How I evolved as a Horse Trainer – by Shane D. Olver – Master Horseman

I started riding horses as teenager in east Gippsland, Victoria. No training. No lessons. Just galloping up and down hills. It was exhilarating and really got the adrenaline running.

As I got older, I met people with horses and went on the occasional trail ride with them. At about the age of 23, I was working in Broome, WA and obtained my first horse. She was two month old foal. A survivor of a cull on one of the local stations.

Shortly after getting my first horse, I got a six year old grey Arab X mare. Again, another survivor. This time from a station in drought. A few months later, I bought a 15 year old thoroughbred from Perth.

Broome and the Kimberley people were very isolated from the rest of the world in those days. Getting information about anything was usually down to someone leaving the area and coming back to share new information. Today, with the internet and mobile phones etc, information is easily sought and gathered.

When I obtained my three horses, I was unhappy with the way people were treating and thought about the care and training of their horses. The old way was just not acceptable to me.

I didn’t know of a better way, but I knew there had to be one. I guess I drifted away from other horse people around me because I didn’t want to apply their methods on my horses. This obviously did not win me any friends in the local horse fraternity.

Steve Baker, a young bloke (17 years old), luckily turned up in town. Steve had learnt how to ride and care for his horse from some old bloke in South Australia. He was a terrific rider. Steve ended up working for me in my construction business and after work, we would saddle up and head down to the beach,  a 3 – 4 hour trip.

Steve was gentle but firm with the horses and he was fearless. He loved to bronco ride. He taught me to halter break, to worm, do the feet, how to judge the quality of health of a horse, saddle fitting and other important horse techniques. He also improved my riding, most importantly of all, he became like a little brother to me.

I was very lucky to meet many Aboriginal people, many of whom were born and grew up on stations working with stock (the lands were their traditional lands). From these wonderful people, I learnt about the spirit and nature of a horse. They also taught me about healing with natural bush medicine as there were no vets near by. Wounds were anything from punctures, feet problems, ligament, muscle stresses, to stomach and eye problems.  Remedies were made from local plants. poultices and antiseptics for wounds, herbs for stomach and skin problems, catgut for stitching etc.

The Aboriginal people taught and assisted me in the understanding of the horses spirit and culture. These teachings sped things up for me in terms of forming relationships with my horses.

When we hear or say how tolerant our horses are, believe it!! We humans have been too slow to learn and change, preferring to cling to the old ways.

From everything what I have learnt, most of all, what my horses have taught me about their society, culture and language. They have assisted me greatly in keeping me in the saddle. I was to realise many years later what a terrible rider I was, even though this was the way we are all taught.

My family and I arrived in Denmark WA, 420 kms south of Perth. Beautiful forest and pristine ocean country.

When I left Broome, I thought I was a good rider and that I knew a lot about horses, and maybe I did. But what I didn’t know was vastly greater. All of a sudden, I felt very ignorant and undereducated.

After a short amount of time, it didn’t take me long to hear about what was happening in the horse world. I found this very exciting.

Pat Parelli was running around the country selling his method of Horsemanship. This, of course I studied. I went to a couple of his clinics in the mid nineties which provided some me with some new knowledge and excited me greatly.

Monty Roberts had just printed his book, however this was still somewhat unknown. Monty’s book appeared at the right time for me.

I’ll continue my story tomorrow, happy and safe riding, Shane

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