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Horse Handling


Nestled in the big tall trees of rural Gig Harbor, WA, Sweetwater Corral, the home of Horsehandling, is as beautiful and peaceful as it is conducive to learning. Whether it is on the challenge course, the covered arena of the barn, the 100’ playpen or in one of the smaller round pens, you and your horse will be on a journey to achieving a true partnership, through clinics, private lessons, workshops, demonstrations or lectures.

Horsehandling is a partnership between three people, Chuck Kraft, his wife, Ruth and long time friend, Char Bantula, dedicated to helping horses and teaching people how to establish a language with their horse, enabling the human to get extraordinary results. Each person contributes in his or her own way to the partnership. Horses are followers looking for a confident leader and Natural Horsemanship is the link that connects the language and the leadership. All aspects of the horse need to be explored, i.e., mental, emotional and physical. The games of Natural Horsemanship are a diagnostic tool which afford the human the opportunity to see if the horse has any mental, emotional or physical issues. When the human wins the games, you become the confident leader that the horse seeks and is the basis for a real bond between horse and human.

About 20 years ago Chuck observed a demonstration by Pat Parelli and became a great advocate of Parelli Natural Horsemanship™. He was raised in a traditional ranch environment around horses in North Dakota, but since 1989 Chuck has had the good fortune of spending a great deal of time with Pat at his ranch, first in Clements, CA, then later helped build his ranch in Pagosa Springs, CO. He also participated in various clinics learning Pat’s method of Natural Horsemanship. He and Pat became good friends, and he considers Pat his only mentor.


Horsehandling is completely devoted to using Parelli Natural Horsemanship™ and states that it only works 100% of the time. Historically, Chuck has specifically handled difficult horses, e.g., ones that kick, strike, buck, bite or charge. He has conservatively affected more than 500 difficult horses. Horsehandling has been known to rescue horses that are scheduled to be killed or go to slaughter because of their disrespectful behavior. It has been extremely fulfilling to see the transformation that takes place in a horse when Natural Horsemanship principles are used to establish a level of communication. Natural Horsemanship uses prey animal psychology to accomplish this transformation, as the horse needs to be understood from a primal point of view. The focus of Horsehandling is on safety for the human and the horse, both on the ground and in the saddle. Natural Horsemanship applies to every discipline. It is an adjunct to any other kind of training, whether it is dressage, jumping, eventing or trail riding. The horses are evaluated mentally, emotionally and physically to discern where their strengths and weaknesses exist.

Since childhood, Ruth has been attracted to the animal world. Being raised in the Puget Sound area of northwest Washington near lakes and forest creeks afforded her the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the natural world, to learn the ways of the animals, plants and birds. Whenever she would encounter an injured animal or bird, she would help in the healing process however she could.


When horses came into her life at the time Chuck was searching for a better way to be with horses, the desire to heal took on a whole new meaning. The horse life evolved into a horse rescue and healing of difficult horses. It was during this time that she began her journey of learning the principles and skills of Natural Horsemanship. She is also now studying under a mixed blood native Shaman and is a Shaman in her own right. In addition to being an accomplished horsewoman as a result of her Natural Horsemanship experience, she is also able to help these animals on both a physical and spiritual level.

Char was a Nurse Practitioner for 30 years as well as an instructor in a Nurse Practitioner program before she retired and decided to get back into horses and follow her dream to train. She has had horses on and off since childhood in the San Joaquin Valley of Southern California, and discovered Natural Horsemanship many years ago after acquiring a very difficult 4-year-old gelding. Shortly after she got him, he began to demonstrate some very aggressive behavior on the ground, e.g., rearing, kicking, charging and bolting.


As a result of Natural Horsemanship clinics and private lessons, he is a horse anyone can ride or be around. Her nursing background caused her to be inherently attentive to the emotional and psychological aspects of the horse. She is also acutely tuned into the anatomical and medical issues of horses, especially as they relate to movement and willingness to play. When she does not know the answer to a question, she is relentless in the search for it.

Come join us for lots of fun and learning!

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