

CC: It has always been interesting to me that you can actually force an eleven-hundred pound animal to do what they don't naturally want to do.  But the end result, to my way of thinking, really is sub-par. 

Doing things the right way takes more time, and you have to work harder, but the end result really has no comparison.  To me, the right way teaches your horse how to communicate, and how to try.  They begin to love what they do, and they want to please.

MG: Colton grew up with the natural horsemanship foundation that we provide, combined with our approach to natural lifestyle here at Freedom Farm. He learned from Day One to pay attention, taking the time to work on communication from the ground, later transferring that information to the saddle in a way that horses understand.

I came from a traditional, more goal-oriented way of caring for and communicating with horses, and I have spent the last 30 years learning and teaching this more natural way of riding and caring for horses.

There are certainly wise trainers and happy horses in all disciplines. But there are still a lot of forceful methods practiced in an industry that rewards the product and not the process.

I realized early on that when it mattered to me how I connected to the horse, the communication and cooperation was right there. I believe that helping our students slow down and put the relationship ahead of the goal is good for them, and good for the future of the horse industry.

CC: If you are relying on equipment and force to get you that ribbon, in my opinion, you aren’t going to get very far.  Doing things right, takes time. You have to connect the dots slowly for the horse to understand, and that is how we open the door to unlimited potential for the future.

When you and your horse partner walk through that show ring gate, and your horse says to you, "It's
"It's showtime!"
show time!” you have already won.

MG: Horsemanship, for me, is developing horses that love their work, and helping students grow up with a true understanding of the horse’s nature. We teach skills that connect the human with the horse on as many levels and in as natural a way as possible, right down to how they live.

This kind of horsemanship we practice at Freedom Farm is a way of life.


  1. Wonderful to hear such wisdom from a young man!

    1. Thank you, we thought so, too! And thanks for reading our blog!