Because you have made your way here, I’m guessing you have a deep love for horses and that you are continually searching for better ways to build a strong, positive connection with them. I share that drive and have been pursuing it passionately since I was 15 years old.
In those early days, I was extremely lucky to work with a number of world-class horsemen in a variety of disciplines, and as I had no preconceived notions about doing right or wrong by a horse, I absorbed it all like a sponge. However, when I found myself starting colts on a ranch in Nevada at the age of 16, I started to realize how little I actually knew, and the hunger to learn grew even stronger.
Fortunately, I began to recognize that the greatest teachers of all were the horses themselves, their every nuance a lesson I needed to learn. All I had to do was open myself to the truths that horses so graciously gift us with if only we are willing to pay attention.
I’ve been doing my best to pay attention ever since, and while I don’t think anyone can ever fully grasp the magnificent and complex mystery of the horse, I have managed to gain some clarity about what works well for them and what doesn’t when it comes to training. In many ways, this comes down to perspective, primarily to thinking about what our horses need from us more than what we want from them. It is about recognizing that the first thing we should establish when working with a horse is not dominance, but a sense of peace. This is the foundation of my approach to working with horses, which I call “Relational Horsemanship”.
Relational Horsemanship starts with the concept that it is our responsibility to meet the horse’s needs. It works something like this:
- Met needs create peace
- Peace creates availability
- Availability creates connection
- Connection creates relationship
Without all of these pieces, a horse’s mind will always be left with some degree of fear, worry or defensiveness, and that unease inevitably shows up as tension or resistance in the body. A horse in this state can never feel, give, or be its best, and as I want the best for my horses in every way, I strive to do whatever I can to create a positive and empowering learning environment for them.
Over the years, it has also become clear to me that people, like horses, need a safe and supportive environment in order to be truly open to the kind of learning that allows meaningful growth. This, therefore, has become an equally important goal for me: to bring people together, whether in a clinic or in my online learning program, in ways that foster understanding, joy, and the freedom to try.
I hope you will join me in this journey as I blog about my training methods, my challenges, and progress with my own horses, interesting “case studies” I’ve encountered along the way, and much, much more.
See you soon!