I know many of you, like myself, are deeply connected to animals, more specifically, the horse. These last few years I've begun to look deeper into how I can truly *BE*" with the horse. How can I *be* with them in a way that honors them? In partnership. True partnership. Partnership that does not rely on tools and gimmicks. Partnership that is not forced, or about brute control. Partnership that includes the horse wanting to also *be* with me.
Recently, while working on teaching my young Arabian, Fuego, to trailer load, a friend (and phenomenal trainer that was assisting me that day), David Beard, said something to me that really hit my core. What he said was really quite simple.
He said, "There is NEVER any reason to EVER beat a horse. Patience and trust is what's needed. He is going to look to you for support and guidance, to see if you are worried, to see if he can trust you. He is going to look for consistency and support. All he really wants is peace."
David may not have even realized how deep his words reached me that day. It is a theme that resonates with me and that has come up time and time again as I have journeyed on this path of horsemanship. I have been witness to so many instances where the horse is "forced" into submission via fear and pain. I have watched how some treat their horses, the physical abuse they have used (be it through severe bits and yanking, whipping, spurring, tight nosebands, tying down, draw reins, and even punching between the ears). I think of how I was initially taught to be with and "train" horses. I think of the times in my past that I was hard on the mouth, or would "smack" my horse for "being stubborn." I am not proud of those moments. They were a learning curve for me based on how I was taught and told from a young age. I am not proud, I am learning though.
My "awakening" started in 1996, I was blessed with my first horse as an adult that I was solely responsible for. Kasey Lee, an OTTB, that was severely underweight and had trust concerns. Kasey was my first teacher. To gain his trust and love I began taking him for walks, as one would a dog. I wanted him to know that I would walk beside him and be with him, asking nothing from him but his companionship. Quite a few folks scoffed at this practice and teased me, often telling me I was supposed to be "on" the horse riding him, not walking beside him. They chided me saying I was spoiling him when, really, what I was seeking was connection and partnership. I then went to the "1st annual World Horse Expo" and sat in on a John Lyons clinic. WOW!! That blew my world! It opened up a whole new avenue and paradigm on how to train and be with horses. It was so different then how I was originally indoctrinated. From John Lyons I discovered Craig Cameron, with his infectious laugh, down home humor, and straight talking ways, then away I went, learning, reading, devouring, all that I could from similar clinicians (before some of them went "Hollywood", Pat Parelli, Kenny Harlow, Clinton Anderson) to Buck Brannaman, Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance, Mark Rashid, Klaus Hempling, Alexander Nevzorov, and the list goes on………………………………………….
I am still learning and there is much work to do… primarily in myself. I am an endless work in progress. If you get a chance, watch the below linked documentary. It is a beautiful depiction of one woman (Stormy May) and her personal journey. It is also a mirror to what many of us are currently journeying through. I know much of this documentary is very similar to my current journey and path. Enjoy! ~**Inez
"'The Path of the Horse' documentary explores the future of horse-human relationships. Join former horse trainer Stormy May as she travels the world to interview today's leading horsemanship teachers and visionaries; Alexander Nevzorov, Klaus Hempfling, Linda Kohanov, Mark Rashid, Carolyn Resnick, and equine artist Kim McElroy."