For Johnette Burman horses have been a part of her life since day one. Growing up on a cattle ranch in Montana, her father bought Johnette her first horse, a pony named Cocoa, when she was just 18 months old! Johentte recalls, "All I ever wanted to do was ride."
Active in 4-H through her youth and then once old enough to start showing her horses—she was hooked. Although it took some time to turn her ranch horses into show horses, she got the job done.
From there, she met up with a local reining trainer, Renee Pipinich, where she worked as a youth for a few summers. at college age, she attended Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana with the aspirations of becoming a veteranarian. Her only problem was she could never wait to get out to the barn and ride! Eventually, because of the obvious conflict of study vs. riding, in 1997 Johnette moved to New Jersey to work at Kebra Ranch for Kim Sloan, as an assistant trainer to Mark & Debbie Arballo.
The Arballos eventually went out on their own to start up a training business and Johnette wentwith them, continuing on as their assistant. Working there, she was able to learn quite a bit about the breeding end of the business from Debbie and coaching Non Pros from Mark.
Yearning to be closer to home, in 2000 Johnette was hired by Jim & Roberta McCarty as their assistant trainer, where she enhanced her existing skills and worked on improving and creating new ways to train the horses and the clients she helped coach.
After 5 years with the McCartys, Johnette decided to strike out on her own and build upon her existing client base to start her own training business, Burman Reining Horses.
When asked about who has contributed most to her career with horses, Johnette said, "All of the people I have worked for over the years, have impacted my training program in a huge way. They have each contributed to the developmental steps to the next stage in my career. I have admired and respected each of those people for how they have contributed to my learning process. It would be very difficult to single out just one individual."
"Because I was with them the longest and they gave me horses to show and customers to teach, I would say Jim & Roberta McCarty contributed the most to where I am in my profession now." Some of these customers and their horses helped Johnette to begin her new business in 2005.
Career-wise, the early accomplishments Johnette is most proud of was making the NRHA Derby Finals on Ms Jewel Jac in 2004; and placing 4th in the Top Ten Intermediate Open Finals aboard Heir To Shine, in 2005. "Making the Top Ten in California is tough, since we have the same number of shows per year as they do on the East Coast."
In 2007, Johnette qualified Heir To Shine for the AQHA World Show, where they were finalists in the Senior Reining. This was Johnette's first year to compete at the World Show, so the trip back to the World with Harry was one of her proudest moments. In 2008 Johnette qualified once more, with Valentine Dreamin, in AQHA Junior Reining. Out of a tough finals class of 49 entries, Johnette and Valentine Dreamin finished 7th. Along with a Top 10 win, Valentine Dreamin also earned the distinction of being the highest placing mare in the Junior Reining class.
Heir To Shine a.k.a. "Harry" (top right photo) has a special place in Johnette's heart. She started riding Harry quite a bit when she worked for Roberta McCarty. "He's very light, feely, wants to do a good job and rides even better at the horse shows! He was a 4-year-old when I first met him and now he is still competing strong in the Open and Non Pro classes. There are not many horses like Harry around. He is very special."
Explaining what needs to happen when riding a reiner, in an understandable manner to her human students is a lot more complicated than explaining those maneuvers to a horse. "With people, you must have patience, self-control and understanding; where your Non Pros are coming from, what they're feeling, how they're relating to their horse - and even pumping up their confidence when they come out of the show pen after a less than 'great run.'"
In discussing her work with Non Pros, she said she's always enjoyed working with them. "I don't think every one has the 'natural feel' for it, but I really enjoy the whole process - the horses are the easy part!"
In summing it all up, "I find my job extremely rewarding. After many long hours and sometimes years of training; to have all three minds - mine, my student, and the horse - all come together on the same page, whether in a lesson or in the show pen, brings a smile to my face every time. It's very, very gratifying."