Cover Stories

Removing the Roadblocks

Removing the Roadblocks
Catherine Madera

How Raye Lochert Gives Back to Riders

by Catherine Madera


Raye Lochert (center) holding a clinic at Cowboy Campsite in northwest Washington. Photo credit NWHS


The equestrian world has changed tremendously in the last 20 years. It’s the information age and one simply needs to choose their favorite way to learn. About anything and everything. If you have the money and time you could spend the rest of your life (and your bank account) gleaning from videos, the Internet, books, and an ever growing community of clinicians with “new” ways to do everything. Truly, the horse world is wealthy with knowledge. There’s no longer an excuse for ignorance.

Life long horsewoman, cow horse competitor, and retired 4H leader Pat Alexander remembers the days when it wasn’t so easy to become horse savvy.

“When I was a kid, the only resource we had was whoever was on the ranch. It was just ‘get on and go’!”

Fortunately, Alexander had good mentors on the California ranch where she grew up. She continued the habit of seeking out the best as an adult, both for herself and her daughter, Lauren. This includes clinics and instruction from horseman Raye Lochert, a man she calls “a safe person to look foolish around.” Lochert has no slick offering of special tack or secret formulas, instead he shares a brand of horsemanship as old as horseback riding: one that focuses on bettering the relationship with a horse for optimum performance. This can’t be had by copying a particular clinician’s technique, it is acquired when a person finds their own way forward. And it works for every equestrian, even one as experienced as Alexander.

“I still learn from Raye, even after a lifetime. When you get frustrated with a horse you hit a roadblock and Raye is spectacular for helping you get past those.”

Alexander hit a relationship roadblock when she purchased “Goldie,” a four-year-old Quarter Horse mare bred by Carol Rose for her next cow horse. Admitting to riding the horse “like every other horse,” Alexander ran into a pile of problems including resistance in maneuvers and an anxiousness that required the mare to be “loped down” for as much as 40 minutes before she would relax. Alexander thought she was learning to sort cows at Lochert’s ranch, but looking back can see clearly how he worked on her rather than on Goldie. After guidance from Raye, the mare now willingly performs after just a 10 minute warm-up. Change never starts with the horse, it must begin with the rider. 

Photo credit Frank Alexander

“You have to feel it, and that’s something you can’t get from a video or even watching a clinician,” says Alexander, remembering her “aha” moment when Raye helped her find a way forward, emphasizing an eternal horsemanship truth— “You can’t force it.”

Born and raised in Mill Valley, California, Raye Lochert now lives and trains horses and riders at his Santa Rosa property, Critter Creek Ranch. Unable to have horses as a youth, Lochert’s passion drove him to find creative ways to be around them. He has a heart for horse-less kids like himself and gives back through a variety of avenues including serving as host of the equine portion of Agriculture Days, an educational program through the northern California Farm Bureau. A graduate of the John Lyons Certification Program, Lochert also enjoys teaching horsemanship through the Santa Rosa Junior College where he shares four truths that guide him: I will never know enough; There is always a better way; You can learn something from everybody; If I can’t understand it the horse doesn’t have a chance; and, the horse and I both want to be happy. Attendees can take advantage of his expertise for as little as $35.00 a semester.

“He is so good with the public,” says Alexander who joins Lochert in presenting the yearly Ag Days. When comparing his style and values to the slick marketing common in today’s clinicians Alexander adds, “I don’t know many people who can do what he does.” 

It is a gifted teacher, one who leaves their own ego at the door, that can effectively lead people to their own “aha moments” and create a safe environment for learning. Such a clinician will never go out of style.

Raye Lochert is currently working on a series for television and travels extensively to connect with riders. Says student C.S. Noel, who Lochert has helped with six horses over a nine year period of time, “It’s like going to the University of the Horse.”  Learn more at


Published May 2013 Issue

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Cover Stories
Catherine Madera

Catherine Madera attended Walla Walla University in Eastern Washington where she majored in communications/journalism. After winning a national competition for Guideposts Magazine in 2004, Catherine concentrated on non-fiction inspirational stories. Since then, she has published numerous personal and ghosted stories for Guideposts and their affiliate publications. Catherine has published in many regional and national magazines/newspapers and her work is included in several anthologies. She specializes in equine-related topics and profiles and serves as editor of The Northwest Horse Source. In 2010 Catherine’s non-fiction story, A Hero’s Work, received the Merial Human-Animal Bond award given by American Horse Publications. She has also authored three works of fiction and provides editing/writing assistance through Word Horse Writing Services.

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