July 2014 | Readers Honor the Mentors Who Never Gave Up on Them
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Readers Honor the Mentors Who Never Gave Up on Them

July 2014 - Crystal Piaskowski

Mike GoebigMike Goebig pins a national championship ribbon on his long-time client and friend Allyson Nord Wandtke’s jacket.

From the very first lessons about grooming tools, to posting the trot, to raising the jumps by fractions of an inch, trainers and instructors are the teachers of not only the basics of horsemanship and care, but also of the fundamentals of life. These mentors nurture their students, blind to age or ability, and make their life’s work their students’ successes.

Horses are a responsibility not to be taken lightly, and poor care or lack of instruction can produce grievous results. Professional horsemen and -women need to not only have the ability to transfer the depths of their knowledge, but also be able to connect with their students and understand their learning receptivity. A ten-year-old riding for three years will need different instruction than an older rider returning to the arena after “life” happens. True mentors bridge the age gap, maintaining authority while cultivating an atmosphere of approachability. They raise self-esteem, instill compassion as well as discipline, and support all riders as they journey down the road of horses—and life, whatever it may bring.

Humans emulate their mentors, and what better example to follow than that of a thoughtful, genuine person who truly cares about horses and students? Readers submitted their favorite instructors and stories about confidence-building, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and mentors who never gave up on their students. Enjoy.

Mike Goebig
Broadmoor, Kutztown, PA

After buying his first Morgan horse at eleven years old, Mike Goebig began showing his horse as well as others’ and found success at an early age. In addition to his multiple World Champion successes in the show ring, Mike donates his time to clinics, fund-raising auctions, and youth organizations to benefit the Morgan horse. For years, Mike has been involved with club functions, having served both the Mid-Atlantic Morgan Horse Club as its president, and the American Morgan Horse Association as its president and within various board positions. Mike was inducted into the AMHA Hall of Fame in 2007. Five Pennsylvania Equestrian readers nominated Mike!

From Kelly Nadler – “During my time as a student at William Woods University, I had the incredible opportunity to intern at Broadmoor Farm (Kutztown, PA) with Mike Goebig for two summers. Mike coached me in how to tack up horses for training, driving, riding, and showing with utmost precision, and his willingness to share his passion for training Morgan horses is unparalleled. His techniques were consistent, gentle, and effective. He is extremely enthusiastic about helping young professionals jump start into the Morgan industry. He fixed several of my bad habits and really whipped me into shape. He even let me hop on a few of his finished show horses, like [World Champion] Stand and Deliver, and that meant the world to me.”

From Suzy Lucine – “I have known Mike since junior high school. We were both members of the Mid-Atlantic Morgan Horse Club, and competed at many of the same shows in the region. He started training horses as a teenager, and I groomed for him on the show circuit while in college. Mike has won countless world championship titles over the years—even holds a record or two in the Morgan world—but I honestly think he gets as much joy coaching an amateur or junior exhibitor as he does from his own career. He gets great satisfaction in training a horse so an amateur or junior can ride or drive it. As president of the American Morgan Horse Association, he readily shares his expertise with many and has had success with a small breeding program of his own as well as guiding his clients’ programs. Not only is Mike a friend, but also a mentor and a wonderful gentleman.” 

From Terry Jones Brennan – “Now a USEF judge, I used to work for Mike during the 1970's as a young girl from California wanting to improve her riding and training skills. His gift of friendship and the hours spent teaching made me the horsewoman I am today. I returned to California with skills that have served me well over the years.

“I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say ‘because of you I didn’t give up.’  I didn't give up because of Mike Goebig.”

Kathy Kerneckel
Northwestern Stables, Philadelphia, PA

An accomplished equestrian, Kathy Kerneckel successfully competed on the “A” rated hunter circuit with her horse, Hill Billie Willie, at venues such as Culpepper in Virginia, Duncraven in New Jersey, and Zone Finals in Harrisburg, PA.  Kathy is also a permanent fixture in the Associated Horse Show circuit where as a trainer, she consistently produces year-end division champions. Yearly, her students proudly represent Northwestern Stables with high rankings.

From P.J. Sedgwick – “We are blessed to have long time barn manager and head instructor Kathy Kerneckel as part of our Northwestern Stables (Philadelphia, PA) family. After much success on the “A” circuit and developing into a professional, Kathy turned her attention to providing top-rate instruction. Under her tutelage, hundreds of children and adults have advanced their riding skills, moving from beginner through advanced levels. For many of our riders, Kathy is like a second mother, teaching them from age eight until they head off to college. Kathy is always ready to help riders get to the next level in their relationship with horses.”

From Kristin M. – “As the mother of a ten-year-old daughter who adores riding with Kathy, I appreciate how Kathy shares her years of wisdom, experience as a horseman, and trains riders of every level.  Kathy's main focus is always on keeping the riders and horses safe, healthy, and happy. I am consistently amazed at the level of horsemanship and showmanship at Northwestern Stables under Kathy's direction.”

From Tatum – “To me, Kathy is the heart of the barn. Kathy knew exactly what to do to get me physically and emotionally "back in the saddle." She restored my confidence and made riding fun again. Her patience, dedication and selflessness is unrivaled. I will forever be grateful for her help.”

From Kate – “Kathy has been one of my mentors and role models for the past 16 years. She is the reason that I got a four-year degree in equine business management and now own a horse farm that focuses on teaching children and adults horsemanship. Kathy was my trainer through high school and is now one of my colleagues. Kathy taught me more about horse care and riding than any college professor or book ever did. She has helped the start of many lifelong dreams.”

Kim Walnes
The Way of the Horse, Milford Square, PA

From the moment she heard there was such a thing, Kim Walnes wanted to ride for the US Equestrian Team. After a roaming military childhood, Kim married her supportive husband, Jack, whom she met when they boarded their horses at the same facility. The family moved in Ireland in 1972 and Kim was introduced to her legendary mount, The Gray Goose. Four years later, they were back in the States on a hilly farm, short on supplies, with Kim still fiercely determined to advance her skills. She trained once a year with the legendary Jack Le Goff and Bert de Nemethy, and after a second place at the intermediate level at Rolex 1979, Kim made the US Equestrian Team. Many successes followed, including competing at Badminton, the 1984 Olympics, and finally the retirement ceremony of The Gray Goose in 1988.

From Faith Sherman – “Recently I discovered a hidden resource for riders right here in Bucks County, PA. Kim Walnes was on the United States Equestrian Team for six years in the 1980s and learned her art from the great equestrian coaches of that time.  She is world renowned for her compassionate style of teaching and training, and as well as helping people (including non-riders) change their lives through life coaching with her talented stallion, Gideon Goodheart. In 1981, she met Sally Swift and Linda Tellington-Jones, both icons of the equestrian world, who opened up a whole new world of communication. After many years of success in international competition, her mount The Gray Goose was given the great honor of being inducted into the United States Eventing Association’s Hall of Fame in 2012.

Now Kim’s greatest passions are teaching and life coaching.  She combines her years of successful competition with a unique depth of skill and knowledge in rider-horse biomechanics and communication. Gifted in teaching riders of all ages, disciplines and levels of knowledge, she customizes programs to help each rider reach their personal goals with patience and empathy. She teaches the rider to train their own horse by finding the feel and timing of the aids as well as overcoming fear and physical limitations and building confidence.”

Kathy King
Second Nature Farm, Oxford, PA

While Kathy’s background has been mostly focused on dressage, in the past she has also enjoyed foxhunting. Kathy enjoys being a member of the Delaware Valley Combined Training Association and participating in exhibitions at Dressage at Devon. In 2013, she and her horse, Noble Impression, were the 2013 Colonel Bengt Ljungquist Memorial Champions. In 2014, she will continue competing Noble and is looking forward to also competing with her new mare, Primorosa de Brio.

From Sierra Cullen – “Kathy King has been my instructor at Second Nature Farm in Oxford, PA for seven years. She is always by my side and has helped me grow in countless ways as a rider.  She never gives up on me, even when I am stuck on some things.  One of my favorite memories is when I was about six years old.  It was my first time jumping a horse named Soldier, and he jumped bigger than I expected. I panicked and threw myself off Soldier while he was in the middle of the jump, and landed right in Miss Kathy’s arms! Kathy King is consistently dedicated and truly cares for all of her students.”

Callie Rae King
Honey Brook Stables, Honey Brook, PA

Callie Rae King is a lifelong equestrian with experience in a broad range of disciplines. She currently specializes in preparing young or inexperienced horses for their riding career, as well as helping other horse owners better understand and connect with their horses.

From Mary Scaramuzzino — “My mentor, Callie Rae King, is wonderful. Her facility (Honey Brook Stables, Honey Brook, PA) is beautiful, with many barns and rich lush pastures She trains, boards, gives lessons, has clinics with well-known trainers, and offers video courses on conquering fear and other confidence-building and training workshops. She also hosts barn parties, fundraisers, and trail rides. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and as a 54-year-old lesson student, I am grateful for her patience and amazing training abilities. I started my lessons with very little confidence, plenty of fear, and submissive to my horse. Today I am much more confident learning how to ride, to communicate, and understand the importance of good groundwork creating a solid foundation for a relationship between you and your horse.

She trains with heart, soul, and grace. Her training, to me, is one of natural horsemanship and communicating with the horse. She teaches you how to read the horse’s moods and how to be assertive in a trusting, positive style. Callie is an accomplished, personable, and very knowledgeable horsewoman. I am blessed to have such an amazing trainer and friend.”

Terry & Peg Helder
Evergreen Farm, Wrightsville, PA

Peg and Terry Helder established Evergreen Farm, in Wrightsville, PA in 1986 and shortly thereafter purchased Paint Me Hobby, one of the nation's great Paint sires. He produced multiple World and Reserve World Champions, National and Reserve National Champions, Congress Champions and Reserve Champions, Versatility Champions, APHA Champions, and Honor Roll Leaders. In addition to an extensive showing program, Evergreen Farm maintains one of the East Coast's largest all-around breeding and training programs. Peg and Terry Helder consider their greatest accomplishments are successfully pairing horses and riders in many different performance disciplines.

From J.J. Martin — “When I was little, my dad bought me a pony named Charlie. He was not broke to ride but every day when I came home from school, I hopped on his back and Charlie would take off bucking all the way to the barn. Most of the time I stayed on as my mom yelled, ‘Hold on!’ When I was seven, my father passed away in April, and that summer my mom sent me to a riding camp to lift my spirits. However, I had a very bad experience and it scared me. I still wanted to ride but had one problem: I didn’t want to get back on a horse.

I lost a year of riding, until my mom sent me to Evergreen Farm. For the first year, Peg Helder attached me to what she called her ‘umbilical cord,’ a lunge line connected to a horse named Magic Calvin. Miss Peg and Calvin took care of me. Soon Peg mounted another horse and ponied Calvin and I around the ring until the next summer, when I broke away and rode solo. Miss Peg helped me develop confidence to finally let go of the horn.

I leased Rhya-Hobbys Roan Dee Voo, from Judy and Pete Peters for a year, and it was a hardworking year. We consistently worked on walk-trot. Peg had us walk and trot everything—barrels, poles, pleasure, trail, and even my least favorite, English. We ended up spending three years together and winning five belt buckles. It took endless days and nights in rain and snow, not to mention 5 am mornings, but they never gave up on me. There were long lessons in sub-zero degree temperature, shows in 110 weather and days Rhya or I were moody, but Peg and Terri were persistent; right there side by side with me until I regained confidence. Through Evergreen Farm, I have an irreplaceable horse, wonderful friends, and the pleasure to meet and observe the incredible horsemen Guy Mclean. I have been blessed!”