Julie Robins is committed to helping people understand horses and horses understand people. An accomplished and passionate horsewoman, Julie will help you achieve a higher level of communication, partnership, and harmony with your horse.
Through her work with other distinguished horseman such as Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Buck Brannaman, Dave Seay, Pat Parelli, and Del Wideman, Julie developed her own unique methodology that puts a solid foundation on young horses and advances older horses.
Julie’s gift is in helping you understand the “why” of horses, which empowers you to perform the “what“ with horses. She can help you rebuild your confidence, solve challenging problems, recharge your natural horsemanship journey, and take your riding to the next level.
Coming to horses as an enthusiastic late teen, Julie found her early years with horses full of bumps, bucks and bruises:
“I have wanted to be with horses since I saw my first horse at 3 years of age. Being the youngest of 4 kids and growing up near the beach, all of our time was spent on the water where there were no horses. It wasn’t until my college years that my horse dreams became reality. Unfortunately, the reality involved situations that were less than ideal for a beginner. I was told if I wanted to be successful with horses, I needed to be tough, take the falls and put on a brave face.”
Julie’s life with horses took a turn down the path of natural horsemanship after acquiring an aggressive and dangerous horse named Ozzie in 1993. Her knowledge was expanded by working with a variety of renowned clinicians including Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Buck Brannaman, Pat Parelli (level 3 1994), John Harms, Dave Seay, and Del Wideman.
Through her education, Julie and Ozzie transformed their relationship into a phenomenally wonderful and safe partnership. From her work with hundreds of different horses, Julie developed her own methodology that brought together elements of natural horsemanship with traditional English disciplines.
“Looking back, a little more education and a mount suited for a beginner would have served me better. My early experiences left me with a strong desire to teach others others better than I had been taught; to be able to communicate to them the little things about horses that really are the big things. My early experiences definitely have fueled my fire to educate people about the way of the horse, so that with understanding and skills, people can have more fun with their horses and ride in harmony.”
A graduate of the University of Florida (BA -1990, MA -1992), Julie’s first career was in architecture & urban planning. While her head was filled with downtown development issues, her heart was always with horses – a singular passion that she would later turn into her life’s work.
Teaching therapeutic riding to adults and children with disabilities while studying the art of dressage fed her horse passion. Julie holds her NARHA Advanced Instructor and has 15 years’ experience with all aspects of therapeutic horseback riding programs.
In 2003, Julie founded Helpful Horsemanship, Inc. where she could share her insight into horsemanship with others. Dragonfly Farm, in Aiken, SC, opened in 2005 and serves as her home base and teaching facility. In 2012, Julie founded Aiken Horsemanship Academy, a lifelong dream of sharing what she has learned.
Whether it’s starting young horses, reconditioning “problem” horses, teaching courses/workshops, or helping the performance rider advance, Julie brings a special understanding and personal approach to each person and horse she works with. She truly educates, inspires and empowers all!
Horse & Human Relationship
In order for a person to develop a relationship with the horse, it is critical to understand how horses and humans differ. The horse is a creature of flight who has survived and thrived due to the complex social order of the herd.
The human, conversely, is a shelter seeking, rational being that tends to stop and think when danger arrives. By understanding the differences between horses and humans, we can bridge the gap and develop a common language of communication that is not based on fear, force or coercion.
Julie’s students learn to develop their relationship with their horses utilizing both ground work and under saddle exercises. This progressive methodology empowers people to achieve more than they ever thought possible, regardless of breed or discipline of choice.
The Horse as a Horse
“A horse is a horse, of course.” Easily said but often not as easily implemented. Understanding the mind of the horses is one of the foundational principles in Julie’s work.
To develop a solid working partnership with your horse, one must think like a horse and see situations from its point of view. Learning to read horses and their body language is the key to developing your feel, timing, balance and ultimately a strong partnership.
When people are frustrated in their work with their horse, it is usually because their human nature is keeping them from seeing what the situation really means to the horse. By taking a step back, often frustration fades away and progress follows!
Getting to the Feet
Julie’s methodology is all about “getting to the feet.” Even though we put a halter and the bridle on the horse’s head, it is what the feet are doing that should be our main concern.
Julie’s work with the horse begins with communicating with the feet. The feet give feedback information that shows if the horse understands what is being asked of them. By reading footfall you can identify what the horse is thinking… or if it is not thinking at all!
As Julie says, “Horses are honest, they do not separate what they think and feel from what they do. When their sense of self preservation takes over, the flight instinct kicks in and they must move their feet. You learn to honor this instinct and work with it, instead of against it.”