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Relationship-Based Horsemanship in Nova Scotia

Ada Draghici

It’s muddy in the paddock after several days of summer rain, and the pasture where I usually play with my horses is soggy. I take my seven-year-old gelding Kai to a back road that leads to the beach. He’s wearing a new cavesson I made for him out of paracord. I suggest lateral movements on the shoulder of the road to warm up. An ATV is flying towards us and Kai checks in with me to see if I’m alright — if I’m not scared, he isn’t either.

The beach is just over a mile from home. Kai is trying to grab at some Queen Anne’s Lace growing on the side of the road as he trots. The white flowers hang out of his mouth.

The pavement turns into gravel, and now we are on a narrow path down to the beach, past the abandoned house and the blackberry bramble. The tide is coming in, but there’s still half the beach left to play on. I’m happy about that, as I didn’t check the tide schedule before leaving. The tides on the Bay of Fundy are the highest in the world.

This is my arena. The scenery is spectacular and the sand is always freshly dragged. I suggest half-passes. Kai agrees and floats sideways. I listen to the delightful rhythmic crunch of his footfalls over the gray, foggy beach.

When we’re done, he licks and chews, as he is still learning the movement. I lean over to give him a treat. His ears swivel towards me and he nickers, pleased with himself.

About me: I’m sixteen years old. I train my gelding with the support of my mentor, IHA President Farrah Green, with whom I take weekly video lessons. I’ve been teaching for almost two years, and I drive all over Nova Scotia to see my students. I love helping people understand what their horses are telling them and it is rewarding to see their relationships blossom. When they are in tune with their equine partners, they can build a solid, safe foundation. I equally enjoy helping a student become more confident at asking her horse to back up, or spending a couple of hours fine-tuning haunches-in with an advanced student.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been supported by gifted and passionate horsemen (horse women!) who’ve guided and encouraged me. I draw energy and inspiration from being a part of a large network of like-minded horse trainers and instructors.

Many youths don’t have such a level of support. Being a natural horsemanship student isn’t always easy—I too was teased and even bullied for my beliefs. I would like every horsemanship student and instructor to know that someone has your back. I’m excited that students, trainers and horse owners, no matter what discipline or training style, can now have the support of the IHA, whose standards of training put the horse first.

Ada Draghici

Hailing from Nova Scotia, Ada Draghici is the first Canadian youth to be awarded the Parelli Future of Horsemanship scholarship. She is a horsemanship instructor and a certified Apex Barefoot Trimmer and is the founder of the popular Facebook group, Horse First Dressage Discussions. Ada loves to ride on the beach with her equine partners, Kai and Flory, and is in the process of becoming a Recommended Instructor with the IHA.