I received a very sweet email from a student who has been taking a few of my self-study programs and I wanted to pass it along to you.
“I just want to thank you for all your courses. When I was desperately looking for help with connecting with my horse you were one of the only horsewoman that had courses that we could do in chunks.
In regard to all the learning I have been doing from your courses, I have realized that doing a variety of things with my horse is best. (riding, just sitting on her while she grazes, leading out, hanging out). Since I have allowed her to have a choice there have been a lot of no’s, so I am learning to work with that.
I don’t groom her if she doesn’t want to be groomed or put the bareback pad or saddle on or even jump on to ride if she doesn’t want me to. Some days she is happy with me jumping on. Other times she is not. Some days she does want to be led out on a walk down the road, sometimes she does not.
I have learned that my agenda may very well have to change and if I don’t have an agenda that is even better. It is so much better riding when I know Sahara is happy for me to be on her back. The riding is often shorter and is often bareback.
When I rode to a beach half an hour away a week or so ago, she didn’t want to be groomed, or have the bareback pad put on. She was happy for me to get on, so I just rode her on the beach with a halter and reins and a neck rein and we just went where she wanted to go.
We kept one older couple very amused as she went up to say hi to them and I explained that we were doing just what she wanted today, so it was bareback at a walk. They watched her head down to the beach, then turn around the other way. Then turn back around and head the other way. Then turn back around, etc. It was very funny. The last time we were at this beach a few weeks back, she didn’t do all this turning around. I find it very amusing and wonder what is going on in her head.
Anyway, I have learned to enjoy any connection I have with her. I don’t want to go back to being that dictatorial person I used to be, where our relationship was very one sided. By slowing down and taking the time to listen/watch her, we have had some lovely connected moments that would never have happened if I had continued on my addicted to riding journey.
A few days ago, I had a friend pop into the paddock who I haven’t seen for months and who used to ride Sahara when I first got her. (Five years ago). I explained the new journey I was on with her which started mainly from Covid lockdown last year but actually really started 6 months before then as I came across your self-study programs. I explained that I have learned to slow down a lot and not focus on the riding but on the connection with Sahara.
She has dogs and so she understood what I meant, and texted me back later to say, ‘you two are glowing! I think she’s enjoying your time together just being”. You can imagine how excited I felt about that, because to be honest, at times I so want to ride and yet she doesn’t want me to. I have learned that when she doesn’t want to walk up to the mounting block this is a very clear ‘no’ from her.
Prior to learning to listen to her, she was a very obedient horse and did everything I asked of her, but her anxiety was coming out with biting at times and being very shy on our road rides when I was riding on my own. So, I have learned to listen to this and see what is happening in the moment that might be causing that anxiety.
One friend who rode her recently noticed that she was saying no sometimes, and I said, yes, now she is allowed to say no and our relationship is better.
Two of us were planning to ride last night but when we got to the paddock it was so windy, neither of us could be bothered, so we just fed and groomed our horses and then put them back. We didn’t feel the need to ride just because that was our original plan. We checked that the trough was working in their paddock, which was a bit of a walk away from the barn, and as we walked there our horses followed us some of the way which was cute. We both thought that was funny and enjoyed the connection that we had with our horses when doing this.
The day before that, we were planning on riding, but my friend’s horse had a little cut on his chin, (which the bridle would sit close to) so we changed our plans. She cleaned up the cut and then we led the horses out for a walk down the road and then just rode them quietly back up one of our paddocks with their halters on. Sahara was happy for me to get on then. Yahh!
We float out several times a month. Sahara will usually go onto the float with her food bucket there. When trying to load her on the way back she almost always does not want to go back on without me “telling her too”. Except last week, when she walked straight on for the float at the beach.
I have finished watching your stallion series which I really enjoyed. It was very interesting how different Kit and Danny Boy responded to you. We are slowly heading into Autumn so in winter I am going to do the recess course.
I hope you are well.
I love to hear success stories from my students and be able to help them get the results that they truly want in their hearts.
And even though I enjoy actually being there, holding their hands, and personalizing their programs, supporting them every step of the way…
I also enjoy seeing the students who take my self-study programs get great results and experiment on their own.
I developed my training programs through years of trial and error and experimentation and I am the first person to encourage and help others do the same.
- If you have been around horses for years and feel that you are ready to do some trial and error and experimentation of your own, and that you can keep yourself and your horse safe in the process – then I’m all for it!
- I wouldn’t recommend this for beginners as there are so many ways to accidentally get hurt.
- You know that phrase you hear in certain videos – “We are professionals, and we don’t recommend you do this at home?” Well, I can’t emphasize this enough – only do this if you feel you have enough horsemanship skills and knowledge to stay safe.
Here’s how I developed my own brand of training:
1. Become a Critical Thinker –
Once upon a time, it was a fact that the Earth was flat, that cigarettes were healthy and actually prescribed by doctors, and that when you sneezed you exhaled demons.
Well, fortunately, we have learned that most of these “so-called” facts have been revised over the years.
It’s the same with working with horses. There have been a lot of ‘facts’ shared over the years as ‘the only way’. Some of these ‘facts’ were even backed by science at the time.
But as our research methods got better and science evolved, the ‘facts’ have continued to change over the years.
Plus, with the internet and so many articles being written with contradicting ‘facts’, we have to look at what we believe or don’t believe.
Before believing everything, you read/see/hear, you need to take a step back and ask yourself a few questions first.
2. Question what you are reading/seeing/hearing –
After you read an article, think about what you’re reading. If you feel strongly about it and believe it, ok. If you aren’t 100% there with the results, question it and do your own experimentation.
3. Investigate –
Same thing as do your own experiment with your horse. The article may be about a certain type of horse, a certain type of horse behavior, or a certain type of discipline and it may or may not pertain to you and your horse.
If you want to find out. Try to do the same thing with your horse if you feel the case discussed is the same situation that you are experiencing.
You read an article about how to fix herd bound behavior in horses. You like what it said, but you’re not sure if it would pertain to your horse. So, you decide to try it and see if your horse responds.
Question: In the article you read it was about a very dominant, and fearful horse. This is not the same as your horse. But it was about a horse that whinnied and ran the fence when the other horse left the pasture and that was the same thing your horse was doing.
Investigate: So, you try the directions in the article to see if it works for your horse. You experiment and change some things and try a few different tweaks as your horse is not as bad as the one described in the article.
4. Results –
If the results you got were what you wanted and you received them by just following the article’s information, then viola… that article is now validated, and you can add this to your horsemanship toolbelt.
If the results you got were not quite what you wanted, but you were able to tweak the directions and modify them to get the results you did want…than viola… your experiment worked, and you learned something new about your horse and again you can add this to your toolbelt.
If nothing worked, then it wasn’t the same situation and it didn’t relate to you and your horse and you should move on to the next article and let go of what you read as “it just didn’t work for you and your horse”. Everyone and every horse is different.
It doesn’t mean it was wrong, it just means that it didn’t work for you.
A good study will suggest a finding, but it typically won’t prove anything with 100% certainty for 100% of all people and horses.
A certain amount of experimentation and trial and error is important when trying to figure out your horse and how to get the results you are looking for.