Richard Winter's Horsemanship - An Interview

As with many clinicians and professional competitors, Richard Winters spends a significant amount of his time travelling. A family affair, Richard’s wife Cheryl and daughter Sarah often travel with him participating in the family business “on the road” for weeks, sometimes months, at a time.  We caught up with Richard just before they left for a 2 month tour and he was kind enough to sit down and tell us a bit about what it is like on a day to day basis around his ranch.

Q.    Richard, can you tell us a little about yourself and your start in horses?
A.    I've been involved in the horse business for over 30 years. All I ever thought about ever since I was a little boy was being a cowboy. I was a horseshoer for many years and then began training more and more horses as time went on. I taught my first horsemanship clinic about 20 years ago. Although much of what we do helping average person get along with their horse, I specialize in reined cow horse competition.

Q.    So your program today is a dream come true from your childhood - that is wonderful!  Who else is involved in Winter’s Ranch?
A.    My wife Cheryl is the one that keeps our business together. All of the bookkeeping all of the organizing for clinics as well as much of the video and editing for our TV show falls on her shoulders. She is amazing. We are also happy to have our daughter Sarah back in the family business. She grew up working for me training horses. She was gone for three years working for other trainers and gaining more experience. She is now back home and we are team teaching and presenting at clinics and expos around the country.

Q.    Do you have a typical daily schedule?
A.    When you run your own business every day your schedule is a little bit different. There are no set hours we start our day depending on what the need is. If we have a big trip planned we might be loading up horses and heading out before daylight. This is definitely not a union shop. You take care of business and then you rest. Unless you're my wife Cheryl, then you never stop. She is wonder woman!

Q.    Do you find you spend more time doing non-horse work these days?
A.    As technology advances in our business grows it is interesting how much time we spend doing things that are not on the back of a horse. Writing articles, answering emails, developing new brochures and other promotions do take a lot of time. For example here I am in the middle of the day talking into an iPad and my horses are out sitting in their stalls!

Q.    I bet that is a big difference from how your business first started... what did business look like back then compared to now?
A.    As I mentioned I began making my living shoeing horses. Then I began to split my time between shoeing and training. I would go out and shoe horses in the morning and come home and ride horses in the afternoon. As training got busier I started being a little more selective about how many horses I would shoe. Now I still shoe horses, but only my own and the few that we have in training. Thankfully, I was at the right place at the right time to capitalize on creating horsemanship clinics. That is now a big part of our business. People are hungry for knowledge and if you are good with horses and have people skills horsemanship clinics are great venue. We are also being asked to do more expos around the country as well.

Much of my business is coaching and teaching people. Horses really don't have problems but often times, people have a lot of problems! That's where the clinics are very helpful. It's rewarding to put tools in people's hands and see them be more successful with their horses. Many people are very limited in what they can do with her horse. I like to expand their possibilities help them gain confidence and do more than they thought they could do.

Q.    You are not only a clinician, but also a competitor.  How many horses of your own are you currently developing?
A.    I currently have three horses of my own. I train and show these horses in the reined cow horse discipline. Showing western performance horses is really my opportunity for professional development. Needless to say I oftentimes eat humble pie! However, I always learn something.

Q.    Is there anything that has surprised you in your horsemanship journey? Things you never thought you’d experience?
A.    I recognize more and more what a blessing it is to be able to make my living doing something that I love to do. To be paid money to work with horses is a great thing. The doors that are now opening to present at expos around the country and around the world is amazing and very humbling. Last year we were in Australia Poland Mexico. This year we will be going to Sweden as well. I never dreamed that we would have these kind of opportunities. We are truly blessed.

Q.    What is your favorite part of the day?
A.    My favorite part of the day and favorite work activity is when I am riding a horse and getting close to perfect partnership with them. I don't always get it done. But when you get close to perfect harmony it's a great feeling. Also helping a student have a big breakthrough with their horse is also very rewarding.

Q.    Do you have hobbies outside of horses?
A.    Not too many serious hobbies outside of horses. My wife would say that I am addicted to horses. Too many days away from them and I get a little uncomfortable. I do play my guitar a little, but I'm not very good.

Q.    What does the average work flow of your day look like?
A.    For us every day is different. We find we need to be extremely flexible. First thing in the morning I will check my email and make sure that there are no big fires I need to put out. After that I'm probably going to ride some horses. Lunchtime normally stretches out and becomes some office time as well. More riding and perhaps lessons in the afternoon. Then possibly shoeing a horse before coming in for the night. If you are person that has to have a set schedule, this might not be a business for you. If you like some variety and can be flexible then it's not a bad deal at all.

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