Why Is Horsemanship Important? 

For me, horsemanship is the relationship between human and horse.  I want my horses to live with peace of mind and without worry and be able to think their way through a new situation.  This relationship is extremely important to me and why I continue to work on improving every aspect of my horsemanship.

Horsemanship is very personal and as individual as every human.

mark fillyclinicsmall

Left: Working with Mark Rashid                          Right:  Weanling’s first encounter with humans at Brent Graef’s Young Horse Clinic

 

What if every time we are with our horse, we offer him/her the very best we have?  This may be in our attitude, our touch – whether directly or through a rope or rein.  Every time I touch a horse, I want that touch to be the very best feel I can offer regardless if that is with my hand, a rope or a rein; regardless if we are working, grooming or just passing time together.  Being consistent and clear go far in helping a horse have peace of mind as they try to get along in our human world.

Would horses feel better if we learn to work with them in a way that creates a learning frame of mind?  Teaching horses skills that enable them to think their way through problems helps their confidence and also may be life saving.  Being consistent and clear as well as mindful of where the horse is mentally help enable the horse to work without feeling troubled or worried as well as function well outside of their home environment.

What if we always make sure that when we put our horses away after working or riding, we ensure they are not troubled or worried?  That’s a nice place for any sentient being.

What if we are always working to earn the horse’s trust in our leadership, to enable them to have peace of mind as well as presence in the moment which may enable softness to come through from the inside?

I believe the way to achieve these things is to improve ourselves as horsemen through education and opportunities.  Great horsemen like Mark Rashid and Harry Whitney offer the type of horsemanship I am interested in.  They are available through clinics.  Books, DVDs and articles are available through their websites.

 

summerroad ray

Left:  Ground driving on the American Tobacco Trail                                            Right:  Clinic with the late Ray Hunt

 

 

www.markrashid.com

www.harrywhitney.com

 

Below are quotes I find meaningful and helpful from my mentors, Mark Rashid (RASH-id) and Harry Whitney.   I hope you will enjoy them.

“It is my opinion that we shouldn’t make the wrong thing difficult for the horse because it’s usually already difficult – it doesn’t have to be more difficult.  If we can make the wrong thing less stressful by directing it, then more times than not the horse can work their way through it.”
Mark Rashid

 

“If we are impatient, it is because we are concerned with ourselves.  When it becomes about the horse, we’ll have all the time in the world.”
Mark Rashid

 

“To me, softness in a horse is not defined simply by a lack of resistance…it is defined by a willing availability of mind and body. It has been my experience that in order to achieve that kind of availability, I must first willingly create and then offer the same in me.  This type of softness doesn’t come from the things we do with our horses, but in how we do everything with them.”
Mark Rashid

 

“In training, there is a fine line, but a big difference, between doing something with a horse or doing something to a horse.”
Mark Rashid

 

“The way we approach things has a direct correlation to the results we get.”
Mark Rashid

 

“Before we can expect our horses to offer the best of themselves, we must first find the way to give the best of ourselves to them.”

Mark Rashid

 

“When trying to gain a horse’s “respect” through training, it may be helpful to understand that “respect” is not only a concept developed by humans for humans, but that horses do not even possess the part of the brain (frontal lobe) that allows for the understanding of that concept.  “Trust”, on the other hand, is processed at a more primal level in the brain and is something all animals understand.”
Mark Rashid

 

“Horses act the way they feel.  To them, the behavior they exhibit has no value whatsoever, such as it being “good” or “bad”.  The human, on the other hand, often puts value on the horse’s behavior – seeing it as one or another – and responds in kind, with the response usually being driven by emotion.  That, quite often, is when the trouble begins.”
Mark Rashid
“It is not necessarily what you are actively doing, it could be what you are actively missing.”
Harry Whitney

“A horse’s feet want to be where his thoughts are.”
Harry Whitney

 

“Any time a horse asks about boundaries, and you don’t know, that is troubling.”
Harry Whitney

 

“What a lot of people miss is how much the little things mean to the horse.”
Harry Whitney

 

“Create a sweet spot, not a place they feel trapped.”
Harry Whitney

 

“How a horse feels, makes all the difference.”
Harry Whitney