Comments from Participants

A seminar at Coolmine Equestrian Centre


Cowboy Show

Posted on Duchess Diaries on Oct.09, 2009

Natural Horsemanship has become a bit of a marketing term these days and we often think of the big guns when we hear the term. However, we don’t need to see the unattainable magic men to see ‘Natural Horsemanship’ or better named ‘Cop-On –Horsemanship’. The seemingly magic ways and means of the Horse Whispers is a matter of simply tuning into the horses behavior and slowing ourselves down to match the ways of the horse. We forget at times that we are predators and very impatient animals, where as the horse is prey and much more patient and persistent than we are. Recently in Coolmine Equestrian Centre I went (at very short notice) to see Franklin Levinson, a real cowboy, and more importantly a real Horseman. As with all great horseman he had a calm and relaxed demeanor that is one and the same as the traditional Irish Farmers. Nothing should or can be rushed, “sure, where are we rushin to” .

He took a nervous horse into the arena and while talking to the audience, he preformed his ‘magic’. This may not have been so obvious to the ‘Bigger Bit’ riders but while he chatted to the audience he allowed the horse to acclimatise to the arena, crowds and noised around him. He also ensured that the horse never searched in the sand for anything, as this would distract from what Franklin wanted the horse to focus on. The longer the horse was in the arena, the more relaxed he became. He went from high headed and tense, to relaxed and holding his head low. All the time Franklin’s movements were deliberate with a purpose, but slow and carefree. Most importantly he kept the horse on a loose line, never holding him in a tense way or stressing him out though tension. “I’m not worried so your not worried”

I won’t go into every small details of Franklin’s clinic however I will mention the trailer loading issue that he dealt with.

All horse owners have at some time experienced an issue with trailer loading, it could be any time, any place or any variation of issues. The answer to all these problems is always the same, slow and easy wins the race. This was also true for the work that Franklin did with this horse.
This horse, a sweet coloured cob had issues loading. He didn’t like to go into the horse box but once he was in he was ok. Franklin showed the horse the box and used a long stick or whip to gently tickle and coax the horse in. The horse was permitted to walk to the ramp take a look and then asked to move forward, once he moved as far as he wanted he was given some time to think about it and rest. Franklin allowed the horse to look into the trailer and have a sniff followed by a gentle tickle on the top of the rump with the whip to get him to move forward again. Within two goes the horse was happily in the trailer.

Interestingly the owner had never tried to load the horse as a practice run; something that I feel should be done regularly in-between shows. When we are going to shows we generally are in a bit of a hurry, this rushes the horse and panics them because they don’t understand why everyone is so anxious… naturally they think that there is something scary about the horse box. If you work on loading the horse is more likely to walk into the box first time.

I’m a big believer in the concept of Natural Horsemanship however, I feel that it can be achieved without all the fancy marketing that has been done by others. This marketing however, has also done a lot for the understanding and acceptance of the methods, ways and means of ‘Natural Horsemanship’.

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from participants in Franklin's horsemanship clinics in Ireland