Well. The time for reflection is over. Everything has been processed and stored away. Now it’s time to go out and act on information received; put it into practice; think and learn from my horses; see them advance in a manner meaningful to them and reap the joy and benefit from the developing partnership.
What was the cause of all this reflection? A very fulfilling weekend at the Salt River Horsemanship property, outside Bakers Hill, WA. I got to meet and associate with real people. I got to mix with people with a love for horses, and a desire to improve their knowledge, in order to improve the results they experience with their equine friends.
A look through the glowing comments left on Facebook about Heath and Kellie Stewart and their operation shows how highly people regard them as well as their work. I had a head start, through a friend, in finding an outfit that had studied with Ray Hunt, as I had recently decided that he and Tom Dorrence defined the path in which I wanted to proceed with horsemanship. It was extremely heart-warming to find that I wasn’t in the least bit disappointed in the way the Colt Starting clinic was run, and the ensuing successful outcomes. Throughout the weekend, we experienced and enjoyed authentic horsemanship in every way, by two genuine folk, who love what they do and showed love and support toward the people that had chosen to do it with them. There was never a hint of commercialism, hype or shallowness, but rather a way of life that was all embracing.
Heath and Kellie are warm, real and open about life, showed that they cared about people as well as horses, but never viewed life through rose tinted glasses. They acknowledge hard times as well as easier times. Life itself has taught them how to deal with it, not try and escape it, and they have actively pursued knowledge to help them in this. They have a variety of interests that make conversation with them both interesting and challenging, and they are always ready to impart their knowledge to those that inquire of them. I was introduced to the meaning of balance, which has left me with the desire to explore that further in my own life. For me, both Heath and Kellie are comfortable people to be around.
A lot has been said about the horse and the various horse programs that abound today, and there are many and varied ideas as to how humans should work with horses. Although many people consider themselves reasonably knowledgeable about horses, I have found that what they endeavour to achieve, often fits the human more than it fits the horse. I have often found myself in this category. We therefore need to work on ourselves most of the time in order to be more effective with our communication with the horse. The idea of being able to present what you want to the horse, in an effective manner, and then be patient while the horse finds it or figures it out for him/herself, was one of the key messages that came across to me at Salt River. This requires a subtle shift in our mental approach. As Kellie said at one point on her opening address to us, instead of thinking of training the horse, we should think of it as a teaching or learning process. It helps enormously to have a clear mental picture or plan in mind of the overall process beforehand, then breaking it down into necessary steps, so that we can set it up clearly for the horse to find.
I came away with the feeling that I would count it a privilege to be able to work further with Salt River in my quest for success and knowledge, both in life and with horses. I would like to thank you both, Kellie and Heath, very much for sharing your life with me over the 5 days that I spent at your ranch The insight you gave me, along with the practice and support, has been invaluable. I can highly recommend the experience to all those seeking a deeper understanding of true horsemanship. I look forward to more in the future…..
(Ray Stitt, Denmark WA)