Behind Any Craft Is a Story of Dedication.

Where It All Began...

Cooler Horsemanship was developed by Don and Chris Cooler in the early 1990’s.  Dedicated to studying a number of top horsemanship trainers and working with countless horses, Don and Chris developed a set of philosophies and techniques that eventually became known as the ATRUM Method.

Originally an Emergency Room doctor, Don saw many horse related injuries - some even resulting in death.  An avid horseman, his knowledge of horses and the horsemanship techniques he practiced lead him to believe many of the injuries he saw could have been prevented.  Knowing that sharing this knowledge might prevent accidents and possibly save lives, Don was motivated to take his knowledge of horses and horsemanship to the public.  

Don and Chris spent over a decade traveling throughout the West and teaching the ATRUM Method in their Natural Horsemanship Clinics.  The clinics were very popular, especially with youth groups, and the experience of meeting many wonderful horses and their owners proved to be an unforgettable time in their lives.  Sadly, in 2002, Don was diagnosed with cancer and after fighting for nearly two years, passed away in 2004.  The legacy of Cooler Horsemanship, however, would live on.
Image Right:  James Cooler at the age of 11 when Moonshine, the horse that Don and Chris had bred and was born into the family, and the mare he was out of, Lady. He is 30 years old today (July 2021) and was born on June 3rd, 1991. He is the horse that taught James about an advanced feel and is still a part of his and Kate's herd of 5 horses.  

Carrying On A Legacy...

James met Kate in 2005, and their shared passion for horses was quickly apparent.   As a result, it wasn't long before they were riding together and helping with some of the younger and more difficult horses that were residing at a local facility called Rose Dhu Creek Equestrian Center.  During this time,  James was able to share what he had learned about horsemanship when he was younger, while at the same time pick up the program where his parents left off, and before long, Cooler Horsemanship was back in action.

The desire to pursue horsemanship in an area that had a heavier horse population than the low country of South Carolina led James and Kate to finding an opportunity managing a boarding facility just outside of Greensboro, NC.  Through clinics, lessons, horses in training and their personal horses, from 2009 - 2012 they were able hone and refine the Foundation and Freedom aspects of the Cooler Horsemanship program.

After three and a half years, they realized that the continued growth of Cooler Horsemanship required them to decide between practicing horsemanship full time versus combining horsemanship with the work load that is demanded when operating a boarding facility.  
Image Left:  Kleo and Indigo, the two horses that James and Kate continued to build the Cooler Horsemanship Program on.  Specifically, they both taught Kate and James about advanced liberty, collection and jumping.  Both horses came into their lives because they were considered to be challenging horses, which pushed the development of their horsemanship skills even further.

An Unexpected Opportunity...

A popular horsemanship event called Road to the Horse is held each year in Lexington, Kentucky at the world famous Kentucky Horse Park, is based on the art of colt starting.  In one weekend, 3 competitors each select unstarted and unhandled colt out of a remuda of colts from the well known 6666 Ranch out of Guthrie, TX.  After 3 rounds of preparation and an obstacle course round, a winner is decided based on the total scores of 3 judges.

In 2013, they decided to host a secondary side competition called the Wild Card Competition.  In this side competition, 8 competitors got to take home one of the extra 8 horses left over in the remuda and put 1 year of training on them.  In 2014, one year later, all 8 Wild Card Competitors got to compete based on 4 things: ranch reining, freestyle, obstacle course, along with health and conditioning.  

James got to compete for both of the two years (2014 and 2015) that the Wild Card Competition was held.  This unique and once in a lifetime opportunity allowed James to grow immensely in his understanding and ability to combine horsemanship and horse psychology with performance level training.  
Image Right:  Headshot of Deuce.  James still owns Deuce, whose registered name is Career Cat, which was the horse he competed with the first year. The second year, he competed with Gus, whose registered name is First Six Guns, and is currently owned by a long time friend and client that James still works with and coaches on a regular basis.  

Where to go next?

Once James had completed his second year of the Wild Card Competition with Road to the horse, they took some time to apply all that they had learned to their program.

One of the main goals was to refine all they had learned over the previous 8 years and channel it into the ability to help a student connect with and develop their horses individual characteristics, playdrive with their personal goals.

A number of intangibles come along with this unique approach to horsemanship.  It takes a person and horse past the step by step exercises that any program has, past the core strategies that is the base of all quality horsemanship, and into a realm that sometimes goes against what may seem intuitive, and trusting a process that slowly draws out a fabric that is woven between all that we do with our horses.

Sometimes these intangibles can challenge our understanding of horses and horsemanship, sometimes it requires us to open our minds, sometimes it requires us to do less of something than we thought we had to, and sometimes it requires us to trust that patience and building our training through layers will get us there faster.

But time and time again, James and Kate have seen that if we can trust the application of this style of horsemanship, one thing is for sure: our horse's ability to connect with us while aligning clarity and desire with the goals we have can reach a level that can become a horseman's dream.
Image Left: Kate on horseback with Kleo while James rides Deuce in a sea of green at White Oak Creek Retreat.

Creating A Horseman's Playground...

James and Kate had always felt that the ability to combine Cooler Horsemanship with a facility that offered a destination retreat dynamic would be the ultimate dream.  Growth in horsemanship can be challenging, scary, exhilarating, and rewarding.  It can require patience one day and pushing through a major breakthrough the next  Navigating these different aspects of horsemanship can require intensive time periods in which one can immerse themselves in an environment that has skilled guidance along with all the features that promote true growth.  When the opportunity to partner with a longtime friend a client was presented to them, it didn't take long before they all agreed to begin developing the ultimate horseman's playground - White Oak Creek Retreat.
Located on 73 acres Ruffin, North Carolina, White Oak Creek is currently under development.  To learn all that White Oak Creek Retreat and Cooler Horsemanship will be offering, click the button below.
Image Right: A beautiful and inspiring sunset at White Oak Creek Retreat.

James Cooler
Kate Cooler
James Cooler
Kate Cooler
Our Philosophy
Cooler Horsemanship is a form of natural horsemanship developed in the early '90's which focuses on helping horse owners create an understanding and friendship with their horse.  Emphasizing three main goals - staying safe, having fun and learning, Cooler Horsemanship opens the door for all horse owners to build a genuine connection with their equine partner.

Based on the ATRUM Method, Cooler Horsemanship teaches much more than just 'how' to make horses do what is expected of them.  It focuses on understanding 'why' horses do what they do by teaching an awareness of how they think, communicate, and learn.  In learning to see things from the horse's point of view, horse owners can begin to work together with their horse to create the partnership everyone strives for.

By recognizing and developing the key elements of ATRUM - Attention, Trust, Respect, Understanding and Motivation - horse owners learn to break down their horse training experience into manageable lessons, which can later be combined to accomplish any goal they set for themselves and their horse.

Run by James and Kate Cooler, Cooler Horsemanship is operated throughout the Carolina's and can travel further distances upon request.

Our Mission
Our mission is to empower owners of all horse breeds and disciplines by teaching the knowledge and skills needed to build a relationship of willing cooperation with their horse, based on mutual attention, trust, respect, understanding and motivation.

Our History
Cooler Horsemanship was developed by Don Cooler in the early 1990’s.  Having dedicated himself to studying a number of top horsemanship trainers and working with hundreds of horses, Don developed the set of philosophies and techniques that eventually became known as the ATRUM Method.

Originally an Emergency Room doctor, Don saw many horse related injuries - some even resulting in death.  An avid horseman, his knowledge of horses and the horsemanship techniques he practiced lead him to believe many of the injuries he saw could have been prevented.  Knowing that sharing this knowledge might prevent accidents and possibly save lives, Don was motivated to take his knowledge of horses and horsemanship to the public.  

Don and his family spent over a decade traveling throughout the West and teaching the ATRUM Method in their Natural Horsemanship Clinics.  The clinics were very popular, especially with youth groups, and the experience of meeting many wonderful horses and their owners proved to be an unforgettable time in their lives.  Sadly, in 2002, Don was diagnosed with cancer and after fighting for nearly two years, passed away in 2004.  His legacy, however, lives on.

Today, Cooler Horsemanship is proudly carried on by Don's son, James, and James' wife, Kate.  Both are passionate about their love of horses and enjoy sharing their time and talents with anyone who is interested in learning more about the ATRUM Method and The Cooler Horsemanship Program.
More about Foundational Development
Without a solid Foundation, it's hard to have something stable that you continue to build on.  

Whether it's starting a colt, developing an independent seat, or helping your horse overcome a behavioral issue, you can't overlook the power of a great foundation.

In this short video, James talks about what a solid foundation is in our program.
More about Freedom Development
Playing at Liberty, or Freedom, with your horse is truly an inspiring experience.  

When your horse chooses to connect with you, you can't help but feel a little special.  

Check out this quick video to get an idea of how we look at Freedom Development.
More about Focus Development
So many times advanced riding gets a rider and horse confused and bunched up.  

The most common reason for this is confusion.  A little clarity goes a long ways when it comes to learning more about advanced riding.  

Don't go it alone, and develop bad habits and mistakes.  Check out this quick video to get some ideas on how to become a better rider and a better horseman for your horse!
Cooler Horsemanship, LLC - All Rights Reserved - 2019

Cooler Horsemanship, LLC - All Rights Reserved - 2019