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For this horse trainer, going natural means the ‘right touch’

Stephanie Wood opened up Right Touch Horse Training in rural River Falls on May 1. The training, boarding, and horseback riding lesson business is located at Kinni Valley Farms -- formerly Kinni Valley Riding Academy -- four miles east of River Falls. Wood is shown with Trinity, a four-year-old Quarter Horse gelding that she’s training.1 / 2
Four-year-old Quarter Horse gelding Trinity is owned by Susan Schmidt of River Falls. Schmidt said that Trinity has been trained by Stephanie Wood, owner of Right Touch Horse Training, for two weeks.2 / 2

A growing movement in the horse training industry is going back to the traditional methods of unifying horse and rider.

Natural horsemanship “uses a horse’s natural way of moving, thinking, decision making to teach them to do any maneuver we want,” said Stephanie Wood, owner of Right Touch Horse Training.

Wood said natural horsemanship is very common out West, but not so common here.

She said after attending school in Montana, she wanted to bring the training style back to the Minnesota/Wisconsin area -- which she calls a “horse hub.”

Right Touch Horse Training, based out of Kinni Valley Farm, 1171 30th Ave., four miles east of River Falls on Hwy. 65, opened May 1.

Wood said that Kinni Valley Farm is owned by Carolyn Lowe and used to house Kinni Valley Riding Academy, which closed about two years ago.

Wood said that she wanted to expand Right Touch Horse Training, which opened in 2010 at Strohfus Stock Farm in Hastings, Minn., and started looking for a heated facility.

She said she picked River Falls because it was a spot she was familiar with, since she attended UW-River Falls before moving to Montana.

Wood said she leases the grounds, barns and trails at the town of Kinnickinnic facility.

She said the farm “features a heated barn with large box stalls, automatic water, wash stall, large tack room, and comfy viewing lounge.”

There is also a “large fully heated indoor arena, an outdoor arena and miles of trails.”

Wood said Right Touch Horse Training offers training, colt starting, lessons, boarding, and clinics. She said that colt starting is defined as training a young horse to be ridden.

According to Wood, she specializes in colt starting and problem horses -- chronic buckers, rearers, biters, kickers, and pushy horses.

“Problems that people have sent a horse to other trainers for and don’t know where to go from there,” she said are the horses she likes to work with.

“They keep it interesting,” she added.

Wood also trains show horses for reining, cutting, barrel racing, and Western pleasure.

For the complete story, please see the May 29 print edition of the River Falls Journal.

Jillian Dexheimer
Jillian Dexheimer has been a copy editor and reporter for the River Falls Journal since 2011. She previously worked for the River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Dexheimer holds a sociology degree from UW-River Falls.
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