My aim is to provide a website that will help and inspire horse owners to take a more natural approach to all aspects of horse ownership by developing a better understanding of the horse’s natural needs.
This has come from my studies of horse psychology, equine ethology, natural horsemanship, and positive-based training methods for keeping, feeding, treating, and hoof trimming my own horses, naturally.
I would love to see all horse owners become more interested and capable in more aspects of the care and education of their horses, for the benefit of this beautiful animal who is here to teach us so much.
My Path to Instructor
From the age of 6 when I started riding school, I wished for a pony, finally getting one when I turned 8 and proved it wasn’t a passing whim!
Mum loved horses and as well as supporting my love for them, and started my interest in breeding. She had an Arabian stallion who was bred to various mares producing some nice riding horses which went on to provide me with pony club and show mounts.
Owning a property in the tourist and holiday area of the Tasman Penisula, inspired our family to put all the horses to work by offering escorted trail rides which naturally led me to instruct people in the basics of horse riding.
Then local kids sought me out to help them and before too long, I’d formed a riding club which is still going strong 20 years later.
Having bred our own young horses and handled them from birth, it was also natural that I’d start them under saddle with guidance from ‘Tom Roberts’ books and ‘The Jeffrey Method’, both known for their horsemanship skills in Australia. Once word got out that I could do this, people were soon asking me to start their horses too.
I’d always admired Arabians so while working for a stud in Queensland, I took the opportunity to get my first purebred – a colt called Mandala Royale, who I educated and competed with to become the top performed Arabian stallion in Tasmania. There wasn’t much we hadn’t tried and been successful in – led and ridden shows, endurance rides, dressage, picnic racing, jumping, and western events.
As I gathered a small group of mares to breed with him, I also played polocrosse and then started campaigning his progeny in the show ring and at endurance rides.
After such a varied equestrian career, I became very disillusioned with the methods people were resorting to for success, and with no desire to compete and mix with them, I lost my enthusiasm for riding.
That was until I saw Pat Parelli in 1992 at his first clinic in Tasmania. I knew I’d found a way that inspired me to work with my horses again so I jumped right in, buying all the equipment, and videos and registering as a student.
With enthusiasm coming in waves (mostly inspired by Linda Parelli’s newsletters and Philip Nye’s achievements and encouragement), it took me two years to have Level 1 assessed, then I got serious about my horsemanship and aims of being an instructor.
This led to organizing many clinics in Tasmania and taking on the role of Area Coordinator for the State. After reaching level 2 thanks to mentoring with Ken Faulkner, I started my annual pilgrimage to Braidwood in NSW to learn more from Pat. I then studied at his International Study Centre for 6 weeks in 1996, the first year of ISC courses.
The following year, qualified as an instructor, my career was now with horses, something I’d always dreamed of. But then a back injury forced me to stop riding for almost a year so reaching Level 3 seemed to take forever and was finally achieved in mid-1999.
After teaching the Parelli system for 4 years, I had the opportunity to teach in South Africa, but the now corporate-run Parelli program had been revised and the goalposts moved. My instructor status was dropped back a level, and in order to teach internationally, I was required to redo a lot of the courses I’d already completed costing thousands of dollars.
It was then I made the decision to leave the Parelli organization and focus on teaching people a wider variety of methods, including clicker training (+R) also known as positive reinforcement training. I now base all of my interactions with horses on positive ways and at liberty as much as possible.
Now after many courses, a lot of research, and many years of experience, I have the knowledge that I’ve always wanted to be able to offer my horses. However, there is always more to learn and I’ll always be a student of the horse.
I believe experience is the greatest teacher of all, and one of my best teachers was Royale Candyman (known as Manny) who was with me throughout my journey to becoming an instructor.
Manny and I were regular performers in the Agfest central arena from 1996 to 2005, inspiring many and showing what can be done with a greater understanding and way of communicating with our equine friends. Read a tribute to Manny, my special horse partner, here.
My interest in providing as close to a natural environment for my horses as possible has led me to develop skills in hoof trimming for barefoot performance, feeding, and treating most health problems naturally. I practice Equine Permaculture on my property where I care for 10 horses and a mule.
As my horsemanship awareness grows, I am exploring the various ways of communicating with horses, truly understanding what they want and how they can heal us as much as we can them.
I am now in the process of putting together all I’ve learned, much of which is published on this website to form the content of my first book.
WHAT I DO
- Develop, market, and sell the LightRider Bitless Bridle
- Design horse-friendly products.
- Operate the Natural Horse World online store.
- Teach live-in helpers via Helpx.
- Mentor Equine Hoof Care Students
- Write articles & newsletters.
- Help promote and campaign for Bitless equality via the World Bitless Association
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