I am by no means anything close to a horse expert. But I’ve been around horses enough to be exposed to just about every imaginable type of “horse person.”

Just like horses, horse people come in all shapes and sizes and have all kinds of approaches to handling their animals. And, of course, there are the horse people who teach others how to be horse people. There are bazillions of them these days, and they all have a different way of educating their students.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

That can be confusing to a novice who basically has to sort through all the varying information and decide what works for them, but it’s a necessary chore because of the nature of the game and the relative over-crowding in the teaching realm. And as my wife and I like to jokingly (but accurately) say, all horse trainers think their approach is right.

In turn, it’s up to the learner to find a way to learn.

Nevertheless, the end goal of horsemanship training is having members of two vastly different species get to a place of optimizing the amazing reality of the interaction that’s possible between them – and subsequently taking advantage of the good times that can be had.

My experience with witnessing people get closer to that end goal took several steps forward last Thursday and Friday, as my job led me to the Mustang Family Reunion Ride at Golden Hills Trail Rides and Resort, the gigantic equine haven created near Raymondville by Chuck and Kay Golden.

The week-long event was hosted by Laura and Eric Dawson, of LoneStar L Ranch in Lexington, Texas. The event’s name stems from Laura’s long-standing connection with the American Mustang, as her past includes years of work with the Mustang Heritage Foundation.

But names and pasts notwithstanding, the Reunion Ride’s present is special – on several levels.

I only caught the last two of its five days of activities, but that was enough to grasp what was going on there. And I’m here to tell you, in my non-expert opinion, what was going on there was horsemanship in its finest form.

I saw numerous nationally-known and even world famous trainers (a.k.a. “clinicians,” because their business is traveling and hosting horsemanship clinics).

They interacted with men, women and children with obvious humility and grace, as they shared their vast caches of knowledge born of a lifelong love of horses and a strong (and very real) dedication to being their partners and friends. There was no detectible arrogance, attitude or strife emanating from either side of the spectrum; the teachers were genuinely concerned for the horse people and horses in their charge, and the students were like sponges, willingly and eagerly absorbing every tidbit of data as they strived to be better horse people.

I always like being around lots of horses, if for no other reason because of the smell of leather and, well, horses, and the sounds of hoofs, gear and riders. But I liked this experience even more because of the elevated cooperation displayed by every horse person involved and heightened sense of resolve that permeated every inch of the 5,000 acres of the Golden Hills complex.

And I admired how much respect patience was given, as men and women who can take virtually any horse and get it to do almost anything they ask conveyed information with softly and concisely spoken words understandable to all within hearing range. Whether the advice was about stopping and starting without the use or reins, changing a horse’s gait from a walk to a canter, or moving laterally in a western dressage routine, every portion was shared with kindness, compassion and empathy.

It was a pleasure to be around, and I could tell the same sentiment was shared by every paid professional and paying amateur involved. Without a doubt, the young, the old, the fledgling and the accomplished all benefited and left having bettered their status as horse people.

The Dawsons have already reserved a week in June 2015 for their second annual event at Golden Hills, which will include some of the same and some new clinicians, as well as other added features. Lord willing, me and my camera will be there again.

On a different note, it’s interesting to me that the event managed to take place in such an under-the-radar fashion considering its magnitude and the fact that multiple famous people were in the mix. I’m pretty sure only a handful of Texas County residents were aware of it, but I guess uncovering and sharing the unknown and unusual is one of the things I enjoy most about my job.

I always appreciate the opportunity to share a good “who knew?” moment, and I look forward to the next one coming along. Based on what I’ve come to expect from the incredibly diverse micro-world that is Texas County, that probably won’t be long.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.  Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

As an appreciative crowd watches last Friday outside the arena at Golden Hills Trail Rides and Resort near Raymondville, Mo., world-renowned Australian horsemanship clinician Guy McLean rides his horse Quietway Spinabbey, while guiding his team of show horses Quietway Sequel, Quietway Pride and Quietway Hope during the inaugural Mustang Family Reunion Ride, a week long event hosted by Laura Scott Dawson and Eric Dawson, of Lone Star L Ranch in Lexington, Texas.

As an appreciative crowd watches last Friday outside the arena at Golden Hills Trail Rides and Resort near Raymondville, Mo., world-renowned Australian horsemanship clinician Guy McLean rides his horse Quietway Spinabbey, while guiding his team of show horses Quietway Sequel, Quietway Pride and Quietway Hope during the inaugural Mustang Family Reunion Ride, a week long event hosted by Laura and Eric Dawson, of Lone Star L Ranch in Lexington, Texas.

Renowned horsemanship clinician Lanny Leach (of Dragoon, Ariz.) gives tips to Melissa Griffith (of Argyle, Texas) during the Mustang Family Reunion Ride at Golden Hills Trail Rides and Resort in eastern Texas County, Mo.

Renowned horsemanship clinician Lanny Leach (of Dragoon, Ariz.) gives tips to Melissa Griffith (of Argyle, Texas) during the Mustang Family Reunion Ride at Golden Hills Trail Rides and Resort in eastern Texas County, Mo.

Dozens of riders head out for a cattle drive during a week-long horsemanship event at Golden Hills Trail Rides and Resort near Raymondville, Mo.

Dozens of riders head out for a cattle drive during a week-long horsemanship event at Golden Hills Trail Rides and Resort near Raymondville, Mo.

Laura and Eric Dawson, of Mustang Family Reunion Ride and LoneStar L Ranch.

Laura and Eric Dawson, of Mustang Family Reunion Ride and LoneStar L Ranch.

 

 

 

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