Author: callieklein

What is Equine Assisted or Guided Learning? The Power of Therapeutic Horsemanship

What is Equine Assisted or Guided Learning? The Power of Therapeutic Horsemanship

​While I do not personally provide​ formal ​equine assisted riding services, I am a firm believer in the ​therapeutic power that comes from horseback riding.

​“The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.”  Winston Churchill

​The emerging field of Equine Assisted Activities is seeing a dynamic growth around the world.

​There are many national and internationally-recognized organizations, such as Equine Guided Learning (EGL), Equine Guided Education Association (EAGALA), Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH), EponaQuest, Equine Experiential Education (3A), which teach, support and often certify individuals and businesses to offer programs with horses for self improvement – including physical, professional, and personal development  The overall field is known as Equine Assisted Learning (EAL).  The mental or physical health therapeutic field is known as hippo-therapy.

Many people have come to realize that horses are good for us, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally as well.  Horse owners have figured out for themselves that time spent with their horse(s) is their “special” time and find great solace in being with their horses either in sports or as pets.

There are studies underway to determine the true positive effect that horses have on humans, but we may never totally understand the depth of the relationship between horse and human.   Many anecdotal studies have shown that people are calmer when with horses, and have developed a greater ability to be more sensitive to others after spending time with horses.   It is commonly known that horses are very sensitive creatures and are given credit as being empathetic and aware of a person’s emotional state.   It is a mystery that such a physically powerful creature can be so sensitive and aware of the rider or handler’s state of being. Advanced riders are highly aware of their own ‘state’ when riding their horses and as a result, consciously manage their emotions on purpose to create either higher or lower energy, depending on the desired outcome, in the horse’s energy.   If someone is “upset,” or “having a bad day,” it is common knowledge among horse trainers that horses pick up and mirror the state of the person they are in contact with.

The Equine Assisted Learning industry has been helping people become aware of and improve their physical, mental, and emotional “state”, and is helping people manage and improve their skills most quickly.   It is clear that horses have a most wonderful effect on people.

We often think of therapeutic horsemanship as something that used for people who are dealing with some type of physical, mental or emotional challenge, however the truth is that there are benefits for everyone.

According to Elaine Gagné, Ed.D, MCC, of Equine Guided Learning in Colorado Springs, CO, ​ “Horses have amazing powers of perception and communication that can help us (humans) to be more self aware, identify important desired changes in our behavior, increase our powers of communication and develop our leadership ability.”   In her business ​Elaine works with people who are either business owners, entrepreneurs, or employees to increase their leadership capacity.  One of Elaine’s clients stated, 

“I will never forget the breakthroughs I made with Elaine and her horses! I established boundaries and clarified specific actions I needed to take to re-establish and maintain a better balance in my life. I realized that balance is not possible without being aware of boundaries.  In the past, I have gone to seminars, used techniques, and said affirmations to try to make changes; but I usually forget after a while. It is the experience of working with a horse that is not easily forgotten.”

There are several providers of Equine Assisted Learning programs for anyone looking to have a unique yet powerful experience with a horse.    A simple Google search will show the trend in this dynamic and growing industry.  Programs vary in form from simple to very in-depth.  Simple programs may last a day, such as that of Equine Guided Learning, or many days and years as that of EponaQuest, among others, offering certifications for those wishing to become EAL educators.  There are even groups helping veterans find joy and happiness with horses after suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when nothing else would work.   It has been known for a long time that mentally challenged individuals find great joy with horses, and paraplegic riders feel they have “legs” when riding.

Riding and non-riding programs are available to anyone interested in this dynamically growing industry.  A professional coach or therapist, and a horse handler in combination typically present the program to ensure a level of safety.

Spirit Therapies is the only licensed and certified EAGALA and PATH facility in Las Vegas, NV.

What is Western Dressage?

What is Western Dressage?

​Come experience what all the fuss is about!   Western Dressage is classical dressage training for the western horse.  All breeds are welcome, all riders, all levels, all levels.  Learn to apply classical training principles as a foundation for any discipline.

Western Dressage is Taking Off !

More information coming soon.

Las Vegas and Henderson Public Equestrian Parks

Las Vegas and Henderson Public Equestrian Parks

Horseback Riding at Bradley Equestrian Park

Horseback Riding at Bradley Equestrian Park

​Have you ever wanted to just load up the horses and take them to a park but weren’t sure where to go and what to expect when you arrived?      

This article ​contains ​basic information about a some of the Public Equestrian Parks in Las Vegas and Henderson.  For more details about a specific park, visit the park website or call the park’s managing entity.   Most of the information you need is available on the website. The parks are owned or managed by different government entities or management groups but it helps to know as much as you can so you can plan your day for success!

​Horseman’s Park​ 

5800 E. Flamingo Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89122 - 702-455-8206

Horseman’s Park is located in southeast Clark County with easy access from US 93/95, I-515 off the Flamingo Rd Exit.  The largest public equestrian park in Clark County, in the Southeast side of town, Horseman’s Park boasts 38 acres of space with all the amenities  needed for a major event.  Many of the horse shows are held at Horseman’s Park throughout the year.   It is a one-stop, all-inclusive facility, designed for a Professional Event from Rodeos, to Team Roping, to Jumping, to Barrels, to Vaulting, to Bull Sales.  

The Main Arena, with a seating capacity of 2800 and ADA accessibility, the Flamingo Arena, (with seating for 400) a cutting arena, two practice arenas, corrals and livestock pens, wash racks, restrooms and showers, oversize parking, picnic area with open turf, show offices, announcer’s stand, 320 stalls, RV parking with electricity are both available for your event.

Special pricing is available for Youth or Community Events.  The Park offers nearby lodging, and even offers overnight boarding for travelers.    ​

Western Trails Equestrian Park

7500 Cameron Street, Las Vegas, NV  89139 - (702) 455-8200

​Western Trails Equestrian Park is located in southwest Clark County with easy access from I-15 off the Blue Diamond Exit.   The park sits on nine acres of manicured arena, a round pen, a dressage court and bridle paths that wind around inside the park.   There’s an amphitheater in this park too!  Park hours are 6 am to 11 pm on a first-come, first-served basis.  It truly is a clean, comfortable, wide open park. 

Check out the Western Trails Neighborhood Park Facebook Page to see what they are all about!

​Bradley Bridle Park

8225 N Bradley Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89131 - (702) 229-6718

Bradley Bridle Park is very convenient if you live in the North side of town, and is easily accessible from I-215 and Bradley Rd Exit.   The park is on the corner of Horse and Bradley Rd.  This is a great park with desert area close by for those who love the trail!   Bradley Bridle Park is owned and operated by the City of Las Vegas.  

You can make reservations for equestrian special events and to reserve a picnic pavilion but otherwise, it is on a first-come, first-served basis.  Bradley Bridle Park has a large arena with lights and bleacher seating, two roundpens, one lighted, a covered stall, restrooms, a perimeter trail, and three shaded picnic areas.   ​

​Floyd Lamb Park

9200 Tule Springs Rd., Las Vegas, NV  89131 - (702) 229-6718

Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs is a large day-use only facility on the Northwest side of the valley easy access off Durango and the 95.  ​ This is a nice park if you are interested in riding on the trails around the park or into the desert, but does not have riding arenas, round pens or stalls.  Tables and grills are located throughout the park, some covered cluster sites are available for small groups.  All areas are on a first-come, first served basis.  

Groups of 25 or more require advance reservations for use of group use areas.  Park gate hours are 8 am to 8 pm May thru August, and 9 am to 5 pm September thru April.   Park Fees are:  Daily Per Car:  $6 including car and horse trailer.   

​Equestrian Park South

1200 Equestrian Dr., Henderson, NV - (702)267-4000

Equestrian Park South is a large park in Henderson​m, is located off Boulder Hwy, Equestrian Drive and Magic Way.  Operated by the City of Henderson, this is a really nice and clean park with fabulous views of the desert and mountains.  Boasting 170 acres, 1.8 mile dirt horse path, a paved biking/walking trail, with parking for horse trailers, open grass area and restrooms, this is a wonderful equestrian facility.  

In addition, the park features three adjoining loops, a 1.4 mile equestrian trail to the north which connects Saguaro Park, Equestrian Park South, Equestrian Park North, Equestrian Trailhead, and River Mountains Loop Trail. The hours are 6:00 am – midnight.   ​

I hope this information has been useful.  

Wherever you decide to ride, be safe, have fun and above all, enjoy your time with your horse!

Callie Klein, Riding Instructor

What is Centered Riding?

What is Centered Riding?

centered riding - woman riding horse

Centered Riding  is a proven and effective unique way of teaching and applying the classical principles of riding, using body awareness, centering, and imagery developed by Sally Swift. ​It encompasses all seats and styles of riding.

"The ultimate goal of Centered Riding is not to be a discipline unto itself. It must go forward in its purest and least complicated form so it can be integrated into all disciplines of riding." Sally Swift (1913 - 2009)

Centered Riding  teaches you how to help your body do what you need to do to ride well.  

Centered Riding techniques help promote suppleness, stability, and clearer aids, making riding more comfortable for both horse and rider.  As you learn and experience the principles through your horse’s motion and responses, you and your horse “tune in” to each other and work together in harmony.  These techniques can increase confidence and enjoyment and release tension in horses and riders, making training easier.

Centered Riding  is based on a knowledge of human and horse anatomy, balance, movement, and on understanding how the mind affects the body and how both affect the horse.  It used centering and grounding techniques from the oriental martial arts, along with body awareness, mental imagery and sports psychology.  Through increasing body awareness, inhibiting old patterns, and replacing them with a more balanced, free, and coordinated use of self, both horse and rider can move more freely and comfortably, and develop their best performance.

Centered Riding Basics 

  • Soft Eyes encourage visual and physical awareness, better peripheral vision, and improved “feel.”
  • Breathing using the diaphragm and breathing correctly for better posture, relaxation, and energy.
  • Balance or Building Blocks aligns the rider’s body for improved balance, straightness, and ease of movement.
  • Centering using the center of balance, movement and control, located deep in the body, gives quiet strength, harmony and power, as in the oriental martial arts.

Who can benefit from Centered Riding?  

Centered Riding applies to all kinds of horsemanship and any type of horse or rider, helping riders to achieve their own and their horse’s best potential by removing fear, pressure, and unnecessary tension and helping riders understand how to use their bodies better.  Centered Riding techniques have been used by riders, trainers,, and instructors of all levels, from beginners and pleasure riders to Olympic competitors.  Centered Riding is used extensively in therapeutic riding, and has helped many riders cope with old injuries or chronic conditions  Most of all, it is fascinating and fun!

About Centered Riding Instructors​

Centered Riding was developed by Sally Swift, author of the best-selling book and videotapes.  Today, it is taught by Centered Riding instructors around the world.  Instructors become qualified by completing a Centered Riding Instructor Course, and are required to prove their techniques in bi-annual certification courses.

I am proud to be the ​only Certified Centered Riding Instructor in Nevada.


To learn more about Centered Riding go to

Benefits of Attending a Western Dressage 1-2-3 Clinic

Benefits of Attending a Western Dressage 1-2-3 Clinic

​Guest Post by Susanne J. Rowe

​Western Dressage: Classical Horsemanship for Today's Rider

On an overcast winter day a group of horses and riders gather in Sandy Valley. The scene is reminiscent of the Old West—the horses wear hefty leather saddles and their riders wear blue jeans and cowboy boots. But this is no rodeo. The Sandy Valley group is participating in a Western Dressage 1-2-3 clinic sponsored by the North American Western Dressage organization. Today’s clinic will include plenty of riding and end with a videotaping session.

Western Dressage is based on the principles of classical horsemanship—remember those dancing white Lipizzaner stallions?

Why would today’s cowboys be interested in dancing horses?​

Western Dressage techniques improve the horse and rider’s performance by teaching the horse to collect, or bring his hindquarters underneath him, in preparation for a change in direction or speed. The horse becomes more responsive to the rider’s signals, or aids, such as yielding to leg pressure or shifts in the rider’s weight. Riders benefit, too, by learning to clearly communicate their wishes.

Callie Klein of Cloud Nine Ranch LLC is presenting today’s clinic at Sandy Valley’s BJC Arena.

Klein is a recognized professional with the North American Western Dressage association and developed the curriculum for the Western Dressage 1-2-3 clinics. Klein is also a graduate of the Western Dressage Association of America’s Train The Trainer™ program and her extensive background in Natural Horsemanship informs the way she instructs. “I teach about the natural ways that horses communicate among one other, how horses understand humans, and how you can develop communication and create harmony with your horse—on and off the saddle.”

Sharon Fiato is attending the clinic riding her colorful gaited horse, Chip. Fiato’s goal is to improve her partnership with Chip while developing Chip’s flexibility, balance, and overall athleticism. Western Dressage techniques work to improve performance with all horses regardless of breed, size, ability, or previous training.

The Western Dressage 1-2-3 clinics are uniquely organized. After only a few hours of instruction, the horse and rider learn several patterns. These patterns are known as “tests” and have increasing levels of difficulty. Each pattern includes changes in direction and transitions in the horse’s speed. Locations in the arena are marked and cue the rider where to perform each part of the test. Then the pair is videotaped performing their chosen pattern. The videotape is sent to a judge who is certified with the North American Western Dressage association. Within a week, the judge finalizes a score sheet for each horse and rider’s performance and assigns a number, or grade, for that test. The rider can use the grade and judge’s feedback to work towards improving performance. All results are kept confidential unless the rider chooses to compete for a North American Western Dressage achievement award.

Klein enjoys teaching students Western Dressage principles and techniques.

“My clinics are really fun and a valuable platform for learning. Our virtual shows are an awesome low-key opportunity to get a certified judge’s feedback without the pressure or high cost of attending a show.”

The relaxed atmosphere helps riders increase their confidence, try something new, and most of all have fun with their horses. Each three hour clinic includes group instruction, work both off and on the horse, and the virtual test video session with a certified Western Dressage judge’s score and comments. 

Learn more about Callie's Western Dressage 1-2-3 Clinics.

Western Dressage Interview

Western Dressage Interview

A few years ago, I was contacted by one of the bloggers, Michelle Binder, for the USEF website and their blog called Equestrian Weekly. I was so honored that she took time to meet me to write an article for the blog about bringing Western Dressage to the Las Vegas community. We had a great time together, sharing the importance of Dressage as a positive training pattern or roadmap for every horse. Both of us have a background in Natural Horsemanship and Dressage. We found we have a lot in common.  Since this interview I have become a Western Dressage Professional, teaching students and trainers the foundation of Dressage and how it can help their horses.  There are many avenues to learn more about Western Dressage and North American Western Dressage is very active in promoting with a positive community. Check out

How Do We Train Our Horses?

How Do We Train Our Horses?

I think one of the most difficult tasks as a Dressage Rider is to determine what’s the most important thing to do for my horse’s and my training each day I ride.

I’m an insatiable learner, constantly listening to instructors, reading, watching others.  I just love to learn.  I recently ordered a series of videos created by Walter Zettle, a world-class instructor and rider, and low and behold, there was my answer. In Walter’s series titled “A Matter of Trust,” he guides you through the training scale for dressage horses and explains each one in depth. Not only does he describe what’s going on, he has many riders with horses at different levels to watch so you can see what he’s talking about.

No matter what we are searching for, if we are patient, the answer will appear.

Online Horse Training and Riding Education

Online Horse Training and Riding Education

I subscribe to several online horse training and riding education websites.  It’s an amazing way to educate myself about horses in the comfort of my home.  Plus I get to listen to and watch amazing Internationally-recognized Trainers and Judges while they teach their students.  I’ve been a subscriber of few professionals for many years and am always learning new and wonderful things.  It’s not only dressage but there’s a myriad of different trainers from all over the world.  The most important thing to me is to see the riders and horses improve their horseback riding abilities at all levels.  And it’s cool to see the Horse respond to the riders and different trainers.

It’s interesting to watch how the trainers teach.  One of my favorite instructors and who has a few nice videos is Mary Wanless, author of Ride with Your Mind , who has a lot of fun ideas and pictures and concepts she uses when she teach her students, like boingy balls.

Another new trainer I’ve found and love is Suzanne Von Dietze, and I just ordered her DVD and book, Balance in Movement.  I really like her training also and hear such amazing feedback from the students she teaches.  I noticed she uses the same exercises and routines I have used in my horseback riding lessons, so that confirmed we are doing great things.  This gal is a physical therapist from Germany and has ridden to Grand Prix – she offers some great ways to improve posture, strength in the back while riding, and helping the horse with his straightness.

I’ve noticed a difference between those trainers who are teaching the body to ride better, and getting a great result from the horses, and those trainers who tell the rider what to do with the horse and leave it up to the rider to figure out how.  One of my associates said “Some trainers teach you WHAT to do, other trainers teach you HOW to do it!”

I would say that I’m a trainer that teaches you WHAT, HOW, and WHY to do the things I ask.  I tend to be big on theory and philosophy, which is why Natural Horsemanship really interests me, and I focus on the WHAT and HOW through my training in dressage.  It’s so much fun!  How lucky am I to have learned and get to teach all these wonderful things.

Keep it Interesting for Your Horse!

Walk Through Horses, Make Them Move Like The Alpha Does!

Walk Through Horses, Make Them Move Like The Alpha Does!

Today I was cleaning the grass turnout and my lesson-horse, Trixie, was really interested in joining me!  It was kind of interesting because as I was returning to the main arena, Trixie just stood there in front of me!  She’s the herd-alpha, by the way!  I asked her to move and she just stood there – whew, a little dominance move on her part!  So, I asked her to move again by touching her shoulders and neck area with my savvy string (Zone 2 in Parelli-language).  Then, she yielded her forehand, stepped sideways with her front feet, backed up, and moved over for me!   Yes, Trixie needed to move out of my way.   It’s much more savvy to have your horse move out of your way than for you to walk around your horse!

I learned from a natural horseman, years back, that when you want to go somewhere and the horse is standing in the way, it’s imperative to cause them to yield to you, meaning move, no matter how small it seems.  Horses Always move out of the way for the alpha!  If I want to go to the water tank, I just go there, and if there’s a horse in the way, it needs to just move over.  Too many times we walk around our horses and give them the right-of-way!  Oops!   Important!  This is another way to build leadership and healthy authority with our horses!

Stay cool!

New Riding Location in Las Vegas

New Riding Location in Las Vegas

I’m so excited about my new Riding and Lesson Location in Las Vegas! Just moved Trixie, my lesson horse to a new private facility in the Northwest side of town.  The new facility is located at 8035 W Craig Rd, LV  89129.

I am available for lessons, and will be riding out soon.  Just down the road is a city park and can be a perfect place to ride on the grass.

I look forward to seeing you there!