When I was on LiveJournal, one of my horse acquaintances was deeply disturbed by what I’m going to write about next. He was a beginner rider who had fallen under the charismatic spell of a Cowboy Trainer who was selling his “I learned everything I know from working the range, riding my ranch and dealing with the wild horses” Bull to the Brits.
Aside ~ for some reason Europeans are just fascinated with our Wild West in the States. It’s one reason, some breeders have been able to sell their Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa CULLS to Europeans for outrageous prices! Wow! I wish I was in that racquet! I guess in retribution, the Dressage Queens in the states get the Warmblood Culls so it’s all even-Steven.
From having lived in the West and dealt with our history for over 40 years, and known cowboys, call me not so fascinated. Husband’s grandparents settled here as farmers in the early 1900’s, just after the Land Run – there were not so fascinated by Cowboys either and would probably have told you they were borderline criminal riff-raff.
What disturbed this reader (do I have you hooked? I hope you are not disappointed when I write that it was…) that I blended several different trainers’ methods and ideas into my own interaction with horses. That was WRONG! I should always train A-B-C; I should ride in this manner (commands given), and that I had no RIGHT to change anything given to me as if it was written in the Holy Bible of Horsemanship.
Now, the reason I hesitated to even get into this is because there is a time that a rider/trainer needs to listen to their teachers. There are safety practices and just some plain common sense truisms in dealing with horses. Like: have your hand on the horses butt when passing behind so they know you are there, that are needed to be pounded into our heads.
When a Big Name Trainer is espousing their ideas to you and you are new to their method of training, it also behooves you (if you feel his/her methods make sense to you) to try it without embellishing or adding other information to his/her techniques. That is only fair.
It is also only fair, to say at one point – wow! this method is not getting me what I want. Either I am doing it wrong, or I don’t feel it works with what I want to accomplish. Only evaulating your inner thoughts without emotional attachment will provide you the right decision.
There are some people, that due to their nature and abilities, should never experiment with knowledge: they would always go the wrong direction with it. IMO this is the person who lets emotion govern their actions and are unable to separate facts from feelings and uses emotions in inappropriate ways during training.
For example, this type would say: I can never use a whip on my poor horsie; he wouldn’t love me and it would ruin our relationship. Meanwhile, their little stallion colt has reared, charged them and knocked them flat to the ground!
Probably why I am drawn more to Klaus Hempfling then to say, Carolyn Resnick. He cuts the emotional bullshit from it. While his books have some beautiful photos; his videos have beautiful movement with lovely music; and living on an island may be the optimal Romantic Gesture, I get the distinct feeling from his writing and from what I’ve read of his clinics, that no, he is not romantic in the least!
I think this seemingly opposing message is what baffles people about him. It may also lead to some being disillusioned when the pretty romantic picture comes down to tearing open your own psyche and examining your own faults under a microscope instead of blaming the horse! ROFLMAO!
Back again to experimentation and blending — when is it appropriate? when should you try it? How do you do it? Why don’t I get confused when I do it?
~~ and for me, as a personal quest… why do I do it?
I’m a person who sees the big picture. It’s one of my few talents: taking large amounts of information and seeing patterns that I can arrange into something new. This worked in my favor when I was a news reporter. And it works in my favor as a horse trainer.
I’m also a person who has no illusions about myself or my faults. I don’t sweeten up my personality with little bits of self-delusion. Nope. I know exactly why I don’t speak to my mother. I know exactly my faults as a parent and strive to minimize or work around them. And I am very lucky that I have a husband that is willing to live with all masks torn away when the lights are off.
I also know when to admit that I am wrong. I may be slow and stubborn to do so, but have learned over the years to be quicker to admit fault, especially when I am working my horses. For example, when Z got hurt, we worked it unknowingly and she started crowhopping and really misbehaving. It took me about 5 minutes before I called a halt to the riding session and we thoroughly examined her, discovering how truly sore she was.
Don’t be surprised. I have seen people ride horses that were severly injured and blame the horse for it’s lack. Being honest, admitting wrong, trusting the horse, and seeing the big picture are all traits you need (or need to develop) before experimenting.