Lots of miles and nearly as many horses under his tutorship since Spud grew up north of Manhattan.
While horses may have been his favorite, every critter on the family farm caught his attention.
Harry Whitney III, obviously the third one with such moniker, locally and around Kansas known as Spud.
His dad’s Harry at Gumbo Hill the home place somewhat area-famous for mother-in-law’s longtime newspaper writings.
So “The III,” another “tater” got his nickname. “Most people know me as Harry nowadays, but some around home call me Spud,” Whitney admitted.
It was the dog, the cat, the rooster, the goat, yes family horses, likely other animals who got Spud’s attentiveness.
He was always teaching them tricks or practicing one his own fancy roping maneuvers on the creatures.
Certainly, Harry Whitney III is well known; worldwide actually. Just say his name and eyes of those owning horses generally light up with familiarity.
He’s traveled 50 states conducting Harry Whitney Horsemanship Clinics. Plus, horse knowledge seekers nationwide and around the world come for Harry’s gracious perspectives at his ranch near Salome, Arizona.
Publications feature Harry Whitney’s insightful techniques with horses and those who own them to increase understanding.
Formulating his own education, Whitney did rope tricks; then would have a farm animal perform on command.
His apparent rapport with horses was an uncommon perception not familiar with cowboys, rodeo friends, acquaintances.
Future brightened with opportunity for yearly contracts traveling as entertainer for Jacobsen Rodeo Company.
“I must have been 20-years-old by then. I really learned a lot, had a great time working Jake’s rodeos four years,” Whitney appreciated. In the meantime, Spud graduated with an animal science degree from Kansas State University.
With more than 50 performances at a dozen-and-a-half rodeos annually in five states, Whitney started with his rope tricks. “Then I got a pair of palominos, did roman riding, tricks with the horses, and other acts,” he said.
Additional contractors soon sought his entertainment skills. “I worked for a dozen rodeo companies across the country,” Whitney tallied.
That was trick roping, roman riding, horse programs, comedy acts, then as a rodeo clown, even pickup man, and announcer.
“I really liked and wanted to do everything with rodeo, livestock, horses, cowboys and cowgirls,” Spud professed.
Outside the arena, schools started seeking Whitney for lyceum-type rodeo programs.
“Those shows featured information about the Western lifestyle, rodeos, trick roping, sometimes in clown outfit-greasepaint, comedy,” he said. “I entertained at schools just about everywhere for three years.”
All the while, Whitney had customer horses in training; a long waiting list.
“I didn’t take a whole barn full like the bigtime trainers,” he said “I’ve always been conscientious to make every horse the best it can be. I want the owners to better understand their horses to get the most out of them.”
Soon, horse owners everywhere were seeking Whitney’s incalculable horse knowledge. They contracted him for horsemanship clinics, training horses, most importantly improving their own horse handling skills. Clinic sidelines were also soon packed with what Whitney calls “auditors.”
Harry Whitney Horsemanship Clinics became his fulltime profession headquartered out of the Arizona ranch.
Harry Spud Whitney travels through Kansas occasionally, even gets home sometimes.
He was back last month when his mentor-friend Jake Jacobsen passed away. Jake’s family asked Whitney to give the memorial service at the Holton sale barn.
Christmas was at the Manhattan homestead helping do chores. Then back on the road, with horsemanship clinics at Baldwin City, the first two weeks of January.
Ask Whitney how he’s doing, one will probably get a “…tired and grumpy…” response, with a twinkle in his eye.
A self-professed opinionated and narrow-minded horsemanship clinician, Whitney’s belief is solidly rooted in the foundational principles of horsemanship. It’s “from the horse’s point of view.”
Spud’s narrow mindedness is due to the fact that he’s committed to what works for the horse.
Folks find Whitney friendly, knowledgeable and approachable. “I welcome discussion and questions of riders and auditors as they discover that my principles do work,” he said.
“We should give attention to the horse, where his thought is,” Whitney critiqued. “Then offer the horse the help he’s looking for. Many of the things we thought were problems will be cleared up.”
Ty Haas, who hosted the Baldwin City clinics at his Midnight Farm, said, “Since 1999, when I first met Harry, I have witnessed many people’s introduction to his perspective of horses.
“His clinics create a whole new level for both horse and rider bringing about an essential peacefulness.”
Ross Jacobs of Australia said, “Harry’s keen eye, sense of what most suits a horse’s needs always impresses me. Harry has a knack for helping ordinary horse owners find those skills within themselves.”
Anna Bonnage of England said, “I have traveled several times from my home in England to ride at Harry’s clinics in Arizona. The learning truly never ends. Harry’s patience, awareness and laughter create an ideal learning environment.”
All breeds of horses, riding styles and abilities are at Whitney clinics with about 35 scheduled annually around the country.
Hosted clinics are limited to five riders so Whitney can work one on one to develop better horse relationships.
The 2019 Harry Whitney Horsemanship Clinic schedule and other information can be found at www.harrywhitney.com.
“Hope to see you down the trail,” Whitney welcomed.