Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson speaks with a student at the Mountain Rose Ranch in Kearney. Johnson is the founder and trainer at the ranch, which will be holding a grand opening Saturday and Sunday. The ranch offers training and boarding services. Mountain Rose Ranch is at 2446 Cottonmill Ave.

KEARNEY — When Emily Johnson takes people out to work with their horses at Mountain Rose Ranch, it’s a mix between magic and science, she said.

“My philosophy largely is if we can develop each entity, in this case ... we’re trying to have a relationship between horse and human,” Johnson said as she watched three students working with their mounts. “If we can develop them in a manner that we bring along the horse and help them become more of a whole, mature being and likewise develop ourselves as a more progressive, whole being ... then when we come together we’re two intact entities.”

The Boulder, Colo., native is an educator and the founder of Mountain Rose Horsemanship, a training program at Mountain Rose Ranch located just south of Cottonmill Park at 2446 Cottonmill Ave. The goal at Mountain Rose Horsemanship is to help create healthy relationships between horses and people.

The program developed when Johnson noticed that her horsemanship began to improve after she had become more healthy and whole over several years of focused self-development.

“Horses are … very present in the moment. They are addressing, they are living from, they are consumed, they are cooperating with what’s at hand. Human beings not so much. How many of us live our life predominantly in the past or in the future?” Johnson said. “They’re present in the moment but it’s not necessarily a given relationship. ... A horse you really have to earn it with them.”

She founded Mountain Rose Horsemanship in 2006 and eventually made her way from Colorado to Nebraska.

The program is divided into two programs: Wholeness Through Horsemanship and the Wanted Horse Training Program.

In what can perhaps be described as horse yoga, Wholeness Through Horsemanship teaches students how to understand both their own emotions, instincts and well-being as well as the horse’s in order to partner better. Humans must earn mutual trust and respect with the animals.

“Horses are byproducts of who and what we are and who and what we bring to things,” Johnson said. “They’re really amazing mirrors for us, for better and for worse.”

Before mounting, Johnson has her students do some groundwork with the horses in order to be aware of their emotional state as well as any tension and distractions to help get the horses partnered up.

“We take that, and then riding becomes an earned privilege.”

The second program, Wanted Horse Training Program, uses training courses that give horses a well-rounded education. In the curriculum, the horses are taught to be “respectful, confident, and willing partners” with people, according to the Mountain Rose website.

Close attention is given to the mental, emotional and physical development of the horse to ensure its active participation and understanding in the partnership.

“To me, that’s a well-rounded, all-around term. We don’t do just riding,” Johnson said.

The west Kearney ranch will have its grand opening Saturday and Sunday and will feature several activities. A horse owners workshop will be from noon-5 p.m. Saturday and will feature presentations on equine nutrition, partnership with horses and communication during horsemanship. A Trouble Free Trailering workshop from noon-5 p.m. Sunday will include demonstrations on how to load horses into trailers and help build their confidence around the trailers.

“Developing partnership with the horse is a beautiful microcosm to kind of practice healthful sense of selves and relationships in life,” Johnson said.

For more information on the ranch and the grand opening, visit MountainRoseHorsemanship.com