The heat and humidity did not stand in the way of the Mississippi Horse Rescue Train a Rescue Leadership Clinic from moving forward with the next generation of trainers. Thank goodness for the McRae Arena which provided the shaded arena for the clinic. Nine pre-screened students took on the challenge of learning how to train a horse the natural horsemanship method. MHR had several possible adoptees that were evaluated to become a part of the training process. All the horses had had up to 60 days of training, and needed to move to the next step in order to be adopted.
Robin Conner brought her expertise and experience to the three-day clinic. Robin and her daughter Jillian are respected trainers and have trained many MHR horses and prepared them for adoption. Robin has trained thoroughbreds in Louisville, KY as well as quarter horse that were used as track ponies. She made Mississippi her home 13 years ago and became an established trainer for Have a Heart Rescue and Mississippi Horse Rescue.
Day one was a “lecture” day. Using her own horse (a former MHR rescue) Suni, Robin demonstrated how round pen training can provide a way for trainer and horse to bond. When the trainer moves the horse’s feet and makes the equine follow the directions (which sometimes takes some time depending on the horse), the horse begins to recognize the trainer as the “boss mare,” therefore; giving respect to the trainer. Once the horse gives the trainer 2 eyes and begins to walk toward the trainer to “join-up,” the horse and trainer move on to the next steps.
The young trainers then followed the instructions and began working with horse assigned to each student. Under the watchful eye of Robin and Stephanie Billingsley (Director of MHR) each student received one on one guidance. In addition, to round pen training, the apprentices also participated in the desensitizing process to find triggers and possible holes in the previous training. The horses were introduced to all sorts of noises, touch sensations with flags and bags, and movement through obstacle courses. By the end of the clinic the horses and students were given a final evaluation for a short trail ride through the pastures at 12 Oaks.
As a final “training” experience for riders and horses was a swim in the pond located in the main pasture of the rescue. This is something that the students looked forward to for the 3 days. Some horses were a little hesitant. Some of the girls were a little reluctant of the squishy pond bottom, but most just walked right into the pond and cooled off and spent the rest of the afternoon just wading and swimming.
The clinic provided much needed time and miles for several horses that have proven to be ready for adoption. Aurora, Fancypants, Deeb, Lily, and Jagger are ready to find permanent homes. Several of the apprentices have since returned to the rescue to continue working with these horses and others. Still another student is fostering one of the cute quarter horses and has provided updates on her progress.
Thanks to Robin Conners and Jill Conners for helping make this clinic a success. Their knowledge of the training method, and their love for horses, and their diligence for the safety of the students, gave these ladies confidence to move forward with the training techniques. Also, trainers Cori Arendale and Kaylee Rice gave several of the horses their 60 training periods that led to this training workshop. So many people are important in bringing these horse back to have another chance of having a meaningful life.
MHR is dedicated to providing the training to the horses so that they will be safe and ready for the next phase in their lives. With the help of these young ladies, the future looks bright for more horses to reach their full potential.