Smokie Brannaman on Building Confidence

Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life

Following part 1 on lacking confidence.

“A lot of folks will say just climb back on, you’ll get over it,” Smokie said, “But you have to back up and think of things differently. Sometimes you have to start yourself over with a horse. Find a horse that is trustworthy, one that can help you out and get your confidence back up.”


Smokie typically puts clinic-goers with immense fears on his 22–year-old gelding that is bothered by practically nothing. “You could run a semi past him at 70 mph, and we won’t bat an eye,” he said. He has also lead those with lacking-confidence on that horse, and he recommends that other fearful riders find a similar mount.

To justify a new horse or working through rebuilding confidence, some people don’t feel they’re worthy or are embarrassed by the process, when really they should feel just the opposite. Focusing on returning to horses and horsemanship is a wonderful thing, though it can be, at times, arduous. Just don’t give up on yourself.

“It’s a commendable thing. A lot of folks don’t look at it that way. They ask why you are going out and buying a horse when you have one, or wonder about the responsibilities you have to other things, that all plays a part in having that horse. I wouldn’t brow beat yourself for being hesitant for not getting on a horse you can’t trust and get along with.”

Recognize that if you want to make a change and overcome the confidence issues, a few things may need to change. Reaching out to someone who has good judgement, past experience, and patience can help you work through situations. Finding a horse that is maybe more suitable for the situation you’re in and the feelings you have is perfectly fine. Or perhaps, stepping back and working from the ground a little more can rebuild trust between yourself and your horse and give your horse a better handle.

About the Clinician

Smokie Brannaman grew up on a five thousand acre horse and cattle ranch in southwestern Montana.  As a youngster, working with horses, cattle, and rodeoing as a professional trick roper was his way of life.  After graduating from high school, Smokie chose to serve his country in the United State Coast Guard.  Although his military duties did not always allow much time to spend with his horses, he never the less rode and trained horses of his own and others during that time. 

Smokie retired in 2000 from the Coast Guard and worked as a Corporate Operations Manager for a security company. But he soon realized that his true enjoyment came from being around horses, training, riding, and helping others with their horses. 

After working for two years as a stable manager for a large boarding stable, Smokie hired on at Ots Sunrise Farm to work with the young horses halter breaking, ground work and starting horses under saddle to progress to more advanced training. Smokie utilizes the training methods of his brother Buck Brannaman, Jeff Griffith, Clinton Anderson, and others, as well as his own techniques learned during a lifetime of working with horses. 

Smokie lives in Greenleaf, Wisconsin with his sweety and wife Vickie and has three grown children Kat, Travis, and Jason. He raises and trains registered quarter horses of his own.  He uses those horses as cavalry horses for his hobby of Civil War reenacting and Wild West shows throughout the Midwest.

Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life

About Savanna Simmons

I'm Savanna Simmons and I live north of Lusk, Wyoming, on the Four Three Ranch with my husband Boe and our sons, Brindle and Roan. I grew up evolving my horsemanship with clinicians like Ray Hunt, Joe Wolter, and Jack Brainard, but not within a...

View all posts by Savanna Simmons