I headed to Canada with Alexandra Kurland to spend a week at Monty Gwynne’s property for some in depth horse time.  You can read about Monty here – on her Equispeak website.  Monty has her own study course as well as being one of Alexandra Kurland’s Click That Teaches coaches.

The feature photo was taken by Nita Hynes.  Alex thought it would be fun to be a ‘drill team’.  At that time I had no idea what I was doing?  Monty told me all I had to do was use my hand as a target for little Flash – so he guided me through it!!!

My visit to Monty’s was the first blog post I ever wrote.  I did a review on the week there as she was just opening her courses up to include accommodation.  Please head here to read more details.

I will try not to repeat  what I said in that post.  I just want to reflect on the experience – now it is several years down the track.

First – the arena – we can’t all have an arena like Monty’s – but what struck me was the feeling of quiet and safety.  There was nothing to spook a horse – it was quiet, light filled and allowed you and the horse to focus.  It also wasn’t very big!  But I saw how Monty was able to canter around the arena with ease.  There was plenty of room!

The horses! When you are learning the intricacies of rope handling, it’s great to have trained horses and ponies that know what they are doing!  Little Flash and Snowy are worth their weight in gold!

I started to understand how many uses a cone circle could have – how mats could be used – how the arena wall can be used.  I watched Alex work with Monty’s horse Icky and also give Shannon a riding lesson.  Here are some photos.

At the time I had no idea of the gentle nuances of all these movements – but when Shannon got off her horse, she was in tears – of joy!! It was the best ride she had ever had – she felt like they had really connected – all to do with the finest of movements.  This is how we want to look after riding!!!

I watched Alex with Icky – gently moving the legs – finely tuning him.  I scratched my head at the time.  What was she doing?  Why?  Only now – almost four years later am I starting to understand more about balance and the importance of it – the importance of ‘gymnastics’ for horses – for their physical and mental wellbeing.

After Alex left, Monty asked us each what we would most like to learn.  I had already spoken with her about Magnum and my concern about his hooves.  We went through steps to pick up the hoof.  I practised on one of her horses – something that always left me feeling uneasy – even with my other horses.  I think it was drummed into me too well when I was young to never walk behind a horse because it will kick!

Now I was learning the steps to pick up a hoof safely using clicker training.  I was pleased with what I learnt.  “But” I said to Monty “How will I then get the farrier to trim him?”  “You won’t” she said.  “You will do it – don’t worry – it’s easy!”

What???  Me????  But I knew nothing about hoof trimming!!!  Of course – in my mind – I’d thought that once I started with hoof lifting,  I’d be able to get my farrier to do it?  Why did I think that?  There was no way Magnum would allow a farrier near him!

This thought was challenging my lifetime thinking process.  The conversation in my head was going something like this – “But…. this requires an expert – I can’t possibly manage to do it.  I’m …… just me….. how would I be able to do it?  Others would know better about this.”

Oh – there was my mother – in my head!!!!!  Yes, it would be a huge learning curve, but it was possible.  And overriding my fears was the fact that I HAD to do it for Magnum – he needed me to help him!!!!

I had the rest of the holiday to think about it.  Fortunately I was surrounded by positive people!

Now, back to Monty’s….. it was such fun to watch the ponies Snowy and Flash, respond!!  They were so cute!  Monty also demonstrated with her horse Icky.  It was a delight to watch!


The week went all to quickly – but I had one last stop!!  I was flying to Montreal to have several days at Alex’s clinic at the Cavalia retirement farm!




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