Welcome to Bunkybee - home of graphic t-shirts, apparel and accessories! We encourage people to step boldly into pursuing their favorite recreational activities. (And we want them to look good in their fan gear too!) What better way to kick off the Bunkybee blog than to hear from someone who is passionate about her pastime - Kirsten Reister, of Positive Way Horsemanship, LCC. Kirsten has turned her lifelong love of horses and riding into a successful and rewarding career, and has helped a lot of horses and their riders along the way through her training skills that emphasize listening to and understanding the horse.
Kirsten and I both grew up in horse country in Ridgefield, CT and I have followed her social media posts about her business. Being a horse lover myself, I've enjoyed seeing pictures of her horses and beautiful property, her horse training demonstration videos and just her enjoying her work. I asked her to do a question and answer session, and her great response was, "When backbreaking work is fun because of the passion, it's worth talking about!"
Q&A with Kirsten
Kirsten: "I am honored to be asked to participate in this interview. To start, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Kirsten Reister of Positive Way Horsemanship, LLC, located in Wallkill, NY. I named my business with the hopes that the name would kind of say it all. I am a horse trainer who creates connections with horses that inspires their desire to learn. I strive to maintain the individuality of each horse through clear communication offered and allowed. Over the years I have had horses come through my doors entered into a training program that in the end decided to move in permanently. I had not originally set out to be a boarding facility, but I’m happy to provide full-time housing to those who want to call PWH home. Between my permanent residents and the horses that come for the term of a training program, I’d say I have as many as sixteen horses in my care at any given time. Each and every horse that visits or lives here, is treated as if they are my own.
Q: You’ve been in love with and riding horses since age two, and you discovered your passion for observing and working with horses as a teenager. What inspired you to start a business from something you learned you were passionate about, and good at, at an early age?
A: After years of being the person other boarders would call with horse husbandry questions, health, illness, injury, and rehabilitation care, I realized that I was prepared to provide the environment I believed people were looking for. I started my own business as a training facility to establish a name for myself that could stand on it’s own. Training out of an established farm was good, but I was a trainer “within” someone else’s barn doors. It was just time for me to have my own name on the stamp of love I would place on each horse I had the privilege to play with.
Q: You give such valuable tools to people about relating to, connecting with and understanding their horses on a one-on one level. I’m sure you’ve been called a “horse whisperer” more than once. I particularly love something that you wrote on your website, in reference to how and why you do not teach the sport of riding - you teach a connection:
"I do not teach the sport of riding, I teach a connection. See, when we learn to post in perfect position, the horse under us is basically a tool, a vehicle, there is no connection. What I teach, is combining riding skills while stimulating your horse/human connection. I expect riders to be there for their horses to help make the job of just trotting around more engaging and interesting to them. We all hated when the gym teacher told us to run around the track, right? Imagine doing that with a bouncing, fumbling, mouth-slapping creature on your back. Torture!"
If you had to pick one thing to tell a horse owner about what their horse needs them to know, what would that be?
A: Pay attention to your volume! Learn not only HOW TO communicate effectively with the proper volume to be respectfully heard, but to also pay attention to how much RUDE volume is so often used. For example: A rider is sitting in the center of the arena discussing the next plan with their trainer. The horse is not only expected to stand still, but is likely going to take the opportunity to relax. Once a plan is formulated and the rider sets out to resume their ride, all too often they abruptly take a hold of a rein, attached to a piece of metal in the mouth of a horse who might be resting, and pull them without much, if any, warning that something was expected of them. The volume to that rude approach to reengaging a horse in activity is like at a six on the dial of ten. I equate that with someone sitting at the end of a driveway, paused to place something on their seat or adjust their radio dial, then when they decide to head out onto the road, they just apply the gas and turn the wheel in a “get up and go” kind of way. A car lacks emotions, a car won’t be taken off guard, a car won’t feel pain when the steering wheel is sharply turned without warning. Horses are not cars, they deserve more respect and communication. A simple tap on the neck with an affectionate communication could easily wake a resting horse up enough that your next request to steer back out onto the rail would be easily and softly complied with. I hope to connect people to put themselves in the horse’s shoes… “Would you like to be treated that way?”
Q: You must have boundless energy to get up every day to take care of the horses in your stable, teach your clients, and interact with their horses. How do you find your drive to do it all?
A: They call it a “Labor of Love”. I get up every single day at 2:30 a.m. to feed and move horses from inside the barn to their turnout paddocks. I get up that early because I like to give them as much time outside as possible. I love my morning conversations with my horses, or other people’s horses. I love the way they talk to me when they hear me getting ready to walk into the barn. I live above my horses, inside my barn, so they hear me come down a flight of stairs and start talking to me while I sit to get my shoes on. I know all their voices and hearing each and every one of them talk to me, makes me smile. Each and every morning of my life starts with a smile. I guess that is my reason to get up for them.
Q: Please share a special moment you have had while working with a horse, that you think about and it makes you smile.
A: What makes me smile the most are the Ahha moments with horses. When a horse has that moment of connection to what you have spent time trying to explain to them. There is nothing more awesome than when you see a horse “learn” something. The pride they share in those moments is so rewarding. I have so many “special” stories to reflect on, but one guaranteed way to bring a smile to my face is
Q: How would you best describe your passion for what you do?
Even as a very young child, I realized that I have a sort of vibrational connection with horses that really falls short of an explanation. It is just something I feel and by the response of the horses, I know they feel it as well. That unexplainable connective draw between horses and myself led me to believe that there was more to “training horses” than just climbing on them and “riding the buck out.” I realized just how emotional they are and what amazing puzzle solvers they can be. Through observation and plenty of play time, I realized that these animals deserve someone to be an advocate for their right to have a voice. I believe there is so much being lost in the sport of riding, so much wasted greatness between the horse and human. Too often horses are viewed as tools of a trade, equipment for a sport or some sort of cross country sport utility vehicle, but the living breathing EMOTIONAL being is often completely ignored. I grew to love the voice inside of those lost souls and made it my greatest desire to bring them out, give them their voice.
Some horses are damaged by the ways that they were treated. So damaged, in fact, that they have begun to consider PTSD is an accurate diagnosis. I love working with young horses and teaching them all their “firsts”, but I am WAY more passionate about helping a lost soul, a damaged soul, a scared and hiding soul find comfort and peace. I don’t have a giant horse-sized couch where they come and tell me all their troubles, but I would like to believe that I am very instrumental in helping horses find comfort in my compassion.
https://positivewayhorsemanshipllc.tumblr.com is my blog where I am currently sharing the chapters of a book I hope to someday publish. The chapters are posted as they are written, so the book is a work in progress not something complete.
What other activities do you like to do in your spare time? Do you have spare time?!
A: Napping!!! I actually live for a good nap. If I find any spare time, I try to get rest.
Q. So horseback riding has already been added to the Bunkybee recreation nation collection, but if you could pick an “alternative recreational activity” that you think should be added, what would that be and why?
A: Comfy lounge clothes... LOL! Is lounging an activity? I love to be comfortable in my clothing.
For a more extensive explanation of all that Kirsten does at Positive Way Horsemanship, go to her website at http://positivewayhorsemanshipllc.com - her writing is delightful- it's a great read! She's also working on a blog that follows her horse Ritz and her journey. Follow on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/positive.way.horsemanship.LLC/
We hope you enjoyed this post about someone with an exceptional passion for their recreational activity. Please comment below, or share your thoughts or suggestions for future posts!
We are inspired by those who ride! Here are some items from the Bunkybee Recreation Nation Collection to salute those who live the Barn Life! See our collection that includes youth and adult sizes, t-shirts, long-sleeve tees, sweatshirts, giftware, and drawstring bags! Our collection has an assortment of different recreational activities for you to choose! All products are designed and printed in the USA.
Go to www.bunkybee.com to shop the collection. Click on the images below for direct product links. Thanks for stopping by!