Gene and Kinna Öhman-Leone have been avid animal lovers and outdoor adventurers since they were youngsters. In 2013, they created Mountain Hooves & Paws (formerly Wild Apple School) to offer general positive reinforcement clicker training for all animals.
The youngster Gene grew up climbing trees. He loved exploring the high branches in order to get closer to the birds. He and his sister took responsibility for a domestic flock of mallard ducks when he reached high school age. They helped the mallards trust humans again and even taught some of them tricks and games.
Gene’s love of animals continued as he ventured out on his own. He raised and trained his first horse Spirit from a foal. Gene encountered many challenges with Spirit. Spirit’s mother was blind and not able to provide the important early mare/foal interactions and equine socialization Spirit needed. Gene tried many methods to help Spirit understand the world, but found (and still finds) positive reinforcement clicker training as the most effective approach.
Gene brings other talents (besides training) to Mountain Hooves & Paws. He’s a professional hoof trimmer – always learning more from the work and philosophies of Pete Ramey. In 2015, he and Kinna were honored to host Pete Ramey for an intense day of hoof education at their farm in Vermont.
Gene has studied natural horse nutrition with veterinarian Eleanor Kellon. He’s also focused on equine bodywork to help horses release tension. He’s especially interested in using his skills to help rescue horses release tension from their previous lives. Gene completed the equine bodywork Masterson Method Weekend Seminar with instructor Lorre Mueller in June 2015. Gene graduated from Youngstown State University in Ohio with a BA in combined sciences.
Kinna’s passion for animals pretty much began at birth. Kinna’s first spoken word was “dog.” By the time she was six years old, Kinna’s parents had taken on a family dog and allowed her to start horseback riding lessons. Her passions for animals continued through childhood, and included time with hamsters, goldfish, two ducks, as well as daily time in the local forests observing wild animals. Kinna’s parents gave her the full responsibility of caring for her own horse when she was twelve. These early, personal experiences with animals and animal care led Kinna to cultivate a deep understanding and awe of her animal friends.
Kinna continued her search for ways to understand and work with animals as an adult. Kinna helped rehabilitate “end of the line” dogs at a kill shelter and worked to find homes for them. She spent five years learning about border collies and their passion for sheep. Kinna trained one of her own dogs for wilderness search and rescue, as well as for avalanche work. Her dogs have always been equal family members—taking raft trips in the Rocky Mountains, spending summers camping and hiking in the mountains, and learning that travelling is so much fun!
Kinna has studied horse natural nutrition with veterinarian Eleanor Kellon. She’s also taken Dr. Kellon’s natural nutrition course for dogs & cats. Kinna completed her Masterson Method Weekend Seminar Workshop (equine bodywork) in August 2014.
Teaching & Communicating:
Kinna has a strong passion for teaching and sharing information with others. Like Gene, she absolutely loves teaching animals and people. She’s always striving to find new ways to make ideas accessible and fun to learn!
Kinna started teaching early – as a 16 year old. She taught alpine skiing to adults and older children at a local ski hill, continuing for multiple seasons throughout her 20s and 30s in the Northeast and Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Montana.
In her early 30s, Kinna filled in as an adjust professor for two years at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado – she designed two classes and especially loved teaching a field class about water issues in the west. She moved back to the northeastern US in 2004. She then taught adult education classes at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury, Vermont. She explored other avenues for sharing information as both a magazine writer for regional publications and a public radio producer for the Environment Report as well as NPR.
Kinna graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont with a BA in Economics, and received her master’s degree in Environmental Policy from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
MOUNTAIN HOOVES & PAWS
Both Kinna and Gene began an in-depth study of the philosophies and science of clicker training in late 2012. Their dogs and horses responded to the positive, force-free methods and principles with true enthusiasm. Gene and Kinna were convinced! They decided that Kinna should be the first to continue on with the training. In July 2015, Kinna became a Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Certified Training Partner (CTP) under the guidance of faculty member Emma Parsons. Gene soon followed with his own certification as a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner in May 2016.
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