BY SARAH LINDSTEIN

Imagine galloping without a bridle to contain your horse, racing without fear. Your partnership is so strong that you trust your horse to leap over obstacles without hesitation and tiptoe eagerly across tarps without spooking and running away.

Paul Dufresne, world-class multi-disciplined horse trainer, is coming to the Yukon to show riders, even those curious non-horse people, how to obtain an exceptional partnership with their horses.

During his three-day clinic, riders and those auditing will be able to take in Dufresne’s instruction on achieving partnerships based on trust and bravery.

To showcase his talent, Dufresne offers a demonstration free to the public on Aug. 28 at the Takhini Hot Springs.

Trish Pitzel, clinic facilitator and riding instructor, was inspired to bring Dufresne to the Yukon after auditing one of his clinics. “He has a great instructional background and is able to explain complicated concepts easily. He teaches you how to bond with your horse without aggression or fear.”

Dufresne’s training is suitable for any discipline and level. He excels at breaking down barriers in communication between horse and rider, making tense situations dissipate.

“He’s very hands-on and during the clinic he will ride the participants’ horses and really show the audience how it works,” says Pitzel. Dufresne’s training is a mix of natural horsemanship, “horse whispering” and classical dressage.

Horses are prey animals and are intuitively suspicious of new things. Confronting frightening obstacles and situations does not come easily to them. A horse would prefer to gallop away from a neon-green giant soccer ball, but yet, with Dufresne’s techniques, they learn to approach and play.

This training system was developed during Dufresne’s work training horses for film. Horses in movies tackle monsters, aliens and explosions, and Dufresne had to devise a way to have horses listen to him as a leader. Hence, Training for Courage was born and Dufresne has been teaching methods of equine leadership ever since.

“Paul shows you how to become a leader in an equine partner’s eyes,” says Pitzel. Riders who have many years of experience have just as much to learn.

“How many times do you see a horse refusing to enter a horse trailer with an experienced horseman, or spooking on the trail?” Enhancing bravery for both horse and rider is Dufresne’s speciality and he takes it to real-life scenarios as well as those more suited to the silver screen, like horse soccer.

The free public demonstration of Training for Courage is on Friday, Aug. 28, at 6 p.m. at the Takhini Hot Springs arena. The clinic runs from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Participants must register in advance.

For more information, or to register, contact Trish Pitzel at 667-7808 or [email protected]