CFN – This Column of “Spirits in Unity” is being published by CFN for the community of Stormont Dundas & Glengarry. It is an honour to have you as a reader. I welcome any comments, questions or topics you would like me to discuss. I hope you enjoy reading about the wonderful world of horses and the impact that natural horsemanship can have in making it a better world for both horses and humans.
Spirits in Unity Tour 2012
The first of this year‘s “Spirits in Unity” tour stops was held at Avomore Fair, July 21, 22. This year’s event was the most successful yet. On Saturday, local horsemen, Ron Barker and Garry Meek demonstrated techniques for restarting older horses in the round pen without resorting to fear, intimidation and punishment.
The two horses selected by Ron and Garry were Dakota, an 11 year old paint quarter horse mare and an 11 year old appendix quarter horse gelding named Ace. Both horses were originally PMU foals and were rescued from the slaughter house by their owner Carol Fiddler.
The goal is to complete their retraining and ride them for the first time through an obstacle course at Horse Lovers Weekend in the Horsemanship Challenge.
PMU is short for Pregnant Mare Urine. In the PMU program urine is collected from pregnant mares for the pharmaceutical industry. Of course the by products of this industry are the many foals which then need homes. In north America today there is estimated to be over 200,000 unwanted horses from many sources. Finding good homes for them is a huge problem. Many are left to languish in fields without proper care often to die of starvation. Many end up in slaughter houses.
Some of the horses participating in the “Spirits in Unity” Tour have been either rescued from the slaughter house or from severe abuse. And some have had wonderful treatment from birth. We will bet that you can’t tell the difference when you see them in action with their new human partners.
For those who are compassionate and try to rescue unwanted horses, many of whom have experienced various forms of neglect and abuse, the rescue is only the first part of the problem, since many rescuers do not have the skill to train these animals properly.
“Spirits in Unity” was developed to try to help make a better world for horses, one human at a time. We try to help horses with human problems. To do this, it takes ‘natural know how’. It takes horsemanship skills. This means it is necessary to learn about the true nature of the horse and how to handle him with dignity and respect and yet help him to develop into a willing partner.
Ron and Garry use a 12 session program designed to start horses in a way that preserves the dignity of the animal and produces a safe and reliable partner in the end. This is quite different from what most people know of as ‘breaking horses’
The twelve sessions can take up to 100 hours of training. Some horses develop faster than others. Both Ron and Garry believe that if you take the time it takes to do it right, it will take less time in the end. They believe that it is important to develop a trust-bond relationship with the horse first, and then work to establish a partnership with the horse. Fear, intimidation and punishment have no place in their method.
The restart program has four stages: Accept the Human, Accept the Saddle, Accept the Rider and Accept the bit. Each stage has multiple training sessions and techniques.
On Sunday, July 22 at Avonmore Fair a remarkable group of Young Horse Whisperers from Drogheda Manor Horsemanship demonstrated their horsemanship skills in on-line, liberty and riding demonstrations with a variety of breeds of various backgrounds and temperaments including horses that had been severally abused, or suffered through the horse breaking process. Spectators learned some of the fascinating things about horses of which most people are not aware. The audience cheered and laughed at the sight of humans and horses playing in harmony with each other.
At one point in the liberty session, 10 horses and their handlers worked at liberty with their horses, all without any lines attached to the horse. Suddenly several horses bolted from their handlers. The audience was delighted with the antics of the, now free, horses as they teased their handlers and ran helter skelter around the arena obstacles. Without panic or outside assistance all of the young horsemen retrieved their horses without incident and went on with their horse play.
The next tour stop for “Spirits in Unity” takes place at Upper Canada Village’s Horse Lovers Weekend event, August 24, 25, 26. Visitors will be treated to some amazing horse-human partnerships. We hope to see you there.
If you are interested in learning about our Spirits in Unity Tour for 2012 or what other people interested in horse welfare are doing with natural horsemanship in our area you can become a member of The Eastern Ontario Natural Horsemanship Club at www.meetup.com . There is no charge to join.
Whether you are just a horse lover, have dreams of owning a horse someday, or already have one, I hope these columns will give you some insight into the true nature of these magnificent creatures. I hope you will find them both informative and inspirational.
May all your dreams come true,
Garry “Horsetalker” Meek