Many of you have seen Kelly working with the young horses at the corrals, marveling at her patience and ease with these horses, as though they are talking the same language, which is her objective. Here is some background on Kelly, and her thoughts on Natural Horsemanship.
Kelly has attended numerous horse clinics over the years, from Tom Lynch to Chris Cox. She “lived horse” for twenty years, working with colts at the racetrack. By practicing with young colts everyday she developed her own style, one she uses with the “babies” at the Circle Z.
“I teach the colts how to get along, and to make things easier on themselves. Horses are reactive by instinct. The reactive side of their brain is huge while the thinking side is small. I teach them to use more of their thinking side, to figure out that they can trust me to help them make the decisions. It’s important for them to make good decisions for themselves, as opposed to simply reacting to every situation.”
This is where the partnering is key, and when communicating on the horse level—as opposed to the human level—is so imperative. “I always look for the “try” from the colt when I ask them to do something. These can be the smallest of indications, like a slight lowering of the head, or are they looking at me instead of through me, even a flicking of their ears. After a lot of repetition, and consistency, they begin to learn that it is easier to give the “try” than to give the attitude.”
When not leading guests out on rides, Kelly is with her babies in the corrals. “I love to teach. I love to see the light go on. With some, it just takes more time, more patience, but with a positive approach and giving lots of rewards, it really pays off in the end. I am only 100 pounds, I can’t compete with 1000 pounds of attitude. Giving respect, looking for the smallest of tries, and always starting with the simplest first. It makes all of our lives easier.”
We will see the results of these “tries” this fall as our wranglers take the training to the next level. The babies Kelly has been working with since she started at the ranch are now 3 years old, and it is time for them to be ridden out on the trails, and to learn how to get along outside of the corrals. They will spend another three to four years before they are completely ready to be ridden by guests. But these early steps are critical ones. These young horses are so fortunate to have had Kelly as their leader, which makes us confident that they will ultimately be amazing horses for our guests.