I met Barbi Breen-Gurley at a clinic seven years ago, and saw her horse she had been training, and was very impressed with her riding and with her horse. I spoke with her and she gave me a guided imagery tape for improving my riding and I thought that was a very progressive approach to teaching, competing and riding. Over the years I thought of Barbi fondly, and wished I could go to Los Osos to train with her. Finally, I was able to do so.
I brought a four year-old Oldenburg mare named ‘Calalily’, who had been placed in full training with me four weeks prior to my visit with Barbi. As a young horse, she was started badly, however, she is very talented, and I knew I wanted to give this horse a chance at enjoying people. I also knew I needed some help to overcome some of our difficult training problems I was having at home. ‘Cali’ (as we call her at home) had difficulty with acceptance of the bridal, contact, connection and respect for forward aids. Our canter work was particularly challenging—Cali wanted to buck, break to the trot, switch her leads—and all our problems were very evident during my first lesson.
Barbi worked with me in a sensible, encouraging and effective way. She was able to address our problems immediately; making small, yet very important corrections to my elbows, hands, legs and my ability to feel when my efforts resulted in correct, harmonious riding. I am a fairly accomplished professional horse trainer, and a certified riding instructor, and I found it very refreshing to work with a horse trainer and teacher with so many admirable achievements, who has still maintained integrity, honesty, modesty and kind-heartedness. She was exacting, deliberate and helped me correct my position∕alignment issues.
Our third and final lesson, I felt I had a new horse under me, who was happy to work with me—the bucking stopped, the head-tossing stopped, and I am now on the right track with this beautiful, talented mare who got a bad start in life, but who I now feel has a bright future. I left Sea Horse Ranch feeling confident in my training plan with her for our return home, and Barbi renewed my confidence in myself as a talented, effective, committed trainer. Her passion for correct riding and training and her encouraging words were just what I needed. Morro Bay itself is stunning and Barbi’s teaching is great.
Phoenix Carver, client
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When I met Barbi I was about ten years old. My parents bought me a little Welsh Pony that had a habit of running away with me. My Mom had given up on the whole idea of owning a pony and was going to sell her when a friend told us about a lady in Los Osos who might be able to help us. Barbi was the first one who made me strong enough to keep my pony in the arena and going where I wanted her to go. One could say that the pony turned me into a good little rider, but it could not have happened without the encouragement and guidance of someone who was and still is a true equestrian.
As a young rider on a very limited budget she helped me take two horses to third level. I know Barbi as someone who never gives up on a horse. She betters every horse she comes in contact with. She taught me that Dressage is for every horse and can improve them no mater what the breed or inherent limitations are. Because of the work with Barbi, I have a clear understanding of good riding verses bad riding. Barbi’s attitude is that we are helping our horses because we love them and the partnership we have with them.
As a young adult I found my way back into horses and back under Barbi’s instruction. With a little more finance for my horse hobby I am now able to take more lessons with Barbi and go to more shows. My success in the show ring is a tribute to Barbi’s great training and teaching skills. I have a Morgan who has won usdf horse of the year for Morgan’s at every level from first through i1. We have also been very competitive at championship shows placing and even winning some championships along the way. Barbi teaches with the whole picture in mind. She notices right away when I am missing a piece of the puzzle of riding harmoniously and points it out to me so I can add what ever it is that is missing from the picture of true harmony between horse and rider.
I love riding with Barbi. She works me hard and at the same time is fun and always positive. She brings out the best in me and my horses.
Deb Hirons, student
I have worked with Barbi as an instructor and trainer since 1985. Most importantly, my horses and I have enjoyed our lessons with Barbi. Her style is concise, clear, varied, challenging and fun.
She demonstrates commitment and integrity and from her I have learned to ride through minor illnesses, physical complaints, inclement weather and a busy schedule. During each lesson she brings me into sharper focus so that I’m communicating more clearly and correctly with my horse. I place incredible trust in her judgment, which allows me to follow her instructions without hesitation.
As Barbi masterfully helps me understand and apply a combination of the aids, she works her magic. Slowly, but surely, my horse steps under, rounds his back, lifts his shoulders and blows out contentedly. I feel increased suppleness and rhythm as our work becomes more harmonious. Each lesson ends amazingly better than it began.
This is more than fun; it is sheer joy.
Janet Emmons, student
After many years working and raising a family I decided to return to my passion of riding. I was smiled on by the gods and started my dressage career at the beautiful Sea Horse Ranch. Barbi has been a great inspiration as well as a great teacher. Her passion for teaching classical dressage and her dedication to her students is amazing. After leasing one of her lovely horses she helped me find my own partner and with her expertise has turned us into a competing pair. When I took my horse to his vet check he was deemed appropriate for my novice level, but I was told not to expect much from his ‘hockey stick’ gaits. With her skill, knowledge and patient guidance, she has helped him become softer, rounder and an athletic mover. I see her give the same intense devotion to every student and horse regardless of level or talent. Whether you want to improve your riding or your horse, move up a level or start competing, if you have the desire, Barbi will get you to your goal.
Christina Sugarman, student
So much of what I’ve learned during my lessons with Barbi goes far beyond the dressage arena. Besides the incredible feeling of those ‘Aha!’ moments when things just click and understanding dawns, under Barbi’s tutelage I’ve developed a sense of focus that is impacting every area of my life. And with that increased focus has come a new confidence, a real sense of accomplishment and a knowing that I am getting beyond the fear of what could happen and into the place of what is happening.
And what is happening is that I’m having the time of my life!
So thank you Barbi—for your patience, your insight, and your steadfast belief in the changing power of dressage for not just for the horse, but for the rider.
Kathy Rendon, student
Sea Horse Ranch is my favorite barn on the Central Coast. Not only is their training GREAT, and the access to trails and the beach TREMENDOUS… both hard to come by! But, it’s also not bad having a view of the rock and (oceanfront) waves while you’re riding. And, the horses have excellent treatment. I never worry about my horse if I have to leave for the weekend, or just can’t make it out for a day. Thank you Barbi for all of your support and encouragement over the past couple of years! I feel like my riding has improved greatly and I know I wouldn’t be where I am with Trax without you!
Kelly Hanseth, student
Sea Horse Ranch is hands-down my favorite barn! The scenery is gorgeous and I loved the trails and beach access. The facility is great, everything is always clean, safe and in working order. The arena has great footing and an amazing view! In the 8 years I’ve had my horse he and I progressed the most during the two years we were able to work with Barbi. She is very good with the horses and has a very understandable and clear teaching style. Thanks for everything!
Elise Torres, student
I Love Sea Horse Ranch in Los Osos. I retired from teaching and pursued my dream of horseback riding. Barbi made my dream a reality. Barbi helped me find my horse “Holly” and now I board my horse at this beautiful ranch. I am learning dressage. The people are so friendly, and the view and trails are like paradise. Barbi is one of the top dressage trainers in the country. The amazing part is that it is affordable! You will love Barbi and the Sea Horse Ranch. Thanks Barbi!
Ginny Carr, student
Barbi is fantastic with kids! After just a few lessons with Barbi my ten-year-old daughter improved her scores by seven to eight points. Barbi is able to relate to kids in their language and with tricks and hints that they can relate to. She is firm without being heavy-handed and her positive teaching methods have given my daughter the self-confidence she needs to reach her riding potential. We feel blessed to be able to work with such a positive person.
Robin Walters, student
During this past year, I have ridden several horses with Barbi, each with a unique set of issues. After each lesson, I came away with new awareness and tools to help deal with problems of both the horses and the rider!
Dorreen Gilmore, student
I started riding with Barbi at Sea Horse Ranch in Los Osos around 3 years ago after not riding for 25 years. I love the way she helped me get back into riding and I love her passion. I really feel fortunate to have such quality of instruction. I learn in one lesson what it might take other trainers 10 lessons to teach. Her experience is un-surpassed! I also lease my beautiful horse from Barbi. The boarding here at the ranch is so complete: well kept arenas, safe footing, and great people! Everyone here at Sea Horse Ranch is super supportive. The scenery is spectacular, as the ranch is over looking Morro Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The weather is perfect for riding. The trails next to the ranch are so amazing. I love the Central Coast and Sea Horse Ranch it is so beautiful. It only takes about 10 minutes on horseback to get to the beach, Montana De Oro state park is in our back yard…what more could I ask for? It feels like a mini-retreat every time I ride.
Jayme Broudy, student