Her journey began in 1990 when she was breeding Appaloosa horses as a hobby. That’s where her business Mohegan took off. This became a natural progression directing Karen White to the path of searching out training methods that were kind and gentle to be able to start and train her own progeny successfully. Once she found John Lyons’ book “Round Pen Reasoning” through her mentor at that time Robbie Newman, she knew she was hooked. Now, she has her own successful training methods which her clients simply adore.
Horseright: Do you remember your first horse riding? Were you aware back then that it would eventually become a vital part of your life?
Yes, I was a very little girl in Canada. Dad worked at the Calgary Stampede and I was always surrounded by horses, so I think my dreams started very young in my blood from birth but no one in my family was ever horse crazy like me!
Horseright: What were the most important education moments in your life that helped you build your career?
I did many other courses such as Parelli Natural Horsemanship 1990, David Simons Select Trainers scheme 2000, EAGALA 2009 certificate’s, Haflinger official classifier, confidence coach and horse educator. Also, I have travelled east to many international coaches including The Dressage Academy of Australia with Barrie and Sarita Stratton, and overseas such as Linda Kohanov “Power of the Herd” to keep myself updated and educated with training techniques and continue to evolve for the horses and my clients.
Horseright: You studied Eques psychology in Arizona. What was that experience like?
Linda Kohanov is an inspiration as a speaker, clinician, training and reading a horse. Not to mention her “Power of the Herd”! I loved my visit and will eventually go back. It was really a life changing experience and a journey that helped me have a deeper way of looking at the horse in many different ways and allowing them to heal in so many levels for humans.
Horseright: After being a while in the equestrian world, what are the things about horses that still amaze you the most?
How more change is still needed? I get annoyed at the FASHION of different styles and the horse is still suffering being used as an entertainment tool. We are still not there yet. But, some really good training has evolved and helped people understand the horse point of view. That is where I always want to be, listening to the horses, not to the latest fashion.
Horseright: Can you tell us what Mohegan is and what makes it unique?
Mohegan prides itself on a safe, educational centre that puts all the many equines first. People love the training that I do, kind and soft, but strong clear leadership with boundaries are necessary. Being assertive does not mean you are aggressive. Clear communication, broken down for the horse and all the owners to be able to have a happier, educated relationship together no matter what they chose to do with their favourite equines – meaning pleasure riding or competition.
Horseright: How would you describe the Mohegan community?
The ladies and gents that come to Mohegan from varied backgrounds – accountants, vets, office workers, truck drivers, nervous Mums, experienced show people; they all find something in common with each other. Mohegan has become a centre to meet like-minded people, sharing and caring as a horse community. I feel proud whenever I see them all sitting down over a coffee or a tea discussing what they’ve just experienced in their training. It’s a wonderful, peaceful feeling for all the animals as well as the people.
Horseright: Your clients like to highlight your ability to make the connection between rider and horse. What are the crucial elements of that connection?
People struggle with their TIMING, taking the human responsibility of what they are really asking for either when everything is wrong or when everything is right. Reading the horse’s body language is a prerequisite for a horse to understand what we want, the correct energy level,… Allowing the horse to make mistakes is also important as this is how they learn too. Owners often just want it to be EXACTLY right straight away or blame the horse for not doing it right. Knowing how to correct the mistake is the key. This becomes the first step I teach to allow the connection to happen with clarity.
The consistency of correct reputations is how we all learn, including the horses. Humans complicate everything whereas the horses are extremely authentic, in the moment and a willing student to change very quickly. Humans struggle with change, become analytical which is negative when training a horse and wanting to break down the barrier of miscommunications.
Horseright: You’ve developed a concept called “Being heard by the HERD”. Can you tell us what is it based on and how it helps you in your work?
Being “Heard by the Herd” is extremely simple – Look, Listen, Be! Look at what the horse is telling you through his/her behaviour, listen to what the horse is asking you to do to help him/her understand what you want, completely be in the moment with the horse with no distraction, no tension and allow the horse to communicate to you clearly of the answers of everything you ever wanted to know about breaking down those barriers. Horses are like a CUE CARD, if you look with focus, they will tell you every time your responsibilities and you will be able to change yourself or change behaviour in the horse. Horses are the gifted teachers and we need to listen better as students of theirs.
Horseright: Is there a special moment or an experience you remember that confirmed you’re doing the right thing by helping people to connect with horses?
Perhaps a recent couple of horses that have come in for rehabilitation training. Shardy, an 18-year-old mare not ridden for 10 years. Then Ollie, off the track misunderstood aggressive horse not ridden for 6 years. Both of them needed leadership, boundaries, mind and body work program. They both accepted their rolls after repetition. The consistency of their new lives rolled in only 6 days of work including riding the horses. Of course, they are both still in training and doing extremely well.
Most horses (not all) want to belong somewhere if they are left for whatever reason and the owners decide to follow their dreams and desires. It is a commitment, hard work, routine, health checks, bodywork checks, teeth check-ups and a great training system that all work in together to change the life for most horses and their owners.
Horseright: In your opinion, what can riders learn from horses?
Everything! Leadership is a necessary part of life. The horses are the best teachers I have ever had. If you really want to change yourself inside and out, great horsemanship and a wonderful horse can lead your life into a positive path of exciting journeys of self-discovery.
Horseright: In the end, tell us what is your greatest joy now when working with these beautiful creatures?
Every day is a gift. Every day I can’t wait to get up, feed them all, clean their paddocks, train and be with them. I cannot imagine my life without them; it would feel as if I had lost ½ of my body and soul. They have saved me so many times, taught me so many life lessons and allowed me to develop leadership beyond all of my dreams. The tougher horses had more lessons to teach me, the easier horses reconfirmed I was doing a good job. The frustration has always been educating the people to be simpler, less expectation of the horse and more commitment from themselves. They are all a gift and I will always treasure and respect it.
Karen would like to thank Horeseright for the above article.