While attending the 2017 Equus Film Festival in New York City, I had the distinct pleasure to meet Canadian horsewoman Lorie Duff. She was attending for her short film, “Humble and Kind” filmed by her daughter. While we didn’t get to speak as long as I would have liked, we have kept in touch and Lorie was kind enough to agree to an interview.
I love hearing stories of strong, independent women following their passion and supporting others pursue their own dreams. Lorie is a true horsewoman, and an inspiration to all women who have passion and purpose.
A Little Background
Q: Where are you based?
A: Located just 45 minutes outside the city of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Q: What is your earliest memory with horses?
A: When I was just about 5 years old there was an older mare, named Queen at our dairy farm in Newfoundland. My dad would put myself and my sister on her and we would ride her bareback around the barn yard.
Q: What is your favorite breed to work with? Why?
A: I love Quarter horses. I am a big time lover of the Reining sport and the athletic ability of the AQHA horses. They are beautiful.
Q: Tell us about your horse, Titan.
A: Titan was the first horse born at our farm. It was exciting as he was born from a mare that I had rescued. She was in really bad shape and I was unsure the baby would be born alive and healthy. Then there he was! I thought at first it was a filly as he was too beautiful and tiny to be a girl. Titan’s dam was not well at all and shortly after was sent to horse heaven. She was a beautiful mare and was loved beyond words for the short time she was in our lives, she is missed everyday.
Health & Wellness
Q: Barefoot or Shoed?
A: Barefoot for the most part and shoes if required.
Q: To blanket or not to blanket?
A: Personally I blanket but for many reasons. I blanket to help keep up the maintenance of the horse, and it is very helpful in checking the horses everyday, sometimes twice a day. They get a good looking over to see if theres anything going on with them. It gives me time with each horse whether they are being worked or not and to check in with them. Of course for other times of the year there is no need for blanketing but again it depends often on the situation and the circumstances.
Q: Nutrition- what do you feed your horses?
A: I feed a good quality hay though out the day, always clean and fresh water. I think it is key to a healthy horse for them to always have access to clean fresh water all day. I also feed grain and a good quality supplement, Platinum Performance, to all my guys whether they are performing or training.
Q: Spinal manipulation, massage, and acupuncture. Thoughts?
A: I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful Osteopath professional named Alexandre Lamarsalle available when I am home and not traveling for my horses. He is truly wonderful.
Q: What exactly is Liberty Training?
A: Liberty is a special entity that builds a bond and a mental connection between you and your horse. It’s an understanding of how horses communicate. Training is about using pressure and release in order to communicate with your horse to build a positive relationship.
Liberty creates mutual trust and respect through motivation and communication. Smart, safe, and simple understanding is used to connect with the horse. My goal with liberty training and good horsemanship is to always develop a successful partnership.
Q: What drew you to this type of training above others?
A: I have been working with several different clinicians, trainers, and educators throughout many years, and I always kept searching for more understanding, thinking there has to be a better way. With all the training I have obtained over the years I ended up creating my own philosophy for how I wanted to work with horses.
I have always wanted a better relationship, a more willing partnership, so as I grew in the industry. What I do is not so different from many other horseman and horsewoman. I think it develops over time but only as you keep educating yourself I have had many different experiences so I am continuing to always evolve as a trainer and an educator.
Q: How did you get your start with training and horsemanship?
A: I moved to Ontario in 2007 and since then I have been more and more involved with trainers and clinicians from the USA: Josh and John Lyons; Stacy and Jesse Westfall; and also Buck Brannaman, Barbra Schulte, and many others great professionals.
Q: Is training and certification needed?
A: Here in Canada there is a national body which governs the equestrian industry called Equestrian Canada (formally known as Equine Canada). They offer a program for all disciplines and areas of the equine industry in Canada where you can do a level program to become a certified Equine Coach in your discipline. They offer an excellent program as well as had a successful involvement from recreational riders up to the Olympic level.
I had do Rider levels myself and sat on the Board of Directors for my province in NL years ago. As a result I was involved in the strategic reprogramming board with other provinces to revamp the recreational division of equine Canada a few years back. My personal background with training through Equine Canada was not necessary, but did give me a personal feeling of accomplishment and achievement as I developed into a more successful horsewoman.
Q: What are the benefits of liberty training with horses?
A: Liberty training simply gives you the tools to have a better understanding through communication, trust and respect with your horse in a safe and effect manner. It allows us understanding of what we want from our relationship with our partner, the horse.
Q: How does groundwork benefit riders?
A: Groundwork is key to having a successful partnership with your horse in all situations. Handling your horse during grooming, taking extra time with them in their field or stalls, whatever the case may be. The more time you handle your horse and communicate to them a clear understanding, you will have all that benefit from a good foundation of horsemanship.
Q: Does it matter if your discipline is English or Western?
A: I am non discipline specific, I love all disciplines and horses. Always remember that each horse, each situation, is always in that moment. Being open-minded and going “outside the box” if things are not quite right is okay as long as there is always good horsemanship.
I did a clinic a few times with Jen Hamilton, an English-based trainer. She is a fantastic woman and someone everyone can learn from. Jen is clear and passionate about your learning and understanding, and I really enjoyed listening to her. It helped me truly understand more about the beauty of the English jumper discipline. I have always been a “Canadian Cowgirl”. I grew up on a dairy farm with cows and wide open spaces. As your learn more about horses it becomes your personal preference as to what you enjoy more. My background is mostly Western but as I keep evolving I think it is more about being a good teacher of good horsemanship to anyone that would like to learn.
Q: What makes your style of training different from others?
A: I once had a lady come up to me at an expo ….. she said, “you use horses as a tool to teach others how to be better horseman and horsewoman”. I took it for a really good complement. I love teaching and I love when someone comes up to me at an expo or a clinic and tells me that for the first time in years of being with horses, then now “get it” that I love!
I feel I have a special gift of communicating to others what I know, in a very different way …. I take my time and I am always humbled by the simplest changes I can make for someone and their horse.
Q: Do you teach clinics? Please give details.
A: I Just started teaching a bit further from home now. I’m in Missouri, USA in February and other USA locations and Canada. I am also hoping to travel to Australia and as well South Africa in the near future.
I do performances in the expos and perform annually at the RCMP Sunset Ceremonies here in our Nation’s capital, Ottawa ON Canada.
My clinics can be anywhere from 2 to 4 days long, usually over a weekend. Clinics consist of approximately 12 participants that go in groups of 3 participants per every 2 hours. The sessions are 2 hours each. We have a nice long break for lunch for all participants and auditors to sit and eat and drink and chat and they can ask me questions about the sessions.
I have had successful clinics and been asked back several times to the same facilities, which is fantastic. Anyone looking to book a clinic with me can email, text or call me anytime. I am very easy to get along with and have helped hostesses that are new to having clinics. I can help them organize it or some people want to have the proper information to carry it forward themselves. It is always pleasant to help others and set them up to be successful not only for my clinics but for others as well.
I feel that there are many other great clinicians out there and knowledge is power. To be “Humble and Kind”, listen to others, learn from others, and help each other out. We have nothing to lose by doing this and everything to gain. I personally have made more friends that began as clients. Now the friendship is the very thing that helps us all grow.
A Look Forward
Q: What are your goals for the future?
A: I would like to keep learning from others, I wish to spend most of my time teaching as a clinician travelling around the world and educating and helping. I am also in the process of documenting a long film about my travels. It’s still a work in progress but it will compliment the short film that was just premiered in NYC at the Equus Film Festival November 2017. Finally I would also like to take some time to finish writing a book I started a few years back.
Finding the time is key for everything and I believe that there is so much more in store for my future and my travels. I am so excited and can honestly say that going to others and helping them have a better understanding and relationship with their horses will always be my main dream, I love what I do and I love helping others.
Q: Lorie, where can readers learn more about you?
Theres also my email at email@example.com and my cell 613-867-0776 for anyone interested in contacting me and having me as a clinician.