Goodnight to headline Rocky Mountain Horse Expo

Story by Robyn Scherer, M.Agr. | Kiowa, Colo.
Photos courtesy of Heidi Nyland Melocco
Julie and Dually pony Dodger during a photo shoot for The Trail Rider.

The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo is the premier equine event in Colorado, and each year clinicians travel from around the country to participate. This year, Julie Goodnight, a local trainer, returns to headline the event.

Goodnight grew up riding ponies and horses in Orlando, and competed on hunters and jumpers when she was young. “Julie counts horses among her earliest friends; she spent many summer days hanging out in the horse pasture and studying how the horses moved and interacted,” said Heidi Nyland Melocco, Goodnight’s marketing director and TV show producer.

She then attended college in New Mexico, and worked at a local race track warming up Thoroughbreds as a side job. “The cowgirl felt at home in the west and soon hit the trails and studying Western disciplines. Always the adventurer, she began leading riders through the Rocky Mountains. As a natural teacher, Julie decided to make horses her life’s work-and to teach people how to work with horses safely and with kindness,” said Melocco.

She continued, “Showing her dedication to teaching and safety, Julie earned her Master Instructor and Clinician ranking with the Certified Horsemanship Association. In 2008 she was named Equine Affaire’s Exceptional Equestrian Educator, one of only three awards ever given.”

Her training style was developed through experience, and not through another trainer. “Julie formed her own horsemanship training style and techniques after years of riding many types of horses and with countless mentors. She’s self-taught, and not a product of another trainer’s coursework. Julie counts her dad as one of her early mentors. He always had horses for her and her brother and sisters to ride and made sure Julie had the chance to ride and show,” she said.

Goodnight does not specialize in only English or Western riding: she trains people in all disciplines. “It’s by riding so many types of horses and working with many different trainers in the industry that Julie learned the similarities in all styles. She learned what worked and what didn’t; she saw how horses responded with kind training methods and witnessed what happened with alternative methods,” said Melocco.

Her style of training is to teach people to be a leader for their horse. She said, “Julie teaches riders how to be their horse’s leader and to excel in whichever equestrian sport they choose. Her varied background and training in dressage, jumping, racing, reining, colt-starting, cutting and wilderness riding make her a well rounded instructor. She teaches horse owners around the world how to establish great relationships with their horses through her Clinic Tour, Horse Master with Julie Goodnight television show, expo appearances and her many how-to DVDs.”

Goodnight’s television show is an award-winning show that air weekly on Monday and Saturday nights on RFD-TV called Horse Master with Julie Goodnight. “Through the show, Julie hopes to help all riders master their equestrian dreams and skills. As ‘The Horse Master,’ Julie shares the wisdom she’s gained by reaching her master-level CHA status and encourages all horse people to become the leaders/masters their horses want and deserve. Natural horsemanship is founded on understanding horse behavior and the idea that horses look for leadership, direction and assurance that they’re safe and acting appropriately. Julie strives to teach you how to master that ideal and emphasizes the importance of life-long learning,” said Melocco.

She continued, “Julie travels the USA sharing her no-nonsense horsemanship training with riders of all disciplines. Whether you ride English, Western, dressage or trail ride, Julie’s ‘Classic Skills for a Natural Ride’ teaching helps you feel more confident in the saddle and helps you understand the ‘whys’ of horsemanship. She loves continually learning and sharing horse behavior insights, and she relates that knowledge to how you should interact with your horses. She’s experienced in dressage and jumping, racing, reining, cow horse, colt-starting and wilderness riding.”

In additional to working as a trainer, Goodnight also serves as an international spokesperson for the Certified Horsemanship Association. “Julie represents safe riding and kind horsemanship techniques in English and western disciplines,” said Melocco.

She currently lives in Salida, Colo., at her private horse ranch with her husband, Rich Moorhead, who is an avid National Versatility Ranch Horse competitor and the CEO of Monarch Mountain ski resort.

Goodnight will be headlining the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo this year. “Julie is always excited to go to the RMHE because it’s her hometown show. We always see so many horse people that we, the crew, know. It’s great to reconnect with friends in the area and to see new faces, too,” she said.

The expo is special to Goodnight, and she is excited for the opportunity to be back at the event center. “I am excited to be back at the RMHE as the headline clinician this year and I hope you can come to this awesome event, sponsored by the Colorado Horse Council. I’m joined by many other great trainers and clinicians, both local and national, and the program is truly power-packed-there’s something for everyone. Please come show your support, I look forward to seeing you there!” Goodnight said. ❖


See more