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Randy Rieman, the horse world’s Renaissance Man

Published: 10/21/2011
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By Maddy Butcher

-- There are good horsemen out there. They’re good to their horses and can handle whatever comes their way. Horses and humans alike join up and follow them.
-- There are good horse minds, too. They come up with the perfect way to express what we riders feel but struggle to say or write about our horses, our journeys, and our partnerships.
-- And then there are good horse ambassadors. They share the message and make us feel good about time spent with horses. They remind us to cherish and they welcome non-horse folk into the fold.

Finding all these traits in one person is rare. But you’ll find it in Randy Rieman.

Check out five-part interview with Rieman here.

Rieman will teach a clinic in Mancos, Colorado, September 24-26, 2016.
Register for Rieman clinic here.

I first heard about Rieman from a friend heading out to his 2,300-acre Pioneer Mountain Ranch in Dillon, Montana. Rieman runs a horsemanship school where riders can stay in cabins and get one-on-one schooling.

Rieman, a protégé of Bill Dorrance, first evaluates each new student:

“We talk a lot about why they’re here. I watch them ride. I’m going to see if I can spot something, some misunderstanding. Then I might start making suggestions.”
Perhaps his key horsemanship tenant: “To have the horse move towards freedom. Not move away from pressure.”

He believes that if you’re not expanding your horse’s comfort zone, you’re shrinking it. Ideally, a rider needs to provide a ‘constant challenge to go beyond what the horse knows.’
That’s why he likes to take clients out of the arena. From his ranch, “we leave like we’re late and come home like we don’t care if we ever get there.”

The ranch sits next to 3.3 million acres of the Beaverhead National Forest. Those expanding comfort zones will include encounters with antelope, grouse, snakes, and more.

“You can trot for 10 miles and never look back,” said Rieman during a recent phone conversation from his Dillon home.

Rieman has started thousands of colts and ridden thousands of miles. For nine years, he worked at the Parker Ranch on Hawaii’s Big Island, one of the oldest and biggest ranches in the country.
He works with colts and with older "rehab" horses “to get them more gentle, more handy, more usable in more situations.”
After long stays there and in Nevada, California, and New Mexico, he made his way back to Montana five years ago.

Along the way, he acquired a love and talent for reading and writing cowboy poetry. The San Francisco Chronicle called Rieman “the hypnotic master of cowboy poetry.”

Cowboy poetry is rhymed, metered verse written by someone who has lived a significant portion of his or her life in cattle country. “The verse reflects an intimate knowledge of that way of life, and the community from which it maintains itself in tradition,” according to the National Endowment of the Arts.

Rieman has performed at the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, for over two decades, including as Guest of Honor. The Gathering is “the nation’s greatest celebration of the American West, its people, culture and traditions," according to the Western Folklife Center.” This year it features nearly 50 poets, musicians and musical groups from the U.S., Canada and Australia, performing on seven stages at four different venues.

Indeed, talking with him or listening to one of his recitations, gives you the feel of a sunny ride in open country, when the rhythm of your horse and and the special-ness of the moment bring a lasting smile to your face.

Visit Rieman's website.

Check out five-part interview with Rieman here.

Rieman will teach a clinic in Mancos, Colorado, September 24-26, 2016.
Register for Rieman clinic here.

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10/21/2011 Steve Peters
Maddy, you did a nice job in capturing the spirit of Randy Rieman and in giving the readers who might not be familiar with him a nice introduction. Im one who is lucky enough to call Randy Rieman a good friend. But he is more than that..aside from being one of the best horseman I've ever known, as a poet he is a National Treasure and as a person, a great human being. If anyone learns best from one on one in a natural environment, I recommend that they look him up.

"Anyone who is concerned about his dignity would be well advised to keep away from horses." - Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh