Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Learning from Neosho

Neosho arrived to Australia in July.  He had a very difficult journey and it took him a little while to settle in.  Once I put my mares with him his demeanor changed dramatically and he was back to the soft, gentle horse I had heard so much about.  I have started working with him each day as I finally feel we are both ready (he has been ready for sometime however my personal journey of late has seen me reluctant to move forward with him or any of the horses for that matter). 

When I first met Neosho at the Cayuse Ranch in Wyoming where he had spent the first 7 years of his life, he was a high ranking stallion that had been unhandled and running in a herd of 18 other bachelor stallions for 6 years.  Personally I feel to raise a stallion in this way teaches them herd behavior and you end up with a horse that is soft, sensitive and very polite to work with IF you gentle them in the right way and have the patience to do so.  Obviously it takes a lot of work to get there but the results at the end are incredible.  My Australian brumby mare Sienna is extremely similar to working with Neosho.  She is an absolute joy to  handle but the road there was a long, slow one for us and she taught me more than any trainer ever could.  I took her training at a pace that she dictated and the result is that we are now inseparable and she lives a very content life here.  She has had the option on many occasions to return to the bush and her old way of living yet she always chooses a life here with us.  The work with Sienna was good preparation for me to understand Neosho.

Neosho has an intelligence about him that is just awe inspiring.  He commands respect just by being himself and is as gentle as a lamb if you treat him right.  I work with him in a very soft and sensitive way and he tells me gently if I have used to much energy or pressure in a situation.  Yesterday I really started to see what he gives in a training session.  I think of a training session differently in that I always see myself as the student and the horse as my teacher.  This brings an openness to the table for both me and the horse.  It ensures that I enter the yard with no ego about my abilities and opens me up to learning every time I am with them.  

Yesterday Neosho showed me a whole repertoire of moves and he was so enjoying the session that we continued for much longer than I had intended.  Sus from Freehorse Farm spent 7 months preparing Neosho  for his journey to Australia.  The work she did with him was outstanding and I am really beginning to see the brilliance in the connection they created with each other.  Sus really focuses on willingness in a horse and takes things at the horses pace ensuring that he is happy to enter a training session and explore the horse/human relationship.  In fact Neosho actually seems to thrive on it.  It helps him release any tension he has stored and it also allows both of us to become closer and understand each other better. 

There is a depth to Neosho that is well beyond his years.  He is an old soul with a huge heart and wisdom unlike anything I have seen.  He is teaching me to build my confidence and also have fun in the process.  He teaches me to lead in a consistent and soft manner and to retain my focus.  When he has taught me a new skill we both change quite instantly.  He will soften dramatically and his acceptance is clear.

I hope to be able to get some video of one of our sessions to share on here soon.  My gratitude for having this magnificent stallion in my life is beyond words really.  

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