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Nikki Nodland

A horse and girl hugging



I've always held a deep love for animals and nature. While I didn't grow up in a particularly "horse-y" family, I was fortunate that my parents supported my passion for horses. My journey into the equestrian world began with western riding lessons in my youth, guided by a neighbor who took us on trail rides in the woods, eventually granting us the freedom to ride independently. Fond memories linger of riding into town with grocery bags as giant “doggy” bags, galloping along the railroad tracks, and exploring the creek. As I entered high school, my interest expanded to English pleasure lessons and jumping. Summers were dedicated to spending entire days at the barn, eventually securing a job mucking stalls. The pivotal moment came the summer before my senior year when my parents gifted me my first horse, Sequoia, a 7-year-old Quarter Horse from our neighbor. Positive reinforcement training entered my life through my mom, who attended puppy classes with my sister and encouraged me to apply similar techniques with Sequoia. Seeking further guidance, I found a mentor in Shirley Rensink, who employed positive reinforcement training with her mustangs and collies. Observing her work, especially with her mustang stallion Santana, opened my eyes to the possibilities of positive reinforcement. Two summers as her working student deepened my understanding of this approach, and I continue to visit her regularly. During college, Sequoia accompanied me, boarding at a nearby facility during the school year and living on a track system I built on my parents' property during the summers. I spent J-terms in Ocala, Florida, learning from my aunt, a pre-Saint George rider, and interning with Sharon Madere, CHBC, who breeds and starts Iberian horses with positive reinforcement. One cherished memory involves training a young foal with positive reinforcement to halter and lead, using scratches, as he was too young for feed and still with his mom! I began facing challenges in motivating Sequoia under saddle; initially, I grappled emotionally with having to escalate pressure and tried various chiropractors to no avail. A breakthrough occurred when I decided to restart him using positive reinforcement and met an equine osteopath. The osteopath addressed Sequoia's gelding scars, significantly improving his movement. She taught me how to trim hooves, starting with cadaver feet, and I began trimming Sequoia in early 2019. My positive reinforcement journey continued with The Willing Equine, whom I connected with in 2018, seeking a mentor to help me translate the concepts I was learning in dressage and jumping to my horse using positive reinforcement. I took video lessons, joined her online community when it launched, interned at her facility in 2020, and completed her Positive Equine Professionals course in 2023. Post-college, I took a detour from my Mechanical Engineering degree, working at a ski resort and then a Dude Ranch in Colorado. There, I met some amazing horse people and also experienced some of the uglier parts of the industry. Excelling at remembering all sixty horses' names, personalities, and medical needs, I became the “Corral Boss,” assigning horses to guests and tracking issues that arose with the horses. This experience underscored the importance of bit and saddle fit, bodywork, and the critical role of hoof care in equine well-being. Inspired to deepen my knowledge, I immersed myself in the Mackinaw Dells 2 Whole Horse Hoof Care course in 2021 and found my trimming mentor, Shelly Black of Black Horse Hoof Care. Around the same time, Sequoia began experiencing lameness issues, leading to a diagnosis of PSSM 1 & 2. This prompted a deep dive into Forage-Based Equine Nutrition and further studies in nutrition, including Dr. Kellon's NRC Plus course. I was able to utilize my nutrition and hoof care knowledge at my aunt’s farm in the winter of 2021/22, designing a feeding protocol for their sixteen horses and practicing trimming. Once back in Wisconsin, I began teaching beginner riding lessons at an eventing barn, which deepened my passion for education. In 2022, I relocated to Texas, continuing my learning journey by attending conferences and clinics, including the 2023 IAABC Conference and the 2023 Zoospensful Cooperative Care Conference. My story is one of continuous learning, embracing positive reinforcement, and ensuring the holistic well-being of horses. I am committed to providing the best experience for you and your horse. I offer a range of services, including local and online training, consulting, and practical science-based information on all aspects of horse care. My focus on barefoot trimming combined with positive reinforcement training ensures that your horse is healthy, happy, and well-cared for. I believe that every horse owner deserves to have access to the best information and resources available, and I am dedicated to making that a reality. Contact me today to learn more about how I can help you and your horse thrive!

Continuing Education

• 6-week internship in 2020 with and student since 2018 of Adele Shaw/The Willing Equine, an internationally recognized mentor, positive reinforcement-based horse trainer, and certified equine behavior consultant • Internship with, and working student for Sharon Madere, a certified horse behavior consultant who breeds, raises, and trains Iberian horses with positive reinforcement • Working student under Shirley Rensink, gaining experience utilizing positive reinforcement with mustangs • Member of The Willing Equine Academy, a comprehensive positive reinforcement training program • Cadaver Hoof Trimming Clinic 2019 • Mackinaw Dells 2 Whole Horse Hoof Care certification course in 2021 • Beginner riding lesson instructor for Lillicrest Farms during the summer of 2022 • Completion of Dr. Kellon’s NRC Plus, Nutrition as Therapy, and Cushings courses (2022) • Participant in The Willing Equine Virtual Show 2022 • Attended Zoospensful Cooperative Care Conference 2023 ••Attended IAABC 2023 Conference • The Willing Equine’s Positive Equine Professional’s course in 2023

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