Jackie St. Thomas was one of several riders to work with Leslie Desmond at a recent clinic in Marion, Massachusetts.
St. Thomas initially discovered Desmond years ago through “True Horsemanship Through Feel,” the book Desmond co-wrote with Bill Dorrance. Then she signed up for a 2011 Desmond clinic and brought Storm, a challenging Craig’s List purchase.
The Cape Cod rider said, “I wanted to learn how to work so it’s much more harmonious.”
She recalled an intense experience at that clinic:
At one point, Desmond asked to work with Storm, a 16.3 hand Irish Sport Horse. St. Thomas handed over the reins and started walking away.
“Leslie said, ‘you need to tell him, it’s ok,’” said St. Thomas.
“So I responded with my thought, telling him it was ok. He relaxed his head and let out this huge sigh. All the auditors there could see the reaction.
“I’ll never forget it. I learned just how connected we can be with our horses. I notice those connections now. I might not have noticed them before becoming aware of this whole approach. I’m more thoughtful and patient now. Rather than doing things to a horse, I allow him to guide me.”
Just recently, St. Thomas was reminded again of her horse-human connection. The two were attacked by a dog while beach riding. The dog went for Storm’s throat and chased them for three miles, according to the Cape Cod Times. They finally got free, but then encountered another dog.
“Storm was really frightened,” said St. Thomas. “I told him, it’s ok. It’s not the same dog. Then he exhaled, dropped his neck and moved forward.”
St. Thomas has learned, she said, “to respond to my horse in the moment. To watch his reactions and let him respond.”
Hats off to you, Jackie!