I had the privilege recently to meet and see in action the amazing Katie Jo Duncan. Katie is the owner of KJ Quality Horses here in Ellensburg, WA. She is a horse trainer, she offers lessons, horse camps, internships and she also breeds and sells horses. She pretty much does it all!
What brought Katie to starting this horse business?
Since Katie has been around horses and ponies all her life (literally since she was born, pony was one of her first words), there is no wonder she has found herself immersed in this business. Katie grew up being a part of 4H and FFA. She was even the Moses Lake Roundup Queen in 2015. She got to represent the Moses Lake Roundup by touring through the Northwest to different rodeos. In high school, she even found herself at the National High School Rodeo Finals, where she took 3rd in the nation for Reined Cow Horse, in Rock Spring, WY.
This experience got Katie known and gave her the opportunity to attend a clinic down in Arizona with Al Dunning. She says she, “learned a lot from working with him and had a blast.” She loved it so much that the following winter she went back and interned there at Al Dunning’s Ranch. When she returned home, she was very motivated to start her own business in training and breeding horses as well as working with kids and families that wanted to connect and bond with horses.
Katie serves all ages, teaching lessons and leading camps.
Since then, she has been acquiring horses and clients. She absolutely loves to help kids that have the same passion and love for horses that she had at their age. Most kids Katie works with don’t even own horses and probably won’t ever own a horse, so she loves that they can come out and bond with her horses. Her clients really enjoy this experience and get their horse fix. They get to know the horse and even get attached to which horse is their favorite. She really loves her job!
Katie gives lessons to pretty much anyone who wants to learn. There is no age limit. She has had kids at age 4 as well as up to age 75, taking lessons and familiarizing themselves again, with horses. Her lesson season is April through September. In one of these lessons, you should expect to learn basic horse safety, grooming and caring for horses. Eventually, you learn to ride and steer horses. Then once confident in riding, you can choose to learn the barrels, polls, ranch skills, 4h stuff, etc. What you want to learn about horses, Katie can teach you.
A few months ago, I brought my 12-year-old daughter to Katie’s ranch for her first lesson. Katie taught her about grooming the horses and about the horse she would be riding, Hank. Then she learned some riding and horse safety so she could safely walk Hank and ride him. My daughter got to groom, walk, learn safety and ride all in an hour lesson with Katie. The best part is how much my daughter loved it. This had a lot to do with how much she wanted to be there and a WHOLE lot with how knowledgeable and skilled Katie was with teaching her.
Katie offers camps throughout her lesson season, whenever it fits in her schedule and when there is a need. Her camps are similar to lessons, but you get to be with other kids who have the same interest and love for horses as you do. Some extra things you might learn at one of her horse camps is first aid for the horses, like taking temperatures and bandaging horses. You also learn to care for horses and their nutrition. Katie teaches the kids about what to feed horses and why different feeds are better for different horses. Then there is lots of riding and arts and crafts. The kids that come to her camps make new friends with kids that share the same passion and interest in horses, and she just loves being a part of that.
She also sells and works with troubled horses.
Another part of Katie’s business is helping horse owners better connect with their horse. A student may already know how to ride a horse, but if there are any issues, you can bring your horse to Katie, and she will help you get things sorted out. This is referred to bringing in an outside horse. These are horses that are outside of her program and owned by someone else. For example, if the owner had surgery recently, Katie will be the first to ride your horse. Or if you know you wouldn't be able to ride your horse for awhile, Katie will ride your horse and keep them in shape. Katie will also take a horse that has recently been started and needs more training and ride them to make sure any bad attitude is worked out of the horse. (To clarify, she only starts out her own horses and not for other people. However, she can help you work with your started horse.)
Katie also breeds mares that are cow horse and cutting bred. She says she, “breeds these mares with well-known and proven stallions that complement the mare’s bloodline.” Then she markets the babies as weanlings. Her goal when selling these weanlings is to get them into the hands of people that are going to show in the cow horse and cutting competitions. This is one of the ways Katie contributes to the quarter horse industry.
Katie still shows horses and next year she plans to show a horse she has bred and raised herself at an event called the Snaffle Bit Futurity. This is a pretty big deal! Check it out! Link: Snaffle Bit Futurity
Is your dream to work with horses? Katie offers an internship opportunity.
Last, but not least, Katie has an intern program where the intern is usually someone that has done riding lesson with her, and she knows and trusts their riding ability. They get to intern through the lesson season, April through September. Some of the intern responsibilities are cleaning pens, filling water troughs, grooming horses, put horses out to field, keep ranch picked up, day to day chores, help exercise horses, (especially on days there are not lessons), help with breeding mares, and goes along to the vet. Sounds like some great experience, especially if your goals are to be working with horses. My kids may not want to run a horse business, but as a mother, I would love an experience like this for my kids. Talk about real work and the amazing transformation you get when connecting with animals. In trade for the internship is gained experiences, and on top of that, Katie helps the intern with their personal horse and any other horse related help they need from Katie. Katie says she has really enjoyed having this internship program. It has been a win-win for both involved.
If you are interested in working with horses, I hope you reach out Katie and see what she is all about. You can also follow her Facebook page: KJ Quality Quarter Horses.