Heidi Potter is a professional horsewoman who is well known and respected for her clear, kind and consistent style of teaching and training. Horses and humans alike benefit from her extensive knowledge and gentle approach. As a natural style trainer she specializes in the gentle and progressive way of working with horses. Her ability to read the horse and then progress with calmness, clarity and consistency has proven successful in building trusting and respectful partnerships between horses and their humans.
Heidi strives to improve the human/horse relationship by encouraging her students to see things from the horse’s perspective. A true advocate of the horse, Heidi emphasizes how strongly our minds, bodies and emotions influence our horse’s behaviors and reactions. She gains great insight by applying the parallels between her work with horses and her training in the Martial Arts and Yoga.
Heidi’s experience with horses started when she was a young child growing up in New Hampshire. After many wonderful hours trail riding at a local ranch she was “hooked” and realized that horses needed to be part of her life.
By the age of 13 she had saved $350 and purchased her first horse. Thunder was a pure white, 7 year old, 16-hand grade horse. During the summer of 1974 Thunder became her primary teacher. “We spent most of that summer in a rearing or reverse situation, with him stating that he couldn’t possibly leave the farm without his equine buddies.” Equally stubborn and determined to trail ride with her new friend, Heidi would walk him to the top of the mountain and then get on and ride him home. As with most professionals, she looks back and realizes education is bliss – “If I had known then . . . ”
She spent most of her teen years at the trail riding ranch where Thunder was boarded. In addition to helping lead the rides Heidi also enjoyed competing at local horse shows in Western Pleasure and Gymkhana.
For her 16th birthday her parents surprised her with a 6 month-old Appaloosa colt she had come to love at the ranch. He was hers to raise and train. These two horses became Heidi’s first lesson horses in 1994 when Maple Ridge Stable was established in Southern Vermont. In 2012 the facility was moved just down the road and became NECH, The New England Center for Horsemanship. NECH is now a training, boarding and instructional facility that specializes in holistic horsemanship training and activities along with Centered Riding instruction.
In 1997 Heidi took her first Centered Riding lesson and knew immediately that the Centered Riding (CR) philosophies were exactly what she was looking to share with her students. Teaching the principals of CR gave her a way to combine her training in the martial arts and her work with horses. “It all fit so perfectly, and the humans and horses loved it.” By late 1998 Heidi was teaching and training full time, six days a week, in a newly constructed indoor arena. She became a Centered Riding Instructor herself in 1998 and is currently one of 16 Level III CR Instructor/Clinicians in the United States. Heidi is especially thankful for the times that she was able to study with Centered Riding founder, Ms. Sally Swift, who resided in nearby Brattleboro, Vermont.
In June of 2000 Heidi became a CHA (Certified Horsemanship Association) Certified Instructor. Four years later she received her Master Level certification and in 2006 was honored to receive her Clinic Instructor certification. As Clinic Instructor Heidi participates in staffing clinics which evaluate and certify riding instructors around the U.S. CHA’s program is designed to help ensure the safety of riding programs and the ethical treatment of horses. In 2010 Heidi was the recipient of the Clinic Instructor of the Year award presented to her at the CHA International Conference, held at The Oakes Equestrian Center in Lake City, Florida. Heidi was chosen for her ability to conduct meaningful clinics and for positively influencing the careers of numerous instructors over the years. Heidi has also co-taught vaulting classes and worked with emotionally disturbed and learning disabled children. She found this work especially rewarding. In 2005 Heidi became a CHA Certified Level II Recreational Vaulting Coach and Assistant Vaulting Clinic Instructor.
Heidi’s training in Horsemanship began in the early 90’s when she attended a John Lyons symposium. Since that time she has studied and trained under several trainers who support working with the horse in a way that makes sense to the horse. For five years Heidi trained with Montana horseman Jon Ensign and learned much about natural horsemanship. In recent years she has focused on a holistic approach to relationship training under the guidance of Piet Nibbelink (a student of Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling) and Sharon Wilsie, founder and author of the book, Horse Speak. Heidi specializes in using self-awareness, calmness, clarity, understanding and positive reinforcement to improve behaviors and the overall relationships between horses and their humans.
In 2012 Heidi became an Accredited Horse Agility Trainer for the International Horse Agility Club. Horse Agility is an exciting sport that is growing rapidly around the globe. Agility provides a fun venue for improving confidence, safety and the overall relationship people share with their horses.
Heidi shares a lifetime of horse experience with her students, helping them gain new insights, build confidence and improve the overall relationship with their horses. Her training in the martial arts of Shoalin Kempo Karate, Shorin Rye Karate, Aiki Budo and Ashtanga Yoga influences her work with horses and their humans. Using many of the philosophies derived from this work she teaches her students to be mindful of themselves and to realize the effect their bodies and minds have on the horse. She is known for her gentle and empathetic approach to both horse and rider. Heidi teaches, trains, and gives clinics full time at her facility and abroad.