Problem Solving Horsemanship:
A Common Sense Approach to Riding and Training Horses
by Ginny Elder
The Journey begins with a Thinking Rider
Every journey begins with that first step but it really never ends when it comes to horses and just maybe that is the attraction. Just when you think you might have figured out at least something out here comes another horse that will challenge you to think. The key to horsemanship is to understand the horse’s nature, his behavior and his way of learning. By understanding the inside of a horse and how they learn it opens doors to training successfully and with compassion. The key is to learn to gaze at the world through their eyes. By studying and learning about what makes a horse tick many problems and frustration not to mention hardship and abuse can be avoided. A thinking rider has to learn to tame and control his own nature so not to saddle a horse with emotions and human behavior that are not in his DNA. It doesn’t work to think a horse will respond and react to training like a human. It is reasonable though that we crawl inside the mind of a horse and use the insight of the horse’s point of view to train and develop partnerships. A thinking rider is a successful rider, no matter what discipline or breed he chooses to work with. Training and riding principles apply equally to all horses because they are based on the nature of the horse and his response to his world…not ours! A horse knows what he knows and it’s our job to find out what that is.
When you understand what makes a horse a horse you have insight into how and why to train and are on your way to harmony and unity. Most riders start out on their own by the seat of their pants…no pun intended…but with little working knowledge of what makes horse….a horse. This can be an incredibly frustrating route for riders and creates a lot of angst for the horse and it simply doesn’t have to be so hard. Riding is a sport that should be pleasurable for both horse and rider, fun and safe.
Enjoy the journey it’s going to be a great ride.
“A horse is not human and the greatest barrier to the understanding of any animal is anthropomorphism, that is to say, attributing human personality and behavior to animals.” N.H. Blake
Just a Lump of Clay
by Ginny Elder
When you train a horse you can shape them just like a lump of clay. But how do begin to shape this lump of clay into something beautiful or a horse for that matter? Do you hit it with a hammer, heat it with a blow torch or just let it sit there hoping it will shape itself? Or do you do you find out what clay is all about, what shape you might like to transform it into and what tools are best suited for the job. In other words you think about what and how you need to do to turn morph that lump of softness into your dream. Your horse is exactly like this lump of clay and has the potential to be shaped into a living work of art…your living work of art.
With every horse you have raw material in your hands so doesn’t it make sense to start at the beginning and lay a good foundation? The finished product is a process of systematic layering of knowledge both for you and the horse.
Exploring the nature of the horse is the master key that can be used in everyday riding and training to unlock the potential reality of every horse and rider. We, as riders and trainers, need to rethink our humanness and responses when it comes to a horse.
Life From the Horse’s point of View
To be a successful rider you need to know as much as possible about the horse’s natural instincts, his mind and the signals he gives that express his thoughts and feelings. We become sympathetic understanding horseman by observing and learning the ways of horses. Without knowing the nature of horses, misplaced kindness and ignorance often go hand in hand. Sometimes there is a happy outcome but without kindness and knowledge, egoistical ambitions and ignorance replace common sense. The mental cruelty is often worse than the physical but when the two are combined life can be hell for the horse.