More than just a clinician who talks about horsemanship, Van is a true horseman whose clinic and seminar presentations are born out of real-world experience working with and learning from horses. Van started riding horses when he was only four years old and launched his career as a trainer at twelve when the wife of world-renowned saddle maker Billy Cook hired him to train her horse. He spent much of his youth in the saddle, working cattle at ranches around his Texas home. At the same time Van was honing his skills as a trainer and competitor, taking both his own and his clients’ horses into the show ring and the rodeo arena. Van and the horses he’s trained have excelled in show and rodeo events like ranch horse versatility (his specialty), western pleasure, trail classes, calf roping, team roping, and steer wrestling.
Van’s wide-ranging experiences with horses taught him valuable lessons about horses in particular and life in general. His genuine interest in people motivated him to share those lessons with others. He began developing his unique horsemanship seminars in 1991 while he was living in New Zealand. In 1992, Van returned to Sulphur Springs, Texas, where he established his own training facility, specializing in colt-starting and ranch horse versatility. From his Texas home base, he has since traveled extensively. Van’s practical experiences on the ranch and in competition, coupled with a dynamic speaking ability, have made him one of the most highly requested clinicians at equestrian facilities and events across the country. He moves easily across the “great divide” between the western and English riding worlds, and has worked successfully with horses from many disciplines, including both working ranch horses and show horses in western pleasure, hunter-jumper, and dressage. In horsemanship and in life, Van firmly believe s there’s “nothing but the basics,” and that those basics are the same no matter what equestrian discipline appeals to you. That message has attracted audiences throughout the United States as Van has shared it in his seminars, in radio and television interviews, and in articles that have appeared in regional and national print publications.