Joanna Samson has had her 14-year-old Quarter Horse-Welsh Mountain Pony cross Dewey for the past seven months, but it’s only been during the past six weeks or two months that the the field hunter has experienced several meltdowns, and exhibited some behavioral issues that Samson didn’t quite understand.


The horseman decided to participate in Julie Robins’ Dragonfly Farm’s Immersion Week, and made the commitment to take part in a program composed of several components to improve the relationship with her horse, through an intense and comprehensive process.


The reason Samson decided to attend Immersion Week was two-fold as she’s a big fan of the natural horsemanship techniques used by Robins, and that the horseman thought it would be a great opportunity to asses what has been going on with her horse while seeking a different perspective.


The Immersion process opened up a whole world of opportunity to do things in a different way, providing the necessary tools and resources for Samson to use in strengthening her relationship with Dewey.


Samson found the Immersion process challenging, experiencing a number of diffculties while learning how to manipulate some of the available resources to better communicate with Dewey.


“The ropes, I’m still working on it, with my left hand flailing about,” said Samson.


The natural horsemanship techniques and concentrated learning made a noticeable difference from the very beginning, said Samson.


“He was just sort of resistant and stiff on one side, and not sure of what we were asking,” said Samson. “But, every day he would get better and better. Today, he was much softer.”


Saturday found Samson going out of her comfort zone, engaging in something that was a bit unnerving.


“I rode him basically with no reins, with just a loose rein,” said Samson. “I’m learning how not to revert back to grabbing with my hands.”


However, the Immersion Week also provided Samson with ways to improve her relationship with Dewey allowing her to modify her approach by implementing many of the new ideas and resources.


“I have to commit myself to doing a lot more work on the ground as opposed to showing up, throwing the saddle on him and going out,” said Samson. “Learning the pre-ride checklist was very important.”