Matthew Livengood – Judge and Trainer Strives to Help and Support Horses and Their People

Name: Matthew Livengood


What is the name of your business?

Matthew Livengood Horsemanship


What do you do?

I teach group and private lessons, conduct clinics, and do tune-up training for client horses. I’m also a nationally carded judge with the National Reining Horse Association, American Quarter Horse Association (specialized in Reining and Ranch Riding), National Reined Cow Horse Association, and American Stock Horse Association. I also judge for the Mustang Heritage Foundation in the Extreme Makeover events. In addition, I conduct clinics for others judges from local horse organizations on how to judge certain events such as reining or ranch riding.


Why did you choose that aspect of the horse business?

I enjoy teaching and helping people develop safe, quiet horses and soft-touch skills which can become their “toolbox” for working and communicating with their horse, so their relationship strengthens. I emphasize basic horsemanship and science-based thinking.

I see judging (especially judging systems that evaluate performance based on specific criteria) to objectively assess (and share) how well horse and rider can perform a prescribed set of maneuvers in a smooth, efficient manner.


Where do you live? Where do you conduct your clinics/business? Our home base is Sweet Pepper Ranch in Nampa, Idaho where we highlight nature-based solutions for managing equestrian properties such as manure composting, non-toxic pest control, pasture management and rotational grazing, drought tolerant native landscaping, mud and dust control, track paddocks and equine enrichment. We have a 150’ x 250’ outdoor sand arena, an indoor 70’ x 120’ arena, two round pens, numerous trail obstacles, and several large permanent outdoor trail obstacles that I get to play with all day. Our trail obstacles like the pyramid and the log mountain are a fun way to break up training routines and try something different with a horse.


Who do you feel influenced you the most in your equestrian journey and why?

Early on I was fortunate enough to travel to watch and eventually participate in many Ray Hunt clinics. His horsemanship skills remain legendary, and his quiet manner was beyond compelling. One of my favorite sayings of his is, “Fix it up and let them find it; don’t try to make it happen.”

And my wife, Alayne Blickle, who has a keen eye for all aspects of equestrian science and encourages me to be all that I can be.


What disciplines/sports or aspects of the industry are you involved in?

For 30 plus years I’ve competed in reining, and still do. In the last 10 years I have branched out to include reined cow horse, ranch riding, ranch trail, and ranch versatility/stock horse events. One of the most exciting and fascinating areas we have incorporated in recent years is working with mustangs. We own several mustangs and I have competed mustang makeovers and challenge events. One of my most memorable achievements was winning the 2017 Extreme Mustang Makeover in Reno, Nevada. We also trail ride extensively with all our horses.


What breeds have you trained?

Quarter horses and mustangs.


What aspect of your business is the most intriguing to you?

Working with people and their horses. Or, if I was to put it in a Ray Hunt perspective, working with horses and their people. I enjoy helping people and horses get together and work as a team.


How many years have you been in business?

I have been around horses since I was young, competing for over 30 years, and first became a judge for the National Reining Horse Association in 1999. I began training and teaching professionally in 2016.



National Reining Horse Association, Snake River Reining Alliance, American Quarter Horse Association, National Reined Cow Horse Association, American Stock Horse Association, Western States Stock Horse Association, and the Mustang Heritage Foundation.


What are your business goals? Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

To continue to help and support horses and people to work together successfully.


Any notable accomplishments?

Receiving my NRHA judges’ card in 1999; Finishing the 2014 Nampa Extreme Mustang Makeover in the top ten; winning the Reno Rodeo Extreme Mustang Makeover in 2017 and receiving the Silver Bullet Award.


What’s your training philosophy?

Clear and consistent communication with your horse. Slow and steady progress wins the day – it’s not a race but a lifelong journey.


Do you have personal goals for your riding or your horses?

Always strive to be the best rider for my horse and help them to understand my expectations. If I am correct, then they can be correct.


Learn more about Matt Livengood

Website –

Facebook – Matt Livengood


See this article in the November 2021 online edition:

November 2021

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