Our Journey into Natural HorsemanshipWe are the Woodland family and we live on a property northwest of Newcastle in NSW. Our journey into Natural Horsemanship started in 1995, when our second child was born. I was suffering from postnatal depression and my husband Danny decided that I needed a hobby - I chose horse riding! Boy, if we only knew where that decision was going to take us - who would think that from depression such a wonderful journey would arise!
My first horse was a lovely strawberry roan Paint horse named 'Navaho'. Danny's was a lovely buckskin mare named 'Mouse'. While I was off to an okay start on Navaho, Danny was having a terrible time with Mouse. She was bucking him off every ride, yes that is no exaggeration, every ride it was. He got bucked off on the tar road and because he didn't want to let go he got dragged a good distance. Needless to say, he had skin off him everywhere. Danny was thinking horses weren't his thing, when along come a float loading demonstration by Pat Parelli. At the time, we were so broke we even asked if we could get a family discount as $50 for the two of us to watch a float loading demo seemed like such a lot of money! Well were we wrong! We absolutely loved it and thought wow - horses aren't motorbikes (which had been our passion before children).
The next step in our journey was Danny's brother lending us money for Danny to attend a 2-Day Parelli Partnership Course with instructor, Dave Stuart. I can still remember walking up the back to see if I could see Danny riding home as the course was being held only 15 minutes away. To my utter amazement, there he was on Mouse, riding her in a halter!
We both continued on our journey with lots of great times, and I must admit the occasional downs for me. My lovely Navaho was killed when hit by a car. Kids had decided it would be fun to let our horses out and round them up on their motorbikes. They chased them through the bush and straight across a main road (on my birthday of all days, a day I would love to forget). Danny then bought me a lovely Palomino, but she was way too much horse for me to handle. It was then that I was lucky enough to be sold Laddie, my current horse, he is the perfect horse for me.
I am no so sure if Danny ever had a down time (I am sure there was, but Danny is someone that always manages to keep a smile on his face). He took everything that Pat Parelli and his other instructors taught him and ran with it, achieving his goal of Parelli Level 3 in only four years.
Meanwhile, I had lots of issues, not with my horse but with my fear of falling off. However, I am pretty open and once I voiced my fears out loud I discovered many people have the same fears. The good news is that by progressing through a program, such as the Parelli one, you can overcome fear. I have now achieved Parelli Level 2 and have passed my On-line and Liberty Level 3. Trust me, if you could have seen the first Level 1 tape that I submitted (of which I had to resubmit the whole lot, but that's another story) you would know that anyone can succeed in natural horsemanship with the right techniques and training programs.
Danny was accepted into the Parelli Instructor Program and he absolutely loved instructing. He was very passionate about it. He enjoyed having close access to Pat Parelli and attended a lot of courses with him and his wife, Linda, even going to Florida. Danny had been instructing for about 2 years when another fantastic opportunity was offered to us both, the manufacturing of Parelli Equipment.
Wow, we couldn't believe it, it meant a job that I could do from home and also meant that Danny could give up his plumbing job. Danny went off to America to learn and in just two weeks, he was back home and we were manufacturing.
As the manufacturing really took off, Danny was away a lot instructing, especially on weekends. Our kids, Joshua and Breanna were really missing him, as was I. So Danny decided to retire from instructing, which was a very emotional decision for him. However, you can always come back from retirement! The children are loving having their Dad home and now we not only ride horses, we also race go-karts as a family which is a real buzz and has helped us all with our horsemanship, as focus, fluidity and emotional fitness are all very important when go-karting as well as horse riding.
(Update March 2012- well just thought I would give a little update to our story. Danny has come out of retirement from instructing and for the past year or so has been enjoying teaching private lessons and also doing some clinics. His main focus in the one on one private lessons, he really enjoys seeing people make improvements and he loves helping them to enjoy there horses more. I have been enjoying learning more about the sport of Cutting and have this last few years enjoyed lessons with Ian Francis, David Stuart, Steve Byrne and Dean Holden.) We really love our work and are now out on our own striving to produce and supply quality equipment and resource materials for natural horsemen and women worldwide. We love hearing about people achieving wonderful results with their horses through natural horsemanship. We know only too well the ups and downs. It all takes time and a lot of energy to achieve our goals and our dreams. Anything is possible in life; don't let things get in the way of your dreams. Just go for it, and enjoy the journey. Remember to sit back and have a look at where you have been and where you are going. Oh, and most importantly have fun!
By Lee Woodland
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