What an amazing year for the Natural Horsemanship Associations first visit to the Royal Winter Fair. There were many exciting events and vendors to visit, as well as lots to learn, see and do.
Every year the Royal Winter Fair seems to grow more and more towards Natural Horsemanship. This year the Fair set up the Animal Theatre where visitors could witness the amazing talents of the Super Dogs or learn from Victoria Stilwell about training dogs by understanding their behaviors. The Spirit of the Horse also made its appearance in the Animal Theater this year so that visitors could learn about different horse breeds, witness live riding demonstrations and learn about horse health and upkeep.
This year the major highlights that the Natural horsemanship Association was excited for were the demonstrations by Guy McLean and Sylvia Zerbini. The performance by Guy McLean and his four horses was exhilarating. Through his easy going humor and amazing liberty demonstration, during which he was also riding one of his horses, Guy showed just how much you can accomplish when you develop a trusting relationship with your horse(s). Of course anyone who has ever played with a horse a liberty using Natural Horsemanship knows that it takes hours of training and dedication to build that relationship with your horse. As he sat on his horse which stood next to two others who were all standing over another that was lying on the ground, Guy told his audience that “you need your horse to be physically, emotionally and mentally connected to you.” Hearing Guy, who travelled to Toronto all the way from Australia reiterate the words of Pat Parelli, demonstrates what a large following Natural Horsemanship has and that several natural horsemen are saying the same thing all around the world. Through these amazing and awe inspiring demonstrations, like the one Guy McLean put on at this year’s Royal Winter fair, more and more riders are beginning to build trusting and meaningful relationships with their horses.
After watching Guy McLean opening weekend, it was easier to understand just how much training and dedication Sylvia Zerbini has put into her work with horses. Sylvia’s production of ‘Liberte’ was mesmerizing as she danced with about ten white Andalusian and Arabian geldings and stallions. Using only her body movements to interact with the horses she guided them gracefully across the arena at the walk, trot and canter. Her performance was just another amazing demonstration of how building those physical, emotional and metal connections with your horse can allow you to accomplish feats you never though were possible.
Following these two amazing performances, and adding to the Royals lineup of Natural Horsemanship events, was the performance of Connor Swail during the International Power and Speed Show Jumping Competition on November 6th. Connor placed 3rd in this competition with a time of 32.57 after a stunning performance in which he road with a bitless bridle! It was very refreshing to see a rider of this level breaking from tradition and recognizing that his horse may be better off without a bit. Riding bitless demonstrated that Connor took the time to try and understand his horse’s needs and look into what was best for his horse, instead of just conforming to what is normal. As an association we are hopeful that we will see more demonstrations like this from riders of this level in the future.
Every year the Royal Winter Fair brings a little bit of country into the city and allows the men and women who work with the animals, the agriculture and the technology behind it all to share their knowledge and skills with each other and their audiences. It is always a pleasure to be able to visit the fair and see all that it has to offer.
By Marcie Isherwood on behalf of the Natural Horsemanship Association