About Us



The Natural Connection INC is owned and operated by Ms. Jean French. TNC (The Natural Connection INC), arrived to take over operations at the Marriott Ranch Trail Ride Barn in February of 2017 and is proud to be the first independent contractor to run trail rides for the Marriott Corporation.

A little history:

Ms. Jean started riding at age 4. Traveling overseas, this hobby kept her busy, learning to ride English, both dressage and jumping. Landing in the U.S. permanently, the opportunity arose to volunteer and then work for the Marriott Ranch as an employee of the Marriott Corporation. In the 90's, all through high school and college, she learned the in's and out's of working as a wrangler. Aside from saddling up 30 horses and riding with customers, she assisted in managing 55+ horses. After work, she spent hundreds of hours simply "being" with this huge herd of horses up in the mountains. A pencil with sketch book, a rock to sit on and countless hours learning to create bonds with horses were all Jean needed to be satisfied with her quiet evenings alone. Little did she know that this was "character building" and the language of the horse would become the premise for the "soon to be" program.

In 2001, Jean left the Marriott Ranch and pursued Team Roping in Aldie, VA. As a header, she found excitement and challenge in roping cattle on the VCA circuit. However, after a few years, she was feeling she was missing true connection from her horses.

In 2004, the concept of The Natural Connection became a twinkle in her eye but quickly moved to a reality. Horses were brought in for rehabilitation and prioritizing the horses well-being with holistic practices and natural hoof care became an interest. Reading a horse's "feelings" was imperative for knowing what to do, how to care for and eventually how to help heal horses in her care.

In 2005, the Natural Connection became active with customers on a part-time basis. Beginner riders had the option to learn recreational western riding and then move to english. From 2009 - 2016, the business went full-time. Horse communication was the key component as students learned about horse ownership, horse management and care, and horse training.

In 2017, Ms. Jean was presented with a unique opportunity to come back to the Marriott Ranch in a different capacity. From sole proprietorship to a Corporation, now Ms. Jean has the opportunity to share her knowledge and love of horses with riders from all over the world. The Natural Connection INC now has a large part-time employee base. And while Wranglers do ride horses all day long, they also must communicate with both horses and humans with kindness and clarity. Ms. Jean strives for excellence through continuing education for all involved with The Natural Connection INC.

(A professional that works specifically with horses...)

Wranglers that are selected to work for The Natural Connection INC not only have the best job, working with horses and customers on the beautiful trails of the Marriott Ranch, but also, the most challenging.

They are responsible for keeping the customers safe and happy, as well as keeping the horses safe and happy.

Wranglers in any capacity are required to participate in a minimum of 4 paid hours of Continuing Education training per year. This includes, but is not limited to learning more advanced riding skills, training green horses and problem horses, teaching riders, holistic horse care, western medicines, eastern medicines, horse management, horse nutrition, horse feeding, horse emergency care, and for human care, a CPR and First Aid certification is encouraged but not required.

The personality of a Professional Wrangler will exude honesty, equality, sincerity, humility, and integrity. The Natural Connection INC sets a standard of excellence at all times for our Wranglers. On the same note, this is a very tight nit group of individuals that understand that there is no "I" in the word "TEAM." Team players work well together in high stress environments and rely heavily on good communication with each other to ensure the safety and well-being of the horses and riders. Our current team of Wranglers is absolutely dynamic, the best in the business in Northern Virginia.

**REMEMBER, Ms. Jean may be the owner, but cannot possibly take out every single trail ride on her own. Each year, the trail barn see's between 1,500 to 3,000 people. Many of our customers will be riding with our extremely passionate and dedicated Wranglers of the program. Many will be able to ride with Ms. Jean. But either way, expect a great ride!**

If you are interested in learning about the Wrangler position, please go to the attached links for both the Application for Employment, and Job Description. 3 professional references will be required and applicants should expect an "in-office" interview, potentially followed up by a "working interview" out on the trail.

Click here for the job description.

Click here for the employment application.

Wrangler Biographies


KAI HOLLE is a lifetime horseman that has ridden and competed internationally. Kai rode at the highest level in jumping as a junior rider in Canada, prior to learning to play polo and eventually become a professional polo player. He has ridden multiple different disciplines throughout his life, and has had vast experience with training horses. Currently, he works with an outfit for taking riders out with mules and horses on rugged camping trips. He also assists The Natural Connection INC with both his farm management skills and his riding skills as a Wrangler.

KATARINA FRENCH has been riding since before she was born, as her mother rode up until she was 7 months pregnant. Kat learned to ride on her mom's roping horse, Barney, and then moved to English riding and jumping for a while. She currently trains her own horse, a BLM Mustang named Desperado. Although in college, Kat continues to support her mother's business and work with her team and horses when available.

KRISTEN ANDERSON has been riding since she was 9 years old. She rode and competed in multiple disciplines, including western & English pleasure, stock & hunt seat equitation, trail, and dressage. During college, she worked at barns doing odd jobs just to be around horses, and her first job after graduation was working as a horse carriage driver on the Seattle waterfront. She now owns three horses and some goats! She lives with her husband, who also enjoys riding the trails whenever he can. Kristen's goal with The Natural Connection INC. is to keep learning and advancing her horsemanship skills every day, and to continue her lifelong journey with horses as part of an amazing team of wranglers. She hopes to help our customers get the most out of their experience riding with us, because there's nothing better than taking in the spectacular countryside from the back of a horse!

LISA LAUNDREE rode from an early age and rode english all through college. She took a break to raise her family and later in life, found that she wanted to return to her passion of horseback riding. Through being hired at TNC, Lisa was happy to find a place where she could not only learn more about her connection to horses, but become the horsewoman she's always wanted to be. Learning to train horses has taken her horsemanship to a whole different level.

JULIA BAUER, once upon a time, not too long ago, found herself making a bucket list on a rainy afternoon. First item on the list was learning horseback riding. Google led this greenhorn to Ms. Jean's Natural Connection and she became inspired by her passion for horses. Under the tutelage of Ms. Jean, the past six years have been an amazing adventurous journey of self discovery for Julia. As a wrangler at the ranch, she has an exciting new goal this season to refine her skills with the Clinton Anderson method, by training a horse from the ground up.

NATASHA WALTERS took lessons, dressage and hunter/jumper, as a kid, however never really felt at home with the barn she was learning at. That changed after starting to work with Jean at the The Natural Connection INC. Her full time job is a veterinary technician which leads her to have a passion for animal husbandry and be an advocate for four-legged patients. The Natural Connection INC helps her to continue to be an advocate for horses and have fun while honing her own skills riding as well. Natasha's goal here is to continue to learn communication styles and train horses, help Ms. Jean to provide amazing care for the herd at the ranch, and help bring our customers into our circle (even if for a few hours!) to learn about horses and how they can enrich our lives.

MARK HENARD rode and owned horses throughout his life, but new something was missing. He decided to pursue a lifelong dream of attending a Cattle Drive, however, through a phone call, discovered in detail what it took to simply participate in a Cattle Drive. He started asking more questions and found out that TNC was hiring. After putting in his application for employment and passing the Working Interview process, he was hired on to become a Wrangler. Mark's journey towards becoming a better, more rounded horseman has begun.

MEREDITH GILMORE grew up on a farm outside of Front Royal, Virginia where she was introduced to horses at a very young age and immediately fell in love. She started basic riding lessons at age 6 and as she grew older, she and her father began to trail ride together throughout the Blue Ridge mountains as a way to experience the beauty of the natural world around us. For Meredith, horses and trail riding became a way to unplug and truly enjoy nature from a totally different perspective. She continue to trail ride but am also breaking outside of my comfort zone and exploring different training methods and riding disciplines (the Clinton Anderson horsemanship and dressage). In the world of horses, there are always new things to learn and Meredith looks forward to being a lifelong equestrian student.

ABIGAIL HOLLE, "Wrangler in Training." Although she is too young to be put on payroll, living here, she is exposed to horsey stuff everyday and someday aspires to become a Wrangler for The Natural Connection INC. She even started her riding career in a lead line class at the Upperville Horse Show!

To read more details about Ms. Jean's previous program and some of the horses that were rehabilitated, retrained and rehomed, please go to the blogspot's.

Natural Connection Lesson Program

Natural Connection Horses

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