Natural Horsemanship with Joe Wolter
Written by Patti Hudson
When American trainer and clinician Joe Wolter comes to Devon, England for the second time in August 2018 he will bring a lifetime of experience to share. Although he grew up in California working on a Thoroughbred farm and riding jumping horses, Joe always wanted to be a cowboy. As soon as he finished school he set out to become one and headed to Nevada, home to some of the largest ranches in the United States and known as a training ground for those interested in learning traditional cowboy skills.
Before long Joe found himself on the Soldier Meadows Ranch, where the cow boss was a man named Ray Hunt. This was before Ray Hunt became world-renowned and his approach to horse training came to be called natural horsemanship. “I remember watching Ray, and what he could get done, and how horses acted around him. It was like nothing I’d ever seen,” Joe says. “It made me think of my years on that Thoroughbred farm, with those studs dragging people all over the place. Their answer for a horse problem was to get more people to try and manhandle them. Ray’s approach was just the opposite. I can’t imagine doing what I do today without Ray’s influence.”
After working several years for Ray Hunt, Joe returned to California and became acquainted with Bill Dorrance. “I figured out real quick that Bill and Ray Hunt were a lot alike. Bill helped me in so many ways, and not only with horses, but in being a better person. He was always gentle, even when people were rude. He just wouldn’t pay any attention to bad behavior. But if you were there to learn, he would darn sure help you out. And he was the best roper I’ve ever seen.”
During this time, Joe also had the opportunity to frequently work with Bill’s brother, Tom Dorrance, the man who had taught Ray Hunt. “Tom was the greatest horseman I’ve ever known. He noticed everything and saw things in horses and people no one else did,” Joe says. “I’m very fortunate to have been able to spend so much time with both the Dorrances and Ray Hunt.”
Joe went on to work for the famous Four Sixes Ranch in Texas, where he started, trained and showed replacement fillies and stallions. In 2002 he won the inaugural AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse competition at Fort Worth Stock Show and over the years has won numerous other ranch horse and roping competitions.
Today Joe maintains a full clinic schedule, and although the Dorrance Brothers and Ray Hunt have been gone for some years, he continues to build on what he learned from them.
For more information on when Joe will be arriving in the UK for the 2018 clinic click here