“The goal of all dressage riding should be to bring the horse and rider together in harmony…a oneness of balance, purpose, and athletic expression.” (Walter Zettle, 1998, Dressage in Harmony p.5)
I have had the incredible opportunity to train with Emily Keene at Trinity Ranch this past year. I chose to train with her to better understand the gaps in my own riding, the psychological needs of my equine partner and how to use my new riding skills to build a better foundation of trust and effective communication with my horse. I am now beginning to understand what it means to truly work as a “team” with my horse and am looking forward to finishing my 3rd level scores for my bronze and working towards my silver metal. I moved to NM to train with Emily because she is not only an accomplished rider and exceptional horse trainer, but is also an encouraging and inspiring riding instructor. She is always unfailingly honest, fair, and compassionate to both the horse and the rider. Emily has helped me more than I could have imagined with my horse and I owe my current riding ability to her patience, insights, and the many hours she has dedicated to working with my horse and teaching me ride in harmony and balance with partner. ”
“Under Emily’s instruction concepts that have always seemed vague now make sense. After only a few months of riding with Emily my position has improved immensely, and I feel much more connected to my horse. I have struggled with my position for years. Contorting my body to every position imaginable looking for the holy grail called ‘seat’. I am finally figuring it out under Emily’s instruction. The first big breakthrough I had with Emily was helping my horse achieve self-carriage. I had no idea that the changes she was asking me to make in my seat and my hands would have such a profound effect on my horse, but they did! I am so grateful.”
“Emily is a rare and precious jewel! A kind and compassionate teacher, she is fair and honest with both her human and equine students. Never demanding or demeaning, she brings out the best in each horse and rider. She knows when it’s time to push through a sticky spot, and when to just relax and enjoy! I leave each lesson feeling encouraged and excited about my next ride. She also spent countless hours helping me find my dream horse! I can honestly say that have learned more in my three years with Emily than in my 30-plus years of riding before I met her. Not only is she a knowledgeable and talented horse person, she is an exceptional human being. I feel grateful and blessed to know her.”
“I purchased my horse, Tupelo Honey, from Emily eight years ago and have recently started training with her again. Tupelo and I have never been happier.
Let me start by saying how much his physical condition has improved. His diet and supplements have made him stronger, more athletic and generally more healthy. He no longer rubs his beautiful mane and tail and we’ve gone back to barefoot trimming so he no longer forages.
Emily’s style of riding suits us both so well. I have watched Tupelo’s throughness completely change to where he (and I) understand what is actually expected. His top-line and overall musculachur are almost unrecognizable from previous years.
Tupelo is a loving, willing and talented horse and Emily recognizes these traits. She praises and rewards every achievement no matter how small…not with treats, by the way! Oh ya…without treats Tupelo is no longer mouthy and his ground manners are vastly improved. I sneak an apple into to his feed bucket every now and then…I’m not made of stone!
My riding has dramatically changed. My aids are lighter and more effective. Tupelo is no longer dull to the leg. My hip flexors aren’t in constant pain anymore and riding is comfortable and joyful again.
Tupelo Honey is the love of my life and it almost makes be cry when I see how much he has improved and how happy we both are training with Emily.”
“I throughly enjoy working with Emily! I am new to dressage, so she is teaching me as well as training my horses. Emily has been cheerful and encouraging throughout all steps of this learning process. She has helped me develop a training program that suites my needs and budget, is flexible with my ever changing schedule, has revolutionized the way I use my body when in the saddle and is always positive. I love that she is open to working with ‘non traditional’ breeds and people who are just starting out in learning Dressage. Her clients represent different walks of life, different breeds and skill levels. I can honestly say, that I leave every lesson encouraged and with new nuggets of valuable information. Emily is kind, effective, positive and encouraging. ”
“Emily’s approach to training my horse and giving lessons is ethical, consistent and compassionate. She always focuses on what’s best for the horse. Emily is excellent at seeing ways to improve my riding and giving me insights on how to change my aids to achieve balance and throughness in my horse. It’s a pleasure to work with her as a partner my horses care and training.”
“Thirty years in the horse business have taught me to distinguish good trainers from bad. Emily is one of the good ones. All trainers expect horses to listen to them, but Emily is willing to reciprocate and listen to the horses.
She trains methodically, building confidence and reducing frustration, understanding that horses respond readily to being rewarded for correctness.
Emily takes pride in figuring out what’s best for each horse and in helping owners and riders understand what their horses are trying to tell them through their behavior. After all, training takes place not just in the saddle. Emily is a real advocate for the horses in her care.
With the goal of creating the best horse for each person, she is willing to help with any issue, large or small.
Emily is a soft, forward rider, firm but fair, and horses readily respond.”
“I have known Emily for many years, in the roles of trainer, instructor, and colt starter. Given her many accomplishments, it is no surprise that she is an effective, tactful and accomplished trainer, capable of taking a horse from the very basics to FEI levels, in a very thoughtful and careful manner, with full attention to the horse ‘s mental and emotional wellbeing. Her work ethic and integrity are exemplary and I have found her to be completely reliable and trustworthy in every regard.
While many good riders can be effective trainers, not all are good riding instructors. Emily is a wonderful instructor, articulate and observant, respectful yet always pushing the rider to stretch to the next level. Her observation of the most subtle body position, both horse and rider, and her communication about how to improve it, with concrete, specific suggestions, is a true talent and skill, which I know she studies constantly to improve.
Emily has helped me to improve my riding skills, has helped my homebred mare to move up the levels, and has started and backed my young horses with great patience and ingenuity. She is a consummate professional who truly loves horses and the art of dressage.”
“I am brand new to the world of riding and dressage.
I couldn’t have been luckier to find Emily who is so skilled, lovely to work with and so incredibly patient.
She works with you from the foundation up, teaching you how to groom the horse, saddle and bridle which is extremely important if you are new to the sport.
She is with you every step of the way to guide you and watch as you connect with the horse and it has been an absolutely wonderful experience!”
I have maintained a lifelong developing relationship with an equine tradition, coming from a northern plains horse tribe, the Northern Cheyenne.
I also believe that when the student is ready, the teacher appears and Emily Keene has greatly supported my long term intentions in the mastery of the various equine traditions.
I have worked with a number of horse trainers and coaches in my life and I sincerely attest to the exceptional skills and abilities Emily Keene has demonstrated in ‘putting a horse and rider together’ and helping both grow together in her training work.”
“I started riding in my forties, facing many of the challenges of the adult amateur: limited time and money, aches and pains, sometimes the wrong trainers, the wrong horse, or the right horse going lame.
Through all of this, initially I made quite a bit of progress. But after a number of years, this progress stopped and I seemed to get stuck. I understood the reasons to an extent, but knowing this didn’t help. Although I loved dressage and my horses, I felt in such a discouraged place about my riding. I had certainly ridden with good teachers and had (most of the time) a horse to ride but my improvements were so slow or nonexistent.
I decided to try a lesson with Emily and in the first lesson she helped me make a dramatic change in my seat and the use of my aids. Things I knew but had never really felt or manifested. Old habits that I had not realized were so ingrained.
Emily has an excellent eye and is really good at finding the right words or images to help you seek the right feelings. She’s kind but not patronizing and persistent but not mean. Of course the hard work of dressage is up to me but riding with Emily has helped me to feel I’m back on the right path.”
“Emily is a joy to work with. She is a very kind and patient teacher, and believes strongly in a good foundation for the horse. I showed up with my green 4 year old TB and needed some good direction for both of us. I’ve been able to ride Emily’s schooling horse to improve my riding and confidence, while Emily works with my young mare to give her the education, confidence and foundation that she needs.
Emily puts the needs of the horse first and never compromises their dignity. She also considers the horse on an individual basis and works on what they need. I love this!
Whether you just want to ride for pleasure and be safe or take it to the show ring and compete at high levels, Emily is the one who will get you there.”
“Emily has been training my 19 year old Arab mare and me for 5 years in dressage. I have had horses in my life since I was 6 years old and they are an important part of my life.
I am now a grandmother of 6 and a senior citizen. My energy level and enthusiasm for horse activities is high and I am happily surprised because when I met Emily 5 years ago I was contemplating giving up my riding career.
I decided to give dressage a try. Soon finding the relationship between horse and rider so satisfying. There seems to be a mutual respect and affection between us that I had not known with my other horses.
Emily has been patient, reliable and always professional. She loves horses and is a beautiful, skilled rider, always continuing her own education. She makes you want to be a better horseman.”
“I met Emily Keene only 9 months ago when she hired me to be her assistant. I knew little about the world of Dressage but had been working and riding the horses since the early 1980’s. I have exposed myself to care, barn management, hunter jumper; (which took me to college), veterinary assistance work, mentored under gentleman Cowboy trainers and contracted myself out as a rider for several owners. Emily and I took to each other immediately. She is an extremely skilled rider with a personal drive to continue to excel with the understanding that you learn something new every time you sit in the saddle. There are several qualities I recognize and commend that Emily has concerning all aspects of being a trainer and a teacher.
Emily’s technique to training a horse is very natural but firm. Her communication skills with the horse are evident in every move she makes. Emily is sensitive to their movements, moods, and dispositions and responds to them accordingly. It takes her very little time to teach the horse to understand how to respond to a proper task request; and for them to do it cheerfully. She is proficient with ground work, believing that it is the solid foundation for any horse to decide to become a willing participant. The horses I have seen her do ground work with become more attentive, willing, and supple within a short period of time.
When she is riding a horse, Emily is very attentive to their needs and capacity to learn. She will not push the horse beyond their understanding. Emily knows when to end a training session and consequently, horses retain the information and pick up where she left off from the last training session. The horses in her training program excel quickly; find their feet, engage, develop a wonderful top line and become very supple. Emily rides all the horses with an amazing sense of feel. She is firm but gentle and never applies more pressure than least necessary. This shows when you see the horses she has trained and how well they move with little aid.
Emily is a fantastic instructor. She has the ability to communicate clearly with any rider, from beginning to advanced, and make them feel comfortable. She not only captures their ability and focuses on positives, she also can point out necessary corrections in a manner that helps the rider develop feel. When she gives a lesson she incorporates the aspects of rider, horse, and horse and rider. This is a skilled technique that involves acute understanding of all three and is very difficult for most people to do. It is impressive. The horse’s diet is another aspect of Emily’s knowledge that is well worth mentioning. She has taken extensive time to research the horse’s needs for supplements and feed. She believes a properly fed horse is a happy horse, and a happy horse increases productivity in any job the owner is asking for. There are several examples of how well this diet works in her training program. Emily has a 24 year old horse in her training program and on the comprehensive Dynamite program. He has a wonderful coat, excellent disposition, and loves to work. I find that most 24 year old horses start to lose their desire to perform for their rider and this is not the case here; he is attentive, engaged, and incredibly fit and supple, especially given his age.
Another horse who is a great example of Emily’s full spectrum program is in his teens and had been left to stand for a few years until just about 6 months ago when she found him for a client. He was overweight, flat backed, unwilling, and had a dull coat. With the last 6 months I have watched this horse transform back into the horse he should be; he is very willing to work and attentive to instruction, he is developing a fabulous top line, his weight is perfect and his coat has shine and luster. It has been a rewarding transformation to witness!
Over all, Emily is a complete joy and honor to work with. Her instruction is all encompassing and geared toward both a happy horse and happy rider as a team. Emily’s horse skills on all levels are exemplary and I would highly recommend her to anyone seeking the true knowledge of Dressage and Natural Horsemanship. She is always willing to share her knowledge with a positive attitude and kind disposition. I would recommend her for any type of horse and rider at any level and positively say there would be no disappointments.”
“After not having ridden a horse in over a decade and never having learned dressage, I became a student of Emily Keene’s at Keene Dressage.
Very quickly, Emily instilled confidence in my riding ability with her emphasis on body alignment and energy awareness.
Emily instructs with a balanced blend of patience and enthusiasm. Although she has the expertise to lead clinics, Emily prefers to teach one— on— one.
I am amazed at the progress I’ve made in my riding earning third place ribbons in my first school show as well as the knowledge I’ve learned from Emily about horse care and horse behavior.”
“I have dreamed about having a horse ever since I was a little girl. Finally, when I was 43 years old, Shiloh Moon, a beautiful QH Paint mare, came into my life. While I was overjoyed with excitement, I also realized that I did not know the first thing about caring for or training this amazing animal. I was terrified. Fortunately, that is when I met Emily.
Both Shiloh and I were new to this situation (yes, we were very ‘green’) so, Emily gracefully started us off with groundwork allowing Shiloh and I to get to know one another. She taught me about how to gain respect from Shiloh, how to move her feet, and provided me with the overall knowledge of safe and respectful, horsemanship.
Emily taught me how to properly groom Shiloh, from cleaning her hooves to trimming her mane. She guided me through the basics from proper bridling, to measuring Shiloh (for sizing a new winter blanket, and bridle).
Emily helped me with choosing nutritional supplements. Shiloh is now taking Dynamite Products; a probiotic (DynaPro), a fat and protein supplement (HES) and Dynamite vitamin pellets. Shiloh has not coliced since being on the Dynamite program (she did twice before) and her coat is shiny and beautiful. Through the Dynamite program and Emily’s training with Shiloh, she has gained muscle and her whole body formation has changed.
Over the past year Shiloh and I have been training with Emily three days a week. She has given both Shiloh and I confidence, while meeting us at our weak points. Shiloh and I are now horse and rider and the growing and learning continues!”
“Emily is unsurpassed with rider and horse body work. She knows how to get to the root of all those little stumbling blocks using a combination of classical dressage and common sense. She uses the latest and most effective methods of training, instilling confidence and strength into her pupils.
Sonya and I now have a correct, solid, and safe foundation from which to progress through the levels.”
“I can’t imagine starting with anyone better than Emily. We started with readying the horse (Nesbit, a great school horse), saddling, bridling, and by the time Emily had me on the horse I was completely comfortable.
Emily is a fantastic teacher. Her ability to understand horse and rider and to communicate the skills needed to produce a good ride is the reason that I was able to accomplish my goals and not give up.
I have enjoyed working with Emily as she is super kind and considerate and professional. I will continue under her training with complete confidence and enthusiasm.”
“Emily Keene is a consummate professional. Her lifelong equine skills of excellence in the care and training of horses is tailored to the individual. What sets her apart from many other dressage trainer is her sensitive connection with both myself as a rider and my horse. She saw and felt what my horse was expressing from the first day. Her understanding led him to trust and respect her while she continued to bring out his athleticism and special talents.
I have witnessed nervous, exploding, insecure horses turn into confident performing dressage animals through her tact and kindness. Every animal I have watched her train, no matter what their previous problems have presented, has been naturally stimulated into a willingness to try so hard. Dressage is hard,’ she will tell you, but she makes a rigorous discipline fun.”
“Dear Emily, I am writing to express our gratitude for the wonderful services you have provided to us in training Index these past several years. Given our history with dressage horses we are acutely aware that the quality of training a horse receives is reflected not just in the competitions won, but in the health and happiness of the animal as well. In this respect, you have proved yourself to be an extraordinary trainer.
After a lengthy period of semi— retirement, you brought Index back to the highest levels of competition, ultimately forming an exceptional team and taking third place in USDF Horse of The Year rankings, 4th level Open. Importantly, during the same period of time Index suffered no significant medical problems or injuries. Quite a feat on any horse, let alone one that is 17 years of age. Our grooms tell me that Index was happier during the time that you were riding him than at any time in our 7 years of owning him.
Of great importance to me as a manager is the fact that you went to such lengths to get along with and assist our barn crew in doing their jobs. Your ability to sew harmony and cooperation amongst our staff has made my task of managing our operations both easy and pleasant.
With warmest regards, all of us at La Mesita Ranch wish to thank you for the services that you have provided over the past several years and we with you the very best as you continue the pursuit of your life’s passion, horses.”
“Emily intuitively knows what you and your horse need to achieve your goals. She has a kind manner, which, with her practical knowledge, gives her the ability to get positive results from the most sensitive of horses. To top it all off, Emily is just fun to ride with!”