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Trainer advocates ‘connection’ as the basis of horsemanship

Farah DeJohnette.

Farah DeJohnette. © Natalie Bourchier

A US based horse trainer who advocates a connection with the horse as the first step to horsemanship is to run a series of clinics in New Zealand late this year.

Farah DeJohnette’s approach has been developed over more than 20 years in the industry, with clinics for riders from novice to advanced professional, centered on her Farah DeJohnette Horsemanship (FDH) framework. The framework focuses on the relationship between horse and rider and three important leadership elements: connection, communication and trust.

“Technique, though important in a lot of areas of horsemanship, is only half of the process,” DeJohnette said. “Connection is the other half, and is often the missing component: not just in pleasure partnerships, but also in highly-trained professional and performance partnerships.

“If I put my connection with my horse first, it builds a natural desire to perform in the horse.”

The FDH framework generally starts with the horses ‘at liberty’, free to move in a wide-open space and with no equipment.

“At liberty, the horse is given the freedom to choose to connect with us, as he would with another horse in his herd. This creates a willing, positive attitude, where we can build the technical foundation of all disciplines. There is a natural progression through several exercises which helps to develop a willingness and desire from the horse to work with us, without the use of a ‘do it or else’ method.

“It’s horsemanship that challenges people to think outside the round pen: no rope halters, no round pens needed. It uses body language, connection and communication. From liberty, ground to mounted progression is simple, fun for the horse and person, and easy to apply,” she said.

DeJohnette says she is not defined by one particular training method and has gained experience from working with several master horsemen of jumping, dressage, western and natural horsemanship, as well as her own study and experience in a wide range disciplines, horse breeds and temperaments.

She has just acquired a farm in Massachusetts where she plans to offer intensive study, workshops, training, instruction and her online program.

“The horses have been the greatest teachers I’ve had. I’m not defined by one training method, I’m a horseman. There is only one kind of training and one kind of riding and it’s called horsemanship.”

The clinics will take place at the New Zealand Riding for the Disabled arena, Masterton, Wairarapa, November 14 to 18.

Prices range from $10 for the demonstration event to $650 for the three-day clinic.

More information

A two-hour demonstration will take place on the Friday and participants can win the chance to spectate at the three-day FDH clinic and receive a private session with Farah.

Horsetalk.co.nz

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