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Julie Goodnight Clinic


By Nancy Brannon

Julie Goodnight brought her “Goodnight Clinic Tour” to the Agri-Center in Memphis, TN on March 25-26, 2017. The clinic ran from 8 am to 5 pm both days, with an hour break for lunch. Her horsemanship clinics are for all disciplines (English and Western). All ability levels are welcome as long as the rider has basic control at the walk and trot. Each rider works at his/her own pace without pressure to go outside their or their horse’s comfort zone.  

Goodnight utilizes natural horsemanship techniques combined with the principles of classical riding. She seeks to find success and improvement for every horse and rider by developing a deeper understanding of the horse and improving riding skills, which, ideally, culminate in a balanced and rhythmic rider with a light and responsive horse.

Turnout was somewhat disappointing, with 18 riders participating in the clinic and about 20-30 auditors. This was a “little less than average” for her clinics, Julie said, and this was her first time in the Memphis area. The clinic was held in the outdoor covered arena, and Saturday’s weather – cool, windy, and rainy – made it somewhat uncomfortable for auditors watching outside the pen.

Still, Julie proceeded with her program, giving individualized attention to the participants, and working with two groups of nine horse/rider combinations each. “We have a good group of horses here,” she assessed. She wants to make sure that all horses are under control and that none are acting inappropriately. And that was certainly the case in Memphis, she said.

Both morning’s sessions worked on “ground manners and relationship building,” Julie said. “Doing groundwork with horses is all about developing a respectful relationship, gaining authority, and teaching manners and boundaries. Your horse time will be safe and your horse will be pleasant to be around.

“I want to make sure that people understand behavior in the horses and how we affect and change their behavior. I focus less on particular technique and more on understanding how the horse thinks, and how the horse learns. So you can apply any training technique effectively if you understand the theory behind what you are doing,” Goodnight explained.

The afternoon sessions were mounted work. And for the first afternoon’s mounted work, if anyone needed a tack check or adjustment, Julie could see to that before the rider got mounted.

 In the mounted work, “we carry through with relationship building, becoming more aware of our behavior and the horse’s behavior, and the principles behind training,” Julie explained.

“As soon as I can, I want to focus on the riders – improving their balance and helping them be more fluid with their horses. I want to make sure there is clear communication between the rider and the horse, understanding cues. We go over how to use the aids, and how and why cuing works.”

On Sunday, the same two groups worked on ground work in the morning and mounted work in the afternoon. “Improving the rider” – refiningriding skills and developing a better relationship with your horse– is her overall goal in these clinics.

Along with instruction, Julie had two tables set up in the indoor warm-up area with her books, DVDs, and equipment she uses in the clinics. She had plenty of colorful training leads, 12 and 15 feet; hats, Goodnight training flags, and more. She brought her Wind River 16” walnut trail saddle that she rode in at the Pomona, California Expo.  The saddle, saddle pad, and tack were offered for sale.

Cost for participating in the clinic was $650, and spectator tickets were $25. Spectators were encouraged to ask questions, too.

Find more information about Goodnight’s clinics and products on her website at: Goodnight is based in Poncha Springs, Colorado.

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