The highlights of my teaching calendar are the long term courses that I teach at my place “Alchemy Place” in March and September each year. In these longer modules the depth of knowledge and the transformation that can happen for both horses and humans is phenomenal. With my goal being to help horses and help raise the standard of horsemanship around the world, these courses cement the foundations of horsemanship in those that attend. My dream is that some of these attendees will go onto become future instructors and horse trainers. I offered some scholarships to a few passionate, talented and dedicated individuals to start heading towards this goal and they did exceptionally well. What a great few weeks we had. Through pictures and words, I love pictures because as the saying goes a picture tells a thousand words, some words from myself and some from the course participants we will share our experiences of the March 3 week course “Realise the Magic of Horses”.
Philosophy – Horsemanship is more about a way of “Being” than a way or “Doing”, Energy awareness, Centering, Breathing, Body Scanning, Connection, Communication, Using your laser beam of energy and intention, Learning the ABC’s, The Basic yields, Playing with obstacles, Pre-flight checks, bareback, saddles and saddle fit, spiralling to a stop, jelly and lemonade ( turn loose in your body like jelly and have bubbles of life and energy like lemonade). “Whatever happens don’t lock up”, “Focus on your breathing”, “If you see tension in your horse, that is your cue to get deeper into your centre and breathe more fully and deeply.”
“Three weeks, me & Jacob, how will we cope. He doesn’t move forward. I can’t ride. How silly will I look. Then Mel stepped in with her knowledge, combined with encouragement and focus. I felt at ease, not silly and both Jacob and I improved to a point where I could confidently get on Jacob, walk him around easily, yield both front and hindquarters and yes, my goal to trot had not only begun but had progressed without Jacob or me being anxious.
Heartfelt thanks to Mel for everything. Her facility was great and her cook “Sarah”- what a dream. I loved, totally loved every minute. I ‘ll be back or catch up with Mel at another clinic. Love, Love, Loved it. Guess what dreams do come true at Mel’s.”
“At the clinic I learned to connect with horses and to ride with confidence.
Hannah Whiteman ( age 9)
Longer lines, changes of direction, transitions on line, spirals, trail walking, soft and smooth, rhythm and flow, sideways, independent seat, balance, feel, timing, power positions, trot diagonals, straightness and alignment, transitions. Calm, attentive, responsive and then, what is their quality of balance and how do they use their body ? “Be there for your horse and your horse will be there for you”. “If you meet resistance match and wait and if your horse pulls away match and go with, like you have elastic in your joints”
I was so excited to have the opportunity to spend a week at Mel’s.
Mel helped me to really focus, tune in and feel the horse, not just ride it.
There are so many little things that I didn’t even realise I was doing or needed to improve until Mel pointed it out, and when she did it seemed so obvious. Although, as I found out, watching Mel and then trying to imitate her yourself are two completely different things.
Listening and watching made me realise that sometimes the smallest things are the key to results or improvement. I always focus on the big picture and what I want to do, not the smaller, seemingly insignificant things that you need to get to you there.
In just one short week I learnt more than I could have hoped for. It was the most amazing experience and I would love to do more courses with Mel soon.
Chayse Holland – Age 15 ( I think?)
“While working for Mel (Isobel was a working student with a scholarship) I learnt so much in lots of different areas. I gained a deeper level of understanding about what she teaches. I got to work with different horses and learn more skills with my own horses. I had a scholarship for the last week of a three week course and I made so much progress with my horse, Sage, his overall posture improved and I feel much more confident on him now. The whole course was fantastic and the food was amazing. I also had the opportunity to attend Aikido Martial Arts classes which added to the whole experience. I’ve taken so much information and I can’t wait to see the differences and results in my horses at home. Thanks Mel, for teaching me all that you have, I can’t wait to come back and learn more “
Isobel Whiteman – Age 14
“I got so much out of the course and you put so much out for us. I appreciate your dedication and professionalism. Riley and I have a different relationship now, he actually comes up to me and sticks his head in the halter and appears to enjoy our time together.”
“Thank you so much for your leadership this week. I am constantly amazed with your depth of knowledge with horses and the willingness to share that knowledge. This week, at times, was a challenge trying to deal with an emotional horse but it was more of a challenge trying to deal with the emotions coming up in me. I thank you for your guidance and your knowledge and for giving me the tools to not only help my horse through his emotional state but to also help me understand myself a little better. I know I will grow from this experience and that can only help my horsemanship skills. This last week has been a great learning experience, one that without your guidance I probably would have blamed the horse! Thanks again Mel, you have so much to give and I’m so blessed to be able to learn from you.”
The 4 Agreements. Be impeccable with your word, don’t make assumptions, don’t take anything personally and always do your best. “Self mastery equals having no reaction to the reactions of others”. The key to horsemanship – “Have no reaction to the reactions of your horse”. “Be the change that you want to see.”
Liberty, creating draw, arcs and angles, mental game, posture versus confirmation, ground work and riding as physical therapy for the horse, body wraps, cantering on line and riding, riding with contact, psoas muscle – lengthening to shift your centre of gravity down and back, “be like a tree” from your belt up your spine lengthens up and from your belt down your spine lengthens down (tenshi), balance, self carriage, engagement and collection. Happy horses and riders.
” A time and place where it all feels as it is meant to. It has helped me find clarity in my horsemanship journey and lifes journey and possibly the hardest thing is how they fit together. I am positively charged to expand from this week into my life and home and continue onwards and upwards. A fantastic course, thanks Mel and everyone else that was a part of it.”
“There is a saying, “an enlightened being does not use a word unconsciously”, and Melanie Fleming uses very conscious language when communicating – whether it be to horses or humans. Mel has such a depth and profundity of technical knowledge, as well as biomechanical and behavioural insight of both horse and rider, it is hard to be anything at times but amazed.
We all have certainties about ourselves, our lives, our horses…… and there’s nothing wrong with that if they are grounded in truth. Mel challenges me to re-think my motivation for riding, my values, how I connect with the world. Mel challenges me to look at the rigid judgements and expectations I have had of my horse and myself, and start me on the journey of transforming expectations into softness so that I can actually connect with my horse at the place where he or she is, not where I think we should be. To create a space where my horse and I can meet and be authentic, is a gift. Thank you Mel!”
And then there was the beautiful property, the food, sleeping in swags, the dogs and the extra curricular activites of Aikido, osteopathic treatments for the horses and riders and a stretching course with osteopath Brian Petiford for both horses and humans, hay making and of course hay picking up, moving cattle, and the opportunity to watch Mel work with her horses. It was a very full 3 weeks.
Thank you all for sharing in the wonderful experience here at “Alchemy Place” a piece of heaven on earth, where we can all experience the magic in horses and in each other.