Archive for May 22nd, 2012

Just got back from a fabulous weekend at La Estancia Alegre, where Barbara Windom and Mark Bolender designed and built an amazing trail course in the bosque. I was lucky enough to snag a spot in the first  extreme trail cinic. They added a second clinic due to demand; it filled up in two days.

It was such a great group of people — most from Colorado — who were determined to have fun with their horses. I was particularly proud that my friends Stacey and Latina conquered their joint fear of water crossings. Latina accepted the lesson so well, she ended up leading another horse through the winding, shoulder-deep stream.

Stacey and Latina had a come-to-Jesus meeting with running water. Mark was so patient, Latina finally volunteered to stand quietly in the stream.

Wonder Pony finally conquered his wooden bridge phobia after a lot of standing on the bridge and a couple of acrobatics off the side. He also developed a much better tolerance for waiting, something very contrary to his Speedy Gonzalez nature.

I first watched Mark work with horses two years ago at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. I was impressed with his patient, emotionless approach to helping horses and riders build their confidence through trail challenges. For Mark, it’s not about making a horse do a 360 on a suspension bridge, it’s about convincing him he can and letting him work it out.

It’s his approach with riders as well, and it’s just as effective.

Thanks to Mark, his better half Lee, Barbara and all the new and old friends who made the trip so magical.

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