by Diambra Mariani and Francesco Mion
Spain and Mexico, 2014/2015
We first heard of Lucy Rees in an abandoned village in Spain, where she had taught horses' training techniques' classes, leaving in her wake a charming impression.
Fascinated by the stories about her, we contacted and reached Lucy in her place in the countryside.
Highly educated, having studied zoology and neuro-physiology to post-graduate level, Mrs Rees is a Welsh writer and researcher born in 1943, quite famous as a horse behauviourist and trainer. After her travels throughout the world (especially Portugal, Ireland and USA) she now lives in a rural house in Spain, with her dog, two horses, many gecos and some swallow's nests in her bedroom.
In the garden there's still her truck, where she used to live before she bought the land, just about 10 years ago.
She's a woman who definitely doesn't need luxury, but she found a wonderful place to settle down, really close to Piornal, a village in Extremadura region, with luxuriant landscapes and wild nature; the perfect location for her study on a herd of wild ponies, which became a survey waiting for publication.
Drinking a cup of milk tea in her living room, she explained us the results of her observation: according to her, truly free living horses show almost no aggression at all. They do not establish pecking orders like domestic horses do and the vast majority of their interactions are friendly.
She also wrote "The horse's mind", published in 1985 and still very popular, focusing on the relationship between horse and human and the mind of the horse itself, which is the result of many years of practice in horse training, combined with her scientific background and studies of equine ethology.
In this book, she explores the reasons behind the horse's natural likes and dislikes, fears and habits, showing how their love for company has led to a sensitive and complicated use of signals. The "bad" behaviour of horses is due to misunderstanding, so she encourages great communication between horse and human.
Beside her activities as a writer and researcher, Lucy organizes every year a dozen of workshops throughout Spain and she also travel very often to Latin America.
We had the opportunity to take part to 3 of her workshops, both in Spain and in Mexico, where all the pictures were taken, between 2014 and 2015.