Philosophy: Be the calming member of your herd
My actions with horse people of all kinds serve to promote happy, healthy horsemanship. I commonly refer to the rider and horse as being a "herd". In a herd, if a member reacts to an object with fear, the horse will mirror that fear as a matter of survival. The rider must reassure the horse that they are safe. The horse will learn to trust the rider in 'scary' circumstances.
About Laura Claman
My experience ranges from my days swimming with horses at SJ Riding Camp, fox hunting with Shallowbrook Equestrian Center, having a horse at home since 6th grade and galloping through the state forest with Reddington Rock Riding Club, and apprenticing reining trainer, Karl Avdek, in Bedford Hills, NY. Showing was only a minor part of my passion for riding. I designed tack with Smith-Worthington Saddlery, managed a tack shop for 6 years, and have fit tack to schoolies and summer camp horses for more than 30 years. I've been bucked off, Lifestarred and rolled over. As I edit this bio, I'm 51. I'm really happy to have opened a store that reflects my eclectic horse background. I'm starting off with selling consignment saddles, offering repair and fitting services, and promoting local artisans. I've never really had a home base, but it feels homey and comfortable in the space I'm creating with my best friend, and broker/owner of Northeast Realty, Dennis Duga. I'm the horse person, he's the land person.
After starting riding western at age 4, I then began hunt seat at age 11. I developed my dressage skills beginning at age 17 with Hal Vita Sr., and finally, eventing with its cross-country excitement, grabbed me at about age 20. I apprenticed with a reining trainer while in NY at 19. I participated on a show team, fox hunts, drill team, horse training, and eventually taught riding all at Shallowbrook Equestrian Center in Somers, CT. At other facilities, my job duties have included managing a large group of horses, scheduling 50 girls riding twice a day, taking out overnights, overseeing (I was a lifeguard for 30 years) swimming with the horses, and training other riding instructors. Involvement with 4-H and FFA was beneficial. At 18 and 21 I participated in two CHA (Certified Horsemanship Association) instructor clinics at SJ Riding Camp in Ellington, CT, to become an English and western First Class Certified Instructor. I have been teaching riding since 1983.
The style of teaching that I use combines my years of riding, teaching, and study of educational psychology. During my 40+ years of riding I have been a western rider, hunt seat rider, reining trainer, eventer and dressage rider. I've been taught by Jimmy Wofford, Philip Dutton, Leslie Law as well as many other instructors not as famous but equally as important to my education. My training philosophies are influenced by trainers such as Sylvia Loch, Denny Emerson, Charles de Kunffy, Henry Wynmalen, and Sally Swift. I sit down with new clients and make-up a plan with goals specific to their needs. As an instructor I'm patient yet demanding, I encourage the positives and have a large bag of exercises for every issue that needs attention. My lessons are safe and informative.
B.A. at ECSU in psychology. 1991
Connecticut state teacher's license. Middle school language arts and social studies. 2001.
M.A. in gifted and talented educational psychology. UConn 2007
Of course having a horse at home was an educational experience. You learn horse management along with horse riding. My house is right next to Shenipsit State Forest. When we were kids, we would come home from school and go galloping bareback around the forest. These days the idea of youngsters running around on horses with no helmets seems inconceivable. Well, that was the late 70s and safety has come a long way.
I served on the Board of Directors for Connecticut Dressage and Combined Training Association (CDCTA) as secretary and then as the editor of the newsletter over a course of 15 years and most recently as the 2018 President. I volunteered many hours organizing clinics and horse shows. I've participated in the training for the "r" eventing judge's license with the USEA and USEF. It was a great experience. I focus on training and less on showing and judging; although, I am available for judging schooling shows.
“Laura is an excellent teacher building both my confidence and my skill set as I take up riding again in middle age, after decades away."
Eliza, Stafford Springs, CT
“"Laura Claman - amazing horse trainer and coach, confidence builder for both horse and rider through patience, caring and commitment, addressing the needs of both rider and horse."
Kelly, Tolland, CT