On Wednesday 23 February, the Year 2/3 students of West Harbour School were visited by the horses and trainers from Dune Lakes Lodge. The purpose of this visit was to teach the children self-management, leadership and coping strategies through observation and interaction with the horses and their trainers.
This was not a ‘show’; it was a carefully planned set of activities strategically targeted to the learning needs and understanding of children at the Year 2 and 3 levels. Our students experienced learning which I’m sure they will all take with them throughout their lives.
Many of these children had never touched a horse before in their lives, and to see 6 and 7 year olds develop the confidence to interact with horses in such a short space of time was incredible. Some of our students even led the horses within the pen. Although the day was extremely wet and the children had to huddle under raincoats and awnings, they all watched and interacted with eyes wide open, listening intently, and responding questions in order to understand the steps that the trainers took in order to gain the horses cooperation. The trainers in turn explained each facet of the proceedings in child centred language, providing just the right mix of talk and action to keep the children literally sitting on the edge of their seats.
In thirty years of teaching I can honestly say that this is the most powerful learning outside of the classroom I have ever observed children engage with. I am certain that many of these children will remember this day for a very long time and hopefully combine the “awesome, horsesome” lessons into their future lives and learning.
I would like to extend sincere thanks to the amazing team who made this learning possible for our precious students!
My young horse, Praise, turned a big corner with her education and training during the Natural Horsemanship weekend at Dune Lakes Lodge. This was our first experience of riding 'bit less'. Praise seemed happy and relaxed without a bridle - and I certainly didn't have any difficulties with my communication with her.
Day two we did some more advanced ground work - lateral work and float training etc. Our two main highlights were when I asked Praise to walk into the float whilst I sat on the mudguard! And the ultimate 'squeeze' - asking her to walk between the two trunks of a gum tree.
Last weekend I attend a Natural Horsemanship weekend at Dune Lakes Lodge. I have not had any experience with Natural Horsemanship before this. After the weekend clinic, you wouldn’t believe the change in my boy and ME!
The level of respect he now has for me, the gentle kind way I can now get him to do what I want and MOST IMPORTANTLY “NO HEAD FLICKING”. He didn’t head flick once the whole weekend! I just wanted to share my experience with you as maybe an option for you to try.
I’m not saying that it will work for you, but so far it has definitely made a difference for me and I was able to enjoy my baby again in a calm, non-head flicking way. I still have lots of work to do as the skills Rosemary showed us are not a one-off fix but an on-going way of life for you and your horse to enjoy. I’m hooked!
I recently had the privilege of staying at your lodge & wanted to thank you for your help & advice. I was with the group of Adult riders from Totara Park - my horse was the Chestnut thoroughbred that played up. You kindly loaned me a saddle & rope halter to ride the three hour trek & gave me techniques to use when he was misbehaving.
As an update I have continued with the natural horsemanship in conjunction with the Adult ride and have even got the Riding for the disabled using it. We have started working with the ponies we use for the Riding for the disabled & the changes in them is really great. I have also not ridden in a bridle since my visit & am looking to purchase a torsion saddle or something equally as good. I learnt a lot from the weekend at your lodge & the horse & I have a new enthusiasm for riding. Thanks.
This was an intense and rewarding 5 minutes, probably the most inspiring I ever had in the presence of a horse, and possibly in general. It felt like being on another planet, out of this world, where there was just me and the horse and the energetic field that was surrounding us, connecting us and leading me/us from moment to moment.
The usual apprehension that I have when getting close to a horse in an open field, vanished within seconds. I am not sure what happened exactly, but I noticed an inner strength and confidence that seemed reflected in the strength of the horse, as I applied the instructions and demonstrations that Rosemary gave us beforehand.
There was a constant flow of exchange of information between the horse and me, and I was immediately aware whether my requests were clear and direct and had the right amount of energy coming from me. Mostly, I enjoyed just being with the horse, resting in the center of gravity, looking into each others eyes and soul. Thank you Rosemary for giving me this opportunity.
I actually had quite an insight a few days after. This brief encounter with your horse made me realize that one of my greatest lessons is to learn to fully engage in life, with all my heart, body and soul - all at the same time. This happened for me when I engaged with the horse, simultaneously. I felt quite emotional and surprised how difficult it still is for me to give it "my All", if you know what I mean.
I know now that there is so much to learn from horses. I have a dog, which is in some ways similar, we have quite amazing non-verbal communications, but with a horse there is another dimension that comes into it. The energy being exchanged is so much more powerful, and it requires a lot more attention and wholehearted presence, which is why it was such beneficial "challenge" for me.
Authority, fairness and respect also come into my mind when I reflect back on the experience.
How can these three things come together in a harmonious flow? Do I have enough authority to make my intentions clear? Can I demand things, be fair and respectful at the same time? I often struggle with these things with my own children!!
Wow, I could go on and on about this, I think there is much more to it than can be explained in a few words.
Our weekend getaway was incredible….!!! We had fantastic friendly hosts, learnt amazing new skills, made new friends, all on a beautiful relaxed property in a totally unspoiled part of the New Zealand less than an hour from Auckland. I’m sure if our horses could talk, they would say what happened to those softies we took away for the weekend, who are these focused inspired people. We totally recommend Dune Lakes Lodge for a relaxed weekend getaway or a weekend to extend your horse skills. Fabulous property and facilities. Cheers.
Who would have thought that a horse could teach me so much! I never expected to be seeing myself so clearly in the Equine Pathfinders programme. I learned and was able to challenge myself to accept and express my strength. To see this part of my personality as a positive and essential thing. I realised that I have a habit of giving up easily and if i just persevere I can achieve my goals.
Finally I learned that reward is a vital part of healthy life and this is something I need in my life- Pausing to say well done to myself and my horse taught me that getting to my goal is made up of lots of small steps which are worth celebrating. Thank you for changing my life in such a gentle and receivable way.
In 30 years of teaching I can honestly say that this is the most powerful learning outside of the classroom I have ever observed children engage with.
In the short time I’ve known Rosemary I found her to be warm, accepting and welcoming of others. Her intuitive understanding and knowledge of horses is impressive and her encouraging, relaxed style has helped me hugely even with spending only a few hours together.
This has made a massive difference in overcoming my fear of these beautiful animals and being able to handle them more confidently. I can’t thank her enough - as many know, the learning’s from spending time with horses translates into other areas of our lives. They have much to offer in teaching us about ourselves. Thank you again Rosemary, I’m looking forward to spending more time with you.
Fonterra Team Building
I had hoped to get my team away to relax and to do something different as a group. They, like me, had been through the trips to Waiheke and been up and down ropes on numerous occasions in the name of team building - enough is enough!!!
Dune Lakes Lodge offered an equine experience that was completely different - having a group of 'townies' out there interacting with - relating to and moving around 600kg animals was an amazing experience for the group - descriptors such as 'wow', 'fantastic', 'lovely' can still be heard in their conversations with their peers.
I personally appreciated your flexibility when trying to tailor the day to what I had hoped for, and being able to cater to different levels of confidence and adventure. I think this was reflected in the feedback form we completed that came back as a 9/10 experience!!!
As their manager, I'm really glad to have taken the time to find an exciting new adventure for the team, and thank you again for your professionalism and warmth that created a great experience for all. I think you have a gem here for others to tap into and I'm happy to talk with them if they wish to hear firsthand of our corporate experience."
One task involves entering a round-pen with an unknown horse and leaving with one that has connected with you. An awareness of the implications of body language between you and the horse, invokes a realisation that subtle energies - combined with focus and the timing of interactions - apply to relationships in your everyday working world. The experience may prove deeply thought provoking.
Take for example a team that has problems working together. When the group is not successfully working together to accomplish a task with the horse, the horse will respond in ways that might thwart the group’s efforts and clearly display areas for improvement. The facilitator will interpret the actions of the horse as indicators to the participants that they are not in control of the situation and are not working together as a team - with the horse being the integral team member.
The behaviour of the participants is reflected in the behaviour of the horse. A positive change in participant behaviour brings positive changes in equine behaviour.
We usually find that the way in which our clients interact and react with the horses is very similar to the way they interact and react with their customers, peers, or other work groups as well as their own families!
Prior to attending this course my horses walked all over me. I've had tonnes of lessons both here and in Australia and in a short number of hours I was taught the most valuable lessons. I felt safe and in control of the relationship with my horse, a first for me!"