I reckon one of the hardest feelings to beat is the feeling that there’s nowhere else in the world you’d rather be, and there’s nothing else you’d rather be doing with your life than what you’re doing at the moment.
If someone would have told the teenage Lizzie (or even the Lizzie a couple of years ago!) that she would be hanging out with wild mustangs in a matter of years she’d have peed her pants non-stop. It ain’t hard to make dreams come true boys n’ girls, all it took was a couple of emails and within a few days I was picked up in Durango (Colorado) by the recipients in an rickety old van and driven to the New Mexico outback.
‘Mustang Camp’ sits between two Native American reservation grounds, the Apache and the Navajo. There are Navajo pueblito ruins dating back to 1700 behind the house. The proper Wild West!
Wild horses are said to be overpopulated in the US. To promote healthy land and help the population thrive, the Bureau of Land Management round up the ‘excess’ and these horses are put up for adoption. The majority of the horses have never seen a human in their lives and so require careful handling to manage their fear, gentle them and therefore guarantee them the best chance of a quality life in a domesticated setting.
Here at Mustang Camp there’s a new delivery of 20-30 feral horses every couple of months. Ran by Pat and John Barlow-Irick, the facility offers short courses to anyone looking to advance their animal training skills. They are superstars for letting me come and be a part of the team at such short notice! I’m feeling blessed to be learning from Pat, as I’ve been interested in this training philosophy for a while but haven’t come across many who practice it. Her methods are based on Applied Behavior Science and positive reinforcement as opposed to the pressure/release negative reinforcement training methods I’ve followed in the past. It shouldn’t be, but it is a rare thing to see such an emotionally stable and content bunch of horses!
When I next get access to a computer I’ll be able to upload photos from my camera. In the mean time, the iPhone snaps will have to do. Xxx