Successful horseman: Riding instructor shares his passion and knowledge for horses with others
Levi Hostetler is typically found instructing horse riding lessons or doing farrier work on a typical day. He enjoys teaching others how to feel as comfortable as possible while in the saddle.
“If you’re relaxed on a horse, you can achieve your goals way quicker than if you’re tense and tight,” he says. “Many times, the only way to do this is through breathing and relaxing.”
Levi was born in Tennessee and moved with his family to Ohio at the age of 15. He grew up in an Amish community with no electricity or running water, and his family used horses for all of their farm work.
His love for horses started at a young age, partly due to the fact he was constantly around them growing up.
“I’ve been interested in horses as long as I can remember,” he says. “We always used horses for everything growing up. It’s where I started out with horses.”
Levi left the Amish community when he was 22 years old to pursue his dream of becoming a cowboy. He left behind the only way of life he’d ever known.
“I always had a dream of being a cowboy and working on a ranch,” he says “I didn’t really know what a cowboy was or what a cowboy did, but it’s just what I always wanted to do.”
He mentions becoming a cowboy was more challenging than he had anticipated.
“I told employers I didn’t have any ranching experience, even though looking back it’s kind of what I grew up doing – farming without electricity and tractors – but I thought ranching was something I didn’t know how to do and if I said I knew how to ranch, their expectations would be too high.”
Levi currently offers riding lessons, helps people with problem horses, starts young horses and works as a farrier.
“In Casper there’s quite a bit of lameness in horses, and I started getting into it with the farrier work,” he says. “I wasn’t necessarily good at it at first, but it’s something I worked at and practiced with and really enjoyed it, same with the riding lessons.”
He notes he had some accidents early on in his riding career which shaped the way he looks at riding horses.
“I came to realize getting over fear wasn’t just about telling someone to get over it, you have to gain knowledge and an understanding about things, and maybe it’s more so about being conscious about your breathing while riding and relaxing, rather than just getting over fear,” he shares.
Levi enjoys helping riders of all levels become more comfortable in the saddle. Aside from instructing, he has also competed in several different types of horse competitions.
“I did some ranch riding and reining, which I really liked,” he says. “I also did a lot of colt starting and started quite a few polo bred horses and some of those were pretty wild.”
Success in the industry
Levi credits his determination for the success he’s had in the horse industry.
“I just kept working at it and didn’t quit,” he says. “A lot of people have others to go back to, and I didn’t. I couldn’t bail if I was done because I didn’t have a home to go to, so I just kept working at it.”
He mentions he always listened to the people he admired most in the horse industry and took their advice on improving his riding skills.
“I didn’t try to go to somebody with a quick fix, you can’t just put a Band-Aid on the issue. It’s not just working the horse harder, but figuring out how to get the horse to think,” says Levi. “I was fortunate enough to find people who think this way.”
Rewarding aspect of helping others
Levi says his favorite part of his career is seeing the riders he taught be successful and achieve their goals.
“Seeing myself successful is exciting, but I like seeing other people successful as well,” he says.
Levi also finds a horse’s success to be rewarding.
“I like seeing not only the rider be successful but also the horse be successful as well,” he says. “I am helping others in a way they can help their horses.”
Levi is aware of several difficulties and challenges people face when first starting out in the horse industry. He advises these people to be cautious with who they include in their work.
“Choose people you know will be loyal,” he says. “Choose people you will get along with and whose morals line up with yours.”
Levi feels many people go out on their own too quickly, just like he did. He recommends people slow down and gain as much knowledge as they can in each step of the process.
“If I had an opportunity, I would’ve worked with someone a lot longer,” Levi says.
He reminds everyone in the horse industry to stay humble, no matter how advanced their skills may be.
“A lot of people have a tendency to think they’re really good when they’re actually still struggling with horses,” Levi says.
He recommends staying determined and always be willing to learn.
“Put your head down and go to work. Even if it’s hard work,” he says. “The best teachers are those who are also a student of the horse.”
“Keep listening to the horse,” Levi says.
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.