Well, were we surprised to learn that 13 people signed up to spend the weekend (July 24 to 26) learning how to communicate with their horses. Typically, people come to clinics to learn how to handle or ride their horses better. This group wanted to learn how to improve their understanding of their horses and hence their relationships! How awesome!
So, on Friday night, we met all the horses and their people. They came into the big, beautiful arena they have up there in Dawson Creek one at a time to be at liberty with their horses. We tried to figure out what their personalities might be based on Dessa’s book, “Is Your Horse a Rock Star: Understanding Your Horse’s Personality”. A few of the people had attended the clinic in February and so were quite familiar with the personalities. Several were brand new to it.
We met Billy Joel, a 21 year-old Rock Star (DECF) with a new horse owner. He was so cute! We had a few objects laying around the arena. Dessa noticed that Billy was being quiet. She sensed he had a playful side and so she said to Jennifer (his person) to run across the tarp. Well, Billy gave a hop, arched his neck and followed her! The rest of the weekend, we saw an engaged, happy, playful, fun horse and Jennifer was over the moon when she saw his true personality.
We met Gal, the Prize Fighter (DLCA), who turned out to be so athletic and beautiful and playful. During free jumping on Sunday afternoon, she got pretty confident about coming out of the chute running right for her person (Judie) and doing these spinning stops on a dime. Wow!
The young horse Little Joe was exhausted by the end of it all. His person (Terri) spent quite a bit of time de-sensitizing him and getting him used to having her stand by his bum. He got so he could be “in the Shed”, one of the ground tools we taught. The Shed is the place in the arena where you take your horse to just stand with your energy down – no pressure. Horses learn to understand this and so they relax right into it. Jewels was a really good girl. Her person, Katelyn, was able to ride her without any trouble. Jewels showed us she was nicely trained, patient and athletic.
Kathy brought one of her beautiful young horses named Baja. Kathy is clearly passionate about horses. In her spare time from a demanding job, Kathy breeds some wonderful horses and her handling of them as youngsters is wonderful! Rose brought Drake, a beautiful big boy, a soft People Pleaser (SEAF) who is taking Rose on a wonderful journey. Drake is good friends with Bart, the Skeptic (DLAA), owned and ridden by Valerie. They have a fabulous friendship. Skeptics are not without their challenges. Trust is of the utmost importance and we saw Valerie’s awareness develop nicely over the weekend. And she got the feel and connection between the front leg and the lift of the rein which could be helpful in dressage, Valerie and Bart’s chosen activity.
Caylie, our youngest participant introduced us to Snort. Snort now has a different name because it became evident that her name did not suit her, a soft, sensitive, beautiful Goddess (SECF). Caylie’s homework was to find a new name for Snort which she did. She is now called Keira. We discovered that Keira had some physical issues to work on with Caylie’s help.
Giselle and Chance were two of our youngest horses besides Baja. Giselle’s person, Anne, has her hands full. Giselle is big, beautiful and really wants to be in Anne’s life. Chance had an interesting story. She was born a hermaphrodite (both sets of sex organs). Lori, Chance’s person, told us Chance had to be gelded. She is an energetic, curious, confident mare – a Macho Man we thought (DECA). Roxie, a 4 year-old nicely started quarter horse mare came with Buddy and ended up with Cindy. Long story. Turns out Cindy and Roxie are going to help each other get over Cindy’s fear.
Jennifer introduced us to Sierra and then to Mr. T. Picture a cute Wall Flower (SLAF) named Mr. T! Jennifer enjoyed learning how to move Mr. T around riding bareback. She got so she could move his shoulder, hind end and back him with the lightest of feel. Bailey and his person Melanie got introduced to the barrels which turned out to be a neat activity since we think Bailey was Aloof and Aloof horses like to have a job.
Dessa and I enjoyed exploring the 4 P’s with everyone: Personality, Pendulum, Play and Progression. You can’t go wrong with these tools in your tool box! Dessa introduced the concepts of Inner and Outer Purpose showing us that being in the moment, being less goal-driven, is not only fun but effective in teaching ourselves and our horses. We taught some of the folks how to listen to their horses using the Pendulum. As for riding, Dessa taught us about bringing together Energy, Balance and Relaxation, a concept she learned from Karen Rohlf (Dressage Naturally). The moment in a maneuver when all of these are present is called the Sweet Spot: everything is in complete balance between horse and rider.
And we tackled in a discussion what we can do about the fear that edges into our relationships with our horses.
All in all, it was a most amazing weekend. Thanks to Rose and her people, including Judie, our “chauffeur”, for putting it all together and for making our experience fun and easy.