My name is Sandy Hodskins and after 2 years of trying I was finally able to arrange for Linda Parelli to teach in New Hampshire! I have been studying Parelli Natural Horsemanship through the home study course for the past 12 years. I started out by purchasing and selling trail horses. Each horse I purchased, I would put through level 2 in the program before finding them their perfect new partners. Ten years ago I purchased an untouched Kiger Mustang filly that I named West Wind and together we completed level 4 of the Parelli program and learned a lot along the way. Two years ago I was given a handsome black gelding named Toona. Toona was formerly shown in dressage however his nervous and reactive manners made the owner decide he wasn't the horse for her. I have spent the past 2 years gaining his trust, building his self-confidence as well as his respect in me as a leader. I will be riding him in this clinic as I want to learn more about how to help him when he becomes scared and worried. I would like to enter him to another dressage show someday when we are ready.
I have been told from family members, horse was one of my first words. Who knew my passion would be stronger than ever nearly 50 years later. Horses were a daily thing for me from my first pony at age 6 through my high school years with 2 of the most wonderful horses a kid could ask for. Flash forward thru a 20-year hiatus from horses which was when I was introduced to Parelli Natural Horsemanship. A program I believed in, shared with others and had the opportunity for some great mentors, but until recently I realize I was not in it whole heartedly, that is until my RBI Dunkin. I had a few horses in my adult years but never have I been so challenged.
I met Dunkin at a sale barn, he was not really that interested in interacting with people when I tried him out, but rode quiet with other horses and I thought perfect, I am not into going fast anymore, jigging or tantrums. When he first arrived, he had no interest in being part of our little herd and just stayed to himself. Looking back now Linda’s phrase “Shrinking Violet” comes to mind and I am pretty sure he had gone to an introverted state of mind at the sale barn. A few days after his arrival it was as if he woke up – he was afraid of EVERYTHING and my first few group trail rides on him were miserable for us both. He was Jiggy and bracy, spooky & herd-bound. During my 2-week trial I called the barn to say I could not keep this horse and I would like another horse and found out I was the 3rd person to bring him back. After hearing that I felt bad for him and said I would keep him here until I found the right horse. At least a month and a half passed of me trying many other horses and still none felt right. During that time I started some desensitizing and trying to work on his trust and it wasn’t long before I started noticing some changes, but I still had in my mind this was not my next partner, little did I realize he was working his way into my heart. Now winter was creeping in, they were getting in fewer and fewer horses and I gave up until Spring. By Spring I had fallen for my little man. I started to put more effort into natural horsemanship and we made some great progress and he was learning to trust me and I him. Though it was like night and day over the next couple years, we still struggled a bit with spooky or herd bound, and we still didn’t have that connection I so desired. I then started getting more involved with the Granite State Savvy Club and dove deeper into the Parelli program. In the past year or so I started really studying the Introverted horse and a lot of light bulbs went off, things like It’s not that he won’t do some things, it’s he emotionally can’t do it and trying to figure out what can I do to help him. I started putting the relationship first, paying close attention to his extremely subtle anxiety signs and kept him out certain riding situations [as much as I wanted to be a part of those] until we could be a team and he trusted me. What a change, we still have a long road ahead but learning to understand his RBI tendencies has been a huge relationship changer for us both and we have done some really cool stuff together. He still has his moments and I find myself struggling to understand him which is why I am so excited for Dunkin and I to meet Linda and hopefully get some more info on how to become better partners and to help him become more confident and trusting.
My Parelli journey began at the World Horse Expo in Maryland when I caught a level 1 pack (original version) which Pat tossed into the audience. I had just bought a new horse and together we fumbled our way through Level 1, then it took 9 years, through the ups and downs of raising a family and career, to officially pass Level 3. My dream was to develop our partnership through Level 4, but 2 years ago, while in Virginia for some lessons with Michael Alway, my horse suffered a catastrophic field injury and had to be euthanized. It was through this misfortune that my current horse, Pilot, came to me. Pilot was Michael's horse in his colt start class with Pat and, although Michael liked him enough to buy and bring him home to Virginia, he spent the next few years as a pasture ornament while Michael focused on his other horse and teaching. Pilot needed a human and I needed a horse so he came home with me. Going from LBI to RBI has been humbling! Pilot and I spent most of the first year playing on line. I felt that I needed help from a professional with the riding so over the winter while I was moving from Pennsylvania to Vermont, Pilot stayed with Avery Gauthier. Now that I feel safe riding, we are progressing well and I am looking forward to the amazing opportunity of learning with Linda and Patrick.