Feed on


Take a year off and go and sort yourself out. This is the kind of advice that Vicki and a number of friends and acquaintances received from Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling while studying with him at his Akedah International school on the island of Lyø in Denmark. And this is precisely what we did. We took Hempfling’s advice. Now as our year comes to an end and we set up our business again, I look back on what it has done for me both in my own right and in relation to horses: the lessons learned, the gains, the losses, and where I am now.

If there is a single defining occurrence which has sculpted and shaped the past year more emphatically for me than any other, it is Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling’s one year schooling. I find it peculiar to have to admit this, because it is a course that I have not attended. And yet I firmly believe that I have learned some of the lessons that I had hoped to do at Hempfling’s Akedah International school on the island of Lyø in Denmark precisely because I did not attend that course, some of which it now appears with hindsight I may not have done had I attended it.


The lessons learned

It is difficult to define lessons learned where they include the intangible aspects of being human. How do you measure the state and quality of being? Yet I am reluctant to abandon the temptation to delineate the seemingly indefinable or at least identify the direction of any personal growth which I feel has occurred as a result of the lessons that I have learned.


Lesson 1. Learning to accept

Perhaps the lesson hardest learned was how to accept the situation in which you find yourself, especially where every fibre of my being was yelling defiance. To accept what is, whatever it is: this should not be confused with acquiescence and resignation. Rather it simply refers to an acknowledgement of the situation in which you find yourself at a particular time as being precisely that: your situation here and now.

Learning to accept together

Learning to accept together

In my case the lesson came early on. Vicki and I had given up a life in Australia, had sold off or given away most of our possessions and put the rest in storage, had put two horses into livery (that is ‘agistment’ to our mates down under), had transported another by plane to Europe, had travelled half way round the world with our elderly dog to attend a one-year course with Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling and had jumped through hoops to make it to his Akedah International school, only to find ourselves stranded in Europe with an unknown future when the great master who dances with horses had kicked us out of his course because we had refused to pay him more money than we had agreed to and I had refused to submit to his dominance. The sense of injustice, hurt and loss cut to the quick. Rage and despair were not far off.

This is where Echkart Tolle comes in. The Power of Now is a short, simple book and, like many things that are small or short and simple, it is extremely powerful if you try and live (and not simply understand) what it has to say. I do not claim to have mastered its message of acceptance but I can tell you what a relief it felt to feel the anger and frustration dissipate like the fierce hard heat of a stubborn day melting away as evening spreads cool relief leaving you calm, relaxed and alert. It is only then that you can address any need for change effectively.


Lesson 2. Learning to live in the moment

Hempfling was the catalyst pointing my nose in this direction well before there was any talk of Vicki and I attending his one-year schooling course but it was the horses themselves that challenged me to actually try to live in the moment. There is a school of thought which contends that horses live in the moment meaning that they are fully conscious of the life they live every moment that they live it and are not distracted from it by past regrets or future fears the way humans are.

The ability to live in the moment and hence attain a similar consciousness of life as it is lived is sometimes referred to as enlightenment, something which some humans spend much of their lives trying to attain. Eckhart Tolle adopts a similar approach: if you free yourself from your mind and live consciously in the moment, you will find yourself in a state of being as opposed to thinking, a state in which you will become fully aware of being now rather than thinking of the past or future. As a result you will achieve calmness and experience the quiet joy of being.

Living in the moment

Living in the moment

In The Horse Seeks Me Hempfling refers to a similar type of consciousness as being authentic. Once you are authentic, you will be able to relate to horses but not before then. And in his marketing materials on YouTube and his own website he presents his Akedah School as the place where you can learn to be authentic. Yet in his dealings with me he has shown that it is possible to be anything but authentic with a human, while still being able to go back to the horses and be authentic with them or at least some of them during the same timeframe. It was only then, a time when I was also reading Tolle’s Practising the Power of Now, that I realised it was possible to experience moments of living in the now without first becoming the enlightened human Hempfling describes on p. 9 of The Horse Seeks Me, the kind whom the horse seeks to be with. In fact it was possible to be absolutely wicked one moment and then to leave everything behind as you move into the moment even if only for just a few brief moments, enough to dance with the horses in Hempfling’s case.

Horses challenge you to be in the moment when you are with them, that is, if you wish to relate to them without force and violence. And the more you do it with them, the more you start to do the same without them … in your everyday life.


Lesson 2. Learning to be quietly content

There are moments when I consciously push thought from my mind and let perception have free reign: the taste, the smell, the sights, the touch, the sounds, the feel (yes, the phenomenon that moves beyond the physical). It can be while I am brushing my teeth, walking with my mare in the forest, taking a micro-break from translation in the office. Pick a time and place – any time, any place – consciously banish thought and enter into the moment. It is then impossible not to experience calm, a quiet contentment and truly know what it is to be, to live. The mundane comes alive if only for that moment.


Lesson 3. Learning to live intuitively

This has been one of the greatest lessons I have started to learn in the past year. I first became truly conscious of the concept of living intuitively, when I realised that almost everything Vicki and I did while preparing to move from Australia to Europe in order to attend Hempling’s one-year schooling course just seemed to gel and slot smoothly into place, whereas all our efforts to attend that course seemed to crash into a mounting wall of resistance. Here is an example. Just two days after we arrived in the Netherlands, Vicki and I travelled north to visit Karina, a friend of hers who was also due to attend and is currently attending Hempling’s one-year course in Denmark. There we planned to participate in a video conference in which Hempfling was supposed to provide us and other enrolled and potential students with additional information about the course. The video conference was beset by technical difficulties from the start and had to be abandoned. The obstacles to us attending that course simply mounted from there on in.

As I see it, learning to live intuitively means trying to find your direction by examining what is happening in your life and trying to recognise the direction in which all that happens or does not happen – destiny, for want of a better word – seems to be pointing. All too often I have tried to force direction in my life. For example, shortly after we arrived in the Netherlands we found a temporary home for us and a livery yard for Anaïs close to where one of Vicki’s sisters lives. This sister, Dolly, has been a great help to us from the time when Vicki and I started sharing our lives almost 30 years ago. Yet, we were not content. Instead we travelled up north and spent five days looking for something else for ourselves and our horse, five days during which we bickered and quarrelled, finally returning to what we already had with our sorry tails between our legs. If we had only learned to intuitively recognise and accept the direction destiny was showing us….

To me Hempfling’s one-year schooling course has been the defining vehicle through which this lesson has been conveyed most graphically, especially when viewed against the backdrop of all those aspects of my life that have been slotting into place since we decided to leave Australia to attend it, and then since the time that it proved to be impossible to do so after Hempfling threw us out of the course. Finding our new permanent home, into which we have just moved, is yet another example of this process in motion. While performing The Equine Touch on a polo pony out in the field, a man walked up to the fence and we got to talking about what Vicki and I were doing. He mentioned that he had a horse that might benefit and we volunteered our services for free as we are still in training. The man’s name is Johan and his horse is Bico and, while we were standing there talking, he suddenly drew our attention to the fact that we had met him before when we had investigated the possibility of renting his home. We had failed to recognise him. Johan then reminded us that he had another house and perhaps we might be interested in viewing it. We drove by the house later that day and called him to make an appointment to view it. Johan came right away and we moved into that house at the beginning of the month.

Living intuitively, it seems to me, does not only entail the ability to recognise the direction that readily presents itself but also to acknowledge the signs of those that have not. Again, Hempfling’s one-year course is a case in point. In April I learned that the course had been stopped after just seven months. Apparently, there was to be a break of three months. I wondered what Vicki and I would have done, if we had actually gone ahead and attended the course. What would we have done in Europe with our horse during those three months without a home to go to? Soon afterwards I heard that Hempfling had arranged for his Compact Schooling 1 course to coincide with the one-year schooling, which resumed at the beginning of July, in September this year. This is essentially the same Compact Schooling 1 course which the one-year students attended in September 2011 (the first month of what was supposed to be a continuous one-year course). In other words, in the tenth month of their one-year course (taking into account the break of three months) these dedicated students are going to have to sit through a 20-day course which they had already attended over 21 days during their first month. Why? What educational purpose will such regurgitation serve?

Then there are the videos that have emerged from Hempfling’s one year course to date. There are seven of them. I have included all of them here to illustrate the point.

1. Hempfling – Horses’ Wings

2. Hempfling – Horses’ Peaceful Education 2

3. Hempfling – Horses’ Peaceful Education 1

4. Hempfling & the Black Stallion

5. Hempfling – Into the Wild: Horse and Man

6. Hempfling – World of Silence



My first question is, ‘Where are the horses?’ Where are Karina’s two horses, Romin, the mare, and Cody, the young gelding (rechristened ‘Jo-Jack’ by Hempfling)? Where are the other horses belonging to the other one-year students? Why is Jasmijn’s stallion Esperado, which featured in Video 2 (Horses’ Peaceful Education 2. See also my post of 12 March 2012 entitled Being Human … with Horses – Part 2 ), now being offered for sale instead of still being in the one-year school?

The only horse we see in the latest videos is Habanero, the small, black PRE stallion belonging to Hempfling’s only senior body awareness coach, Jo Ross. Which leads to my next question: Where are the students? Of the videos published during the one-year school only the first two feature the one-year students and only two students are shown in action with a horse, Jasmijn, an evidently gifted young horsewoman from Belgium, and Jo. For the rest, all we see is Hempfling and Habanero along with advertisements for Hempfling’s next Compact Schooling 1 and One-Year Schooling courses.

Which leads to my next question: if the one-year schooling course is designed to teach the one-year students how to interact with horses the way Hempfling does, and to be able to teach others to do the same once they have completed the course, why do the videos not at least show Jo working with Habanero? Why do they not show Jo riding her black stallion instead of a big man (physically) on a small horse?

All of these questions lead to an even more important one: How much longer can this continue before there is discontent amongst Hempfling’s one-year students? How long will it take before they demand that they be taught what they came to learn? Or is it just a matter of time before one or more one-year students abandon the course?

Put another way, all my questions about Hempfling’s one-year course can be summarised in one for me. Have I actually missed anything by not attending Hempfling’s one-year course? Of course, I have. I have missed the company of some people I truly cared about. Perhaps I have also missed learning some of the techniques that Hempfling uses with horses. But have I truly missed some ground-breaking education which would enable me to grow as a person in general and as a horseman in particular? Based on the available evidence, I have to answer this with a resounding ‘No’. And in doing so, my intuition confirms the direction that it showed me a year ago. How to live intuitively, or put another way, how to live by feeling into your current situation be it at the macro-level as described here or at the micro-level, for example, when you are interacting with a horse: ironically, this is a lesson which I have learned primarily as a result of Hempfling denying me the opportunity to attend his one-year schooling course.


Lesson 4. Learning intention (and how to help horses)

Ivana The Equine Touch and intention

Ivana The Equine Touch and intention

Learning to appreciate the importance of intention to the extent of integrating it into my everyday life has been another important lesson over the past year. There are two parts to this lesson and the horses were my key tutors in this respect. First of all, your intention must be honourable. If your intention is not honourable, your horse will let you know by seeking to leave you, resist you, give up or withdraw. You will be left with only one answer: force. In other words, you will be left with the empty shell and not the full glory of the horse you thought you had. Humans tend to respond to dishonourable intention in a manner that is not too dissimilar to the response of a horse.

The requirement that your intention be honourable also features as an essential first step when we try and help horses by performing The Equine Touch on horses. We show them first that we are only there to help and, if they decline that help, as they sometimes albeit very infrequently do, we are happy to respect that.

Secondly, your intention must be precisely that. Intention is not a desire or a plan, nor is it something that merely precedes your action. It informs your action. It is the energy of doing which both precedes and is essence of the doing. When you act with intention, it is not half-hearted. It is full and it is pure. And the horses respond to this combination of honour and energy in your intention. You are authentic.


Lesson 5. Learning to be a better human

This is another hugely, important lesson that I have learned in the past year and for which I must acknowledge the source in Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. It was through Hempfling’s books, videos and articles that I came to believe (wrongly, as Hempfling himself so graphically demonstrated to me) that, if I ever wanted to interact with a horse in a manner that was beneficial to both species and would allow them to dance together, I would need to become a better human being.

My conflict with Hempfling essentially turned on this point. What do I expect from myself and what draws me to another human, especially one who claims to be my friend and whom I wish to regard as a leader? When I signed up for Hempfling’s one-year schooling course and paid my deposit, I assumed that I was entrusting my tuition to a man who acts with integrity, who is trustworthy, who is capable of acting with empathy, who empowers horses and humans, and who is enlightened in his dealings with both species. Hempfling went out of his way to show me that this was not the case and in doing so he revealed to me just how important these qualities are in any person who wishes to be a better human, not least of all myself. This is a lesson that the horses have confirmed, although I must confess that it is relatively easy to fool them, if you are capable of moving into the moment, of living so completely in the now for just a few minutes, that all of what you are is reduced to barebones being in those few minutes. That was another important lesson from Hempfling.


Lesson 6. Learning to use my body properly

It is Hempfling that I must also thank for beginning to learn how to use my body properly, not as a lounging lump of lard to prop up my senses in front of a television set nor as weapon with which to challenge the elements, but as an essential part of the human I wish to become. Spiritual, mental and physical unite in the body that is me and my body’s expression should reflect this. I found Hempfling’s body awareness exercises to be highly useful in helping me to develop this and, since that avenue has been cut off, it has come to be replaced with Tai Chi. The horses too appreciate my ability to use my body properly. It helps us to communicate so much more effectively.

Jo Ross (at left) teaching body awareness in our home

Jo Ross (at left) teaching body awareness in our home



The fact that I have had the opportunity to learn so many important lessons in the past year does not mean I have become an expert in all of the fields that they cover. Far from it. What I have gained though, is a clear direction in which I hope to continue learning these important lessons.

At the start of this past year during which Vicki and I stepped out of everyday life, I said that I hoped to write a book. I have not. Nevertheless, I think that I may have written the equivalent of one, if I add up all the posts that I have published on this blog. It has been a highly beneficial exercise. Not only has it forced me to reflect on my experiences, it has also brought me into contact with many people from around the world in New Zealand, Argentina, Canada, South Africa, the United States, Australia and all over Europe. Some have become friends.

The doubts about Hempfling that were triggered by his treatment of Vicki and myself have also caused me to look further for help and inspiration in my dealings with horses. There are others who illustrate a way of being with horses which appeals to me in that it recognises the leadership of humans (even if seeking to deny what it describes as in Imke Spilker’s case), while emphasising the bonds of friendship between the species and denying the role of domination. Those humans that I now look to for inspiration in this respect include Michael Bevilacqua, Imke Spilker and Frédéric Pignon, amongst others.



There have also been losses in the past year, although not many. Perhaps the single most acute loss that I have suffered is having our equine family split up. Our geldings, Gulliver and Farinelli, are in livery in Australia and we feel that they are too old and unfit to make the long trip to Europe. I have no illusions that they cannot live without us. But I miss them terribly. Requiring them to make the gruelling trip to an alien European lifestyle at their age just to forego this sense of loss would probably be a very selfish thing to do.

Gulliver and Farinelli

Gulliver and Farinelli

Then there is the loss of Dubu, although he was more Vicki’s dog than mine, much like The Smudge was more my dog than hers. I comfort myself with the knowledge that we managed to give Dubu a good home for more than 17 years. The initial pain has now become a good memory.

I also regret losing the contact that I enjoyed with those of Hempfling’s current one-year students with whom Vicki and I shared our home in Australia on one or more occasions. This should not have to happen if one’s tutor is truly an enlightened master. But it has and it is their choice and I respect and accept it.


In conclusion

When I look back over the past year and weigh up all that I have had the opportunity to experience as a result of taking Hempfling’s advice, I am truly grateful. It has been one of the single most important years of my life and I greatly appreciate the huge privilege that I have enjoyed in being able to both live and savour it. It started with a crushing disappointment but has ended with a surge of joy. In addition, I have come into contact with many people who have attended courses with Hempfling. Some believe that they have benefitted from that experience. The majority feel that they have been hurt. To them I say – and trite this lesson may be to teach but cheap it has not been to learn – savour both the joy and the pain, then take the positive with you and build on it. I have, I am and I intend to continue to do so. Why? Because the alternative is no longer an acceptable option.


22 Responses to “Taking Hempfling’s Advice”

  1. Dear Andrew

    Thanks for writing all this down and sharing your experience – clearly, one of the things you have hi-lighted is that authenticity (integrity?) with a horse may not carry over to human relationships. Hence, working with horses may not necessarily be the centering/balancing ‘therapy’ some claim it to be; that it need not bring about mutually beneficial leadership – connection to source. Something to think about all right!

    I appreciate your undeniable courage, integrity and generousity


    • Andrew says:

      Dear Ian

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Yes, I suppose it is true that authenticity or integrity with a horse may not carry over to human relationships. Of course, the flip side of the coin is that it may.

      It seems to me that it is a question of choice rather than a mechanistic thing and that choice applies to our relationships with both horses and humans. We can choose how we wish to relate to a horse just as we can choose how to relate to a human and essentially the choice is between allowing our own ego to prevail or the bond with the other.

      If we opt in favour of the bond rather than our own ego in relation to our horses, then we usually find that we have to dig very deep within ourselves to be the kind of human a horses wishes to be with and to be guided by. While this may not transfer automatically to our relationships with humans, the quiet strength and commitment we find within ourselves with horses, can serve as a source from which we can draw on with humans. The only thing that we need to establish in order to do so, is whether we want to.

      I have taken a look at your website and I am intrigued by the concept of English for Equine Assisted Learning. My own background is that of English teacher (TESOL) and translator. The prospect of combining my language skills with my commitment to the wellbeing of horses in a way that goes beyond communication is perhaps something to which I may wish to devote some focused attention. Portugal is an added attraction. I have a weakness for fado (or perhaps it is a strength).

      Be well.

      • Hi Andrew

        It is good to be able to enter into a direct dialogue with you. I discovered your blog late so that usually when I read your posts, the reply option was no longer available.

        Re: Thank you for your kind words – not at all, you and Vicki have shown amazing ’emotional heroism’ as Linda Kohanov calls it – a concept contained in her new book Power of the Herd, yet to be released.

        Re: authenticity and choice and will – that is neatly expressed, looking at things from the outside. Nevertheless, in the heat of the moment, you learn to protect yourself not only for your own well being but as a function of being able to provide for the horse(s). Hence, you may come to perceive threats before they exist. Coming to terms with this notion is addressed in Mark Rashid’s book Nature in Horsemanship. However, as the process does bestow power, it can be corrupted; it can go to our heads, so whether we are being constructive and not destructive may be defined bodily rather than intellectually. But, as we know, the two are not really separate but fused together, making choice possible – for good or for bad, as best as we can conceive it. ( This still needs to be worked out further, doesn’t it?

        Re: English for Equine Assisted Learning – we obviously have much that we could discuss and develop. The idea is to make ‘horse sense’ an integral part of the language we express with a clear focus on ethics and its connection to ‘mother’ nature. Hence, the focus is on meaningful choices (rather than imposed chains) with respect to experience, relationships, creativity and transformation. In line with Linda Kohanov’s thinking, this really needs to be an essential part of education and is sorely lacking at present. The neat thing is that all this is ultimately determined by the horses and their well being.

        Of course, creating a new tradition means doing the impossible as things stand but the horses are a wonderful source of inspiration, aren’t they?

        So inspiring horse beams to you

        P. S. ‘My’ wife ‘Vicky’ says to invite you to visit us:-)

        • Andrew says:

          Dear Ian

          So sorry to hear that the reply option was no longer available whenever you read my posts. If you would like to be notified whenever this blog is updated with a new post, simply enter your name and email address in the form provided at the top of this page and to the right.

          I am intrigued to know how you have managed to lay your hands on a Linda Kohanov book that has not yet been published. Perhaps you will enlighten me some day.

          With regard to the question of choice, you make the point that ‘in the heat of the moment, you learn to protect yourself’. Essentially, I feel that what we should be doing is trying to avoid the occurrence of the ‘heat of the moment’. In this sense the choice is one of direction which we humans are capable of making before we even go to the horse. We can allow it to define what we do and how we do it in order to prepare ourselves adequately for our interaction with the horse. Rather than trying to bridge any dichotomy between the ‘bodily’ and the ‘intellectual’, I believe that we should be moving towards a more intuitive approach, as part of which we sense the essence of the interaction between horse and human without necessarily being fully conscious of its physical and intellectual properties. Such an intuitive approach may enable us to relate to the horse without fear and without danger (other than any from a source that is unpredictable and external to the horse, something which seems to be inherent in life itself). In my own very limited experience it is possible to achieve this by going into the moment with my horse, becoming fully aware of her and everything occurring in the tiny cocoon of experience within which we interact with each other, essentially reducing the world to that of the immediate and the now, which is ‘being’.

          I would indeed be interested in discussing and exploring the potential for developing the concept of English for Equine Assisted Learning. Where would you like to start?

          Horses are indeed a wonderful source of inspiration. I also find them particularly good at giving one a very succinct but pithy reality check, when one’s ego gets the better of one.

          Another ‘Vicky’. What a pleasant coincidence. Your wife has a fine idea. If her husband shares it, I would be very interested in exploring that option as well.

          Be well!

          • Sorry for the delay in replying, Andrew – Victoria and I share the same Internet connection, so it is not always available:-)

            Re: the reply option was no longer available
            I suppose I could have written to you directly as you provided an email address, but somehow felt that if the comment section was off, you may have finished processing that part. Moreover, I can imagine that in certain situations you may have felt that enough is enough. We don’t have endless energy to mull over things, but also need to be practical, realistic and come up with working solutions for the specific moment we live in, don’t we?

            Re:I am intrigued to know how you have managed to lay your hands on a Linda Kohanov book that has not yet been published – there is a Power of the Herd Symposium, where we have been discussing Linda’s work as she writes it. She has also released parts of the book on her website including the basic outline – http://eponaquest.com/the-power-of-the-herd/book-overview/

            In addition, we have been working on a set of guiding principles. The fourth one is available and I suspect was what you were looking to learn from Klaus originally. http://eponaquest.com/the-power-of-the-herd/guiding-principle-four-crescendo-into-immediate-positive-feedback/
            – without the macho part, which is quite unnecessary.

            Re: With regard to the question of choice, you make the point that ‘in the heat of the moment, you learn to protect yourself’. Essentially, I feel that what we should be doing is trying to avoid the occurrence of the ‘heat of the moment’ – Quite definitely!

            Re: In this sense the choice is one of direction which we humans are capable of making before we even go to the horse. We can allow it to define what we do and how we do it in order to prepare ourselves adequately for our interaction with the horse – exactly, although things may not go as we expect… so we hang loose, you might say.

            Re: Rather than trying to bridge any dichotomy between the ‘bodily’ and the ‘intellectual’, I believe that we should be moving towards a more intuitive approach, as part of which we sense the essence of the interaction between horse and human without necessarily being fully conscious of its physical and intellectual properties. Such an intuitive approach may enable us to relate to the horse without fear and without danger (other than any from a source that is unpredictable and external to the horse, something which seems to be inherent in life itself). – There is the rub – the unexpected is going to happen and the horse may freak – and you are in the ‘heat of the moment’ – and you work at preparing yourself to act in ways to ‘override’ it or work it out. Besides, horses don’t come with a ‘blank slate’ but predisposed ways of re/acting. For example, a horse may chose to take a bite out of your shoulder simply because you are not giving her your sole attention. Or you may get kicked when the horse mistakes you for a fly. Hence, you negotiate procedures or boundaries with the horse to limit potential danger as we are relatively frail in comparison with the horse. (see the above link)

            Re: In my own very limited experience it is possible to achieve this by going into the moment with my horse, becoming fully aware of her and everything occurring in the tiny cocoon of experience within which we interact with each other, essentially reducing the world to that of the immediate and the now, which is ‘being’ – Yes, you have tried to capture that on film a couple of times, haven’t you? What is interesting that such films are often not the spectacular ones we are used to seeing and often no a lot seems to be going on – intimacy is much about the sound of silence in the sharing you describe.

            Re:I would indeed be interested in discussing and exploring the potential for developing the concept of English for Equine Assisted Learning. Where would you like to start? – A very good question as we are always in the middle, it seems. Well, we are taught to structure ideas academically using nominalization, which is product rather than process based. The structuring makes it difficult to break down and modify understanding such that it is strongly conservative. To create new solutions for our present problems, we are likely to need to go with the flow much more… I expect you have taught children action English, which side-steps the imperialization of the individual for a while at least. Interestingly Portuguese is a listing language, in contrast, which makes use of external cues to a much greater degree and, thus, is much more connected with immediate reality. So we might choose to use English in this way, too. This was exactly the point I made to Linda who writes wonderfully but intricately. I said, can’t we reveal the embedded processes more clearly – the principles?

            Re:Horses are indeed a wonderful source of inspiration. I also find them particularly good at giving one a very succinct but pithy reality check, when one’s ego gets the better of one. – Yes, this is the logic behind most forms of equine therapy and considered a key to creating a healthy perspective of life. Cris Erwin has put together a recent ‘very professional’ version of this (http://www.chrisirwin.com/eapd-horse-sense/).

            Re: Another ‘Vicky’. What a pleasant coincidence. Your wife has a fine idea. If her husband shares it, I would be very interested in exploring that option as well – ha, ha: you are an expert in nuances. Well, if Victoria is here, you won’t have to rough it, but, of course, I would love the opportunity of hearing of your adventures first hand and sharing them with the family, which includes our five horses, naturally.

            Better stop here for now:-)

            You might be amused that I think your moving lifestyle emulates that of wild horses – talk about searching for pastures new!

            Good on you!

            P. S. You have probably already come across Franklin Levinson, haven’t you? (http://www.wayofthehorse.org/index.php)
            His approach based on trust – the Gandhi approach – has much in common with your core values, hasn’t it?

            • Andrew says:

              Dear Ian

              No need to apologise for the delay in replying. We have a policy of not shooting people who are the victims of circumstance or are guilty of human frailties.

              Re the reply option, this might actually be a feature of WordPress, the blogging engine that we use. I haven’t really investigated it.

              Thanks for the links to Linda Kohanov. I shall take a closer look.

              Re ‘although things may not go as we expect’, in my limited experience if we expect anything from horses, things never go as we expect. Expect nothing and they tend to give everything, or so it seems.

              Re ‘There is the rub – the unexpected is going to happen and the horse may freak – and you are in the ‘heat of the moment’ – and you work at preparing yourself to act in ways to ‘override’ it or work it out.’: True, the unexpected usually happens and the horse may freak out. Usually though it is more than likely that the horse will not lose control, even if it is a stranger. But then humans tend to be more cautious with strangers and there is no reason why we should not do the same with horses with whom we do not have a close relationship.

              Where we do have a healthy relationship with a horse – one that is based on mutual trust, care and respect – it is my experience that the only time such a horse will lose control with you, is when there is any external interference. Even then though, it is highly unlikely that your horse will hurt you. We have found that even when our horses get a fright, they go out of their way to avoid hurting us. In moments like this you become aware that the trust you have with your horse is a two-way thing.

              In between these two extremes though there is a range of potential harm which we need to guard against by being safe with horses by simply being sensible. The paradox though, as our horses have taught me, is that, if you give them the slightest indication that you are concerned about your own safety, they will no longer have any reason to feel safe with you. That is when horses have the potential to become dangerous to humans.

              Re English for Equine Assisted Learning, I find that I am having major difficulties with the concept of ‘equine assisted’, because it suggests that the horse is merely there as an accessory to the human. In my limited experience the true personal development that I have undergone with horses has come about through trying to help them become healthy and happy. Put another way, both horse and human have experienced self-development through each other and it has been fully interdependent: the one is impossible without the other. It is for this reason that I am more inclined to look for a term that expresses this. My tentative suggestion is that we should perhaps discard ‘equine assisted’ in favour of ‘horse-human’, as in ‘horse-human learning’, ‘horse-human development’ and the like.

              Thanks too for the links to Chris Irwin and Franklin Levinson, both of whom I have previously encountered on the Web. At this point in time I must confess to entertaining major doubts as to whether anything beneficial to the horse can occur with a bit in its mouth or the use of instruments of force as precisely that (as opposed to using – for example – a whip as an extension of your arm to indicate something or a bit as a museum piece to remind us of a harsher past). This is not to pass judgement on these people. They maintain that they are trying to help the horse and to the extent that they do so, they have my full support.

              Re your invitation to visit, thank you so much. I will contact you privately to try and arrange something. Methinks we could spend some valuable time together learning from each other and celebrating life.

              Be well!

        • Dear Ian, I got curious and had a look at your site. Really interesting. I shared one of your Nutrition clips on my FBpage.
          Thank you.

          • Oh, how nice, Geerteke: I’ll have to pass the news onto Patricia who is the dietician of the family. She believes the world can be ‘saved’ by focusing on food choices: you know, food is medicine or, at least, would be if not tampered with. Interestingly, you can see similar patterns with horses, can’t you?

  2. AMEN !!!

    How about a perfect example here of ‘your greatest “enemy” ‘ having turned out to be ‘your greatest “teacher” ‘.
    Which doesn’t necessarily mean that you will now sit at the same dinner table.

    “ik geef je mijn hart, want zo kom ik bij de mijne”- Janosh
    In your very open and vulnerable communication above you have in my feeling given your heart to KF Hempfling and so you have been able to get to yours. I am certain that many more situations will follow – and have already followed but perhaps not always consciously – where you will readily, perhaps now even more readily than before, give your heart. Not only to horses, but also to humans. And so getting more and more to YOUR heart. Which is why we are here – ‘connection to source’ as Ian mentions (?).

    Perhaps you can now also understand – if you hadn’t already done so – why my intuition told me after having attended the PPP in 2010, that I would not be returning as KFH was not the right person for me who would and could support, nurture, inspire me more than and beyond what I had been priviliged to experience in those 8 days PPP. I had the unspeakable feeling something was missing.

    Thank you so much for sharing Andrew.
    Your above story has somehow for me also put my intuitive feelings into words. I thank you very much for that.

    Take care

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Geerteke

      Mmm, I am not too sure I can go along with your conclusion that this is a perfect example of ‘your greatest enemy’ turning out to be ‘your greatest “teacher”‘. Hempfling has never been my greatest enemy. In fact, I would have difficulty viewing him as an enemy at all. He is a human whom I admire at one level and simultaneously one with whom I empathise.

      Through his books, videos and articles Hempfling has played an important role in bringing me closer to horses and through them myself since late 2007, and to some extent he still does, even though (or because) I have not attended any of his courses. What he has offered the world through those books, videos and articles is ultimately much bigger than the little man he may choose to be with humans and the dominant human he may choose to be with horses and I am truly grateful for it. This is the Hempfling I admire.

      Yet it seems to me that what I learn from and appreciate in Hempfling may be thanks to his vision but it occurs in spite of the man. He has the capacity to be great but chooses to be small, so it sometimes seems. To this extent I empathise with him, because it is a challenge all of us face to a greater or lesser degree.

      Still, perhaps you see in my story something which I have yet to realise and acknowledge in the cold light of rational thought.

      Take care!

      • Re: it is a challenge all of us face to a greater or lesser degree – no doubt about that! And like the story of the seven blind men and the elephant – each of us knows a ridiculously small portion of the truth, and so collectively we can get a little closer if we are open-minded and big hearted enough.

        • Andrew says:

          Dear Ian

          I had a rather challenging session with my mare, Pip, late yesterday afternoon and came away feeling very much like one of those blind men. All very humbling, a horse can be sometimes … if one cares to open oneself to what it has to say.

          Be well!

          • Dear Andrew, have you in the meantime ´picked up´ what Pip wanted to make clear to you?
            My personal experience with Marcello is that since I very consciously focus on my feet (grounding/being defintely in the NOW)’ while at the same time looking into the sky my vision gets a wideness that feels like almost 360 degrees and a wonderful feeling of ´trust´ is there. At the same time Marcello feels very connected. As soon as I lose that or forget about it Marcello´s behaviour changes. His reaction to outside influences becomes sort of flighty. It has been really interesting exploring this.
            I checked this feeling when walking the dog. The same happened with me. When I lose this sort of connectedness with all and everything I feel a sudden pull on the line and when looking behind my dog is just standing there sort of ´frozen´, looking straight at me with focussed eyes as if saying `where are you´. This feeling is of course my human interpretation.
            On the other hand perhaps that is what my dog is at the moment communicating.

            • Andrew says:

              Dear Geerteke

              To be honest, I am not really sure that Pip wanted to make anything clear to me specifically. Vicki mentioned that, when she was at the livery yard earlier in the day, Pip was behaving rather strangely, stomping against her stable door and snapping at passing humans. This sort of behaviour is very much unlike her, so I suspect that I was dealing with a more general expression of dissatisfaction in Pip rather than an objection specifically directed towards me. Having said that, it may well be that something I did exacerbated the situation.

              The next day I had a session with Pip which took my breath away. We were together, connected, all the way. Very moving! I still do not understand what happened. Does it matter?

              The interconnectedness between the species which you refer to in relation to Marcello and your dog resonates clearly with me. I experience this particularly acutely while walking with our horses. There is something truly special about walking in nature with a 500+ kg mare moving her head closer to your arm as you walk in step together, oblivious to everything but this cocoon of immediate being with all its tangible and intangible levels of awareness.

              Cuddles to your creatures.

              Take care!

          • Tell me about it, Andrew! But most often these situations lead to fantastic insights and break throughs – the most important thing is that neither party gets injured in the process, which sometimes is not the case, unfortunately. Vulnerability, which makes for discovery and the daily needs of a healthy relationship comes at a price.

      • “enemy´´ can be seen in different lights. Literally, but also only figuratively or as a symbol of someone one can learn a lot from. Perhaps not always clear at first. Even though it is combined with for example ´losing´ money. In hindsight, however………..
        But I have the feeling I am trying to communicate something you already know. Consciously or subconsciously.

        • Andrew says:

          Dear Geerteke

          As in being ‘one’s own worst enemy’, for example? It strikes me that the term, ‘enemy’, is highly subjective. If I say that I have an enemy, this probably says more about me than my supposed enemy. It strikes me too that life is too short to have enemies. I prefer to have friends.

          Be well!

          • Dear Andrew, so be your own dearest friend – give yourself blessings every 2 hours to start with – that already often proves something being so easily forgotten is my personal experience.
            And…………”so inside so outside”.
            Warmly, Geerteke

  3. Laraine says:

    Thank you Andrew for being so out there with your feelings and emotions and the lessons you have learned on your journey of self, I always marvel at what is put in our path as we travel this journey, your love of horses has brought you to your greatness awareness,
    You have such a way with words the enables us to fully understand the journey you have been on and continue on.

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Laraine

      It is very comforting to know that you are still with me on my journey. And that after just one night in your beautiful home en route to Europe. I feel very fortunate.

      Take care!

      • Laraine says:

        It is funny how life works, people pass through our lives in our daily doings but watching you and Vicki with Dubu I felt a bond of kindred spirit of sorts most likely because of the love of dog even though at this time in my life I do not journey with just one but share in the bounty of loved fur children who stay under my roof.
        Not having had the privileged of sharing my life’s journey with horses even though my son owns two but rarely am I there to interact with them but have always loved and admired the magnificent spirit that is horse. I am enjoying the insight into becoming bonded with that spirit through your words and the wonderful videos you post. I share them with my Granddaughter who loves her horses and at this moment in her life has been separated from them because of school.
        I thank you for letting me be part of it all

  4. Re:4 August 2012 at 10:30 am

    No reply option available above, so I just wanted to say that once again, the points you have made are certainly interesting and I found myself nodding in agreement. Indeed, it is so simple that if you really love horses, their well being must be your number one consideration. That is one of the most compelling parts of Klaus’s message: you never want to take anything away from the horse: you know, take the horsiness out of the horse. Hence, any action that may cause damage must be counter-productive to this end.

    Here’s to celebrating life