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Discovering the Horseman Within – with Ken McNabb


BJ Grimmett

Ken McNabb demonstrating his discussion on ‘Molly’

Spry Mitchell & Cash on the left with Carolyn Craig & Maverick on the right

Circle G Ranch barn and clinic accommodations

Circle G Ranch barn and clinic accommodations

Obstacle course at Circle G Ranch

Article & photos by LaCresha Kolba

Sitting tall in the saddle on a student’s horse, ‘Molly,’ a golden Palomino, a gentle voice rings out, “Can everyone gather around here, and let’s go over some things before we break for lunch. I want to emphasize that if a horse is not right for you, if it is not safe for you, it is not your responsibility to care for it for the rest of its life. We can love these animals, but they cannot return the affection the same way. We cannot humanize them; they act on instinct; they don’t act on emotion.” The fifteen attendees at this Ken McNabb clinic, April 14-16, 2016, were captivated by his words.

This is the second year Ken McNabb has been at the Circle G Ranch in Lynnville, Tennessee, and he is already booked to come back the same weekend next year. He grew up riding horses on a ranch in Lovell, Wyoming. An avid team roper, a gentle spirit, McNabb is living his talent as a horseman and a teacher. He is quick to share how teaches safety with horses, “Yet it is truly the things we do spiritually that gives a lasting impact and lasts forever. I can teach someone to do a side pass, and that is all well and good.  But, if I can set up a scenario that encourages them, that is something which can impact their life.”

It is clear from the expressions on the students’ faces, an impact has been made.  Sue Furlong traveled from Wisconsin to attend his clinic this weekend. Sue first heard about McNabb on RFD-TV, and is taking her first clinic with him in Tennessee. She loaded her horse Molly and headed south. She shared what she learned over the weekend: “Oh my gosh! I have learned more in the past three days than I ever expected.  To learn how to have my horse respect me, listen to me, the things he is teaching me are working! I now have a bond with my horse. I can’t even explain it. I have ridden more in the past three days than I have in the past six months.”

Soon others chimed in. Caroline Craig brought her horse Maverick and enticed her friend Spry Mitchell to come with her and bring his horse Cash. Spry is a rancher and grew up with the “bronc ways of breaking a horse.”  His opinion of Ken is: “He is exceptional, educational; we have been very hands-on this weekend. For my first clinic I didn’t know what to expect.  But a lot of those here this weekend are repeat attendees.  He really helps you as a rider – you learn and you learn right.” Caroline had a big smile on her face when she explained, “I have learned how to get him, Maverick, to wait for my cue, to listen for the next thing. It gives you and your horse confidence. This whole weekend has been phenomenal. I would encourage anyone to attend one of his clinics.” 

Along with an equestrian education, Ken also offers Cowboy Church every Friday at his clinics. The chaplain is BJ Grimmett who got his start with Ken by attending one of his clinics.  BJ rode with him for a year and got his Master Certification.  Now, 15 weeks out of the year he assists with teaching and preaches to those who want to attend his church service.

Ken’s philosophy on training horses is to develop a close, personal relationship with your horse; to give your horse the best deal you can give and reward him every chance you can. Ken’s ‘natural’ horsemanship method focuses on every day, practical application.  Ken shares his knowledge and experience with a calm and patient demeanor. Growing up on a ranch, all he knows is horses and he knows them well. Yet, even the best have teachers and mentors. Ken is quick to acknowledge his mentor John Lyons, and says clearly how he has learned from a lot of good riders, good horsemen that people never heard of before. 

We asked: when someone is researching their options to attend a clinic, what should they keep in mind? He replied, “Regardless who you are learning from, the single most important aspect is being coachable. No one has all the answers; we are learning progressively together”.

Ken’s next clinic is in Phoenix, Arizona; then he’s off to Massachusetts.  To find more information on his clinics go to: Ken McNabb’s website:

For more information on Circle G Ranch and their events, visit their website:
Photo credit/info:

_001 – BJ Grimmett
_005 – 
_009 – 
_010, 011 – 
_013 – Obstacle course at Circle G Ranch

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