Utah Stories

Utah’s Own Horse Whisperer

It’s never too late to try something new. Read this professional horse trainer’s unconventional story.


Trainer Todd Howard and Patton the horse
Trainer Todd Howard and Patton the horse

Todd Howard wasn’t always into horses. He didn’t even start riding until he was thirty years old. His first career choice was ski racer and coach, and for 20 years he traveled to slopes around the world. Then, a horse came into his life.

Todd met and studied with Ray Hunt, the horse trainer who taught Buck Brannaman, the man who inspired the movie The Horse Whisper. Todd immediately felt a connection with horse training and to horses themselves.

“I saw something in that relationship that opened a door for me,” Todd says. “Through what I would consider fate, my entire life shifted and I went from being a ski coach to being a horse guy.”

Being a skier, Todd already possessed a keen athleticism, but dealing with a living animal that has preferences and independence, and creating a relationship that is not just about you is a dance one perfects over time.

“Horses have a way of healing human beings and helping them become more integrated and whole. They help you to become more authentic. Horses are the best things that can happen to a human being,” he remarks.

Even after 20 years of training horses, Todd still feels he has a lot to learn.  He currently owns 12 horses of his own. He breeds some and rehabilitates those that are people shy. Todd is also a licensed massage therapist for both humans and animals. He is one of only a few in Utah who have that certification. It has come in handy on a few, very troubled horses where Todd was able to do bodywork on them and earn their trust.

“The biggest challenge in horse training is trying to communicate and really understand what is going on with them,” Todd says. “Getting in touch with your own thoughts and actions is also very important in understanding why your horse is acting a certain way. Your responsibility as his rider, as his human, is to help him understand that he can do the work and be calm, happy and not be in any trouble in the world.”

Todd can be found at The Stable Place in Salt Lake or the Corner Canyon Equestrian Park in Draper.


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