I was introduced to horses at 12 years old and have never looked back! I grew up riding the back country and was starting my own and other people's horses under saddle by 15 years old. There wasn't a horse I couldn't ride back then.
Thankfully early on in my life I learnt about horsemanship and a better way of being with horses, and that there was much more to it than simply sitting on a horse's back! This led me to study every book, DVD and any other material I could find on both Clinton Anderson and the Parellis. This study gave me a really solid base from which I have continued to grow and discover other trainers. Mark Rashid and Buck Brannaman are legends in their own right and I have also studied any and all material they have produced and have had pleasing results with the horses I have worked with.
Right now I am embarking on Marijke De Jong's Straightness Training journey and look forward to having more time to immerse myself in this.
Personal experiences which have shaped what I do and believe to this day also include working at a horse trekking establishment as a guide, working on an Australian Stock Horse farm in Oz riding/training polo and poloX ponies, running my own adults and children's clinics, giving lessons, training and selling horses and clinics etc I have attended.
From all of my study and experiences, I have an emerging philosophy, which is continually changing and hard to put into words. The 'Horsemanship Journey' as I like to think of it is life-long and not designed to be mastered, I believe that if I know it all, I may as well be dead!
Below are some of my philosophy thoughts condensed and are certainly not exhaustive.
I believe that understanding the way horses and humans think is paramount. Humans have baggage and egos, neither of which horses are particularly drawn to. The more emotionally in balance we are, the more horses are drawn to us. Part of this self awareness includes mastering active, neutral and passive body language, managing emotions without repression or denial, being reflective, taking ownership and having a healthy leadership style. We also need to be aware of what is important to horses (play, food, safety etc), be aware of different horse personalities and know how to be with each one (I like the Parelli Horsenalities), know them in their natural environment and know about the predator/prey relationship to name a few things!
Horsemanship in my eyes is holistic. What I mean by this is that there is more to horses than just riding their physical body, everything to do with horses also has elements of mental, emotional and spiritual connection. To be truly good with horses and interact with them in a way where the horse's best interests are catered for, us humans need to be aware of these different dimensions and be comfortable within them all.
It all starts on the ground, the moment you think of catching your horse. Being with my horse I incorporate ground work, ridden work and hang out time. Our horses have a big job carting us around and we need to develop their bodies so they are strong enough to do so, we also have a responsibility to maintain some athleticism ourselves. To do this we need to support our horses on the ground to build up the muscles they need, as often it is hard for them to do this with a rider aboard. Not only do we need to exercise their bodies, we need to exercise their mind too. We need to provide secure and stimulating learning opportunities for our horses, with a mix of both desensitising and sensitising exercises.
When teaching people, I try to impart as much of my learning as I can to help them on their own personal horsemanship journey. If you are interested in lessons or clinics, please see the what we offer tab above.