The Horse as a Teacher

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“For horses can educate through first hand, subjective, personal experiences, unlike human tutors, teachers, and professors can ever do. Horses can build character, not merely urge one to improve on it. Horses forge the mind, the character, the emotions and inner lives of humans. People can talk to one another about all these things and remain distanced and lonesome. In partnership with a horse, one is seldom lacking for thought, emotion and inspiration. One is always attended by a great companion.”

  • Charles de Kunffy

The Core Value

I sat down to meditate over what I really want earlier today. I wrote a few thoughts in my diary, that came to my mind, and I would like to share them with you. I believe they pretty much sum up the core of my message, why I want to continue to take photos of horses, almost 30 years after I started to capture them with my camera. (It’s insane that it’s actually been that many years! If you have a passion that you had for many years, that only gets stronger by the year, please tell me about it! I love to listen to people that are really passionate about something.)

Why I choose to write this down today might have a lot to do with the critical situation that our wild horses in America are in right now. If the people don’t give them a stronger voice, they might be extinct in a near future. Right now the Nevada Department of Agriculture is rounding up mustangs by the day. This afternoon they captured a band that many people have a special place for in their heart. We’ve seen babies being born, and the family grow. Now they have forever lost their freedom. When they were captured today all three mares were pregnant. Their foals will never gallop the hills as free souls. Right now they are kept at the Prison Ranch, in Carson City. Maybe they will be adopted, that’s best case scenario right now. The wild horse sanctuaries are maxed out. If they’re not adopted, they will be sold at auction. We all know by now what happens to most mustangs at a livestock auction. YOU CAN HELP BY GIVING THEM YOUR VOICE.

It’s with mixed feelings, and a heavy heart I wrote down this in my diary:

“A wise Lakota woman once told that “Horses are salvation”. She knew what she was talking about. Horses are our helpers, and a medium of the divine world (sort of like a bridge.) Horses help us to stay grounded, routed to the important things in life. This is not some New Age talk, people have known this since long before my ancestors, the Vikings, walked the earth. People from all corners of the earth have realized that the horse has a lot to teach us, if we choose to listen and don’t break their spirit. Horses can teach us important survival skills, like leadership, kindness, compassion, and the importance of a family. They gladly carry our hardship for us. The least we can do is spreading the truth about their true value to the next generation, otherwise this ancient knowledge might get lost in our world of technology. My goal is to capture the essence of the horse with the lens of my camera. All horses have something to teach us, and their beauty alone is soothing for our stressed souls.”

Maybe I’ll edit this a little bit, this is straight from my diary, and maybe not very organized, but I believe I’m going to use some of this to describe my business motto. What do YOU think?

Be Well,

Maria

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Monday Horsemanship Tradition With Franklin Levinson

Subject: Horse Help. Horse was great and now not so great.

Hello,

My name is Nichole and I live in Edwards, CO. I have a 5 year old quarter horse. I got him about 2 years ago and he is my first horse. I have a passion for horses and my main goal is to have a relationship and a bond with my horse. The type of relationship where he enjoys what he is doing and wants to do things with me. Over the past year, he has been to two trainers and has developed some habits that I do not like very much. He has started refusing to do things that he knows how to do. When I first got him, he was extremely mellow and did not spook. He was fine with riding out on his own and not herd sour. He never bucked in his life. Now, he is very spooky, refuses to go forward at times, does not want to go out on his own, has started to do a slight buck, and has done a few  small rears. I am taking him away from “conventional” training, because I believe that he is not suited for high pressure force. Again, I want him to WANT to do things, not to be forced into them. I would like to learn for myself how to develop this bond and level of trust and I would love more than anything to have the relationship with him that I used to have. I fear that I have confused him with different people telling him different things (including myself). When I am on the ground, I have an amazing relationship with him. He generally wants to be around me and wants to do things with me. When I get on his back, everything changes. Don’t get me wrong, there are days that he is amazing when I am riding him, but more often than not, he has a tendency to freak out. I know this is mostly my fault and not his, because I am fairly inexperienced, and this is why I want to learn what I can do to improve our relationship.

I feel it is my destiny to learn how to communicate with horses and live my life with them. I just do not have the right people guiding me at the moment. This is where you would come in. I am very interested in learning your philosophy and learning about how to enhance my relationship with my horse and other horses. I would love to learn from you!

Thank you so much! Nichole

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Hi Nichole,

As your horse was doing so good when you first got him, I wonder why you chose to send him to other trainers. Anyway, your wonderful horse seems to have been soured by too many so called ‘natural horsemanship’ trainers, or just so called horse trainers. What you describe is equine behavior that has been prompted by the horse being pushed too hard and fast by the trainers you employed. The reason he is still quite good on the ground with you is because they didn’t do anything on the ground with him (thank God). It was all about them riding the horse and getting the animal to submit to their will. This is a common story even in this age of hopefully more enlightened horsemanship. He has been made to feel insecure about the rider and doesn’t trust the person on his back. Please understand this is all due to the trainers you sent the horse to. If you had gone along to view the training you probably would have known in your gut it was inappropriate. This is a common error but a serious one. A responsible horse owner, who cares for their horse and wishes to ride that horse themselves, should never, ever give the horse to a trainer and not get involved and at least watch the training. This is a huge and costly mistake that can take a long time to correct. But it can be corrected.

Good news is that your horse is young and still green. You could re-start the horse under saddle. This means going way back to the beginnings of introducing the saddle, bridle, etc. and begin again slowly and appropriately. This would be a very good idea for you as you would hone your training skills. As the horse was already started once, it would not be nearly as risky for you. If you go slowly and take it one-step-at-a-time with lots of reward for the horse’s efforts, things should go well. Before you begin to really school the horse under saddle, determine what exactly you want to do with this horse. pleasure riding, any competition, whatever and make that decision. Have a vision for you and your horse and I can help you move towards it. Once you are ready to school him under saddle, I can give you step by step methods to try. It can take a year or two to really develop a good riding horse. But I have put 30 days on horses behaving as you describe and achieved wonderful things. The key is understanding the mind of the horse, fulfilling its need to trust it is safe and developing that trust, via a one-step-at-a-time and reward, training program. Being an experienced, centered/balanced rider who understands how to use their seat, legs and light hands help quite a bit. Tell me if you feel you are not that skilled as a rider. Be straight forward with me. Perhaps you feel your lack of equestrian skills motivated you to send the horse to an outside trainer. But you do not have to be an expert to begin this project. Also, getting help along the way is a good thing. But you need to closely watch exactly what anyone does with your horse. This is your responsibility. You will learn things that you want to do and things you do not want to do. Both are valuable. Please keep this in mind no matter what; the single most important things to a horse is its feelings of safety. Your horse does not feel safe with a rider anymore. Its that simple. I can offer you steps to take to re-establish some of this trust. The trainers you sent this horse too we coming from dominance and ego and not from compassion, wisdom, skill or trust. Those things are at the core of my teaching.

Sincerely, Franklin Levinson

www.WayoftheHorse.org

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