In early August, Texas trainers Jack Lieser and Aaron England held a Nokota® Horse Observation and Application Clinic. This was the second Nokota® colt-starting clinic for the trainers, the first was held in Texas in March of 2010. The second clinic, which took place in the heartland of the Nokota® breed, provided participants with a unique and once in a lifetime experience to both observe and work with Nokota® horses in their natural environment. The clinic lasted five days and there were nine participants, who traveled from as far as Ohio, North Carolina, Texas and Missouri to participate. In the five days, Jack and Aaron showed the participants a variety of horse social structures in their natural environments, how to observe different horse behaviors, and how to build the fundamental first steps of working with unhandled Nokota® horses through natural horsemanship.
On the first day of the clinic, participants were taken out to observe a pasture of unstarted two to three year old colts. The herd held approximately forty colts, from which Jack, Aaron, and the clinic participants selected horses to work with. Participants learned how to herd a large group of wild horses by foot, and then how to sort individual horses out of the herd.
The colts were taken to Beaver Valley Horse Club rodeo grounds, in nearby Strasburg, North Dakota. There, participants observed and interacted with the social structure of the newly arranged herd.
On the second day, the colts were again sorted and participants worked them in round pens. Under the instruction of Jack and Aaron, participants used a variety of natural horsemanship techniques to begin getting the colts to start accepting human presence and contact.
Over the course of the next three days, the progress for individual clinic participants varied. While some participants worked with one horse for the entire clinic, others explored different ‘horse-analities’, each receiving careful attention from the trainers. The range of different horse-analities all being worked at once provided the participants with a unique learning experience. While some participants were ready to saddle their colt on day two, others spent the five days building trust with more difficult colts. Out of the nineteen colts selected for the clinic, twelve had been saddled and ridden by day five. All of the colts were handled during the clinic.
Participants also observed pastures of wild Nokotas each day. Different social structures observed were young colts, mares and foals, and stud bands. The observations of horse behavior in a natural setting gave participants a better understanding of how to work with the colts in the clinic.
The first Nokota® Horse Observation and Application Clinic was a great success, and we are very hopeful to be announcing the next one soon. This is a wonderful experience that anyone at any level could gain from, whether it be from the experience of seeing Nokotas roam the North Dakota prairies, horsemanship skills, the great cooking and company, and extended knowledge and understanding of this magnificent native breed. We couldn’t have hoped for better weather or a better outcome of the clinic.