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The Greenhorn Chronicles 9: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Issues in the Industry (3)














Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 30.E, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (25)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain:

Individual Publication Date: June 15, 2022

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2022

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,280

ISSN 2369-6885


Leann (Pitman) Manuel’s bio states: “Leann was as good as born on a horse, and has been fortunate to work with them daily since her very early twenties. From Pony Club and 4H as a child, through national level competition and several World’s Show qualifications with her Quarter Horse as a teen, to some Dressage tests, a few Cowboy Challenge clinics, and the daily operations at Riding 4 Life today, Leann’s horsemanship practice continues to seek out anything and everything she may be able to learn or experience with horses. Leann is passionate about helping others realize the value of having horses in their lives – no matter the breed or creed – and she hopes to continue to grow and nurture the horsemanship community in her region well into the future.” She discusses: the individual level of standards; experiential knowledge transfer; a standard teaching regimen; and issues.

Keywords: Equine Canada, Keremeos, Leann Manuel, Penticton, Riding 4 Life.

The Greenhorn Chronicles 9: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Issues in the Industry (3)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citations after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: This raises questions about standards. This would, probably, be an analysis at two levels: 1) organizational, 2) individual. So, let’s start with the one that’s probably more straightforward, the individual level of standards. How do you embody the standards for the company to make individuals within it, or coming to it, align with it, inasmuch as possible? Also, what are those values?

Leann (Pitman) Manuel[1],[2]: So, I’ve listed values on my website. They’re words. Things like “Community,” “Inclusion,” “Leadership.” I’m looking for those words that will satisfy the world out there [Laughing]. Hopefully, it will orient them to my way of doing things. My standard is: I am open to anything. But if you’re going to bring me something that isn’t what we do, you should show its benefit and cost to us. We go from there. I’m open to explaining to people if there is a very certain way that I want everyone to put the bridals on the horses. It is a fairly complex procedure. It seems like overkill to a lot of people.

Until, they spend a half of an hour with me. Then I explain all the whys. Same with mounting a horse. I am very particular about how you use the mounting block, how you approach, how you ask your horse to come pick you up, how you stand, and how you get on. Because it is never about just putting the bridal on. It is never about just mounting up. It is horsemanship, warm-up, orienting your horse, a safety check. It is a really complex thing. The most important thing horsemanship-wise, I want all my clients to do is to assess themselves and their horse correctly. “At my skill level, is it safe for me to get on the horse like this?”

I’ve done certifications with the Certified Horsemanship Association or Equine Canada, have been in Pony Club, and all of these different organizations. They have different protocols for different reasons. I find them all lacking because none of them can address that piece. “How do you know if you as an individual have the skillset to handle the horse in front of you?” There is the thin slice again. All the things that can’t necessarily be put into words.

So, what I end up doing with my clients is asking, “How do you feel? What is your nervous system saying to you?” That is really important. I have teens, for example, who are incredibly skilled. I would hand them all kinds of fire-breathing dragon horses. If they don’t believe that they can, that means that they can’t. Because they don’t believe that they have the skill, yet. As soon as I put the lead rope in that teen’s hands, their nervous system will be activated. They will be in fight-flight-freeze. It will not be good. It is hard to put into words.

My husband asked me this. I met him. He was a novice horseman. His mom had horses. He rode a pony as a kid. He hadn’t owned horses since. We were dating. He asked, “How involved do you want me to get into your horse habit?”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Manuel: We were dating. He realizes this is pretty serious. It would be nice if I start competing again, etc., and some big deal thing; and you’re there to support me. He is a musician. When COVID hit, his whole world collapsed. Now, he is working full-time here. [Laughing] So, how involved are you, honey? He came from novice to a competent beginner instructor. He is especially good at ground work because he has been riding alongside me doing my thing.

He said the other day, “You always joke about when you’re connecting with teenagers and how the adults are talking, and the adult sound like, ‘Womp, womp, wah, wah, wah.’ I’m still in that stage. All these people are talking, talking, talking. I’m not listening to them. I’m watching where they’re at emotionally, their behaviour. Because behaviour is communication. Behaviour in this horseman world is much more meaningful as far as I am concerned.” So, I am teaching these young people, unfortunately, to ignore their elders sometimes [Laughing].

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Manuel: To get a good sense where they’re at and where their horse is at, horses are pretty safe over, under, around them, when they are relaxed, calm, at ease, even blind spots, spook spots, danger zones, are only dangerous if a horse is elevated. The same is true of humans. If I can give that skillset to people, then I am pretty sure I am giving them the skillset that doesn’t show up in a lot of books or a lot of standards that they can practice in a lot of ways. I tend to not care if they are not holding the reins exactly right, or if the equipment is mis-matched with an English bridal and a Western saddle, or vice versa. I don’t really care [Laughing].

Are they safe? Are they having fun? Are they able to pursue whatever the next question is? I am good with that.

Jacobsen: This experiential knowledge transfer is non-standardized in a way. How could it be standardized?

Manuel: Right?

Jacobsen: The thin line between the verbal and the non-verbal. In journalism, the verbal is everything when integrated with the non-verbal, but the presentation of the verbal is everything. In the equine industry, a greenhorn, myself, or an experienced person, yourself the non-verbal is everything, and the verbal, couldn’t care less, by the sounds of it. Same time, it raises questions to the other portion of that question, originally, outside of the individual into the organizational. So, Equine Canada was mentioned. There are federations, societies, associations, provincially and otherwise, in the country, or international with FEI, to try to set a standard, to attempt to set a standard. I have heard mixed opinions about these organizations.

Manuel: Yes.

Jacobsen: What are the efforts to make a standard teaching regimen, so everyone, at least, has an acceptable minimum when training?

Manuel: Yikes. I’m going to ask you. I’ve been working on this problem as long as I have had the formalized business because, as soon as you formalize business, then you have to contend with public perception, personal standards (and why), communication with the outer world (because there is a world beyond my herd), insurance (a massive one) and how do we do that. I argue all the time with insurance brokers every year when I have to pay that bill.

Yes, this isn’t anywhere as dangerous as they purport because of the experience, because of my approach. They don’t deal with it that way. They quote all this data and evidence. I say, “Yes…. No.” [Laughing] I challenge the evidence because there is no comparison between overseeing Riding 4 Life and someone who bought a horse, who they can manage to catch, saddle up, and ride. Who invites their friend to get on it, they end up in the E.R.

These are different things altogether. As far as insurance companies gather their data, they don’t distinguish between the two. Immediately, I have a problem with the data because those people will not purchase business insurance. I do. I don’t want to suffer for their mistakes. That’s one example of the organizational issues facing us. The other one, I talk about it, when it comes up. We compare the horse industry to other industries. Like healthcare, healthcare says it’s evidence-based. It has a leg to stand on because it doesn’t select data democratically.

There is scientific method behind it. There is a whole lot of education behind what data, how that data is collected, how that data is used. There are a lot of checks and balances. I have yet to find an organization in the equine industry on this planet based on postsecondary education who meets this criterion of evidence-based. These are all member driven organizations. There are very few criteria that you have to meet to be a member. In most cases, you don’t have to own a horse or prove that you’ve ridden one ever. You just purchased the membership.

Jacobsen: It seems like a massive gap.

Manuel: My father-in-law, he takes pictures. He says, “You guys are doing great and goes home.” He could purchase a membership. Now, he is a voting member. So, right there, stop, guys! These membership driven associations produce a standard, a watered-standard, unspecific standard that those who are exercising their franchise in that organization can’t agree on, by simple majority. I’m like, “This is not adequate.” I don’t have a better answer at this point.

There are a whole bunch of cultural and historical things leading us to this place. Healthcare in the Western world has grown and improved for the – let’s say – last 100 years. It is the best technology, best practice, professionalism, education, and standardization. Our government is involved in it. The notion of peer-reviewed, where there are folks who hold PhDs holding others accountable.

When I was a teenager coming up, there was a woman who ran a large ranch who sat on the committee for the curriculum and standards for Equine Canada’s Western program. The advice given to me by my mom, when I was 10, 11, 12, 13, was: If you go there, don’t tie your horse to anything, don’t let it drink out of the water troughs, there were practices happening there. Even my amateur experienced horse owning mom knew, she didn’t want our horses exposed to it. This is a person who was at the forefront in the ‘80s and ‘90s developing the standardized Western curriculum for Equine Canada. So, yes, there are big problems. How do you vet those people?

Jacobsen: This is the divisiveness (positives and negatives) in conversation on the record and off the record coming my way, even in the earliest portions of this series.

Manuel: What? I am not alone?

Jacobsen: [Laughing] It is extremely common.

Manuel: We cannot change the problem if we don’t correctly identify it first.

Jacobsen: People want change. Then there are differential issues. So, not organizational, but survivability, so, you have a growing business. Others have a stale business, which is pretty good. It’s stable. Others have declining businesses. Others have closing businesses. It could be weather issues. It could be hyper-rural problems. It could be rising land prices. It could be agricultural land reserve bylaws or restrictions that apply to farms and stables, and ranches, and so on, which create issues particular to that geography, then impacting the business. For Riding 4 Life, what issues are coming up for you, in Penticton?

Manuel: Land, the cost of real estate, land use availability, proximity of it to my target market.

Jacobsen: How far are clients travelling to you?

Manuel: To me, I operate on the Penticton Indian Band. The channel running through the Penticton River. One side of the channel is City of Penticton. The other side is Penticton Indian Band land. I could almost throw a rock and hit City of Penticton land. I couldn’t be more ideally located. The trouble is, I just paid board to a larger facility. So, I operate on Green Mountain Equestrian Centre. There are probably 50 horses set up at peak.

It is not well set up for that at all. There are no resources, no help, no community planning on our side or acknowledging us. We are surrounding by industrial stuff. We are under the flight path of the airport. There’s B.C. Hydro stuff coming through the property. We are really faking it until we make it here. The only win is our location to a fairly large urban population for the only facility located in Penticton that is accessible to beginners. So, land is a problem. I could probably lease some acreage in Keremeos.

That’s 45 minutes away. Most of my clientele, their families cannot cope with that big of a drive time to get to their weekly session. I probably lose half of my target market. Would I survive? Yes, I could pick up different clients. I would be resourceful. I would be okay. It is not my passion. Also, it is not the biggest need that I see. I want to get more people into this industry because I recognize that it is a quickly shrinking industry.

It is not for lack of people wanting to get in. Horse people are horrible for advocating for themselves in the wider world. We really are. There is not a lot of political will or are not a lot of political agencies who know what to do with us. We are not really on the radar screen. Here’s the other question, which you have probably already run into, “Are we part of the agricultural industry or the recreational industry? What are we?”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Manuel: This whole business of trying to figure out what guidelines to follow. Are we an essential service because half of my clients are accessing me for therapeutic services? Now, Sport B.C. was the one I ended up following because they are the only ones returning my call [Laughing]. “Yes, we think you are with us, but nobody knows for sure.” Even boarders who own the horses weren’t allowed to go on the property and see their horses under COVID lockdown for a month or two, part of the change there needs to be people who are in the horse industry down to one hobby horse.

We are not well-organized that way and need to advocate for ourselves in some organized fashion. Far be it from me to figure out how to do that.


[1] Instructor & Founder, Riding 4 Life Equine Enterprises.

[2] Individual Publication Date: June 15, 2022:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2022:


American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 9: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Issues in the Industry (3)[Online]. June 2022; 30(E). Available from:

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2022, June 15). The Greenhorn Chronicles 9: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Issues in the Industry (3). Retrieved from

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 9: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Issues in the Industry (3). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 30.E, June. 2022. <>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2022. “The Greenhorn Chronicles 9: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Issues in the Industry (3).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 30.E.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “The Greenhorn Chronicles 9: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Issues in the Industry (3).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 30.E (June 2022).

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2022, ‘The Greenhorn Chronicles 9: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Issues in the Industry (3)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 30.E. Available from: <>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2022, ‘The Greenhorn Chronicles 9: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Issues in the Industry (3)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 30.E.,

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “The Greenhorn Chronicles 9: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Issues in the Industry (3).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 30.E (2022): June. 2022. Web. <>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 9: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Issues in the Industry (3)[Internet]. (2022, June 30(E). Available from:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012–Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and can disseminate for their independent purposes.

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