Host: Saltriver Horsemanship
Written by Heath Stewart – Owner, Saltriver Horsemanship and Performance Horses.
Industry training is really fulfilling as there is a real purpose to it. Mustering cattle on horse back can be exhilarating or incredibly frustrating depending on how well your horse is going. One of my favourite sayings is if you’re doing it the hard way it’s like playing tennis with a cricket bat.
Some people beg their horse and others bully their horse but there is a spot right in the middle that I am trying to get people to find. I now think of “how can I help my horse do this?” rather than just trying to make it do what I want. This approach really pays dividends when the horse realises you are trying to work with it they really come from the other side to help you.
After some catching tips we start with groundwork to begin the (non verbal) dialogue with the horse. We are looking to direct the horse’s feet (especially the hind feet) to become an effective leader. There’s groundwork and there’s quality groundwork, the difference is in the detail. The same goes for riding.
I help people develop good habits in saddling and mounting safely. Safety is a big issue these days with more inexperienced riders coming into the system and more stringent worksafe protocols.
Once riding I explain how to keep my horse out of trouble which keeps me out of trouble. Horses don’t want to buck or bolt or kick they are just trying to stay alive. We work on helping the horse by building confidence and respect. A lot of people work on the respect but forget that a horse requires confidence just as much as we do.
Understanding biomechanics of ourselves and our horses helps us allow them to work at their potential, I want to help them arrange themselves to be able to do their job as athletically as possible.
If we get the chance we work with cattle to put the horsemanship into practice to get us ready for the real job at hand, mustering!
Ray Hunt had one of the greatest sayings “The human has the opinion, the horse has the facts”. I have learnt to drop my ego and be honest about the true feedback from the horse, this has allowed me to learn so much more and teach much better. We hope we get the opportunity to share our learnings with you and thank you for allowing us to be your hosts this week!