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Greenbank's Horse Whisperer

Kim Olmstead, at home in Greenbank, is surrounded by her horses. She has turned her passion into her job. - Michaela Marx Wheatley
Kim Olmstead, at home in Greenbank, is surrounded by her horses. She has turned her passion into her job.
— image credit: Michaela Marx Wheatley

Kim Olmstead has a gift for dealing with horses. It is a talent that has run in the family for generation.

“My father had a knack for working with difficult horses.

I learned from my dad. When I was 10 he would let me help,” she said.

Now, Olmstead has made it her business to share her gift with the people on Whidbey Island. Whidbey Equine Services offers education, training and information on many equine related issues.

There are over five generations of training and breeding experience in Olmstead’s family. Both her and her husband’s families have raised and worked with horses. The families have also been involved in rodeo sports and roping.

“Our parents raised and trained quarter horses, as did our grandparents and great-grandparents, going back generations,”

Olmstead said.

She has worked with horses for more than 37 years.

“Horses have never not been there,” she said.

Those years of experience and passed-on knowledge have equipped Olmstead to now help others.

New owners who need to learn how to care for their horse or those who plan for the arrival of a new foal are on target with Olmstead. She can help with birthing issues and make a stable baby-proof.

Olmstead teaches riding lessons to people with their own horses, and she consults people who are in the market for a horse or just want to change keep or training. She also offers horse-sitting for those who want a trustworthy expert to take care of their horse while they are on vacation.

However, helping horses with behavior issues is something near and dear to her heart.

“Horses are like people. They have all different personalities. They are smart and they have bad habits,” she said.

A favorite part of her work with horses is that she gets a chance to learn about “that little person that is inside the horse,” she said.

Olmstead is aware that she can’t solve everybody’s problems, but in most cases issues can be resolved with routine and discipline, she said.

Horses, like most herd animals, will test their boundaries. But they’ll learn and adjust their behavior if they are properly trained, she said.

However, some times there are horses that have had a bad experience and are traumatized. These cases are harder to deal with. But expertise, patience and lots of love can make a

difference.

Olmstead said when dealing with living creatures one can never be an all-knowing expert.

“I’m not exactly sure if anyone can be an expert horseman. When you work with animals and people, you are continually learning,” she said. “We’re not claiming to be vets or have legal experience either. Our objective is to inform and educate, others, to the best of our abilities, based on a lifetime of experiences and training.”

Olmstead also plans to have an apprentice program, where kids can accompany her and learn how to work around horses safely.

“My mother was a 4-H leader for over 30 years, and still volunteers her time when she can,” Olmstead said. She shares this dedication to the community and horses. Working with young people and teaching them about horses is a passion for her. Being around animals teaches kids important lessons.

Even though Olmstead always had horses, it was a hobby, not a job. She had a regular full-time job to pay the bills.

Finally, last November Olmstead was ready for a change.

“It took me a while to figure out that I wasn’t happy with my nine-to-five job. I missed working with the horses, and sharing my experience with others,” she said.

“We’ve always offered our time and experience to anyone that asked for the help. We were trying to do this while working full time,” Olmstead recalled.

“One day I asked myself: ‘What would I tell a friend if they asked me what they should do?’ And my answer was: ‘Do what makes you happy, and do what you know,’” she said.

Olmstead and her family live in Greenbank with four horses. The family has been on Whidbey Island for more than 20 years.

They breed and show Registered Foundation Quarter Horses on their 20-acre farm.

Olmstead is a member of the American Quarter Horse Professional Horsemen’s Association and the Washington State Professional Horsemen’s Association, as well as a member of the American Quarter Horse Association, and the Foundation Quarter Horse Registry.

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