Connected Horsemanship had a fantastic time last weekend at Diamonds Lane Equestrian in Portaferry Co Down.

Laura Domenica with Judy Braniff owner of Diamonds Lane Equestrian

The horses and participants were very varied during the weekend offering the spectators lots of different situations to watch and learn from. We had a lot of spectators over the two days from varied backgrounds, riding clubs, other branches of natural horsemanship, showjumpers and a lovely lady who was a horse sport Ireland L2 coach.

Ssaturday started with two wonderful hairy black and white cobs belonging to Jane and Martina. Both girls had experienced quite a bit of bother with their horses being scattered or bargey and invading their space and carting them around a bit. At the end of the day i was delighted that both girls had very good control of their horses on the ground and were beginning to really teach them things that would really help build and cement their connection. They could lead them, they could stop them , turn them move their hindquarters and ask them to back up and to respect their boundaries.

Laura helps jane with her cob

Martina works with Dillon, a riding school pony for many years, he is very braced but with martinas patient help he will learn to bend his body and use himself in a better way

Next came Andrew and his lovely pony Scottie, Andrew has been working with me for over a year. I am very pround of Andy , this dedication and his progress. He is already a horseman and one to watch for the future.

Andrew works with Scottie

When Andrew bought his horse Scotty he was very anxious and very inverted. I am going to ask Andy to tell Scotties story in the Students Stories section of my blogg.

Here are some photos of Andy lunging and riding his pony, look at the relaxation and softnness and the wonderful postion of Andys body that is facilitating this. The photos of Andy riding he is working on getting his balance perfect at the rising trot so that his horse can carry himself.

Scotty used to throw his head in the air even with a martingale, andrew now turns him just with his focus

Andrew perfects his balance at rising trot so he can allow Scottie to really use himself

Day one ended with me working with the second of Sarah horses. This thoroughbred had offerend up some pretty interesting behaviour when Sarah got to lunging him, rearing, striking and even coming at her with his teeth, he sounded quite aggressive. When I first started working with him he was and tried to srtike me a couple of times but the true source of his behaviour was was his herdboundness. He constantly whinned for the other horses, prancing around and paying no attention to anyone human. Once i started moving his body in a purposeful way he began to settle and changed quite quickly. At the end of our session he was quiet and settled.

At the end of the day i loaded him in the trailer, this had taken three hours the night before to get him there and Sarah loaded him herself after i did. she was i think delighted and so was her dad.

Sarah loads her horse at the end of the day

others photos from the day

An unexpected visitor gives us a giggle at lunch time!

taking shelter from a rain shower

taking shelter from a shower

participants learn how to walk and "hold" their own circle for lunging

participants practise walking circles for lunging and try to "hold" the shape of the circle as they walk

catch em young!

Particiants practise lunging position

Participants at the connected horsemanship workshop in Ennis in Clare

Participants at the connected horsemanship workshop in Ennis in Clare

Laura would like to thank all the participants and spectators who attended the second Connected Horsemanship in Clare this weekend. 5 participants took part in the 2 day ground work and riding clinic.

On the first day after the theory session each participant was asked if there was any specific problem they might like to be able to help their horse with. One participant said she wanted to stop her horse making repeated efforts to bite her while girthing and brushing. Another particpant had considerable trouble trying to bridle her horse, a third one was being walked all over, while a fourth horse wouldn’t stand still at all. I am pleased to report that all these problems were solved by the end of the first day and the participants felt very proud to have made this change by themselves with the help of my instruction.

On the first day the participants also taught their horses how to move their head and necks independantly of their shoulders, to back up, move their shoulders and lead up correctly. They then went on to learn how to lunge their horses and their previous tales of lunging which included “my horse wont go to the right”, or “he keeps turning and facing me” , “he rears up when i ask him to go” were replaced by oohs and aahs as they realised how a change in the angle and position of their bodies relative to the horse made such a dramatic difference in their horses responses.

On the second day ridden lessons focused on helping riders to find their balance, especially a the rising trot. Many people are unaware of the importance of a correct “rise” and its ability to help the horses gait and tempo. Students also learned the importance of staying aligned with the horses spine and how this can affect bend and balance. We taught riders how to stop and to turn their horses by using their core rather than resorting to pulling with the reins. Ground work exercises from day one, flexion, moving the hindquarters and backing up, were transferred to the saddle.

At the end of day two i worked with a young girl who had a lot of trouble boxing her horse. The horse was not scared of the box but needed a lot of leadership. At the end of the two hour session she successfully loaded her pony herself.

ciara loads her pony by herself

I had a very pleasurable two days in Ennis and look forward to going there again soon.

Testamonial received two days after the clinic

Hello there Laura,
I wanted to thank you again for last weekend, We have been progressing nicely together and I think you would be proud of the results. Her lateral bends are quite lovely, both with her neck (without her legs moving) and with her whole body. She is still unsure of me changing sides when grooming, however I persevere and she eventually gives up the fight. Grooming has become a pleasure… hurrah!
Yesterday she stood perfectly still while I walked to the end of the yard (without me looking back at her) to collect the lunge line! I only had to put her back twice before she understood what I was asking of her… I was so happy!
Today I asked her to walk toward me one step at a time, very slowly and deliberately (me facing her without looking at her head, just at her feet) ….. you could see her anticipating my every move. It was harder to get her to go backwards tho’, so I moved her with the end of the rope as you showed me and on the third go she actually moved back on two step worths. I stopped on that good note and took her out for a well deserved munch of grass!
If I hadn’t have been there I wouldn’tve believed it!!!
Thank you so much, it really has been a wonderful experience.
We hope to see you again in the near future,
Steph and Sheika.nnis testamonial