| England and Lieser… Take on Historic
Articles & Photos
by Sarah Lieser
Above: Beautiful herd
of Nokota horses. Leftt: Aaron England working wtih one of the
young Nokota horses.
Right: Jack Lieser working with
stallion, North Wind.
Other than being two of
the best natural horsemanship trainers in Texas, what do Aaron England
and Jack Lieser have in common? The Nokota horse.
The Nokota horses are
not mustangs although their Spanish ancestry is evident. The Nokota
horse originates from the badlands of North Dakota and is believed by
many to be the horse descended from the herds belonging to Sioux Indian
Chief Sitting Bull and the other Indian chiefs who surrendered at Ft.
Buford, ND in 1881. The U.S. government confiscated their horses and
weapons and while the herds were mostly destroyed, there were some that
eventually ended up being fenced into the Theodore Roosevelt National
Park, having bred with the ranch stock of the area along with some
Canadian draft lines. Today, there are very few of the historic Nokota
horses left in the park.
These horses were not
officially called the “Nokota” until Frank and Leo Kuntz stepped in and
began preserving the breed after watching them being rounded up from
the national park for slaughter.
The two brothers knew
this was an awesome horse with a fascinating history. For years they
had heard talk of the “park horses” strength and stamina. After
purchasing a few to ride in the great American Horse Race, they were
convinced it was a superior horse. When the horses began to
be eliminated from the park they decided to take on the daunting task
of saving and naming this very special breed. This has not been easy
but it is their prevailing passion and they are determined to spread
the word and hope to save the breed from extinction. As of now the
horses are living on rented pastures and the Kuntz’s private land.
Their goal is to one day have land donated to the Conservancy where the
horses can roam wild and free and the breed can be preserved and kept
Who are Aaron and Jack
and how did they get involved with horses in North Dakota?
Aaron England has spent
the last 20 years creating his own unique style of training, fine
tuning his abilities, and studying under master horsemen.
Partnership between horse and rider is the main goal he teaches at
clinics and seminars. Not only does Aaron teach many diverse
styles of riding, from Western to English, he also has taken his
philosophy to the competition pen in cutting. His goal is to
teach his horses and compete as teammates versus demanding the horse’s
performance. He has won multiple NCHA events as well as being ApHC 2007
National cutting champion, while his wife Riva went to the NCHA World
Finals that same year placing eleventh in the finals.
Jack is a trainer and
teacher who uses classical and natural horsemanship methods to train
horses of all breeds and disciplines. Jack has trained with Leon
Harrell, Jack Brainerd, Dr. Thomas Ritter and many others. His focus is
on teaching the horse a solid foundation and finding solutions for
problem horses. He is well known for his skills starting and handling
young horses. He and his wife Sarah live in Chappell Hill, Texas and
travel the country giving clinics throughout the year.
Aaron and Jack met in
2002 while studying under Leon Harrel and have been friends ever since.
Over the years, they have conducted colt-starting clinics together.
Jack had a client bring
a Nokota horse to him for starting and training last spring. His wife
Sarah had seen the breed at the Minnesota Horse Expo the year before
and had been impressed and awestruck by the horse’s rugged charisma. As
Nokotas are quite rare and not well known in Texas, Jack was surprised
to discover Aaron had a Nokota horse in training as well. Pony Boy’s
Half Moon AKA “Indy” (belonging to Pat Stady of New Mexico) has been in
training with Aaron for almost two years. Indy is smart, extremely
athletic, and loves people! Aaron has been working intensively with
Indy toward the ultimate goal of Indy serving as an ambassador for the
Nokota horse at expos around the country.
One thing led to
another and a meeting was arranged for Aaron and Jack with the Kuntz
brothers. The brothers are ranchers and their resources are
consumed with care for the horses and there is not much time for public
relations on behalf of the equines. The brothers were impressed with
Aaron and Jack’s many talents working with horses and asked them to
help spread the word about the Nokota horse.
After a trip to the
Nokota Horse Conservancy in Linton, North Dakota this past August,
Aaron and Jack were also convinced of the horses uniqueness and
usefulness and found their temperaments tractable and less reactive.
Jack worked with a
4-year-old blue roan stallion he named North Wind for a very brief time
frame of three days. He was very impressed with North Wind’s
intelligence and his ability to catch on quickly. A surprise bonus was
that he was gaited as some, but not all, of the Nokotas tend to be.
This is known by some as the “Indian Shuffle” and is very smooth to
ride. There are others that would make excellent dressage and reining
prospects as well.
Wednesday night plan to
attend the “Meet and Greet” from 5:30 - 7:30 pm. Come and view
the horses and meet Aaron and Jack. $7 gets you in and chili,
chips, tea and dessert. RSVP to email@example.com
by Sunday March
11-14 clinic will be small in number with a limit of 10 people. Jack
and Aaron will guide and provide their expertise. If you are
interested in buying a Nokota, the clinic is a great way to get to know
your horse before purchasing. Auditors are also encouraged to attend.
There is also an
observation and application clinic July 29-August 2 in North Dakota.
This will be a chance to see the horses in the wild interacting with
one another in their herds. There will be Native American speakers, a
chuck wagon as well as colt-starting demonstrations by Jack and Aaron.
For information about
the clinic, contact Sarah Lieser at 979-203-9000 or email
or visit www.jacklieser.com.
also contact Riva England at 325-948-3456 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.aaronengland.com.
For more information on
the Nokota horses you can call 701-254-4302, email email@example.com
or visit www.nokotahorse.org.