French horse trainers spend time at Cedar City sanctuary

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CEDAR CITY, Utah - A Southern Utah horse sanctuary is getting some horse training help from an unexpected source, a couple from France.

Aloïs Bonnin and Romane Poincelin are in the middle of a transcontinental trip to help train horses. In March they wandered into Kanab, and wound up at the Dust Devil Ranch Horse Sanctuary just outside of Cedar City.

“We started in South America to visit some ranches, and now we spend six months here in North America,” Bonnin said. “Mainly we will be in the USA.”

Bonnin and Poincelin are professional trainers in France. They decided to take a year off work to travel the world and learn more about horse training in different cultures.

“It’s exciting to leave your home in France, and it’s exciting just to travel everywhere and meet lots of people,” Poincelin said. “Friendly or less friendly.”

Bonnin said it was luck they ended up in Cedar City. After spending time in Wisconsin, the couple hitchhiked to Arizona. There they bought bicycles.

They say one of the most interesting things about their journey is to see how horses are treated and trained in different parts of the country. These are all lessons they will take home to France, and one day open their own horse ranch.”

“I feel more richer than when I left home because of all these experiences, and all these people I met,” Poincelin said.

Sanctuary owner Ginger Grimes said the training Bonnin and Poincelin is doing is invaluable. The horses at Dust Devil Ranch likely wouldn’t otherwise get riding experience, let alone basic training like handling and grooming. And even though the training is in French, it will help those horses get adopted faster.

“Everybody has pretty much the same idea, they just go about it a little bit differently,” Grimes said about their technique. “The horses love them.”

Bonnin and Poincelin plan to stay in southern Utah for another month or so, and then go looking for another place in need of volunteers. They plan to return to France in July.