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Kontiki and Connecting



What is a true connection between a horse and a human? What does it involve? How can we recognise it? And why are some humans elated when such a connection occurs? These are just some of the questions that Vicki and I have been considering since the start of our two-week course with Petra Vlasblom at her 2Moons centre in France in January. 2Moons, the horse, has already provided some clues. His stable mate, Kontiki, offers a few more.

During our course with Petra we devoted a great deal of attention to the differences between a mechanical and a true connection between horses and humans. I dealt with those in my first 2Moons post, which you can read here. Essentially, a true connection is one that goes beyond the purely mechanical nature of a ‘join-up’ or similar phenomenon. It is one in which I believe the intuitive energy of horse and human come into alignment over and above all that technique can achieve.

Some of our readers have been following the conversation between Geerteke and myself with great interest. She has raised issues of such importance (thank you again, Geerteke) that I would like to deal with them here in this post rather than in a comment. In her last comment on the video featuring me interacting with 2Moons Geerteke states the following (I have only included the relevant part – the full text of Geerteke’s comment can be found below my previous post here – scroll down to the Comments section):

The first part of the video I also, as I mentioned, watched without any sound. I had no idea there was any sound as I did not have the earplugs in so I couldn´t hear anything. Either music or voices.

My first impression was that there was a human pushing a horse a lot and making a lot of arm movements. If one would use that amount of movements when riding one would most likely make it very hard on the horse to find his balance with a rider on its back. Besides there are so many messages at once for the horse to be picked up and sorted out that the horse might decide to just freeze, start increasing its speed or just stop moving. The latter took place when 2Moons turned around to face you. Before turning the other way. It was not your choice to have 2Moons turn the other way. It was a decision you made that resulted from 2Moons stopping, facing you and so on. In this instance it was therefore the horse´s choice to go in another direction. The result of that sadly is that whatever connection you were about to establish in the moments preceding the turn will have evaporated.

If you watch the video (you can view it in my previous post), you can see that Geerteke’s first impression is right in that there is a human driving the horse and there is a great deal of movement on the part of that human. However, one must question whether ‘there are so many messages at once for the horse to be picked up and sorted out’. After all, the great deal of movement refers to the repetition of essentially a single gesture, namely, my arm being raised up and down at certain points, in some cases once and in others a number of times. The purpose of the single-instance technique is to signal the horse to go forward whenever the human senses a moment of hesitation on the horse’s part, while that of the multiple-instance variant is to indicate the desired pace. (Admittedly, this is not in the same league as the subtle play of energy which Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling is capable of and for which he is rightly admired.) The result of the poor execution of that technique by the human – namely, the horse’s hesitation and ultimately of the horse stopping – is of course the reason why the human feels a need to repeat it that often. The explanation (not the excuse) lies in the fact that 2Moons is weaker on the right, and that I am right-handed and have failed to develop my left-hand techniques appropriately.

2Moons eventually stops and then moves in the opposite direction. Geerteke says that ‘it was not your choice’ to have the horse move the other way but rather that ‘it was a decision you made’. This is a bit like saying ‘you did not but you did’, essentially a self-contradiction. In that part of the session with 2Moons which precedes what is shown in the video there were several moments when the horse halted on the right-hand rein for the very same reason and faced me. In all of those cases I asked him to continue to move in the same direction. This is the very first time during this session that I do not do this but actually ask him to move in the opposite direction. I suspect that this decision on my part – not to ask him to proceed on our weaker side but to exploit the potential of our stronger side – is precisely what was responsible for what happened next.

So what did happen? According to Geerteke ‘whatever connection you were about to establish in the moments preceding the turn will have evaporated’. Yet she also states the following in her comment:

I had a wonderful feeling when watching the second part where you and 2Moons were standing next to each other in a beautiful moment of peace and relaxation and enjoying each other’s company. Did I not mention something about relax & enjoy in the previous alinea [Dutch for paragraph]?! When checking the energy of both of you, or actually I checked how the connection was, the connection was one of magical proportions. It was confirmed when at the end of the video you walk away from 2Moons and he immediately follows you. Without having any further questions as to your leadership.

Geerteke is spot on. I was aware of a tremendously close connection between 2Moons and myself. But when did it start? And how did it do so? The second part of the video showing horse and human standing together was shot within seconds of the first part (up to the point where I move to the stationary horse). Vicki had stopped filming but I later heard from her that Petra had immediately asked her to resume shooting, because of what she was seeing in horse and human. That connection with 2Moons only occurred in the last minute of our lunging at liberty session, which had actually been going on for about 20 to 30 minutes on and off up until that point. In other words it took me so long to find the wherewithal within myself to become the leader whom 2Moons was seeking in me, that I was only able to achieve that connection within the dying moments of our lunging session. What is so readily visible in the second part of the video, is both the outcome and the expression of that connection and it is precisely this which represents my 2Moons moment.

The interesting thing about that final minute of our lunging session is that it ended with me becoming a leader by ultimately doing less while asking 2Moons to slow down and eventually stop. In this sense Geerteke is absolutely right when she says the following:

LESS IS MORE. An expression that one comes across in various therapies like the Bowen Technique. LESS IS MORE is also to be found in/on the road to more (spiritual) awareness. Do not try to do your best. The more one tries to do one´s best the more tension it will create the farther away one will get from what one is trying to achieve. Or rather ONE doesn´t get away from what one is trying to achieve (like wanting to become a true leader) but what one is trying to achieve drifts away from (wo)man because of the ripples or even the waves one creates by doing one´s best to achieve what one thinks needs to be achieved. The result then being more often than not trying even harder.

What I would dispute though is the inference that trying to become a true leader would prevent a true connection from occurring. Geerteke is completely correct in her suggestion that trying to achieve a true connection would virtually rule out its occurrence. My experience is that if you seek or expect a true connection it will not be forthcoming, because this actually makes a demand on the horse, whereas the connection is something which a horse gives freely of its own accord. However, if you focus on offering the true gifts of leadership – empathy, enlightenment, empowerment, respect and trustworthiness – that is, if you work on yourself, the horse will seek you (Hempfling is right in this respect when it comes to horses). Having said this, too intent a focus on technique while interacting with a horse can also render it impossible for such a true connection to occur.

By way of comparison I would like to show you a video of my lunging at liberty session with Kontiki the following day. Kontiki is a very sensitive but forward-moving mare, in some respects, the very opposite of 2Moons. I have omitted the sound to focus attention on the interaction between horse and human.

My question to you is whether there is a true connection between Kontiki and myself and, if there is, is that connection closer than the one between 2Moons and myself? You may want to think about this before reading the next paragraph.

At the end of my session with Kontiki I had the feeling that she had accepted me as a leader but that the connection between us – if there was any (Was there?) – still needed to be consolidated. The connection that occurred between 2Moons and myself was far more profound and moving. Perhaps it is because 2Moons demanded of me that I dig much deeper within myself to overcome patterns of behaviour that had accumulated and congealed – as it were – within me over many years, whereas Kontiki was far less demanding.

It is sometimes difficult to tell whether you have a true connection with a horse. In the end, it is a question of intuition. You intuitively know it to be the case: you become aware that such a connection exists before you can explain it. And it is precisely because such a connection is intuitive that we need it, if we are to interact with a horse in a way that transcends the mechanical. Why? Because I believe that if a human’s interaction is confined to the mechanical, the horse is reduced to the status of a machine. The horse is in short no longer a horse but the equivalent of a bicycle with hair. And if that is the case, what is the point of it all? Money, power (over a horse!?!?), status, vanity? In short, is the horse anything other than a creature reduced to being an accessory to a human’s ego? Is that enough to justify interaction with a horse as a machine? Is it really or are we humans not only able but willing to set our aspirations higher than this in our relations with horses?

And if we are able and willing to set our aspirations higher than this and a true connection occurs between us and a horse, why are we so elated? It is I think not only because of the truly heady sensation of connecting with another species but with a creature that is far more graceful, intuitive and powerful (in many cases) than we humans are, and which is also capable of killing us easily if inclined to do so. It is also because a human who shares such a connection with a horse has rediscovered the essence of humanity in his or her relations with horses, or is well on the path to doing so. As an added bonus, such a true connection allows a human to interact more profoundly with a horse than any obsessive pursuit of an equestrian discipline ever can, even if it is just standing together under a tree in a meadow.

15 Responses to “Kontiki and Connecting”

  1. Comment 1
    Dear Andrew, yet another precious piece of writing and I feel honoured that you use my text to add to and explain what is important to you. What feels important to you to share with the outside world.

    A phenomenon that ‘creeps’ (I mean this in a nice way) into the interaction between horses and humans is that energy has proved again to be anything but stationary. What I mean by this is that the exchange of energy between 2 species is an ongoing movement. It can be this one moment and be something else the next.
    Like chosing one moment and deciding the next.
    Indeed as you put so clearly in essence a contradiction. But then according to some philosophies chosing is an act of pure freedom whilst deciding is an act that is the result of something that has taken place or has been said or has been experienced. Even if it was somewhere in the distant past. How free are we then? But of course I feel that this is a subject philosophers can take ‘ages’ to philosophize and still not get to a clear distinction. But it is FUN.

    Linda Kohanov mentions in her soon to be published new book THE POWER OF THE HERD on leadership that leadership can shift regularly.
    Perhaps meaning that as soon as we , humans, are congruent the horse reacts to that in a way we ‘desperately’ want it to react as it gives us humans this wonderful feeling of connection QUOTE…..with a creature that is far more graceful, intuitive and powerful (in many cases) than we humans are, and which is also capable of killing us easily if inclined to do so. ….UNQUOTE Take a look at http://www.lionwhisperer.co.za

    And as soon as we lose this congruency the interaction between horse and human can/will change. Whether or not immediately noticed by the human. And when congruency changes that could be the result of circumstances. Or even thoughts.

    A subject like this is much more and travels much further than any technique.
    However, sometimes one has to learn technique first to get to the point where one can put time and effort in mastering the characteristics of being congruent or not. Is it perhaps the knight that is congruent most of the time?

    Here again I wonder whether ‘mastering’ is what we are supposed to do. Technique perhaps yes. But the rest?? I do not know. The need we feel to connect with the horse in a particular way is another interesting phenomena. The sight of a foal following its mother like a shadow in whatever gait is wonderful to watch. So trusting. So respectful. Or with so much deference as you also called it, Andrew.

    Experiencing that feeling in the so-called magnetic connection KFH talks about. I have had the honour to experience that only once. Up till now. It lasted only a few seconds. At first I wasn’t aware. But as soon as I was aware of that happening, I thought “”WOW this I want more often””. And as soon as I had that thought my horse left me standing right there. Making very clear, I realised shortly after, that he did not need a needy leader.

    When there is no neediness we are in a position to be our own mother. To protect ourselves. To feed ourselves. To nurture ourselves. On all levels.
    To be a true leader to our SELF.
    And this leader will give time and space to our self, to our horse, to experience the inner wisdom of evolution.

    There will be no fear that something might go wrong. Because nothing can go wrong. Anything and everything that happens is supposed to be happening at that moment. Although we may not always agree the way horses are being treated. But at the same time who are we to judge.
    And I also judge when the occasion arises?.

    Now I may sound like somebody who knows it all.
    I definitely DO NOT.
    However if you, Andrew, or any of your readers feel touched, triggered, frustrated, intrigued, infuriated by the above that is good. It means that you are alive and kicking and growing.

    Be well,

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Geerteke

      Of course, the ‘exchange of energy between two species is an ongoing movement’ but I would be more inclined to view this as an essential ingredient rather than a phenomenon that ‘creeps in’. And of course, the example you cite of choosing one moment and deciding the next is one of just how capable humans are of getting bogged down in semantics. By way of illustration, it could be argued that choosing is less ‘an act of pure freedom’, because it implies a decision that is confined by the availability of a limited number of options, whereas another type of decision may be completely open, suggesting greater freedom. To which a counter-argument could be posed stating that…. and so on. Fun perhaps.

      For the rest, I have nothing to add to what you state apart from, ‘Amen’.

      Be well.

      • Yeaeah Andrew, you are perfectly right. It is indeed an essential ingredient. I bump into my limited knowledge of the English language again and the words pop into my head without checking if they really get across what I am trying to get across. It sounded good!. But that is okay. I have you to ‘correct’ me. THANK YOU
        The word ‘semantics’ I do not know. I looked it up in the dictionary and found the same word in the Dutch translation. So it didn’t help. Please use an easier word for this simple and humble soul to be able to understand…:-))
        Very warm greetings (I hope they will help getting the temperature go up more instead of going down again coming week)

  2. Comment 2
    Please note the below is one theory. However, one theory based om my feeling. So again as mentioned in my previous responses. IT IS NOTHING PERSONAL!
    Dear Andrew, your question is if there is a true connection between Kontiki and myself and, if there is, is that connection closer than the one between 2Moons and myself? I prefer to give the following answer and you can decide for yourself which part of my response answers your question. Or not. And that is fine.

    The video starts with a horse waiting. Facing you.
    Waiting for you to ‘say hello’. That does not happen. But that is okay. We can’t do anything wrong, remember. Evolution is taking place.
    You put yourself in a driving position. That is good. The energy there is good.
    You are as it were leading from behind.
    The horse, however, is still struggling with “why was I sent away?”
    The horse starts lowering its head.
    I see its lips moving. It is telling you that it understands.
    When you ask the horse to change direction it turns outward. The horse is pushed against the wall so to speak. It is cornered.
    But here again evolution is taking place.
    You are learning.
    The horse is telling you constantly that it understands. Its inside ear turned towards you most of the time.
    At another moment in time you will know and ask the horse to change direction by first inviting it in.
    By letting the horse turn away from you a connection will almost always be broken.
    Andrew, you are doing just fine. Your movements are calmer although the assertiveness still needs attention. But you are learning!
    The horse is giving you time and space to learn.
    However, it is not connecting with you. It would love to, though, but it has not found an opening yet.
    The horse picks up your clear body language and changes from trot to canter. Very well done.
    When stepping back and so releasing the pressure the horse makes a transition back to the trot. Though I am not 100% sure that was meant to be. But if it was that was GOOD.
    Then the horse has made another downward transition to the walk and at 3.31 you make draw. The horse halts in a perfect square halt. And is waiting.
    Then when you are waiting quietly, watching the horse, the horse slowly turns its head towards you. It has already been observing you with one eye. Now it observes you with both eyes.
    And ever so slowly, as if not yet being sure, it decides to approach you.
    Step by step. As if convincing itself that it is okay now.
    It starts feeling happy. This is what the horse was looking for from the very start. The horse wanted to be with you. Stand next to you. From the very start.
    It would have loved doing some companion walking with you. And connect with you through the companion walking. Perhaps do some liberty dancing as well.
    On the rythm of some beautiful spanish music.
    But this horse understood.
    It has given freely of its time and energy to make it possible for you to experience more calmness and develop your assertiveness

    And the question if the connection was closer between 2Moons and yourself and if there was a true connection betewwn Kontiki and yourself is a question one should really not ask, although understandable.
    A conection is a connection. Nothing more nothing less. And every connection is different. Every connection feels different. Every connection teaches us something. Something different. And everything that is being taught is worth a million.


    • Andrew says:

      Dear Geerteke

      Again, thank you for taking the time to observe, to comment and to share your insights with me, with us.

      Yes, the exercise with Kontiki does attest to greater technical expertise on the part of the human. And yes, it does also attest to the lack of techincal proficiency on the part of that human and the need for the latter to address this. On the whole though, it is a far calmer and controlled performance than my interaction with 2Moons.

      You say that the question as to whether there was a closer connection between 2Moons and myself and whether I had a true connection with Kontiki, is one that should not really be asked. I beg to differ for the very reasons outlined in the post on which you have commented. There are connections between horse and human which may be ‘nice’ but at the same time soulless. They are purely mechanical and are devoid of any alignment of energy between the species, a bit like an accurately performed dressage test or a clear round of jumping, either of which on their own may be ‘nice’ but may be achieved without any true connection as I have attempted to describe it. I cite two examples of such a soulless, mechanical connection in my post. One is the ‘join-up’ or similar phenomenon. The other I presented in the form of a question. When I look back on my interaction with Kontiki, I can only conclude that, although it was much calmer and more controlled than that with 2Moons, it did not produce more than a nice, soulless, mechanical connection.

      Yes, I agree that within these two categories – mechanical and true – many different types of connection can occur between horse and human, each of which may teach us something. Yet the difference between these two types of connection is absolutely crucial to our interaction with horses for one simple reason: in the absence of a true connection we do not have a horse before us, merely an accessory to our ego. Mea culpa!

      And yes, it is personal, very personal. But personal is fine for we are amongst friends!

      Be well!

      • WOW I like you!!! There is always soul in a connection. Sometimes so very very little that it is almost unfeelable, unreachable, untouchable for man. Certainly the horse’s soul is there in all its greatness and full of forgiving. However, if (wo)man’s soul still has dificulties to present itself or feels some reservation for whatever reason it will be the horse that choses how much effort it will put in the endeavour.

  3. Anne-Marie says:

    Wonderful comment again. I am learning a lot just listening to the conversations.

    Thank you both.

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Anne-Marie

      Glad to hear that you are getting something from the discussion. Please feel free to share any insight you have with us. At the end of the day, everyone has a story.

      Be well!

  4. Glenn says:

    Hello Andrew
    I have been following your journey on and off and have often wondered what is really going on. Much of what you write about I can relate to and have experienced myself. In the clip with Kontiki you ask if a real connection has been established. I don’t think so. My suggestion would be to stop intellectualising and start feeling. Stop trying so hard and the lesson will be easy. Allow.

    Not too many people get caught up in over intellectualising horsemanship for good reason. It’s not what horses are about. The lunging session (I don’t even like the term ‘lunging’) was pretty mechanical. I don’t know whether it was the moon boots or what but would you walk like that down the street? If you did the other pedestrains might give you a wide berth. Kontiki did what she had to do, pinned her ears back a couple of times and perhaps reflected her opinion about your level of genuineness. Then when you retreated to the other side of the cage, she thought “at last” and came over to check in (as she has probably done many times before).

    The other observation I had was the oft asked question; What’s in it for the horse?

    Enjoy your journey and when you come back here to Oz I’d like to catch up with you guys.



    • Andrew says:

      Dear Glenn

      Your contribution to this discussion is most welcome even if only to confirm what I had already told Geerteke earlier on in this thread (see above), namely, that my session with Kontiki was mechanical and that no true connection had been established. You are clearly on the same path that we are travelling, as you have also noticed this independently of us.

      You have also beautifully put into words what I too have come to realise: ‘Stop trying so hard and the lesson will be easy. Allow’. Amen!

      Your final question – ‘What’s in it for the horse?’ – is one which Vicki and I have been asking ourselves since our return from France. We are aware that we went to Petra’s 2Moons training centre to learn technique, amongst other things. Our question is whether that is reason enough to lunge a horse at liberty in a picadero. Sure it will help us work with other horse more effectively in the future. But what is in it for the horse that is in the picadero now? Vicki is currently working on a post for the blog which deals with this very issue, amongst other things.

      You have been very blunt in your response, so I assume that you will not be offended if I am a bit forthright in my reply. First let me dispense with the insults directed at my way of walking first. The ‘moon boots’ are what they are because they are lined with fur, and for good reason. In the evening, when the video featuring Kontiki was shot, the temperature was below zero. I am also walking on 20 to 30 cm of very uneven sand churned up by the horses hooves. Having said that, I know of no one who walks down the street the same way as they move around a picadero while lunging a horse at liberty. If they did, I would probably also give them a wide berth.

      I would like to deal the issue of intellectualisation. You suggest that I over-intellectualise horsemanship. It is an accusation that I have had levelled against me by a number of people. What all of them have in common is that they have websites containing extensive writings which ‘intellectualise’ the interaction between horse and human in the form of blogs, newsletters, articles or links to books that they have written on the subject.

      So what is this process of intellectualisation that you take issue with? The Oxford online dictionary defines ‘intellectualise’ as ‘give an intellectual character to’ or ‘talk, write or think intellectually’. It also defines ‘intellectual’ as ‘relating to the intellect’, and the latter as ‘the faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively’ (‘intellectually’ is simply the related adverb). These words are some of the building blocks that allow us to communicate, especially when dealing with matters as difficult to define as the difference between mechanical and true connection. Viewed in this context, ‘intellectualisation’ is an absolutely essential process for anyone who wishes to communicate with another human being about matters which are open to different interpretations and arguments. Horsemanship is a good example of just such a matter. The description of ‘Our Philosophy’ and your numerous articles listed under ‘Horse Stories’ on your website are very good examples of this very same process: intellectualising horsemanship. We humans intellectualise matters in order to communicate with each other about those very matters. It is okay to accept this, I feel.

      Of course you are right to say that this is ‘not what horses are about’. Absolutelly! They do not give a stuff about horsemanship. To them it is about living in the moment and when humans feature in that moment, it is about the human they are with and the relationship they have with that human. Horsemanship is for humans. And to the extent that we share the moment with a horse, you are right when you say ‘start feeling’.

      I would like to leave you with a number of questions in the light of your obvious commitment to the health and happiness of horses, especially as set out on your fine website. Firstly, would you not want to reconsider your use of the harsh Parelli halter as depicted on your website? Secondly, why do you list and recommend Carlos Tabernaberri on the same page as Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling even though the stand for totally incompatible ways of being with horses? Finally, if you approached a horse in a way similar to that in which you have made this contribution to our blog, how do you think that your horse would have responded?

      To round off, I would like to say that you clearly have a lot to offer in the discussions that can help those of us travelling the same road in relation to horses. Thank you for this contribution and I look forward to your next one. For the next two years we are committed to the 2Moons course here in Europe, so we are unlikely to meet in Australia very soon. However, if you find yourself headed to Europe, please do not hesitate to contact me.

      Be well!

  5. Lynne Gerard says:

    Hello again from Canada, Andrew!

    You are generous and brave to be sharing your explorations in developing a more authentic relationship with horses!  I think, often in such explorations the things that are actually learned wind up being quite different than what we believed we were desiring to learn–and I say this as much for the readers who follow your blog as for you.  Rather like the Rolling Stones’ song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”…but sometimes, instead, you get what you need.  

    I found myself thinking many of the same things Glenn commented on, most especially the exact question came to me after reading the past entries you have made…and it is a thought that I felt about, also, for Anaïs:  “What’s in it for the horse?” 

    I hope to read one day about your interacting with a horse in a way that has absolutely nothing to do with “leadership” (and whatever technique you have been taught to deport yourelf as a leader) but interacting simply in a mutual flow of two beings admiring and enjoying each other’s company.  It wouldn’t matter one bit what the two of you are doing, because with that type of connection it will be the right thing at the right time, complete with meaning and genuine feeling.  Then when something arises and it is (intuitively) obvious that it is your moment to lead, you will–completely from the heart with no cerebral dissection before or after required.  And just as naturally (intuitively) you will also know when to be the follower…when to suggest ideas to the horse and when to be delighted to take the horse’s suggestion instead.  No technique or mechanical body movement that the horse accepts from time to time as “leadership” can replace an authentic relationship. 

    It is obvious in reading your words, you “know” this already, but maybe place too much emphasis on leadership as an essential prelude to connecting with horses.  Is being a worthy leader the only way to connect with a horse?  I don’t think so.

     I think first and foremost–  you need to become irresistibly interesting to the horse.  

    To that end, I find watching videos of Frédéric Pignon with horses more beneficial than viewing Hempfling videos.  

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Lynne

      Good to hear from you again!

      The idea of horses and humans interacting with each other as equals is one that is terribly appealing. Still, I must confess that I have yet to see a human interact with a horse as anything ultimately but a leader to that horse and this includes depictions of this in books and videos.

      I love the concept of needing to becom ‘irresistably interesting’ to the horse. It is one that I have not come across before. Achieving that with Anaiis would be a bit of a challenge to the imagination, as I suspect that I would be competing with her evening bucket of mash, which she definitely finds ‘irresistably interesting’.

      Incidentally, I went in search of videos of Frédéric Pignon with horses but could only find ones featuring trick riding and/or double bridles with massively leveraged bits. Clearly I must be looking in the wrong place. Perhaps you could send me a link which I could publish on the blog?

      I look forward to receiving it. Until then…

      Take care!

  6. Glenn says:

    Hello Andrew again

    The discussion continues but first I would like to relate a story form my past.

    I was asked to take over the teaching of a ‘very intelligent’ person to fly an ultralight. He and the instructor had reached an impasse. I asked this person to describe the process and steps of flying one circuit of the airfield (lineup, takeoff, climb, turn, downwind and downwind checks for landing, turn onto base, descend and turn onto final and land. About 6 minutes in all. At 40 minutes I had to stop Perry (he was in the middle of the downwind leg). Yep, too much words. Too much complicating of a fairly straightforward and simple process. Much like some people and horses really 🙂 Oh and he also was wondering why there had not been an update or revision of the laws of aerodynamics after all this time. That made us smile.

    Anyway back to horses: By straightforward approach with you is also the same as I use with horses. You are a bloke and can take directness, bluntness and honesty. I told it as I saw it. A spade is a spade, not a manual earth moving device.

    I find that horses respect honesty. I am also able to shout or whisper to the horse as the situation requires and yes I do not get it right all the time but more times than not. And I also find that a whisper is usually much more effective than a shout anyway.

    Halters: We don’t have any “harsh Parelli halters” here. We use Lodge Ropes rope halters or Light Rider Natural Bridles that are custom tied to fit the horse. No horse has been injured or damaged in the making of them into a riding, driving or pack saddling horse. But you won’t find a bit anywhere near a horse here, because I believe them to be harsh.

    Re Carlos, Klaus, Mel Fleming, Pat Parelli, Imke and all the other really wonderful horsemanship teachers who are out there sharing their knowledge with us (for a price) – They all have something to offer us. They are all dealing with horse/human relationships. None of them are wrong and none are right. They just tell and teach it as they see it. Take the bits that feel right and leave the rest is how we do it. But the best teacher of all is the guy/girl standing squarely on all four hooves. When we start listening to him/her, we can really learn to become horsemen and women.

    And with regard to your last question to me; “Finally, if you approached a horse in a way similar to that in which you have made this contribution to our blog, how do you think that your horse would have responded?”, Horses tolerate it because they know I am not BSing them, and if they do get offended I say to them “suck it up princess” and we get on with what we are doing.

    Blunt? That’s me. Firm? When I have to be. Fair? I think so. Smirking slightly as I type this as I imagine your response up to this point.

    Enjoy the journey Andrew, as I know you have been and as I have been enjoying it as an observer from the other side of this wonderful planet.


    • Andrew says:

      Dear Glenn

      Your story about ultralight flying instruction is very amusing. You must be a very gifted instructor.

      First and foremost I am a human, Glenn, and not an Aussie bloke. Like you, I appreciate honesty and like the horse, I respond better to a spade than an excavator, as it were.

      Your opposition to bits is one that I am sure your horses appreciate. There is a commonly held belief that bitless is inevitably kinder to a horse. The research that I have seen shows that not all bitless headgear is equal. Not only does this depend on the human at the other end of the reins or lead but also on the nature of the headgear. Some types place painful pressure on the poll and/or nose at the slightest tug, while some do not release pressure immediately. Obviously, you must have given some thought to all of this.

      Essentially, I can go along with your approach towards ‘wonderful horsemanship teachers’: ‘take the bits that feel right and leave the rest’. At the end of the day no human is perfect. If we were to wait until we found a teacher who was perfect, we would never have one to teach us, and that goes for our horses too. And yet I feel that I must draw a line in the sand between those teachers from whom I am prepared to learn and the rest. To the horse the criterion is simple: is the human committed primarily to the horse’s best interests, its health and happiness? I find this criterion eminently acceptable.

      With regard to firmness and fairness, I have yet to meet a human who interacts with a horse and who does not believe that he is firm and fair to his horse. Ultimately, it is the horse who judges this and it does so by fleeing, fighting, withdrawing into itself, giving up or preferably, seeking the human.

      Do stay in touch Glenn. You have much to offer.

      Be well!