Some of my first memories are of working cattle on my family’s ranch. Throughout my childhood I rode and trained according to “traditional” cowboy methods, but by the time I turned 15 I had witnessed the dangerous downside of forceful training with blindfolds, 2x4s, and leg ropes. I decided to find a way that worked with the horse instead of against it. I stopped relying on my hands and spurs for control, instead opting for more subtlety from my seat and legs. I taught myself these methods with books, videos, and the guidance of my grandfather, who has a similar desire to “make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.” I started working with young stock and horses with behavioral problems according to the philosophies of Bill Dorrance, Pat Parelli, John Lyons, Martin Black, Buck Brannaman, and Craig Cameron.
By the time I was 18 I felt as though I had outgrown my family ranch. I began working at a variety of ranches training colts and learning as much as I could from the other people there, examples of what to do as well as what not to do. At the Morris Place Ranch I was the sole caretaker for 10 horses, responsible for every aspect of their care and training. I also had formal learning experiences in horse training at college, and found that the level of structure there allowed me to develop my skills beyond the first few rides on a youngster. I learned how to fix problems in many different types of horses from reiners to gaited horses that others had created by pushing too hard and too fast. Though a lot of my skills were developed by working with the horses directly, I learned almost as much by simply watching them interact with one another in the pasture and in the wild. When I returned to school I was given more “problem” horses. They were labeled problems because they had been started multiple times and had always returned for re-starting, but I view the poor training as the problem and not the horses. I was able to use methods that worked with the horses to make them rideable for almost anyone in the space of a semester.
I am now looking to expand my experience and my client base–I feel that for every horse out there that I can offer help to, there is something that horse can teach me as well. In 2007 I began traveling to California to work with horses in the San Francisco area. I have found that my experience so far training stock horses translates well into solving problems with hunter/jumper horses and other English sport horses. For young animals, the basics are always the same regardless of their final careers, and I am enjoying the experience of learning about different styles and methods of riding and using that knowledge to expand my base.
Grace Alderson Germann
I grew up on a family ranch in southern Montana. Both of my parents are avid event riders so I grew up jumping anything and everything in site, chasing cows, and causing general mayhem. During high school I entered the hunter/jumper world and trained with many great trainers including Kathy Geitner, Robert Stevenson, Denny Emerson, and Don Chion. I have over 20 years of dressage and eventing experience and over 15 years of hunter/jumper experience.
Cole and I were married in September of 2013 and now live on his family ranch in Squaw Gap, ND.