Wrangler Jayne had a fantasy growing up, “When I was a little girl I used to dream about galloping with nothing on the horse. Galloping across the hills with the wind in my hair.” In the shadow of the Warburton Mountains watching Jayne interact with her horses, that fanciful dream is more a reality these days. With a glowing smile and a charismatic personality to match her red Akubra, you would think that Jayne had been ‘whispering’ to horses all her life.
“I was a city girl! I grew up in St Kilda and Brighton and my horse was a bicycle,” exclaimed Jayne, “I dressed up in a red Annie Oakley cowgirl outfit, with my plaits, cowgirl hat and white boots, and rode my bicycle, ‘galloping’ around the streets and car parks pretending it was a horse.” From inner city chic, to cosmopolitan France, followed by modelling in the USA, Jayne returned to Australia around 18 years ago settling with her husband on the New South Wales central coast at Tilba Tilba. It was here that her equine education began.
Jayne has probably told the story thousands of times, yet she was still bursting with excitement as she recalled her first encounter with her equine neighbours. Not handled for many years the owner gave her permission to do as she pleased. “I didn’t know what to do,” admitted Jayne, “So I went out and bought a drizabone. I thought I’d better look the part. I wandered into their paddock and they took one look at me and walked away.”
Unbeknown to her, Jayne’s natural horsemanship education started at this point, “My brain told me well you’ve got to make friends with them.” The next day Jayne sat on a rock in the paddock, wearing her Akubra and reading her book, leaving behind some carrots and apples. By the fourth day the horses greeted her at the gate. “I never tried to touch them,” said Jayne, “I never tried to invade their space. I gave them time and finally I let them come to me. Nobody told me to do that. I just thought it was polite.”
Travelling 10 hours to attend her first Pat Parelli (natural horse trainer) clinic, Jayne’s thirst for knowledge was ignited. “Natural horsemanship is an intellectual approach. You have to learn how a horse thinks in order to be successful. You’ve got to read, you’ve got to listen and it means you’ve got to study,” explained Jayne. The system is based upon communication with the horse without the use of inhibiting aids and what some consider to be abusive techniques used by traditional trainers.
Residing in the Yarra Valley for the past six years, Jayne is now a well-respected member of the profession. Nicknamed Wrangler Jayne by a friend who watched the television show F-Troop as a child, Jayne admits that she didn’t know a thing about her namesake. “I Googled this character Wrangler Jane and her horsemanship was disgusting! But the name stuck. Nobody really knows who plain Jayne Glenn is!” Presenting her own clinics, equine partnering sessions and private lessons Jayne said, “I am combining horse psychology and behaviour with personal development. It’s not just hands on. A lot of people just want the hands on, for me to just show them how to do it.” Instead, the natural approach requires patience and commitment.
Jayne explained that the ideology behind natural horsemanship is about creating new pathways of learning for both human and horse. At this point she emphasised the human element and the need to change bad habits. Laughing, Jayne said her role isn’t to fix the horse, “You don’t just send your horse to the horse trainer and say ‘fix my horse
he’s got problems.’ The owners who progress the quickest are those who embrace the fact that it is about them as well, I’m supporting people in their goals and I try to open their minds to have relationships with their horses other than riding.”
Her philosophy is relationship before riding. Playing with her horses is more rewarding for Jayne than actually riding, “I like them to express themselves, run around and be horses.” A strong advocate for bitless riding, Jayne believes that once the British Horse Society accept it, then it will spread rapidly throughout the world.
Of course Jayne encounters cynics and she openly admits that her way is not for everyone. “I always say to them, look, it may not be for you. It’s not really for everybody, but it is for every horse. I know that. I 110% believe it’s for every horse.” An invaluable instructor has been her Arabian gelding. “Zorro was my greatest teacher and greatest journey and it’s because of Zorro that I empathise with people and know what they are going through with difficult horses.” For Jayne, there are no naughty horses, it all comes down to communication and the human-horse relationship.
Witnessing the progress of her students is gratifying for Jayne. “I see them doing these amazing things. Horses that wouldn’t come to them in the paddock are running to them, following them around at will. It’s just beautiful and it makes my whole day. I come back with this big smile on my face and its just fantastic to see these amazing results. Girls in my class cry because they have a really amazing emotional moment with their own horse.”
Quirky and dynamic Jayne aims to establish her own equestrian centre in the Yarra Valley, “A place where people can bring their horses and come and have this wonderful experience.” With plans for accommodation on-site and seminars presented alongside respected alternate horse care specialists, Jayne is adamant that she will do it. A keen writer and former columnist for the Mansfield local paper, Jayne plans to write a few books as well. And when she can fit it into her busy schedule, she will continue with her painting. Inspired by her French experience, her very popular artwork is currently displayed at Rochford Winery. Keen to share her knowledge with horse enthusiasts Jayne also admitted, “I’d love to have a radio show, or a T.V show before I get too old and wrinkled!”
Beginning each day with optimism Jayne exudes positive energy. “Every horse that comes along is a wonderful lesson because every horse is an individual. And every time one mucks up on me or doesn’t do what I hope or expect they might do, I always say thank you for giving me the opportunity to practice my skills or learn new skills. If you look at it like that, you’re never fussed. You’re never frustrated. You never get mad and you don’t get impatient.” A philosophy that can be applied to all aspects of life perhaps!
WORDS Alana Bilston PHOTOGRAPHS Adele Van Es