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home : business : business May 29, 2016

6/10/2014 12:54:00 PM
New trainer at Eagle Bear Ranch
Melanie and Brian Thomas are enjoying their new home in Central Oregon. photo by Kathryn Godsiff
+ click to enlarge
Melanie and Brian Thomas are enjoying their new home in Central Oregon. photo by Kathryn Godsiff

By Kathryn Godsiff

Eagle Bear Ranch, on Crooked Horseshoe Road in the Indian Ford Meadows area, enjoys a fine reputation as a place to board a horse while on vacation. There's a calm feeling about the place, and the arrival of a new resident horse trainer, Brian Thomas and his wife, Melanie, enhances the services the ranch offers.

The Thomases recently arrived in Sisters from the charming mountain town of Victor, Idaho, on the border of Idaho and Wyoming near Jackson Hole. Brian established his horse-training business, Complete Horsemanship, there in 2006 and Melanie was a successful Realtor. Brian also worked as an outfitter, leading trips into the backcountry.

The idyllic summers became no match for the long, cold winters, and having traveled through Sisters and Central Oregon many times, the couple decided the time had come to up stakes and head here. They wanted to work together, in a place where their horses could be nearby all through the winter.

In early April they were packing, with no clear destination yet, when Melanie came upon an ad for Eagle Bear Ranch. After a discussion with owner T.K. NoBear, which resulted in an offer to operate the ranch and establish Complete Horsemanship there, they accepted and proceeded with their move.

Brian runs the training side, Melanie runs the office. And they can ride together out the back gate.

Brian's involvement with horses began in his youth. Born and raised in Michigan, he headed west soon after graduating from high school. An outdoorsy guy, for many years Brian spent summers in Alaska as a charter captain and sport-fishing guide, and autumns in the mountains outfitting for hunters. He met Melanie in Alaska, and after their marriage, they relocated to Idaho where Brian worked for an outfitter.

In 2006, a desire to take his horse skills to another level and commit to full-time horse training resulted in his enrollment in John and Josh Lyons' Certified Trainers Program, an intensive three-month training in Parachute, Colorado. There, the Lyons' training philosophy was put into practice as the students worked with horses from start to finish. The business side of horse training was also covered.

The father-and-son team of John and Josh Lyons has a reputation for training horses and horsemen and women to a standard that enables horse and rider to maintain a safe, calm and responsive relationship.

After completing the initial course, in 2007 Brian was invited to join Josh Lyons and assist in teaching the Certified Trainers Program. He also traveled around the country with the Lyonses to clinics and expos. In 2008 he completed the Josh Lyons Accreditation Program, an intensive training for those wishing to concentrate on performance horses and the show world.

These days, Brian prefers to focus on an average horse-owner, someone who knows what they want to achieve but aren't quite sure how to get there. His goal in working with horse-owners is get them and the horse to a place where both are safe and enjoying their work together, and then to teach the owners how to maintain that level of training.

"If you're not happy with the performance of your horse, if you need help, I promise you I can help," he said. He knows how difficult it can be to trust a trainer, so he takes time with each client, asking about goals, both specific and general, and listening carefully to the answers. Most of his sessions are one-on-one, though he also works with groups. After a thorough initial evaluation, if the client is happy then the lessons progress until the goals are met.

While Brian is adept at a number of disciplines, he prefers not to focus on that aspect.

"I don't teach disciplines, but if you have a specific goal and your horse isn't safe while getting there, come work with me. Then, when you are safe, go and specialize," he said.

The Thomases are enjoying Sisters and the Central Oregon horse community. They supported the St. Jude Children's Hospital benefit ride on June 7, and are getting to know their neighbors.

"We love small towns, and are looking forward to getting involved in the community," said Melanie.

For more information visit or phone the Eagle Bear Ranch office at 541-504-1234 or Brian's cell at 208-709-3175. Eagle Bear Ranch is located at 69437 Crooked Horseshoe Rd.

Related Links:
• Eagle Bear Ranch
• Learning carriage driving in Sisters

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