Special to TGI
He comes to the Islands to capture the hearts of horses.
Craig Hamilton wins the hearts of people too. Called a Horse Whisperer by many who observed him during his January work with ranchers in Ka'u, Hamilton will offer his services on April 18, 19, 20 at Honoka'a Arena, on April 25, 26, 27 at Miranda Country Stables at Mt. View and on May 2, 3, 4, in Kauai at Kealia Stables
The Kauai clinic will be "Roping and Rope Horse Training."
Craig is the son of the 1964 World's Champion Team Roper and Craig himself was voted into the pro ranks at the age of 16.
Craig's PRCA partner was Allen Bach and together they produced the video "Team Roping Basics."
In this clinic you can; learn the secrets of the Pros, learn how to keep your horse working, shave seconds off your time, work on a quiet horse in the box, start your horse out right on cattle and learn to swing a correct loop.
Hamilton was invited to the island in January to help solve problems between man and horse.
He was sponsored by rancher and rider Michelle Galimba, of Volcano, as well as the Ka'u Roping and Riding Club.
Ranchers were so moved that Galimba and Rancher Lanie Petrie are co-sponsoring another series of clinics.
Galimba found Hamilton through an internet bulletin board for "The Trail Less Traveled" at www.ttlt.com.
"I learned so much from him that I asked him to come here and to my huge surprise he was willing," she said.
At Na'alehu Hamilton would look at a horse for two or three minutes and be able to assess its personality, reported Pahala resident Dr. Dwight Dow, who described the crowd as mesmerized.
A horse's posture, movements, look in the eye, all go into the evaluation leading to Hamilton gaining the horse's trust.
"One of the horses went in the corral running around kicking in Craig's direction, never looking at him.
Within an hour's time, Craig had this horse going the direction he wanted by simply pointing his finger. Not only did the horse allow Craig to touch it, when he turned and walked away, 'the horse followed like a puppy dog'," Dow said.
Ka'u riders and ranchers brought in horses mistrained, mistreated, or otherwise suffering from a background that made training difficult.
In every case, according to observers, Hamilton was able to engage the horse's cooperation. He discussed horses being reactive, afraid, defiant and unable to think. When a horse is trapped, scolded, abused," he learns there's no appreciation for his efforts, no understanding for his confusion, and no compassion for his pain or fatigue.
He learns to protect himself, fighting and resisting everything perceived as threatening or becoming a dull-feeling, holding-back slave.
"Neither picture is a pretty one," Hamilton said.
Hamilton encourages changing a horse's reactive mind to an active and calm mind that thinks clearly and wants to cooperate.
He seeks his own actions to "flow with horses like melted butter."
"Horsemanship is not just about horses, it is about a relationship," Hamilton said.
"I realized that if I were to create any real change and lasting changes, I had to learn how to change people."
Hamilton encourages development of conversation with a horse, "a listening conversation." "You have to listen and the horse listens back," he said.
There are three parts of this conversation: Ask the horse to do something. The horse responds. Always respond to the horse, but never in a punitive way.
He encourages positive reinforcement of a horse's slightest attempt to move in the right direction.
Hamilton said the clinic was successful.
"When I leave a clinic I am not satisfied if all I have done is changed some horses. I want to see changes in relationships. If I see people leave with more confidence than they come with, if I see the light of passion in their eyes, if I leave behind me more answers than questions, then and only then do I feel I have done my job."
Area ranchers and riders are looking forward to this new opportunity to work with Hamilton "to let go of their defenses and enter into a true relationship based on mutual respect and thoughtfulness" Galimba said.
For more information on the Kauai clinic, call Stewart Wellington at (808) 639-8602.
For the Honoka'a and Mt. View clinics, phone Lani Petrie at 928-8403 or Michelle Galimba at 938-7899 for reservations.