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Young trainer wise beyond her years

She is bright, knowledgeable, patient and funny. Raised on a farm north of Marwayne, Alberta, she started her first horse when she was 12 and has been training ever since.

And now, at the tender age of 23, horsewoman Yolanda Garnier has recently started her own horse training and lesson business called Discovery Horsemanship.

She is gifted with both equines and humans, and can relate well to all students. The kids enjoy her as much as the adults.

There are times when those who are extremely skilled in a certain discipline are not the best teachers. They know and understand a great deal about their particular subject matter but, when it comes to explaining and teaching others, they are not able to translate what they are doing. Not Yolanda — she is as much a facilitator as she is an instructor.

Garnier credits one of her first instructors, Marion Ryan from Marwayne for providing her with a solid base. “Marion gave me such a solid foundation as far as the finesse work with a horse — leads and body positions,” says Garnier. “She taught me how to ride in an effective way to communicate with my horse.”

Her horsemanship principles are based on natural horsemanship. In her words, natural horsemanship is “how quickly you can advance with a horse by using methods that make sense to the horse.” An important thing to Garnier is developing a horse through feel and using natural horsemanship to create a willing partner.

She has studied extensively under renowned clinician Jonathan Fields of Merritt, B.C. Garnier first encountered Fields at the Mane Event in Red Deer, Alberta and said, “I thought to myself I have got to figure out what this guy is doing because it is really good. He is a phenomenal instructor, easy to be around and work with.”

Garnier also did a month long apprenticeship with Steve Rother of Washington State. “He is really good at colt starting. After just a few rides he takes them out and does all kinds of things with them.”

Garnier believes it is important to be multi-disciplinary in the equine world so she recently started taking jumping lessons.

Two new challenges she would like to pursue are roping and working cowhorse. She already does a great deal of pasture cattle work. “I also want to work on my liberty and bridleless work with my own advanced horses.”

Over the next five years, Garnier wants to keep doing the same thing, perhaps more teaching and less training. “The people have to know what they are doing. If you can train the people, that will take care of the horses. I hope someone gets better than me. We have to help these kids out and everyone else who comes to you,” she says.

“Part of what helped me was mom and dad always provided me with good horses that were not going to hurt me but were going to teach me something,” she adds. As an instructor, she passes on that same support and encouragement to her students.

A testimonial from Michelle Kenzie on Garnier’s website sums it up — “It is not often in life that you experience a true teacher, someone that not only has so much knowledge and loves what they do but is able to share that passion and knowledge with their student without intimidation. Learning about horsemanship and riding at Discovery has ignited that passion and desire in me. I look forward to each lesson and leave each lesson with a new skill to build on.”

Such a wise soul in such a young horsewoman. To learn more about Yolanda Garnier, go to her website at

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