Behind The Scenes With Julie Goodnight

Welcome Julie Goodnight, Natural Horsemanship Clinician and Team Absorbine Rider, to the Absorbine Blog! Julie brings us up to speed on her activities during the shut down and her experience training Doc Gunner, her latest rescue horse that happens to be deaf. Julie has so much valuable horsemanship knowledge to share. Follow her on Facebook for frequent horse training tips – https://www.facebook.com/juliegoodnight We think you will be glad you did!

Julie Goodnight:

I travel to a couple dozen different horse events throughout the year, but spring is my busiest travel time, with horse fairs and horsemanship clinics almost every weekend, March through June. So my bags were packed, flights paid for and rental cars lined up. I was rarin’ to go when the shutdown suddenly occurred and everything came to a screeching halt. Suddenly, the travel routine I’d employed for a couple of decades was out the window in a flash, and like everyone else, I was stuck at home with my wings clipped.

After a few days of flapping my wings and wandering in circles, wondering how I was going to pivot my business and keep my exceptional, dedicated team members gainfully employed, I jumped into action. Confident that with every challenge comes an opportunity, we put our heads together and our knuckles to the grindstone. I wasn’t sure what this “new normal” would look like, but I was certain that I wasn’t going to let a little thing like a world-wide pandemic bring down my 30-year-old business. So we punted!

There were some silver linings for me, as far as staying at home: I rode my horse more, gardened more and went to the lake more. However, it was soon apparent that pivoting my business to meet the needs of the pandemic would take up all the spare time I thought I had. Within a couple of weeks, I discovered that managing a business during an economic shutdown was harder and more time consuming than driving to the airport, flying across the country and public speaking for a few days.

My first plan was to keep doing what I would’ve been doing if I were traveling (presentations on horsemanship at large horse fairs), but to connect with my audience online instead of in person. Since many people were at home from school or work, it was the perfect time to study horsemanship. I knew some people were not able to ride during the shutdown, but many others were. I figured I’d keep on doing what I do best—teaching people about horses and riding.

Toward the end of the first week of the shutdown, I posted my first video lesson, “Daily Dose of Horsemanship Homework,” along with the commitment to post a lesson every single day until the shutdown was over. Back then, I was naïve enough to think the shutdown would only last two weeks.

My intention was to be able to connect with horse people live and answer their questions, just like at horse fairs. So I made sure that at least three or four times a week, I did a live post on Facebook for my Daily Doses. I did behavior lessons, equitation, stretches for riders, my favorite workouts—some of the live posts lasted a full two hours before I could get to the end of everyone’s questions. We posted 7 days a week, including pre-recorded video lessons on both groundwork and mounted work. By the end of the shutdown, we had over 60 Daily Doses posted on YouTube and Facebook. You can view them all here.

A couple weeks into the shutdown, I got a call from Christie Schulte-Kappert, the program director for the Right Horse Initiative, followed shortly thereafter by a call from my friend Sharon Gilbert, head of adoption for Colorado Horse Rescue. Both of them were expressing concern about increasing numbers of horses that would become at risk with a crashing economy. My help was needed to spread the word through my live posts, that our help is needed. All of us. It takes a village.

My goal was to help MyRightHorse.org bring awareness to their new foster horse campaign. There are many horse people out there with an empty pen and the knowledge and experience to provide temporary respite to horses coming into the rescue pipeline. Sometimes all these horses need is a few groceries and a little TLC before the perfect adopter can be found. If we all helped one horse, just imagine the impact! I worked hard to spread the word, and the next thing you know, I had a chance to put my money where my mouth was!

I was super excited to become the foster trainer for a 4-year-old Paint gelding, who happens to be the son of a famous reining stallion (or so we think), and who also happens to be completely deaf. Doc Gunner arrived at my ranch in central Colorado on May 18th, tired, hungry and depleted. He was initially rescued the previous December by a lady in Oklahoma City, then he was helped by the ASPCA and a rescue organization called Nexus Equine, plus a dedicated veterinary clinic, and ultimately a transport company. All of these people are trying to help horses everywhere, one horse at a time. It was my turn to step up to the plate and help Doc Gunner.

With the shutdown restrictions easing across the country, it seemed like a good time to let the Daily Doses of Horsemanship Homework come to a close, and at the same time, I’m continuing to connect with my audience via live posts about training Doc Gunner several times a week. It’s fun and it’s fitting, to highlight this unusual young horse in a social media campaign to bring awareness to how any of us might help horses in need.

I look forward to the day that business travel resumes, and big events across the country open their ticket stands once again—albeit with all of us taking important precautions. Until that time, I’ll keep busy here at the ranch, making educational videos, recording podcasts and connecting with my fans via live posts. I’ll make the most of my time at home, riding and training horses, educating horse lovers and, maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll find some time to kick back.

Enjoy the Ride,

Julie Goodnight

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