Senior’s summer steeped in horsemanship
Britt Jacobsen’s biggest passion since she was a little kid has revolved around one thing: horsemanship.
The Augustana senior landed an internship this past summer at a Parelli horse training facility, combining her love of horses with her determination to learn more about horsemanship.
“I love the communication between horses and humans that’s possible,” Jacobsen said. “It’s kind of a puzzle to figure out how to communicate with horses in a way that they understand and so that they don’t think that you’re threatening.”
Jacobsen travelled five hours from her home in Sioux Falls to Bowlus, Minn., to live and train on the facility of four-star Parelli instructor Nita Jo Rush. Rush had no trouble selecting Jacobsen as her sole student.
“Britt’s attitude, success in Parelli which she’d attained by that time, her goals and the ways she expressed herself all impressed me,” Rush said. “She is clearly smart, responsible, takes initiative and was dedicated to her horsemanship.”
According to Rush, Parelli Natural Horsemanship is a method of understanding horses based on how they see the world.
“It creates a partnership, a powerful connection, which keeps people and horses safe, having fun and achieving wonderful results,” Rush said.
The Parelli Natural Horsemanship method was founded by Pat Parelli and has been a successful program more than 30 years.
Jacobsen had a full workload mowing and maintaining Rush’s facility in exchange for drill practices and one-on-one sessions with Rush. Additionally, she was allowed to watch events and higher-level Parelli classes. Jacobsen is now halfway through her fourth level of training, out of a possible 10.
Jacobsen’s love of horses came both organically and with the help and support of her family. Kiri Jacobsen, Britt’s older sister and fellow senior at Augustana, is one of her biggest supporters and fans.
“We showed how much we supported her through figuratively packing her bags and pushing her through that huge door of opportunity,” Kiri said.
The challenge of being away from home was only one of the obstacles Jacobsen had to deal with this summer. Savanna, her horse since high school, injured her right front leg halfway into the summer. Jacobsen had no choice but to continue riding without Savanna, switching to one of Rush’s horses, Elli.
Although it was both worrisome and a disappointment to Jacobsen, the setback actually benefited her training.
“I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to transfer the things I learned on Elli to Savanna,” Jacobsen said. “Going back to Savanna, I had a lot more savvy and knowledge, so it was easier for her to figure things out.”
Rush was similarly disappointed with Savanna’s injury but had no worries about the effect on either Jacobsen’s or Savanna’s learning.
“What’s really gratifying is that now Britt finds Savanna to be a changed horse,” she said. “When riders know more and improve, it shows up in our horses immediately.”
In the near future, Jacobsen hopes to complete training on level four before ideally working her way up to achieve a career in natural horsemanship.
“I hope to specialize in an area of the western riding discipline, either in the form of writing or teaching,” she said.
Kiri has even higher hopes for her sister.
“Because of her patience and that certain je ne [sais] quoi she possesses, I could see Britt becoming a top instructor at Parelli or even owning her own company where she helps people who have as much passion for horses as she does.”