Growing up in the heart of Seattle, McKenzie’s childhood experience with horses was relegated largely to works of fiction. Whether it was watching western movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or reading books like The Black Stallion, horses captured her imagination. She spent hours daydreaming about riding and would often “rope” her sister into playing games with names like “cattle drive” and “wagon train”.
At the age of 13, McKenzie joined the farm volunteer program at Kelsey Creek and eventually was hired on as a farm caretaker. McKenzie discovered an affinity for the horses and tried to learn all she could about their care and handling. Naturally, she began to itch to advance her skills on the ground and translate that perspective into the saddle. McKenzie met Dale Rumens-Partee through the horsemanship camps at Kelsey Creek and knew immediately that this was the woman to mentor and guide her on her horsemanship adventure. Dale’s wealth of knowledge covers a seemingly endless span of horse disciplines, behavior, training tools, and teaching techniques. McKenzie threw herself into her equine education with a fervor. As her knowledge and experience grew McKenzie was given the opportunity to coach others and share her passion. McKenzie has had the great privilege of being part of the Western Sky Horsemanship team since 2009.
McKenzie has participated in horsemanship clinics in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and California covering subjects from roping to musical freestyle. She has competed in cowboy dressage and competitive trail. She has been inspired by the horsemanship and teaching skills of Jon Ensign, Lester Buckley, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, and Dave and Gwen Weaver.
McKenzie’s favorite trips and adventures have always been with her Western Sky family. Whether herding cows in Tonasket, weaving through trails in Redmond, or riding in clinics at the training barn you can be sure that WSH will be laughing and learning at the same time.
Western Sky has an unparalleled group of lesson horses, a fact McKenzie knows firsthand. Mckenzie often refers to the lesson horses as “assistant teachers” and takes great pride in their talents. WSH horses are forgiving and patient enough for the most beginner rider but are sensitive and responsive to challenge the advanced. McKenzie takes great pleasure in seeing the horses learn and grow and advance in their training. She strives to help horse-owning clients actualize this potential in their own horses.
McKenzie’s love of learning goes hand in hand with her love of teaching. She loves discovering each students distinctive learning style and finding ways to help them advance their horsemanship and reach their equine goals. McKenzie enjoys teaching students of all abilities, young and old, beginner and advanced. Horsemanship is a challenging blend of art and science, the physical and the mental and McKenzie is passionate about supporting her students as they navigate this worthwhile maze. Watching her students learn and learning alongside them is the most rewarding experience and Mckenzie feels so fortunate to be working at something she loves.
McKenzie believes that a great student makes a great teacher and vice versa. She is dedicated to her continuing education and personal advancement and is committed to helping foster partnership and communication between herself, her students, and the horse.