Kathleen Sullivan: Horsewoman

By Mike Thomas

I first saw Kathleen at a Buck Brannaman Clinic in Chandler, Arizona, about five to six years ago. I couldn’t avoid looking at her frequently when Buck would ask for a new move and she would just let it happen and was truly focused on her horse Hollywood, and Merlin later, and things went well. A couple of days later I asked Buck: “Who is that girl on the palomino?” Buck said: “That’s Kathleen Sullivan and she’s got quite a story!”

She had been around many clinics in the previous several years, with other Clinicians and some Klinicans and was doing a good job with the horse. The story, as it turns out, is that after the Fort Worth Benefit for Tom Dorrance where she saw Buck ride, she made up her mind that his quality of horsemanship was exactly what she had been looking for, for years. This she pursued over the next several years, showing up for clinics across the country, and soaked up every morsel of knowledge and feel with the horse that she could, and still does to this day.

I have seen her in action in horsemanship and cow working clinics over the last few years, including last November, 2007 in Sonoita, Arizona. I have had a chance to get to know Kathleen and her true dedication to the horse: it is genuine, sincere and carries a lot of integrity and honesty. She has a lot to offer to any dedicated horseman or horsewoman at a level that is far greater than people assume. She has no time for people that are not serious about the horse or themselves! She can help dedicated Dressage Riders with knowledge they never imagined!

I have worked at and run many a ranch, feedlot and other types of cattle operations in the last 60 years. Pushing 6,000 head of yearlings 26 miles in one day and riding back is not unusual. Cow/calf pairs take even more talent. Doing Dressage Level work with many is not problem to Kathleen, when given the opportunity. Should tomorrow morning arrive and I needed somebody to go with me on a tough gather, branding or shipping or calving, I would be very proud if Kathleen joined me on such a circle or job. I would take her over dozens of “so-called cowboys” I have known! They couldn’t even hold a candle to her guts and try! "Try", in my world, is what it is really all about. Win, lose or draw, if you have try, you can’t possibly lose!

The last several months have tried my friend's inner soul to the core. In Georgia, she lost her beloved “Merlin” (see first photo). Troubles with misrepresented horse operations, huge travel problems, false intents of people she wanted to believe in, and more. She kept her courage and survived a winter and spring that would kill most people. For these reasons and her very real quality of horsemanship, I am proud to call her my friend, and a good one she is!

I can truly say that when I get a chance to ride with Kathleen Sullivan, I am going to have a great day or days, and I am going to learn a lot about horses and people and Quality Horsemanship from Kathleen, dedicated to the Inner Circle of The Trinity of Great Horsemen.

Horsewomen Deserve More Respect From All!

To get the title of a Horsewoman is even more difficult than it is for Horsemen. Now, realize that I have been working for 64 of 68 years just trying to become a Horseman, and don’t feel that I have earned that moniker yet! However, I do reserve the right to call a man a Horseman and I reserve the right to call a woman a Horsewoman! While I may not be a Horseman yet, I think I knows it when I sees it in other fine men and women and ...I just calls it …as I sees it!

Kathleen Sullivan could improve every horse program and many ranches with her dedication to the horse, and the horse is her life! People need to do something they seldom do…Think!

Kathleen Sullivan would be one hell of a great start!