I’m Johanna Dunn and some people call me a horse whisperer. While that is a very flattering title, it is only a very vague description of what I do. What I am is a very effective trainer that uses psychology and herd behaviour (as well as creativity and experience) to rehabilitate horses and train people.
Anyone can be more effective with their horse, and any horse can perform just that bit better, but the horses (and people) that I help the most are those that are struggling with a difficult or problem horse.
I have 25+ years expierence working with over 300 horses. I was born and raised in California, and had a great base of horse experts to guide me through my horse journey.
Past experience in California
At about age 8, I began competing with Pegasus Vaulters of Soquel, California. This was one of my first experiences with horses, and I really enjoyed it. The calmness and serenity of the vaulting horse as well as the rhythm and balance of vaulting was a great first experience with horses.
At age 14 I worked at a daycare in exchange for a lease on a horse. She was a Tennessee Walking horse kept on a patch of land consisting of about 200 acres in the mountains. She lived in a herd of about 15 and the land had fields, forestry, and a small lake. I would take the bus with a hoof pick, dandy brush, helmet, hackmore and bareback pad. We would spend the days tracking deer and swimming in the lake. It was a great experience and helped develop my natural ability with horses.
At 20 I bought a 17’2 ex-steeple chase horse. He was a big horse with alot of energy and very low confidence. I took 3 lessons a week with a traditional riding instructor and learned how to ride and jump properly. Over the course of time this horse became unmanageable with traditional training, and I was introduced to natural horsemanship. (You can read about this story in my blog here).
I went on to own several types and breeds of horses, from american paint horses, thoroughbreds, and a lovely swedish warmblood. In my adult life I spent several years working at an American Paint Horse breeding farm, handling stallions, mares and foals. I imprinted most foals that were born, and did most of their handling, preparing them for the 3yr old sales.
During my time at the breeding farm, I was taking 3 private lessons a week with a parelli professional, and then working on Sundays with another parelli professional at her weekly clinics.
In addition to expanding my own knowledge base, I also had a group of regular students that I taught on a weekly basis. Their main focus was improving their skills and horsemanship both on the ground and in the saddle. They enjoyed jumping and I helped them perfect their riding to allow them to successfully show in working hunter equitation and working hunter under saddle classes.
I also took every opportunity to travel to any clinic within a 2 hour drive. I was fortunate to see or participate in several clinics by masters such as Ray Hunt, Tom and Bill Dorrance, Buck Brannaman, Leslie Desmond, and Pat Parelli (pre Linda!).
I spent 10 years totally immersed in the natural horsemanship world in California. I also worked with parelli professional Deb Cooper with her horse rescue program that included wild mustangs for re-homing.
From time to time I found time to do a bit of hunter equation showing, and was quite successful. Generally working in the warmup ring in my head collar and even jumping bridleless at a show on a dare!
My time in Ireland
After coming to Ireland, I ran and operated Drumcoura Equestrian Centre, a standard riding school, however I found very little satisfaction in having to put my natural horsemanship aside.
During my time at Drumcoura, I taught several students as well as ran weekly show jumping competitions. I did my own course design and was able to challenge several of my regular competitors!
After leaving Drumcoura, I went on to run a very successful training and breaking yard, where I worked with a very good friend and talented horsewoman, Marleen Rutten. We handled appropriately 140 horses over the course of 2 years, and this ended up being like university! We often got horses that had never been handled (literally running them off a trailer into a stable!).
Over these 2 years we broke horses, worked with youngsters, got horses ready for sales or inspections, and gave lessons in natural horsemanship. Everything we did at that time was based on a combined knowledge of our natural horsemanship techniques. We were very popular, although most owners didn’t know what we did, just that their horses came home calm, obedient, responsive and somewhat fearless.
In my 10+ years in Ireland, I have also owned 10 horses, consisting if Cobs, Connemaras, Irish Draughts, ISH, and a fiesty pony.
I then took time away to start my family, and revived Natural Bridges in 2015. In the last year I have been extremely busy, and travel extensively throughout Ireland helping owners and their horses. I do everything from handling foals, to helping advanced riders perfect their showjumping and teach them to gain flexion, suspension and collection.
If this sounds like something you might be interested in, contact me here.