Volunteers and Natural Horsemanship at Campbell Hills Guest Ranch

winter front field with horsesFor the first time I am going to be separated from our herd for 3 whole weeks. Sitting in the plane flying across the oceans and looking at our beautiful planet from above, I start reminiscing. 
It feels strange leaving the daily winter routine with our horses behind for this big Australia trip. Not an easy one for me but we have great volunteers at the ranch who take care of the herd.
The main reason for this trip is attending a wedding.
Two of our previous volunteers who fell in love at our ranch are getting married in Perth on March 9, 2018 which happens to be Martin's birthday.


bob and lara trail ride
Romance at the Ranch

Bob from Australia and Lara from Holland worked at Campbell Hills for two seasons and during that time, their romance developed into a beautiful serious relationship. In the second year Bob proposed to Lara on our own Honeymoon Hill. Their love for each other and for horses paved a great road for, love - language and leadership which they will use in their life long journey together.

Dream Team Wranglers
Both Bob and Lara became part of a ‘dream-volunteer team’ in our first operating ranch year together with Sarah and Franzi. We learned a lot from each other and became ‘family’. It was tough and we shed many a tear, to see this ‘dream team’ leave after 2 seasons.
Together they started to rescue standardbred horses by giving them a new life at their little ranch in Gidgegannup, north of Perth. Both Martin and I can’t wait to be reunited with Sarah, Franzi, Bob and Lara and see what a safe horse haven they have created.  (See pics underneath from our Australia Trip)
wedding at Conto's beach in Australia   Sarah and Bob spending undemanding time   Lara showing Bernie the rescue horses   Lara and Bob riding their horses

Volunteer Journey
Over the last 5 years we had many volunteers arrive and learn at Campbell Hills Guest Ranch.
Our volunteers come from all over the world and for many of them; this is their first journey without their family safety net.
The big and exciting challenge upon arrival is always, “Do they fit in and become like family, and do they want to learn truly about Natural Horsemanship?”
Will they take home and share this beautiful philosophy after their time spent at Campbell Hills just like Franzi, Sarah and Bob & Lara did?

lisa catching the herdHerd of Horses
My main objective for our Ranch Herd is to keep and preserve their handling solid and practical within the natural horsemanship philosophy. 
The big test is of course when they are confronted with a herd environment for the first time.  This can be quite overwhelming when you are surrounded by horses in 'horseville'!
Most volunteers come from a stable background, where most horses have isolated stalls or little paddocks.
The system in these stalls is for total convenience for the human but not for the horse. They get their horse out of an isolated stall, cross tie him to groom and saddle him. There is usually no time spent in teaching responsibility for the horse and developing a true connection between horse and human 'partner'.


At our ranch we use a very different reality of ‘working with horses’. Every morning we enter the Herd environment, which is in a huge open range. We have to use our senses, observe and listen to find the horses. When the horses see us we wait for an invitation to enter their space (with just enough energy to balance their energy) and we invite them to come to us at liberty so we can halter them.  Energy can be felt as pressure for horses, which they try to avoid at all times. Their self-preservation always seeks safety and comfort and the right energy balance. The horse will let us know if we can provide that just like the herd does for them.
Our herd of 26 horses lives year round outside in harmony with nature and wildlife and roam on our 160 acre property. The terrain is quite varied with forests, hills and open meadows.

release tension for first rideNatural Horsemanship philosophy
My goal to help making the world a better place for horses and humans who love them, is not an easy task but I can tell you, a very rewarding one.
It is a journey in which I share my knowledge, natural horsemanship principles and holistic care for the horse.
For me to teach about: FEEL, TIMING and BALANCE is a true journey in itself.
Learning how to read a horse and creating awareness of your own body language is for most volunteers a new experience.

Horsenality and Humanality

Here at Campbell Hills the volunteers get a great opportunity to being exposed to many different horse characters in our herd as well as building team spirit with each other.
We use the Horsenality chart from Parelli (left brain & right brain and introvert & extrovert behaviours, which make up the 4 horsenalities) to assess each horse and human.
This is a fascinating process, because the horses have their innate character and learned behaviour, which we then use in our training formats. The same goes for the humans and the awareness this creates in oneself. This forms a good basis for matching horses and humans.
Most volunteers learn a lot about themselves while in this Natural horsemanship journey. Horses being prey animals hold a mirror to their humans in stress situations since most of the time we switch to being a predator. It is in those stressfull situations when the truth comes out for the horse and human.

Last working day for staffIn the End
When the volunteers go back home, they take with them, newly built relationships, new experiences, memories, and long lasting life lessons that will help them build a strong foundation for their future in life.
I am very grateful to have become a small part of our volunteers life journey and being able to teach the NH philosophy combined with lessons from our beautiful herd.