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The Journey of a Horseman: Phil Haugen's 40 Years of Wisdom

Last updated March 18, 2024 by Brook Norris

With over 30 years of training experience and recently inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, Phil's journey in horsemanship and rodeo is both inspiring and instructive.

Phil's Early Love for Horses: Phil shares how his childhood in rural North Dakota shaped his future. Growing up in a small community where horse riding was a way of life, Phil found his calling early. The simplicity of life and the lack of distractions allowed him to immerse himself in riding and competing in local events, setting the stage for his future success.

The Evolution of Horsemanship: Phil candidly discusses his progression in horsemanship. He started training horses for the public at 16, acknowledging that his initial approach was more about riding than training. Over time, his philosophy evolved from manipulation to communication and leadership, emphasizing the importance of understanding what is being asked of the horse and how to ask in a way they comprehend.

Training Philosophy: Phil's current training philosophy revolves around clear communication and establishing leadership. He emphasizes the significance of helping the horse understand the response sought and rewarding them upon receiving it. He advises against frustration and urges patience and consistency in training.

Practical Training Advice: For horse owners, especially those new to the field, Phil recommends finding a mentor to guide them through challenges. He underscores the importance of developing a step-by-step training process, much like building a horse trailer, where consistency and order are key.

Horsemanship and Business: Drawing parallels between horsemanship and running a business, Phil highlights the necessity of good communication and leadership in both realms. He stresses the importance of setting goals and having a detailed plan or system to achieve them.

Success Stories: Phil fondly recalls a horse named Murphy, a 'blue-collar worker' with no standout genetic traits but a consistent performer who taught him valuable lessons about commitment and perseverance. Murphy's journey to the national finals rodeo, ridden by famed roper Joe Beaver, stands as a testament to Phil's training philosophy.

Phil's parting words emphasize the abundance of resources available today, whether in horsemanship, trailer building, or any other field. He encourages listeners to seek mentors and accountability partners, essential for success in any endeavor.

Listen & watch Phil's episode below! 

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