Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Natural Horsemanship Trade Show

The Natural Horsemanship Trade Show was a fun success!

Thank you for everyone who came out to make the day a fun learning experience. There are now pictures posted at:

The forecast was 50% thundershowers and rain all day – so I was delighted to wake up to no rain and not one storm cloud in sight. The trade show got under way with delicious food and baked goods for sale, and several vendors set up with excellent displays including Kim Lowes Photography with amazing prints of horses and beautiful unique wood frames; Equine Original Art by Laura Boyle who was hand carving wooden horse art; Pegasus with a large booth of unique horse products for sale, Horses Help Canada with their information, and many more.
The demonstrations got under way with Nancy McHardy in the round pen using Chris Irwin methods. She focused her demonstration on getting a horse to soften and listen while at liberty. Then Cathy Foyston from Equine Assisted Learning gave a very interesting presentation using volunteers from the crowd to participate in learning games with a horse – it was really a fascinating approach to discovering how you think, feel, and act.

Next was Tom Shields, a Chris Irwin specialist, who worked with a rescue horse named Laramie. He showed us how to shape the horse’s body and practice bend so that Laramie could relax and after only a few minutes of working with him, Laramie lowered his head and started to relax. 

I then did a demonstration with my horse Thetis about ground games – what they are, some ideas of things to do, and some fun tricks. It was a chance to see many ways to test your communication and partnership.
DJ Murtagh did a fantastic demonstration with his Clyde X performing various movements, riding the teeter tauter and table that his horse had never seen before. Then he used his horse in the round pen to work a young horse which was really interesting to see how he moved the horse around. 

Over lunch there were wellness presentations including Shelley from Contented Equine who showed people how to take a horse’s vital signs, listen to a heartbeat, and look at body scoring a horse. Dr. Elana Silverman did some equine chiropractor and massage demonstrations, while Anne Riddell talked about natural barefoot trims and trimmed a few horses. Jim Ward gave us a detailed looked at saddle fitting and went through 12 different saddles on a horse to show us why or why not they fit.

The rest of the day held some more demonstrations including getting a previously wild mustang to stand for a hoof trim – and all 4 hooves were trimmed calmly! We enjoyed the day and it didn’t start to rain until after 4pm!
What was interesting for me was to see the similarities and differences between the different natural horsemen and women at the show. From the glimpse that I got to see, Chris Irwin specialists are very focused on the horse’s body language and shaping the horse rather than teaching specific cues.  DJ Murtagh encouraged calm leadership and having good control and communication to move the horse and gain leadership. Myself with a large Parelli background focused on moving through patterns and obstacles with my horse to gain trust and confidence through positive experiences and understanding a common language.

We were all different, and yet the same – everything we do is to benefit the horse – to help the horse feel calm, trusting, and understand us so we can work in harmony. It was fascinating to see the different ways you can do this.  

The next steps for the Natural Horsemanship Association will be to set up some workshops for the rest of the year, so stay tuned for future dates and get your membership if you haven’t already!

Learn more about the Natural Horsemanship Association at

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