I met Tracey through a horse forum website more than a year ago, and learned very quickly that she was a person who not only had an enormous amount of knowledge and experience with horses using your program, but that she was also extremely willing to share that knowledge and experience with anyone who needed help and support. We struck up a friendship based originally on our mutual interests in your program, as I was already receiving Frank Bell's DVD’s monthly and had lots of questions. When I began training my wild 2-year old mare that had never been handled, Trace was right there with me, even though she was hundreds of miles away, offering techniques and support that HUGELY benefited me and my mare. Now, my Talia, a wild little mare with no pedigree and unknown parentage, is as sweet as can be and happy to learn new things. I’ve even had people offer to buy her although selling her would be like selling one of my children.
When Tracey formed R.E.I.N.S. and we took our little yearling in, Taz, who had been badly mishandled and abused, Trace was with me almost on a daily basis, helping me with my technique, interpreting his body language effectively, and teaching me how to refine what I had already learned in order to apply it more effectively. Within a few weeks, a yearling who was going to be destroyed for being “psychotic” that would “willing maim or kill a human, given the opportunity”, was running around like a free spirit, back to being a young, happy horse that could be touched all over and would willingly follow me anywhere. I give most of the credit for his amazing transformation to Tracey, as her advice and interpretations of his fears proved to be right on the money..
Now, working with our badly abused foster horse, BJ, I have been able to apply what your program, with Tracey’s help, has taught me far more effectively and have already made huge strides in helping him to become a horse who can learn to trust again. Where he would, a month ago, literally sit back on his haunches in fear if you so much as reached for him, I can now walk up to him easily, touch him all over, and am starting to work on him giving his feet. He already has the first 4 steps of your program down nicely and we’re working on the others daily.
She is a firm and faithful believer in Frank Bell's philosophies as much as I am, and one thing I have learned over the last 2 years since having horses, distance is no obstacle when you love your horses and want to learn. You find the media most available to reach out to people who can help you and in this day and age, that is the internet. I am just so grateful that I found Tracey as her help, explanations of Frank Bell's program, help with techniques, and support have proven invaluable over the last year or so, and I cannot wait to get her here in person to work with me and my horses so I can begin my own accrediting program. I am currently working on setting up a clinic for her here in Colorado, not because there are no other trainers available, but because Tracey has proven herself as the most knowledgeable in your program and she’s the one I would want to hold the clinic.
It may sound strange that, having to date only met Tracey through an on-line forum for horses, I would feel as if I know her well enough to offer a testimonial on her behalf. But this particular forum boasts of almost 3400 members worldwide, from Canada to the US, to Costa Rica, to New Zealand and Australia, France and Germany. Even some places I can’t pronounce! And Tracey has helped many of those people with a wide variety of issues based on Frank Bell's program, and has encouraged all to become more educated in horse training by posting the website several times, talking openly about Frank Bell's teachings and philosophies, and offering help and support.
I count her as not only one of my dearest friends, but also my mentor, and look forward to working with horses, with her help, for many years to come!
L Papi, Colorado, USA
December 31, 2007
To Whom It May Concern:
This short document is regarding Ms. Tracey McCleave and her teaching methods and techniques. I have been and still am a student of hers after returning to riding after several years’ absence and needing to re-establish my riding seat and more importantly my confidence while on the horse. I found her to be very approachable, easy to relate to, extremely knowledgeable and able to clearly convey this knowledge to her students. I feel that she adapts her techniques to suit the requirements of the student. I personally am a visual type of learner so I need someone who will show me where to put my legs, heels and hands when giving cues to my horse, not tell me, and Tracey would do just that. I have learned a lot from her in the summer of 2007 and plan on learning more in the coming year of 2008.
She has also helped me become more of a partner with my horse, a Polish Arabian. He was green broke when I purchased him. I have really enjoyed him more this past summer than I had prior to taking my lessons with her and look forward to participating in many more things with him in the coming year. One of the major issues he had was that he would not trailer, would not even get into the trailer and now he walks in so easily and willingly. That was one thing that I had had several other trainers work on with me and for me and none of them were able to get him past standing at the door of the trailer and I have an 18 foot open stock trailer. After one session with her he was very willing to just step in there and was just as willing to stay in the trailer until he was asked to come out, a major accomplishment in my books.
Elizabeth, British Columbia, Canada
On April 29, 2007 We were ready to sell "Splash", a 6 yrs old Appaloosa, to the first cowboy that would take her.
My daughter, Jesse, who at 13yrs was an accomplished rider but had become fearful of this little mare.
When we acquired this Appy, she was very fearful, and showed signs of very little training at the age of 4yrs. So I had started from the beginning as if she knew nothing. But she progressed slowly. We had made some advances, but by the time we started to ride her, she started bucking. She was refusing to load into the trailer etc.
We met Tracey & she said that she saw hope in this little mare, and she told us that she would like to try working with her if we would let her. She had gotten wind that we were looking to sell the mare.
The first time she came to the house, we were very impressed. 30 minutes with Tracey & the mare was taking a bit!!! We found out that "Splash" had a lot of fears. Tracey said that with a lot of love and working at "Splash’s" pace, we could help her get over the fears.
Jesse was right in the middle of things wanting to help this little speckled mare, even though afraid of her, however had already stolen her heart. This was becoming a love story about a girl who wanted to see a horse succeed, and prove the world wrong.
So the relationship with Tracey began mid May of 2007. By July of 2007, Tracey on Splash and I on my quarter horse we went for our first long ride. Tracey and Jesse had done a lot of ground work restoring the Appy’s faith in people and making her groundwork solid.
Jesse would go out every day for 15 to 20 min and work. At that point Tracey was working 2 days per week with Jesse and "Splash". In between Jesse would work her. The bond that grew was enough to make you cry.
By October of 2007, Jesse was riding "Splash" up the road to a neighbor’s arena to work "Splash". With the confidence of Tracey, "Splash" is now cantering with such ease.
There is still work to be done as with all horses, but Tracey has gained miles on that little mare. And my daughter Jesse soaks up any and all knowledge that Tracey gives her.
The bond between Jesse & "Splash" is like a 3 strand cord, Not easily broken…
Not only do we have a great trainer… But we have a wonderful friend. I would recommend Tracey to anyone… and have.
Thank You again Tracey…
Rebecca, British Columbia, Canada
".....a lot of people would think you would have to use harsh methods to control him but with Tracey, it was the opposite...."
First off I would like to thank Tracey for all the hard work she put into my horse Ivan the past two months. Ivan was very green, and only halter broke, when Tracey got him. She turned him into a now started, respectful, and gentle horse.
At a massive 17hh and only just coming 4 years old, combined with my size, 5'3, a lot of people would think you would have to use harsh methods to control him but with Tracey, it was the opposite.
Ivan now leads with/without a halter on, lunges with full tack on, listens to voice commands, and is desensitized to a lot of items such as tarps and plastic bags all without the use of un-neccessary and abusive tactics. I am very pleased with the training she has done in only two months with him. I am now able to ride my horse at a walk and a little bit of trot since he is not mature enough to handle anymore work. That's another thing about Tracey. She knows how much a horse can handle and does not push them past their limits no matter what age.
I am so impressed with the way she works around Ivan and very impressed with how far she can get with her NH methods rather than forcing a horse to work. I would seriously recommend Tracey as a trainer to anyone having any training issues with their horse.
Kathryn, Nelson, British Columbia
............."Since he spent two weeks with you he is a changed boy...."
"..... Tracey has amazing abilities in training the hunter/jumper. I am amazed at how far my mare has come in just a year...."
Tracey McCleave has been working with both of my horses and she has always gone above and beyond my expectations. Horse number one is a 6 year old Quarter Horse mare, Yoshi. Horse number two is a 6 year old Thoroughbred mare originally from the track, Dreamer.
Yoshi is a horse that I bought as a 2.5 year old. She was originally in reining training and did fine but could not naturally perform some of the more challenging maneuvers. She then became a trail horse/ pasture ornament for a year or so. I decided to find out if this mare had any ability in the hunter/jumper discipline. I hired Tracey a month after I met her to go out on this journey. At first, Yoshi just could not understand how to get over the jumps. She tripped over her own feet and had no balance. Poles were flying everywhere as she hit them and tripped consistently over them. She was very out of shape as well. Yoshi also resisted contact with the bit and did not like giving with her head. She also was not consistently picking up her leads. Once she had lots of flat work under her and she became in extremely fit condition she started to enjoy moving out quite rapidly.
It was getting hard to hold her back as she would take control over the bit and put her head up in the air. We began to see that this mare was a really moody mare and that she was very unpredictable when put under more pressure. In just a few short months Yoshi began to jump very well and actually began to love it. She couldn't get enough of it. During the past year Yoshi has moved up to jumping 3' fences, is now doing flying lead changes, and has been taken to several shows. With some equipment adjustments and by using seat aids Tracey has been able to calm Yoshi down in the mouth without using harmful or cruel bits. Yoshi still has her mood swings as some mares do but through Tracey's training we now know how to work through these tantrums. Tracey continues to work with this mare at home and also takes the time to take her to schooling shows to jump her in new environments. With Tracey schooling this mare both at home and at new venues she is building her confidence at a much more rapid rate.
Tracey has amazing abilities in training the hunter/jumper. I am amazed at how far my mare has come in just a year. Her jumping ability was unveiled by Tracey. I never thought this mare had it in her. She can now jump 3' fences and do them at speed and with tight turns so with some more miles under her belt at schooling shows she should be a real contender in the jumper ring.
Dreamer is a horse that I took on after she suffered a severe injury, a broken coffin bone. To allow for proper healing it was necessary for her to remain in her stall for approximately eight months. It was difficult to see her in such a situation but it was the only way to heal her. During her time in the stall she regularly cribbed and she was slightly fearful of strangers when they entered her stall. She also seemed to have a fear of blankets or tack being placed over her back and was also mildly head-shy. The past two months she has finally been able to go out in a small dry paddock which she enjoys immensely. Since she was stalled for so long and since I didn't really know Dreamer before her injury I wanted Tracey to get her started again. She had lost a lot of muscle tone and was weak and off balance. Tracey started Dreamer with ground work first to help build up her muscles and to teach her some manners. Then she proceeded to start her under saddle. She became more unsure of herself, her healed limb and her surroundings while under saddle. She is currently still in training with Tracey working on building her confidence level. Recently she was sacked out by Tracey showing just how much fear she has. In only a couple of sacking out episodes Dreamer has already gained bravado. We have seen just how much being on strict stall rest can affect the psyche of a horse. The insecurity of being outside her stall is very real. With Tracey's guidance Dreamer looks like she will rehabilitate very nicely both physically and emotionally. It will just take patience and time.
As an aside, since Dreamer has gone back to work and goes outside her cribbing activity has been reduced to nil and she currently is not wearing her cribbing collar anymore! I believe highly in Tracey's ability to rehabilitate horses who have come off the track or out of pasture ornament status to those who have suffered an injury or have been mistreated.
To close, I have had two horses now in training with Tracey and I have seen her train several other people's horses. She cares for them as if they were her own and is always patient and gentle with them. She is sure to move only at the horses speed and does not follow a strict deadline of tasks like other trainers do. Tracey has a wide variety of skills and can work with horses of any skill level, any breed, and background. She has always impressed me greatly. I learn more and more from her every day I am around her. I am always amazed and in awe when I watch what she can do with a horse. She truly has way with equines.
Mission, British Columbia
After being reintroduced to the horse community following a long absence, I found myself in a world vastly diffirent from the one I left 30 years before. It seemed that what I knew then did not apply anymore. Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Quarter Horse, Morgan, Pinto, Palamino, jumping, racing, these were words I was used to hearing and was quite confused when confronted with Trahkaner, Dutch Warm Blood, NH, Eventing, HCBC, FEI, etc and who the hell was Jonathan Field and what was Parelli?
I fumbled my way along learning the vocabulary of the day and helping a friend with her horses, for approximately two years. Then one day I noticed Tracey working with a young horse named Eclipse. I had never before seen anyone approach training in such a way. Tracey used gentle touching, soothing and encouraging words and was constantly praising the horse's possitive behaviour and all the while gaining his trust. Eclipse appeared to really enjoy himself and in return wanted to please her. I was hooked I wanted to learn how she did it. I audited, also a new word for me, a "Natural Horsemanship" clinic she put on and was thoroughly captivated by the techniques she demonstrated and the responses the owners received from their horses when they in turn applied the same techniques. It was truely amazing!
A few short weeks later I was fortunate enough to purchase Eclipse, the horse of my dreams. I am a very easy going individual and Eclipse is a very intelligent basically lazy horse and this all too often resulted in him getting away with things that were just plain bad manners. Over the couple years that followed, Tracey was always there teaching me the right techniques and encouraging me. She even went so far as to sit with me for over an hour while we watched a herd of mares in the pasture. She explained the herd dynamic, the role of the alpha and how she disciplines the other mares immediately if they step out of line and how the other mares still show her respect despite a kick or a bite. She coached me until I understood that I had to play the role of alpha and that Eclipse would show me the same respect as the mares showed their alpha. As Oprah would say that was my "ah, ah, moment" and Tracey led me to it.
Since that time, my relationship with Eclipse has blossomed. I am now able to teach Eclipse new things, such as kicking a soccer ball, walking along the top of a narrow platform, lifting each of his front legs in turn and placing them on a wooden block, and the list goes on. Using Tracey's "Natural Horsemanship" techniques I have been able to form a partnership with Eclipse that I never dreamed possible and the sky is the limit as to the things we will be able to do together.
Tracey is also a riding coach. She taught my six year old granddaughter for the past two summers. I trust her completely in her ability to keep her student safe while making the learning experience truly a fun time to which my granddaughter wants to return week after week.
Natural Horsemanship and Coaching aren't the only things that Tracey does. She was the barn manager where I board Eclipse. While she was there I never had to worry about Eclipse's health. Tracey kept a close eye on his weight, arranged the farrier visits and for the past two years secured a comprehensive veterinary program. If any horse in the barn was injured in any way she was always there with the horse and the owner. Tracey also trains horses for riding. When it came to Eclipse, she knew that I was going to buy him so she personalized his training to suit me. For example, I'm an older rider with some balance issues so, she trained him to stop and put his head us if I should fall forward onto his neck. How great is that?
The time has come for Tracey move on. Would I recommend her services to anyone? In a heartbeat! Will I miss Tracey, most definitely, but I know Eclipse and I will be able to carry on our adventures together because we both had the best teacher ever!
Cathy, British Columbia 2011
I just got in from another wonderful ride on my horse. This seems like a miracle to me because not that long ago, I was sure I’d have to sell her. I probably would have if it wasn’t for Tracey McCleave.
My mare Bella is a young, track-trained Thoroughbred. She was four when I got her and like many track horses, she had no manners and little understanding of the basics of riding. I did a lot of work with her and saw a lot of improvement but it seemed like each step forward was accompanied by another step back in another area. For instance, if her ground manners improved a bit, she might become difficult or unruly under saddle. Or if I had problems with her on a lead, she might be very nice lunging. There was no consistency anywhere, no matter how I tried and tomake matters more difficult, I could not seem to get her to focus at all.
When she strained a tendon and had to be on extended stall rest, things went further downhill. Her manners, poor to begin with, got worse. Once I was able to start hand walking her, she was nearly impossible to contain - rearing, striking, whirling, trying to bolt. She was full of pent-up energy but because she paid so little attention to me and because her manners were not locked in, she was downright dangerous.
It all came to a head one day when I was leading her. Suddenly she reared up and fell over backwards, pulling me forward into her front feet. The impact broke six bones in my face and cut my cheek wide open, requiring several stitches. I knew I needed help and I hoped it wasn’t too late. I turned to Tracey.
Since I’m in California and she is in British Columbia, we could not come together in person which makes what she did even more amazing. First she requested videos of my interactions with Bella. She gave me specific instructions on what she wanted to see us doing (leading, halting, grooming, loose in the round pen, etc.) and I complied. After studying the videos, she assured me that Bella’s problems could be fixed as long as I was willing to put the work in and follow her instructions. I was happy to do so.
What followed was a period of retraining for both Bella and myself. With a firm emphasis on safety and using methods that were nonviolent and based on Natural Horsemanship techniques, Tracey guided me through exercises to gain Bella’s trust, respect and attention.
Through follow-up videos and detailed journal entries, she gauged our progress and offered feedback and additional work. She also offered advice about feeding and foot care, as well as rehabilitation for Bella’s injured tendon which healed up beautifully under her guidance.
When I began working with Tracey, Bella was regularly rearing and striking on the lead. She had turned on me in the round pen more than once, rearing and striking out. She bit,threatened to kick, and moved into me when tied. While walking on a lead, she pulled hard, often tried to dart away from me, spun, twirled, and refused to stand quietly. She was miserable to work around in her stall.
Within a month, she had stopped rearing and striking and had become very respectful while at liberty. She was walking much better on the lead and was far easier to handle in her stall or when tied. Within another month or so, she had become incredibly responsive, paying close attention to me and watching for every cue. Now, ten months later, she is like a different horse.
She is relaxed, happy and tightly bonded to me. She walks anywhere I want to go on a loose lead and the other day she stood calmly for about ten minutes while I talked with a friend. The friend’s horse was nearby eating grain and Bella never even flicked an ear, even though it was past her own feed time. “She’s so calm,” the lady commented. Music to my ears!
She is incredibly focused on me. When she is turned out, even with another horse, she periodically comes over to me just to check in. She never used to do that. She is polite and gentle in her stall, moving over when asked and is very conscious of my space. She is easy to groom, handle, tack up, wash. She no longer bites and makes no offer to kick. In fact, I trust her as much as I’ve ever trusted a horse.
I began riding her in the round pen after about 5 months of intensive ground work underTracey’s tutelage. The work we did on the ground has translated to the saddle and she is as focused and eager to please when riding as she is on a lead. Every ride is better than the last.
I used to say that I never knew what horse I was going to pull out of the stall because shewas so inconsistent. Now I know every time. I could never have accomplished this without Tracey’s help and I will be forever grateful to her.
M. Sheldon and Bella, USA 2011
I am a fairly new rider and was hoping to learn something different over the summer months. I had heard a bit about natural horsemanship and I was looking for someone who could teach me how to better understand and connect with a horse. When I found Tracey McCleave’s website I didn’t realize what a treasure she was going to be.
Within ten minutes of my first lesson I was amazed. I knew I had found someone who would inspire me. Someone who would change and shape my philosophy and my relationship with horses forever. Over the next two months I soaked up as much knowledge from Tracey as I could. We started working on the ground with an amazingly well trained horse so I could learn and practice my technique and timing. Tracey always kept things engaging and challenging at exactly the right level without pushing too hard. Her positive encouragement and clear guidance helped me grow quickly and within a few lessons I was doing things with this horse I didn’t even know were possible.
We then moved on to test my new skills on a young horse who was not yet trained in natural horsemanship. This was the most challenging thing I have done in my short career as a horse person, but with Tracey’s constant support and her faith in me, I gained priceless knowledge and confidence alongside this beautiful horse.
I was so amazed and in love with what I was able to do on the ground with natural horsemanship, I asked Tracey to spend some time with me in the saddle to try and transfer these new skills and philosophy to my riding. Tracey helped me to quiet and soften my hands and showed me how to ride from my seat. My riding changed dramatically within one lesson and best of all… it made sense! It was so natural. Tracey took the time to explain and show me the ‘why’ behind what she was teaching me, not just the ‘how’.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn from such a dedicated, passionate, and caring professional!
S. deVries, British Columbia 2011
Tracey McCleave has been my coach for the past 3 years, and I would not hesitate to recommend her to riders in any discipline or at any level. She has worked with both of my horses in two separate disciplines (jumping and dressage), and during that time both they and I progressed far beyond what I had achieved with any other coach I have worked with. She has a genuine feel for horses and the patience and skill to work through problem behavior or roadblocks without resorting to temporary gimmicks or quick "fixes". The barn she managed was superbly run, and the horses always received exceptional care. I can't speak highly enough of her skill, dedication, and work ethic.
Thank you, Tracey!
- Ellen, Shan and Alex", British Columbia, 2011
I met Tracey over a year ago when I was researching riding lessons for my 5 year old daughter. With my daughter being so young, yet having a strong passion to be around horses, it was very important to find the right fit. I was impressed at first by Tracey’s beliefs and values when it comes to how to treat animals, as well as how to teach riding. Not only is she focused on the student learning every aspect of the sport, she also taught my daughter the work involved in taking care of horses. Tracey was able to read my daughter’s abilities very well and tailor her lessons to match her individual strengths. Safety has always been of the utmost importance to Tracey, which of course was very important to me given the young age of my daughter.
Throughout the year that my daughter had the privilege of taking riding lessons with Tracey, she was able to learn a great deal from her. I was always pleased with how Tracey handled every situation that arose. When daughter fell off the horse, Tracey’s reaction and attitude helped my daughter feel safe again very quickly, learning that those incidents are part of the sport. Tracey has always had a well balanced approach to teaching – compassionate and supportive, yet firm and strong. In the year of lessons that my daughter has taken, she has also been able to learn about riding and competition, with a good value of sportsmanship. She has learned that while trophies and ribbons are a nice part of shows, they do not prove someone is a horseman. I have always been confident in Tracey’s abilities as a riding coach. She has demonstrated that she is a top notch professional coach, able to teach anyone – from the very young to the very experienced. I would highly recommend her as a riding instructor and as a wonderful person to train and take care of horses.
K. Kinney, British Columbia, 2011