About Chesna

Collage of Chesna riding horsesWelcome! My name is Chesna, and my goal is to help horses and humans help each other. Whether you’re a professional competitor, an “everyday” rider, or an equine enthusiast, I’ve created this website to connect with others who want to make the most of the relationships we have with our horses. I truly believe that our lives can be better because of our horses, and our horses’ lives can be better because of us. Stay tuned here on my blog or Twitter @ChesnaKlimek for weekly articles about riding or contact me with your questions.

Horse Person by Nature, People Person by Training
Though I didn’t come from a horse family, I’ve always loved horses. I’ve been riding for over 20 years, and I never feel more myself than in the company of horses. Horses have taught me that the path to success is by creating relationships based on understanding, effective communication, and fun, no matter the riding discipline.

While my affinity for horses came naturally, I’ve worked hard over the years to develop skills to improve myself and to help other people reach their goals. I have a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling Psychology, preceded by undergraduate studies in communication, English, and business with magna cum laude honors. I use a strengths-based, collaborate approach to teaching. I’m always learning, and I remain open to new ideas and knowledge. It’s a privilege to share my ideas with you, and to learn from you in return.

Early Beginnings
Baby sitting on a black and white dogGrowing up I was your classic “horse girl.” I didn’t live on a farm, no one in my family rode horses, but I always wanted to ride. When other kids ran, I cantered. My favorite game at recess was make-believe ponies. I learned to read just so that I could finish every Marguerite Henry, Black Stallion, Pony Pals, and Saddle Club book I could get my hands on.

For my 6th birthday my parents enrolled me in English riding lessons, and to their dismay, I never let it go. I learned the ins and outs of riding and horsekeeping thanks to a cadre of forgiving, dear lesson horses. When I was 11, my family bought me Mikey, a 13.2 hand Haflinger pony with a “sense of humor.” This meant I fell off often, hit a lot of tree branches, and learned to ride by the seat of my pants. As a young teenager, my friends the Baker/Maddox family gave me a second Haflinger, Pippin, to train from scratch. In addition to my two Haflinger ponies, I know own a Thoroughbred, Sewickley, and registered Paint, Joey.

Horse Training
Any success I’ve had in riding is owed to building a good relationship with the horse. This is the foundation of any training I do with any horse. I’ve worked with hundreds of horses–ponies, Warmbloods, ex-racehorses, rescues, you name it–success always boils down to getting to know each individual horse, and working to establish effective communication and rapport.

Some might describe my approach to training as “natural horsemanship,” but I draw from a wide variety of equestrian philosophies including classical principles. I tailor my approach to each unique horse and the specific needs of their rider. I’ve read, watched, and worked with internationally recognized trainers, including Olympic athletes. I improve my skills by attending clinics, taking lessons, competing, and consulting with other riders.

In 2013 I competed in and won the 100-Day Trainer Challenge for ex-racehorses and chronicled my experiences with the 7 year old OTTB, Solar, in a training diary here. Here’s a recap of our progress together during the 100-days:

Three-Day Eventing
At age 11 I entered my first one-day event on my fat and badly behaved Haflinger gelding, Mikey, and I was hooked. Three-day eventing–the triathlon of horse sport–was and continues to be the sport for me. I’ve ridden every imaginable type of horse, in every imaginable type of way (this includes backwards, bareback, and unfortunately, upside down), but nothing compares to
galloping cross-country and testing the bonds of your relationship with your horse.

Haflinger horse show jumpingMy eventing highlights include:

  • Working for Helen Bell Equestrian (HBE) in England and competing HBE sporthorses and ponies in British events.
  • Winning the United States Eventing Association Area VII Training level championship in 2010 on my 14 hand Haflinger pony, Pippin.
  • Attending (as a spectator) events like Badminton, Rolex, and the World Equestrian Games.
  • Volunteering in the sport, such as guest blogging for eventingnation.com and managing the social media coverage for Aspen Farms Horse Trials.

I have every intention of riding at the upper levels of eventing someday, provided I have a horse up for the job! I look forward to including you on this journey.

Life Beyond Horses
Horses are my passion, but my life also extends beyond the barn. In addition to my horse habit, I work full time for a mental health organization located in the beautiful–albeit wet–Pacific Northwest. I have a wonderful support group of family and friends, a Jack Russell Terrier, and other interests including reading, writing, and traveling. I dream of someday owning a horse farm.

Stay in Touch!
Please feel free to contact me or subscribe to my e-newsletter for regular tips and information about building a better relationship with your horse, sport psychology for equestrians, horse training, and more. Or leave a comment on my blog. You can also follow me on twitter (@ChesnaKlimek) or see my videos on YouTube. I welcome your thoughts, feedback, and/or stories. Thank you for visiting!