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Trainers Edition; Bill Oliver Horsemanship

Bill Oliver, based in Cody, WY, shares his philosophies on horsemanship and colt starting. Photo by Caydee O’Brien Photography.

Bill Oliver’s methods of horse training are so old, they’re new again. His program is based on his experiences using horses for a job, and the way they communicate naturally in the herd. By leveraging that communication, you can build a solid foundation and relationship with a horse for any discipline. His niche is colt starting and bridle horses, and his style is unique.

Bill will tell you he is not a protégé of one particular style or trainer, instead, he pulled his methods from years of studying and working with some of the greatest horseman alive as well as using horses and mules for a job for over 40 years. Today, Bill shares his unique approach to horse training with in-person clinics and online video training.

Bill grew up riding, packing, and hunting in the Cascade Mountains of California, and in 1982 he decided to head to Wyoming. After graduating from high school, and with nothing to his name but his saddle and an old pickup truck, he moved to Powell to begin working for a Hall of Fame Outfitter. There was a lot of “on the job” horse training. Methods were “born out of necessity”; no round pens in the mountains, and no excuses. Heavy loads and lots of miles were used to train horses and mules for their job. His clinics blend this with Natural Horsemanship communication style of well-known horseman and the

Australian Jeffrey’s method; all of which are prevalent in his training methods today.


Bill offers Basic and Advanced Horsemanship. His “Bits, Spurs, and Bosals” clinic takes the horse and rider through the methods and drills to make a real bridle horse. “I call it the Big Misunderstanding. I have found many riders today that don’t know how to properly use their spurs for communication, or how to ride a horse in a bosal.” His class covers a range of history of the spur, bits, and their use. Depending on the level of the horse and rider, some will eventually ride bridleless.

His Colt Starting clinic welcomes riders of all levels with unstarted 2/3-year-old horses. Participants are guided through groundwork exercises and getting their horse comfortable with a saddle and rider. Almost every horse is ridden the first day, and packing a snaffle bit by the second. By day four, Bill and his team have helped the horse and rider be able to go home and continue their training. Learning to “read the horse” and understand how they communicate is a common discussion throughout the four-day training.

Bill showcases his training practices and educates other horsemen through his clinics. Photo by Caydee O’Brien Photography

If learning to rope is your thing, he offers that too. Teaching a horse to be comfortable with a rope swinging off of them, or where to position your hands and body to be accurate in your throw. From the branding pen to the arena, his beginner roping clinics can help horses and riders new to the sport.

Get in Touch

To host a clinic, sign up for mentorship, or attend a 2023 clinic, visit or call (307) 272-7907

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