I had the fantastic opportunity to ride at Parelli Super Camp at the beautiful Horseman's Word Ranch from August 12-16... 5 days full of learning. Let me share with you some of the highlights and learnings that I walked away with.
We had some really interesting discussion over the 5 days about natural horsemanship, progress, and the different savvys.
About Natural Horsemanship
- Natural horsemanship is about understanding the human and horse's nature, and not making it right or wrong.
- Problems are nothing but surprises you don't want
- Think: What's missing in the relationship if you can't do something?
- Trust is when you share mutual interests
- Respect is when somebody brings something new and unique to the relationship.
- When in Rome do as Romans do, when in horseville do as horses do.
- We don't hit each other in our society as humans, but horses do kick & bite each other so that means we might need to be firm with them too.
- Think about having an underlying focus for you ride/play session. For example will you be always rewarding exuberance, the correct bend, stopping with no reins, etc. This way you are more aware when your horse makes the change.
- Best way to learn something is to teach it.
- Be open minded to learn.
- What is the litter ingredient today that will set me up for tomorrow?
- Start with games that get your horse connected to you like 'stick to me'. Don't start with a lot of circles because that is sending your horse away from you.
- Try playing different games with your horse that you have practiced really well.
- If you aren't sure if your horse is ready for liberty, try playing the games with your rope in your belt... so you aren't using your rope but you have it ready if you need it.
We had some chances to play at liberty using the many round pens at the ranch. I tried Cupid & Kahleesi for the first time at liberty and it went really well. I learnt how to send horses in circles of opposite direction and how to get better with two horses at liberty.
Some fun exercises
- Dressage pattern to give ourselves a purpose and goal
- Driving our horses with 2 long lines to improve our communication from behind our horses
- Riding with a bucket on a line to help build our horse's confidence
- Riding over poles to practice counting our steps between them to see if we were keeping out same pace, and then to see if we can change our pace.
- Riding with our bodies and using the carrot sticks instead of reins to reinforce our aids
- Simulations (no horses) so that we can figure out our movements and positions without confusing our horse! Even better is that when you practice the exercises with people, they can speak English and tell you how they are feeling and what is confusing them.
I had a lot of fun, and a lot of amazing moments where things just seemed to click. One of the key things for me was reminding myself of my vision for the day so that I knew when I was making progress and when to reward my horse.
"In every moment make clarity of communication the top priority."
We did so much more than the things I have listed here, but this gives you a taste of the buckets full of learning we explored at Super Camp - what an amazing experience with so many masters of horsemanship in one place! I feel incredibly fortunate to have such an opportunity so close to home.
Thank you Don & Randee Halladay, Toddy & Maureen Owens, and John & Kathy Baar!
Looking forward to it again next year!