I can’t help but feel the presence of a huge black shadow lingering over our relationships with horses. Throughout history, in war, sport, work and recreation we have inflicted great pain on the horses physical body and spirit to bend its will to suit us. Solace is found in the improvement of our methods during the most recent decades but still we use pain and punishment to achieve what we want without consideration of a connection with horses spirit and own language. As with many things in our culture, we seek quick fixes and instant results, not allowing ourselves, and our horses, the eternal benefit of a true friendship and a willing partnership.
My experience with horses is admittedly limited but I have spent a great deal of the last 7-8 months reading and researching different methods and meanings of horsemanship. It has been incredible to see what it is possible to achieve by devoting yourself to the understanding of horses rather than simply making them achieve a goal by any means required. At first, things like bits, spurs an other equipment were introduced to me as the standard, and I first thought that horses were all about riding. Just jump on, somehow go forward, steer with the reins, pull them to stop. But in such a short time I feel I have learnt that there is so much more to true horsemanship that that. While most of the knowledge I have gleaned from books, videos and received from people with a great deal of experience with horses, I am lacking in the physical experience needed to achieve the true connection with horses I long for.
Through my research I have learnt of the terrible pain we have inflicted on our equine ‘friends’ throughout history, being seen as nothing more than a mere ‘tool’ for us to manipulate and control by any means. These ‘means’ resulted in the development of bits, harnesses and other devices that would be better described as tools for torture. We have callously slaughtered horses by the thousands during war times without the slightest consideration given and we continue even to this day with the utilisation, and destruction, of the body and soul for the purposes of entertainment and sport. So-called lovers of horses subject them to the torments of show jumping and racing with little regard for their joints or mouths which research shows does immense amounts of irreparable damage in the shortest of times. How can someone who supposedly loves horses not be willing to realise that there is a better way!
It is needless to say that since my first ride on Rupert, a 5yr old Gelding, I have developed a real love of horses, and I have dedicated a great deal of time to learning about training them, gaining their respect and their trust. I have come to realise that without first receiving their willing trust and respect, you can not forge a true relationship. And a true relationship can only be developed with time and with the horses best interests in mind. You need to understand how they think and act accordingly, communicating in their language, the only language they know. Unlike our horses we have the ability to learn their language and adapt to suit them, and in doing so we can create a willingness within them to perform with us, for us.
My journey in to the Equine world is only just beginning but I am starting to see what is possible and I can see the way that I do NOT want to go. I hope that as I venture deeper and more fully in to the mind of the horse I will be able to develop the skills and understanding that allow me to make real connections and enrich the lives of horses, enriching my own along the way.