IN THIS ISSUE
Finding your way
to true partnership with your horse
Horse training as entertainment?
Happy 28th Birthday Ichobod
Ground exercises that improve balance and self-carriage? Yes!
Longeing in Balance
Teach Your Horse to Balance From the Ground Up
Preparation for longeing - and other work - in correct posture
ACQUIESCENCE OR AGREEMENT:
PARALLELS BETWEEN THE BUSINESS WORLD
AND HORSE TRAINING
MIGHT OUR EXPERIENCES ON THE JOB SHAPE OUR WORKING RELATIONSHIPS WITH HORSES?
Part I – Dominance + Submission Does Not = Partnership
Much is written by contemporary horse trainers touting the importance of riders establishing partnerships with their horses and suggesting all kinds of methods for relationship-building. Some of the writers are surely gifted horsemen and horsewomen, and their methods have certainly opened up possibilities for horse owners around the world. But still, in all disciplines, there are horses being callously subjected to crude training methods, being worked into discomfort and lameness, being exploited physically and emotionally in all kinds of settings from the showring to “therapeutic” programs. From such talented trainers and such enlightened intentions, how does such abuse result? How do worthy concepts produce faulty practices?
What if the problem isn’t in the concept of creating a good working relationship, but instead lies in people’s understanding of what that means? What exactly are the essential elements of a true productive partnership? How is respect earned and granted on both sides?
AND THE CROWD GOES WILD:
THE HORSE AS ENTERTAINMENT
Over the past year or so, people have been sending me links to this video with notes saying things such as, “This is incredible. I know you’ll just love it.” Yeah, well, except that I don’t. In fact, I get that punched-in-the-gut visceral response less than 30 seconds in and can’t make myself watch the rest. I have the same response to this one and this one.
Why is that? I’m not exactly sure. At least in the beach scenes, it all just looks like play and good fun. But these people do this training in order to perform in public with their horses and, I think, that’s where I start to get that strange sensation in my midsection.
I wonder, are the horses doing this because they think it’s fun to be together in this way with each other and their humans? Maybe. I hope so. But in my experience, people who teach horses to do tricks with the intention of showing them publicly are often more interested in applause and acclaim than they are in what’s good for horses. I’m not saying that’s the case here; I have absolutely no way of knowing. I just know what my very strong reaction is. My reason for working with horses and teaching their humans is all about making the world a better place for horses, and I just don’t know that this kind of performance does that.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ICHOBOD
On May 1, my teacher and teaching partner Ichobod turned 28. This spring also marks the 14th year of our collaboration - the 16-hand bay Quarter Horse gelding has been with me now for half his life to date.
For many years, his job in my life was to get sick or injured in ways that traditional vets couldn’t address or didn’t even recognize, so that I would have to find and figure out new ways to help him feel better. Thanks to him,I have learned various forms of bodywork, studied herbs, homeopathic remedies, vibrational medicine, essential oils, acupuncture and more.
Ichy is the classic late bloomer, passing mostly unhappily through careers as a racehorse, rodeo mount, eventing prospect and ranch horse before following me home. He only become a truly trustworthy mount in his 20th year. Five years ago he started experimenting with bossing around other people in his acquaintance, helping them find their own paths to learning new and useful skills. At 24 he decided he'd like to be a school horse and he has helped a number of people learn the fine points of working with and riding horses.
Most weeks he still does three teaching rides, plays enthusiastically with his weekly turnout group and reminds my other gelding, who is half his age, just who is still in charge.
Happy Birthday Ichobod, and many happy returns of the day!