How the Owners discovered Natural Horsemanship

It might come as a surprise to learn that the owner of a guest ranch that offers horseback riding and trail rides was once afraid of horses.

Traditional English Riding background

That’s exactly the case with Bernie CreutzLechleitner. It wasn’t until after she moved to Canada and discovered natural horsemanship that everything changed.

Bernie and her husband/business partner, Martin, are originally from Holland, and in their home country, Bernie only had access to stabled horses. She came from an English riding background, and noticed that there was quite the fear build up within that system of riding and handling horses. From an early age Bernie was becoming aware of how unpredictable horses that were kept in small spaces seemed to be.

“They all seemed afraid,” Bernie said. “And that scared me a lot, because I witnessed many freak accidents as a result.”

Discovered Natural Horsemanship

It was after Bernie and Martin immigrated to Canada that natural horsemanship arose as an option. After the pair purchased the land where the Campbell Hills Guest Ranch is today, Bernie bought a young, untrained horse by the name of Ace. This new horse didn’t seem to be responding well to traditional training methods, and was demonstrating quite a bit of resentment. It was then that Bernie started researching alternative methods online. When she came across natural horsemanship, something clicked. This was a new system that gave horses room to breath, mimicked their natural tendencies whenever possible and did away with the painful, harmful and unnecessary tactics put in place by the traditional riding world.

“I switched over to natural horsemanship completely after discovering it,” Bernie said. She believes that’s the only way to do it, as natural horsemanship embodies so much more than just a training method. In reality, it’s an ethical viewpoint as well as a philosophy for living.

Horse Magic in Herd

Since then, Bernie has seen naturally horsemanship work its magic a number of times. The ranch has adopted many horses over the years, but Bernie recalls one particular mare named Honey, who came in from auction. “It was evident that this horse was abused, and when people would get too close she would bite and even kick,” Bernie said.

The team at the ranch gave her over to the herd, and continued to work with her for over 2 years. Now, her demeanour has changed completely. She is calm and relaxed and Bernie and the wranglers  use her as one of their personal horses.

Feel, Timing and Balance

All the horses at the ranch are shown a great deal of respect, and Bernie truly believes that as a result, the feeling becomes mutual. As research into non-verbal communication with horses continues, the natural horsemanship community will continue to grow. There is a hope, that the old ways of the West that no longer serve this industry can be laid to rest, to make way for a newer, more gentle and compassionate way. The new goal, isn’t discovering and conquering the land. Instead, it’s simply finding ways to live in peaceful harmony with the beings that were here long before us, and those that will remain after we’re gone.