A Message From Allison
The only thing in life that is certain, is that it will change. Sometimes the change is gradual, and sometimes it happens in a rush, all at once. My equine journey has done both.
After graduating from Cal Poly SLO, with a degree in Animal Science and a minor in Agribusiness, I immediately dove into showing reining and working cowhorses. For 8 years I competed across the United States as a non-professional training and competing on my own horses. In 2008 I dropped my non-professional status and began training to the public, both horses and people. I have always been passionate about horses and education, and this was a perfect mix. I loved helping build capable showpeople and quickly had clients winning. I had quick success with youth competitors and even had a client become NRCHA Reserve National Youth Bridle Champion on one of my horses. At the same time I was competing and having success in Open NRCHA Competition.
One thing that has always been true about me, is that I love and connect with my horses. Even in the performance world, my show horses and I shared a special bond. I also believe that there is a reason that working Cowhorse is professionally a male dominated sport. In addition to the grueling demands on your life, it also is physically very hard. I learned that I had to really understand the process, because as handy as I was, I couldn’t cowboy through things the way a lot of guys can.
Somewhere along the way, it stopped being as fun for me. There are probably many contributing factors to that reality, but showing just wasn’t meeting my personal needs anymore and was dulling my love of horses. So here started the slow change. I began doing more clinics and expos and taking more non-show horses into training. I started making training videos and reaching out to more horsepeople through writing and social media. I started honing my philosophy on horse training. Willfully Guided Horsemanship, combines the principles and understanding I have come to know as true from training working cowhorses with a true intrinsic love of horses and people.
My goal is to help anyone, from the backyard horseman to the showman, improve their horsemanship. I love to problem solve. The disconnect in a relationship can be a variety of things. The horses are typically the straightforward part of the relationship, the challenge often times is with the rider. People bring so much of the rest of their life to the arena, or barn. On one hand, that can be hard on horsemanship, and can cause riders to struggle. On the other hand, as I believe happened with me, it turns a light on to your struggles in the rest of your life. For a lot of years I had hidden behind horses, and it was time for me to evaluate my entire life, not just the showstring in my barn.
Life rushed in. In a span of 4 months my life would turn on end. I lost Bayleen (my horse of 35 years), along with 5 other horses, dogs and cats that had been my family for upwards of 17 years. I got married to the love of my life and became a full time stepmother to the most amazing little boy. My time was no longer my own, and my profession had to take a back seat while we got our legs under us. I decided that I no longer wanted to have anyone else working with or taking care of my horses, and being home more allowed me that. We drastically downsized on horses to make that possible.
The strangest thing happened. I actually came back to my love for my horses. Being the one to lay my hands on them, these horses that had carried my so far in my career, every day. Riding bareback turning horses out, cleaning stalls, and teaching this little boy has simply renewed me.
I named my horsemanship program Willfully Guided with the intention of helping people become capable in their relationship with horses, to encourage deliberate purpose and direction in horse training. Along the way I realized that the horse/human relationship holds so much humanity. Uncovering that has truly helped me become more capable in all relationships, horses and human alike. The same principles of Willfully Guided apply in the rest of human life. Welcome, friends, to Willfully Guided: The Journey.