Natural Artistic Horsemanship Program

Our courses empower you to train your own horse.

Punkin Patch Farm is a small horse farm which promotes and teaches Natural Artistic Horsemanship. Traditional horsemanship is based on getting horse and rider trained quickly for war or work. Since we now have tractors to do our work and tanks for war, why then do people perpetuate training horses by force?

With Natural Artistic Horsemanship, our horse is our mirror. Their form of communication is through body language. Instead of conquering and forcing our language on them, we learn to use their language. It opens ourselves to a new way of communication, not only with our horses, but with our dogs, cats, and other domestic animals as well as with other humans.

Because horses are prey animals and we are predators, we must both set aside our differences and act like partners. Horses look for good leaders to fulfill their needs: safety, shelter, food and play. Natural Artistic Horsemanship is about learning leadership skills. It’s a “never-ending journey of self improvement” according to Pat Parelli, the man who coined the term “Natural Horsemanship”.

The Punkin Patch Farm Natural Artistic Horsemanship Program is not just riding lessons. We teach our students the basics of horse care: feeding, grooming, keeping them clean, healthy and happy. They learn safety: how to protect their own personal space. They learn how to ask their partners using phases: starting with as little pressure as possible and increasing as necessary (ie. air, hair, skin, muscle, bone) and when to stop asking and allow the horse to complete the task. They learn to do things with patience, on horse time, taking the time it takes rather than clock time.

Horses remember yesterday, but don’t think about tomorrow. They live in the moment. They choose their leaders every day. If we have a bad leadership day, so what, there’s always tomorrow. We can try again. Horses don’t hold grudges. They let you know when they are afraid or confident. They look forward to play time and enjoy meeting new people. For some students, this is a big help for learning to bond. If the student is having a bad hair day and just wants to hang out, the horse is more than willing to just hang out. If the student is having a really up day, the horse will be more playful and willing to learn. Horses read the inside of a person before they read the outside. It is up to us, as students, to become more aware of ourselves, our feelings, our emotions and our body movements. It’s about building relationships.

Punkin Patch Farm has developed a Natural Artistic Horsemanship Program that will help you and your equine partner make the transition from Normal Riding to Natural Artistic Horsemanship. Natural Artistic Horsemanship provides a solid foundation for any discipline of riding. Your horse will look forward to the time you spend with him.

In ten two-hour lessons, you will safely learn to become the leader your horse wants you to be on the ground. You will transfer your new skills from the ground to your horse’s back, both partners becoming more aware of body language and how it effects your ability as leader and the horse’s reaction to you and your movements.

Each lesson consists of learning games on the ground with simulations followed by teaching our equine partners. Putting purpose to practise, the new skills will then be used for riding. Participants will be given homework to practise for the following lesson. The skill level attained should be sufficient for L1/2 online or freestyle auditions with Parelli or Course 1 with Jonathan Field.

Our Natural Artistic Horsemanship Program starts students learning about safety and playing the games horses play with each other. There is a lot of information out there: magazines, books, internet, that we use as resources. The more the student is interested and puts time into the program, the faster they advance. The first ten lessons are the tip of the iceberg as far as learning is concerned. Students learn how to find the resources they need to continue their journey. When the students have finished the first ten lessons they can go on, but now they know the direction and can ask their instructor for specific lessons.

Why this course works—we use the Seven Keys to Success:

1. Attitude: You provide that. It’s the Heart and Desire to learn, and the commitment to begin your horsemanship journey.
2. Knowledge: You bring a binder, we fill it with information so you don’t have to take notes.
3. Tools: Simple tools. If you don’t already have them, we can provide them.
4. Technique: We provide the technique. You and your partner practice and refine it.
5. Time: We schedule class time, you provide practice time.
6. Imagination: Once you have the knowledge and the technique, we show you how to use imagination to make it fun.
7. Support: We provide a list of references, answer questions, and your class mates provide encouragement. Together we learn. People teach horses, horses teach people.

Punkin Patch Farm also offers a work/study program where students can earn lessons by helping with the chores. This allows the student to have something for their resume and a reference when applying for a job at a stable. Some students want to go on to become instructors. The University of Parelli certifies their students and helps promote them so they can teach anywhere in the world. Some students get more horse experience by volunteering at horse rescue centres. Parelli students have started a “Horses for Orphans” program in Brazil. There is so much to do with Natural Artistic Horsemanship skills. All Punkin Patch Farm students are invited to the clinics and events we host where they can practice their skills and meet other horsemanship students of all ages and levels.

Lessons are approximately 2 hours long (we’re on horse time, not clock time).

Students must wear an approved riding helmet (some provided) at all times when they are on the horses. Registration forms must be signed prior to the first lesson by student (18 and over) or by a parent or guardian (up to age 18). Membership in a horse club that provides insurance is mandatory prior to the first lesson (ie. Cheval Quebec, OEF, Le Club les Forestiers). Appropriate clothing and footwear must be worn on the farm. Lessons can be cancelled because of extreme weather, although there is a lot to learn inside through simulations, videos, etc. If a lesson is cancelled for another reason, Punkin Patch Farm must be notified a day in advance.

We have two miniature horses that children under 60 pounds can ride and four horses who can carry up to 180 pounds. During group lessons, we share the horses, while some ride, others can practice their ground skills. Students will provide their own binders and are expected to complete their homework. Students can provide their own equipment if desired, but it is usually provided.

You want to learn Natural Artistic Horsemanship before purchasing your forever equine partner? Punkin Patch Farm can host up to five students at a time (with proper supervision) at our farm.

Students with good work/learning attitude may be referred to our work/study program.

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