With over 20 years of experience as a third-generation horsewoman, AQHA Professional Horsewoman Crystal Founds has worked with over 250 different equines in 4 different states, studied with well-known trainers, clinicians, and real cowboys, and raised and trained a rescued quarter horse from the day he was born. She has a successful track record with improving behaviors and relationships including: hard to catch horses, hard to load horses, bucking horses, horses with underlying nutritional deficiencies, saddle fit issues, horses that were sold as broke but weren't, untouched horses, horses who were hard in the mouth, horses who were switching careers, and horses who needed higher levels of veterinary & farrier care. Not to mention a lot of human training. 😉
She’s a proud OTTB mom, having discovered the wonder of Off the Track Thoroughbreds through CANTER Ohio in 2014. Today, Crystal enjoys teaching Oliver everything he can learn, from reining to rearing, dressage to barrels, jumping, endurance & tricks.
“Ms. Crystal” as the kids call her, graduated USPC (United States Pony Club) as a C-2 when she was a teenager, after years of navigating a barely broke Southwest Spanish Mustang (who was related to Hidalgo, from the Choctaw bloodlines in the Rickman herd in OK), around cross country courses and show rings in the New River Valley before riding mustangs was very….accepted. Because of her beginnings in mustang training, Crystal has a soft spot in her heart for youth mustang trainers & supports up & coming mustang trainers through Green Horse Organics' Ambassador program and through her support of New Freedom Farm & a plethora of other mustang training initiatives.
During undergrad, Crystal studied natural horsemanship for 8 years before creating Sustainable Horsemanship. In 2009 & 2012, she navigated uncharted wilderness in national forests and across the continental divide (literally) as a Wrangler on guest ranches in Idaho & Wyoming, guiding guests safely through sagebrush, lightning storms, swamps and places where there are no trails and no answers, only faith.
Crystal has always hacked out in both English and Western styles of riding, hence the usage of genre bending terms like "Wenglish," “Engstern,” “cross-dressing,” or “Multidisciplinary.” She grew up showing in pee-wee barrel racing, got the English bug at 11, the natural horsemanship bug at 19, and a strong desire to help change the industry at 26.
After many years of hardship & brutal experiences both in the horse world and in real life, Crystal learned the most important thing to pass on to her students is how to have FUN and achieve the ultimate level of trust & communication with our equine partners, for our safety & theirs.
Much of Ms. Crystal’s talent with horses is intuitive, what many refer to as "horse whispering." She describes her techniques as "horse listening" to highlight one of the many core concepts behind effective foundation horsemanship. She believes that anyone who puts their mind to it can be wildly successful with horses, and she is passionate about teaching, as teaching runs in her family. As a seasoned social worker, Crystal creates a unique, individualized experience for her students with an uncanny ability to read and predict both human and horse behavior.
Crystal's favorite riding disciplines include Eventing, Trail, Reining, Rodeo and Gymkhana. Her other passions as a trainer include O.T.T.B. (Off the Track Thoroughbred) rehabilitation, Mustang Makeover programs, and liberty horsemanship. One of her favorite things is watching the transformation of timid youth or adults become skilled and confident riders on SH's beloved schoolhorses.
Crystal Founds, AQHA Professional Horsewoman
Founder & President