La Porte Property goes to a Natural Horsemanship Clinic
It is time for the baby of the family to go out and experience something different - Ras La Lizonne is a 3 year old pure bred Arab and as yet, unbroken.
Not far from Monpazier - at a yard near to Monflanquin, there is a natural horsemanship 3 day clinic run by an extremely talented horsewoman, "Helen", who I’ve known for many years.
I was really looking forward to introducing Ras to other horses and having some "special" time just with him. On arrival Helen showed me to Ras's day field for the 3 days - somewhere for him to come back to inbetween sessions, relax and mull over what he had learnt. The atmosphere is calm and relaxed, the horses all get a vibe from Helen as she passes by, she is really a horse in clothing – I’m sure !
After a brief chat about each person and their horse and what we would like to achieve, we take it in turns to work our horses. First we let the horses loose to explore the arena. Ras sniffs around a little, but mainly keeps an eye on the "humans" - I like to think he was looking out for me. Under Helen’s watchful eye I work Ras around the arena, but feel slightly frustrated that I am not giving him the right signals. Helen is quick to reassure me that all is fine and I need to pretend the mistakes I make are intentional. I want him to go right and he goes left but that’s OK, keep going. I was really pleased and we finished on a good note with me asking for right and Ras turning…..right. Great. Stop now.
While Ras rested in his field, we watched the other horses working, all the while Helen pointing out little movements and gestures the horses are making and suddenly there is so much to see.
The next day Ras runs into the trailer, keen and excited. We work in the round pen - again loose work - and finish with "reach out" where Ras comes to me and then follows me round the pen. How special I feel, my horse really wants to be with me. The afternoon involves an obstacle course, where Ras has gains confidence and works brilliantly with the other horses.
The final day and Ras loads easily. He is extremely happy to go into "his" field and wait his turn to work. A morning of further desensitizing and a fantastic lady - "Joan" - who’s a friend and neighbour, works with me and Ras. Joan makes a lot of noise, starting off very gently with balloons, then plastic bags, bells and rattles. Ras is unworried and we are very careful to reward him continuously and to give him time off without the noise. Eventually Ras looks at her in a slightly amazed way – I’m sure thinking "she’s nuts"! The final thing was wrapping Ras in a parachute - Joan took her time and we had the parachute all over him. And he didn’t budge an inch – good boy.
The 3 day clinic was great and Ras and I learnt a lot about each other. He’s gained huge confidence - and when leading him from Sunny the other day, some black plastic bale wrapping suddenly flapped in the wind and Ras barely glanced at it, thinking "oh it’s only Joan - keep calm and carry on".