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Jackson Hole Valley in Wyoming is full of ranches. But not all ranches bring in Fortune 500 companies who pay upwards of $10,000 to watch a cowboy tame a wild horse.

For more than 20 years, Jane and Grant Golliher of Diamond Cross Ranch in Moran, Wyoming, have been working with Fortune 500 companies like Google, Disney, and Toyota for corporate events that include evenings of ranch hospitality, dining — and horse whispering. These events, some of which take place at Diamond Cross Ranch and some elsewhere, start at $10,000 and are tailored for each group based on priorities, objectives, size, time, and other factors, the Gollihers told me.

Just last year, they threw an album listening party for Kanye West and hosted Alibaba cofounder Jack Ma and his family. At first, the horse whispering demonstrations were purely for entertainment. But to the Gollihers' surprise, attendees seemed to get much more out of the demonstrations than expected.

The clients started "telling us the message that they got," Jane told Business Insider. "Grant would do the demonstrations and often people would begin crying ..."

People started telling the Gollihers that lessons they'd learned from horse whispering are lessons that apply to business, leadership, and teamwork.

"I always said, it fits life. It's not just about training a horse," said Grant, who has been training horses professionally for 40 years.

On a recent trip to Jackson Hole, I visited Diamond Cross Ranch and got a private horse whispering demonstration from Grant. Here's what it was like.

- Erika Coggin

Erika Coggin, Erika Coggin Wyoming, Erika Coggin Property, Erika Coggin House, Erika Coggin Horse

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The term “cowgirls” has special meaning in Laramie, where it refers to the UW women’s athletic teams. Appropriately enough, the earliest cowgirls of renown were female athletes too, the trick riders and shooters of the Wild West shows.

The first use of the word “cowgirl,” however, referred to girls who did what was considered to be men’s work on western ranches. In 1885, the Cheyenne Democratic Leader newspaper referred to a “beautiful cowgirl” from Nebraska who was a wonder to behold doing work on the range. Of course she was beautiful, that was part of the myth.

That was the first reference I found for use of the word in a Wyoming newspaper. But the next year the Lusk Herald remarked about a certain Montana girl who actually sat “hair-pin fashion” on a cow pony to cut out cattle. Evidently it wouldn’t do to say she sat astride the horse like a man.

These girls could have been labeled as “tomboys.” However, Elizabeth King, writing in The Atlantic magazine in 2017, points out that today “tomboy” can be a sexist, racist and gender-bending term and it is “fair to wonder whether adults should refer to nontraditional girls as ‘tomboys’.” There is no such confusion with the word cowgirls. They are girls.

A problem: skirts

According to Wyoming writer Teresa Jordan, in her 1962 book “Cowgirls, Women of the West,” the first western women were portrayed as a “prairie Madonna, with long calico skirts and a babe in each arm.” This mythical ranch woman might have tended a garden along with all the household and child-rearing chores, but the men did the real ranch work. Zane Gray and other writers of western fiction sometimes perpetuated this myth, as did myriads of western movies. Frontier women could be schoolteachers or ranch wives, but cowgirls were a highly unusual plot twist.

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Grant Golliher has been a horse trainer most of his life. What the Colorado native didn’t expect was the training horses dish out in return. Lessons on how to get along, earn respect, win trust and be a friend are pieces of wisdom that he now passes along to groups visiting Diamond Cross Ranch near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Raised in Palisade, Golliher’s dad raised mules. Instead of using force, fear, intimidation and restraint to help break the mules, the young Golliher began developing his own approach that later lined up with philosophies developed by respected horse trainers Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance. He gave up a college wrestling scholarship and spent a year working for the railroad before heading to Wyoming. After being employed as a packer and hunting guide at various ranches, Golliher entered the horse business and was a professional polo player for 15 years. Yearning for the mountains and the cowboy lifestyle, he returned to Wyoming and met Jane Golliher, who was raised on Diamond Cross Ranch. They married and unexpectedly got into the business of serving corporate groups when Microsoft asked the ranch to provide a rodeo and cookout for 300 top executives. Lodging properties began sending corporate groups for an evening that now typically includes a one-hour horse whispering demonstration, cocktails, dinner, music, cowboy poetry and roasting s’mores by a campfire. The couple built a 14,000-square-foot barn/event center 10 years ago and now host 30 to 50 corporate groups and weddings annually. During demonstrations, Grant quickly develops a relationship with an unbroken horse and typically is able to ride the horse within the hour, illustrating that healthy relationships at work and home are built on trust, not fear. In the winter, he brings his saddle and message on the road. The Gollihers recently published a coffee table book, Seasons on the Ranch, and have a second book in the works about Grant’s life and what he has learned from training horses. “People can understand the relationship between a horse and a person,” he says, “and then think of how it applies to their kids and employees.” Credit:

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