MEET KAITLYN HECKNER

Horse Trainer, Riding Instructor & Mexican Food Fanatic

 
Kts-natural-performance-horses_web2.jpg

I believe one thing is true for both horses and riders, regardless of the discipline or breed:

It all starts with a strong foundation.

So, what’s my personal foundation?

 

Growing up in rural Harford County, my first pony Cinnamon came into my life at a young age. Over time, I had a few different horses that all seemed to have some challenges.

 

I was tasked with figuring it out and turning them into the horses I knew they could be—and, I did!

 

I loved the process and learning the unique personalities of each horse along the way. From there, restarting horses eventually blossomed into a career. 

Riding in a variety of disciplines, I found a common ground:
good horsemanship.

Harford County is still home and it’s where I run my training program. You’ll find my cattle dog Emmy usually supervising in my videos. My Quarter horse mare, Jojo, makes an appearance every now and then too.

When I’m not riding you can usually find me enjoying the outdoors with my pup or relaxing on the boat.

 

If you ask me where to eat, you can bet it’ll be Mexican. And, I have a slight obsession with iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts!
 

Riding in a variety of disciplines, I found a common ground:
good horsemanship.

While I grew up riding hunters, I was also involved in dressage and eventing. I learned early on about the basis of a truly well-rounded horse through the foundations of dressage—rhythm, relaxation, connection, impulsion, straightness, collection.

 

Later in life, I spent some time managing a cutting horse facility in Colorado. Now, back in my home state of Maryland, I’m competing in ranch riding and reining.

Whether I’m riding in an English saddle, Western saddle, or working a horse on the ground, I’ve learned one very important thing ...

The key to building a safe and confident horse is consistency and repetition.

Years ago, I was introduced to the concept of natural horsemanship, and I’ve been a student of it ever since. Over time, natural horsemanship has become a “tagline” or widely used concept without a real definition. Here's mine:

 

Natural horsemanship means you take the time to listen to your horse and to go at the pace that is best for him or her.

From clinics to training videos and in-person lessons, I’m always looking to learn fresh concepts and exercise that I can incorporate into my own training and lesson program. 

Keep reading to learn more about my program! 

Or, if you’re ready to take the first step to work with me … 
 

Kaitlyn initially helped me with a horse I was leasing, giving me the confidence and guidance I needed. 

When I was ready to purchase my own horse, she was invaluable and helped me find my forever horse. 

Now that my horse and I are training with Katie, I'm amazed by her quiet, confident demeanor that gets results in all areas—groundwork, care, trailering, riding, etc!

 

After 10 months of training with Kaitlyn, my horse and I attended our first show and ribboned! 

Beth Derickson
Kts-natural-performance-horses-beth-testimonial.jpeg

MY PROGRAM

Starting From the Ground Up for a Strong Foundation

 
Kts-natural-performance-horses_web12.jpeg

Training horses is like a pyramid.

 

Everyone wants to get to the top and be jumping, spinning, and doing lead changes.

 

What the horse actually needs is the slow, seemingly boring foundation work first.

I’ll almost guarantee that if you rush to the “fun stuff” and skip the basics you’ll find holes in your training down the road. 

Sure, lots of horses can probably go out and perform when their training is rushed.

 

But, my guess is they are probably mediocre. 
 

 It’s important to put the time in and make your horse the best they can be from day one.

The same is true for riders. My lesson clients know that I’m going to help them harness their excitement to get to the “good stuff” and first master the basics.

 

Then, as they move to more advanced maneuvers with their horse, they have the confidence and skills necessary to do them well and enjoy it! 

My strength is bringing out the strengths of you and your horse.
 

While I got my own start as a trainer restarting horses, my speciality now is colt starting and bringing along young horses. There’s nothing quite like getting to set the foundation for a horse that I know will serve him or her well, no matter which discipline or direction you decide to take them. 

My experience in a variety of disciplines allows me to bring out each horse’s strengths so they can have a great future. I’ll do the same for you and your horse!  

I want you and your horse to enjoy your lives together for years to come. That’s why mental and physical longevity is a vital part of my program. 

 

Are you ready to dive in and build your solid foundation?