I hadn’t realised I could love and appreciate my horse more than I did.
After a long and hard year of work in a new job, I knew I needed a change in scenery and not being one to enjoy lying around in some tropical resort, I chose ticking a bucket list item and set up a trip to the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre at Broadford in Victoria. It is a 788km, 9hr drive from my home at Mt Torrens, SA or 1hr north of Melbourne on the Hume Highway. Rikke and Alastair now run the business begun by Alastair’s parents, Andrew and Manuela McLean.
I was glad to see on their brochure that “creating your own clinic” is an option as I had been unable to get into recent clinics and emailed Rikke Andreasen, partner of Alastair McLean, to see if I could go over for what I called my Perfect Riders Retreat. I stayed in the dormitory style bunkhouse and had a lesson each day with Rikke as I wanted to work on my canter position and learn all I could about how they did things.
It was my good fortune there were several horses going through their 6 week foundation training and others having behavioural problems addressed as I got to see how Alastair and Rikke applied the theory of what is taught on horses in all stages of training. Alastair was very clear on not allowing a horse to push through pressure and so become dangerous. His explanation being if the question asked is fair, the wrong response is deleted immediately and question asked again until the right response is given.
Rikke is just as practical and a pleasure to have as an instructor. I became a better rider in learning to ride a school horse with a tendency to stiffen. My goal of being able to practice the canter was realised with the use of direct and indirect flexion aids and I now have a better understanding of how to train my own horse who tends to fall in at canter and lose rhythm.
And the working pupils were also great at sharing their knowledge. Top Tip – a handful of oats in the feed gets the birds scattering the poo and no poo pickup is needed in the paddocks. The pupils are kept busy as strappers, bringing horses in for Alastair and Rikke to work and also delivered the twice daily feeds at no nonsense speed. They trained Park in the mounting yard to get control over fidgeting flight behaviours and did other ground work with the horses.
Looking over this experience, I can see there are lessons I can apply in all areas of my life:
- If something is important enough to make it on to your bucket list, make it happen
- Sometimes you need to go to the source of a truth to experience it in its purest form
- If you do something that enhances your appreciation of what you already have, then it is worthwhile.
I came home with a greater appreciation of what a lovely horse I have and an eagerness to give her more of my time and do things with her. Like many people I love my horse and for me, that love is an active word as she needs care. It is also known as I understand and respect her consciousness as a horse.