Central Florida, around Orlando, is known for Mickey Mouse, gentle winters, and vacation time with the family. However, there are a lot of working cattle ranches, one of which is the Crescent “J” Ranch, home to a working cattle ranch, Forever Florida, where people can get a taste of the Old Florida, and Eye Of The Horse for Equine Therapy. Which is run by Dr. Sandra Wise, and Dean Van Camp, mainly using “Cracker Horses”.
In April, 2014, I had the pleasure of meeting a group of 14 college students from England, who were in Equine Studies at Writtle College, and took their Easter Break not to do the tourist thing, but to Kenansville, Florida to learn about Western Riding, with Dean Van Camp, and Dr. Sandra Wise.
Using both unbroken colts, and experienced horses several years older, the Students learned how to work horses in a round pen and in open pastures. From getting the horses to “disengage their hips”, to getting the younger familiar to having a rope on and around their bodies, and that the rope is nothing to be scared off, to moving cattle from pasture to pen.
They learned not how to command these animals, but to work with them. Which in turned kept the cattle safer, and taught manners to the horses, so they did not fear humans, nor try to buck or kick at their handlers. Something that is a common problem among the horses they had worked with at home in England.
I think their time here in Florida will change how they will approach working with their horses back home, and how they approach life in the future.