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Horse, human, danger

Horse, human: danger?

There are moments when an unintended occurrence compels you to consider what you are actually doing and what you feel you should be doing. Often though you see what is happening but you are not fully aware of the implications until someone you respect draws your attention to them. In the past week I have had to contend with three such occurrences. The first and second have led me to think long and hard about horses and humans, about my priorities, and about how I write about both in this blog. The third has led me back to my mare, Pip, how we communicate especially in relation to body language, and how this can benefit both horse and human. I have Vicki to thank for banging on the windscreen as it were, and Pip for urging me to look through it and choose the right direction.


Business as usual

A month ago we re-established our translation business here in the Netherlands and work started coming in within half an hour after sending out the first email alert to our clients. It has not stopped since. While a resurrected source of income is particularly reassuring in the middle of the growing economic crisis that is currently strangling Europe and increasingly the rest of the world as well, a sea that nurtures, as the Japanese have learned, can also turn into a monster that engulfs the creatures it nourishes. Business as usual has also threatened to drown the flames of enthusiasm with which Vicki and I took our first few steps towards what we hope will become a new future: one in which helping horses will help us humans not only to become more humane but also ultimately to earn a living by doing so.

Our new home in Holland

Our new home in Holland

Added to the mix was also the need to move into our new home and start furnishing it. This we did at the beginning of July. Then four weeks later the container holding our household effects arrived from Australia and we were suddenly up to our ears in boxes, while the translation assignments kept coming. Although we religiously insisted on spending time with our own horses, our Equine Touch studies suffered. We were veering off course, as we tried to find a path through the seemingly endless stream of ‘things that need to be done’.

Then Vicki hammered on the windscreen. There was a fork in the road. Either we go back to being ruled by our business as we had been in the past or we continue the journey that we had started during our sabbatical. Either we opt for the paved road of soul-destroying financial security or we take the overgrown path through the wild side of life. I stopped what I was doing, cleaned the windscreen and peered down the two diverging ways ahead. That was when I saw them: the brumbies of my dreams, heads down, tails up, grazing near the grassy path. Today they eat. Tomorrow they may have nothing. They take life as it comes from one moment to the next and it can be very hard at times. But it is life and if life is for living and doing so now, then I am all for joining the brumbies.


Horses and humans

Vicki has also pointed out to me that we have a number of subscribers to this blog who have difficulties following my posts. As I understand it, this is because the language that I use is not always easy to understand and/or because my focus on horse-related issues requires that some of our readers who are not ‘horsey people’ become familiar with the unfamiliar, namely the horse, and do so in a foreign tongue.

Our blog is read by thousands around the world

Our blog is read by thousands around the world

I look at our list of blog subscribers and our website statistics, and I realise that our blog has experienced a massive increase in popularity since the time when we started it at the beginning of last year. The number of subscribers (email and RSS feed) has ballooned and the number of visitors to our website has more than doubled into the thousands during the past year. Our blog is now read throughout Europe (from Britain to Greece and Portugal to Finland) and in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, Brazil, Kenya and South Africa to mention but a few of the countries in the long list displayed on my screen. We also receive private responses from people in many parts of the world in addition to the comments left on the blog. It has become clear to me that for a growing number of our readers English is very much a second language. I need to bear this in mind when I write.

Vicki and I started this blog as a way of keeping friends, family and acquaintances up-to-date with our experiences as we headed off for a year of study with Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. The aim of that study was personal development with horses and through helping them. It was not supposed to be equine-assisted development but rather horse-human development, because the aim was for both the horses and humans to develop through and with each other. Although we did not make it to Hempfling’s one-year school in Denmark, our aim of horse-human development has remained.

Over the past few years and especially the last 18 months I have come to experience a whole new way of being, one of quiet contentment which I am not prepared to lose. And this new way of being is something I have to thank the horses for, our own and all of the many others with whom I have been privileged to interact during this period. Although I am mindful that this would not have occurred if I myself had not actively tried to help the horses that have shared smaller and greater parts of their lives with me (in this sense it is not merely an equine-assisted experience), I am nevertheless particularly grateful for what those magnificent creatures have done and are doing for me.

And so I wish to do something in return for the horses. Amongst other things, I believe that I can do this by sharing my equine experiences with other humans through this blog and by receiving their feedback. Our horses have benefited from that feedback, because some of it has changed the way I relate to them. In particular, it has helped me move away from trying to be a bossy, dominant ‘leader’ to aspiring to be a sensitive friend and guide. To those of you who have provided such feedback, I thank you on my own behalf and that of our horses.

As fellow teachers (yes, Vicki and I have also had our stint at the blackboard end of the classroom) amongst you may realise, true education is a two-way process. In the same way that I have learned from some of you, so too I believe that Vicki and I may have helped and may still help you and indirectly also your horses (if you have any) by sharing a little of what we encounter in our contact with both the horses in our lives and some of the humans who are committed to improving the way our species interacts with horses in general, irrespective of whether we meet them in person or through books, videos, articles and the internet. If just one horse is slightly happier and healthier as a result, then this blog will have justified its existence. And if just one human finds a small opening into all that horses have to offer him or her through something that has been published in this blog, then it will have far exceeded what I could have imagined when we started it. This then is the ongoing rationale for this blog as I see it: horses and humans learning to share and shake in the dance of life.



Since the beginning of July improved conditions at our livery yard have made it possible for Vicki and I to interact actively with Anaïs and Pip almost every day. From the time Pip came into my life at the beginning of April I had the feeling that we were getting to know each other well, learning to trust each other and were gradually building a common vocabulary of body and verbal language that was helping us to communicate with each other more effectively. For this reason at the beginning of July I felt that it was possible to start helping her develop her body and carriage, so that one day she might be able to carry a human on her back, if she wished to do so. And so I set about doing what I have never done before, drawing on all that I had learned from books, videos and articles while experimenting and making it up as I went.

I had hoped to include a video in this post showing how far Pip and I have come but it is not to be. Pip has shown me otherwise but it took Vicki to grind my nose into the obvious. For about the past 10 days my mare has given me every indication that she is far from happy with what I am doing, especially while trying to ask her for lateral flexion in the trot. My aim was to help Pip learn to bring her hind legs underneath her body and to elevate the base of her neck, thereby shifting more of her weight towards the back. The theory is that this will help her to carry a human more easily one day by enabling her to strengthen her body and learn to collect herself. The technique that I used was one that I sourced from Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling’s book, Dancing with Horses. But Pip was not happy, no matter who the guru was. Although she would produce some lovely movement, she audibly winced and pushed her ears back.

Initially, I sought the fault in my execution of what I had read. Clearly I must have been using my body incorrectly. Perhaps I am too close to the horse. Maybe I am asking too intensely. Perhaps the whip that I am guiding her with like an extended arm is raised too high. And so I tried to make minor changes, experimenting again and looking at Pip to find out how I was doing. Then there was Vicki again and she seemed to suggest that perhaps the problem did not lie in the phrases of body language that I was trying to employ but possibly the entire dialect.

At around the same time I started to write this post and, in particular, to answer the questions about body language which a dear friend in South Africa (our friendship started through this blog) had sent me in response to my last post. In the process I came across Mark Rashid, a horseman from America whom I have known about for quite some time now but whose approach I had never really studied before. In particular, I watched a video in which he explains part of the essence of how he communicates with horses using body language. You will find more about this in the next section on Body Language. Suffice it to say that, after watching that video and reflecting on it within the context of my own practice of Tai Chi and all that I have learned about horses in the recent past, I knew that the problem I was having with Pip did not lie in the detail but in the dialect of body language I was resorting to.

Pip and Andrew: Getting back to basics

Pip and Andrew: Getting back to basics

It suddenly became clear to me that I had an agenda with Pip, that I was urging, demanding, expecting. In the reduced time that was available to me as we re-established our business, moved into our new home and unpacked our belongings from Australia I was doing to my mare as I was doing with everything else: getting things done. This was not the dialect of body language that was going to help me to develop a close, joyful relationship with Pip. So I threw out the whip, went back to basics and started to seek in my body the kind of feeling that I was trying to communicate to Pip. I want to be firmly present for my mare but softly so, to suggest and to ask, accepting whatever choice she makes. We have had a few sessions now since I went back to basics and adopted the soft, sensitive language of a friend and a guide. The change is enormous. I have an equine companion who is suddenly very alert and sensitive towards me and I feel that I am starting out again but now with a trusting friend.


Body language

My South African friend, whom I shall call B, has sent me three questions about body language. These questions I feel are so important, that I would like to share them with you with her consent. I will try and answer them based on my limited experience and hope that some of you may also wish to make a contribution.

B referred to my last post (Taking Hempfling’s Advice), in which I stated the following:

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.


First question

B’s first question is this:

What does it mean to use the body ‘properly’? Does properly refer to being in balance, moving on your axis, supported by the ground – all the things that one has to learn in dance. Or does properly refer to the body being an external expression of the internal self and so if one is in peace then somehow the body “shows” this and if one is angry then it shows this also. If none of this, what does ‘properly’ refer to?

This is a question that I briefly tried to answer in that short section of my last post quoted above, when I stated that the ‘spiritual, mental and physical unite in the body’, which expresses this. With hindsight it does sound a bit like mumbo-jumbo. But how do you capture a genie and put it in a bottle with a label describing its contents, as language tries to do?

In desperation I am calling on the help of experts. Let us start with the video featuring Mark Rashid, an American horseman who is known for his emphasis on ‘passive leadership’, ‘softness’ and most recently his incorporation of the basis of the Japanese martial art of Aikido into his body language with horses. This video has been sourced from The Horse Show, an American television series, so please excuse the commercials.



A number of key concepts emerge in this video. One is softness. This refers to the relaxation that you should feel throughout your body, if you are using it properly. This softness creates strength as Rashid graphically demonstrates through a few simple exercises between humans starting at about 13:25  and between a human and a horse at about 16:50 in the video. (While explaining to Vicki what this post was all about, I actually tried out Rashid’s exercises with her and they worked. Go on, give it a whirl yourself.) In a sense softness means doing more through less. But where does the strength come from?

To answer this we can tune in to another key concept demonstrated in the video. At about 10:50 in the video Rashid graphically demonstrates the differences between basing your strength in your mind, your heart and your centre. Located in the centre of the abdominal area, the physical centre of gravity of a human’s body represents the core of that human’s being. It is the true source of strength but not so much in its physical aspect as in its location of the essence of being. As Rashid says, ‘You’re taking away the thought and you’re putting it here, bringing everything here – power – in your centre.’ Your mind is no longer commandeering your body and neither is your heart. Instead, the spiritual, mental and physical unite in your core in the moment of being and that moment is now, now and always now.

In a sense you are paring down life to its most basic form: being. It is being without the bells and whistles of thought and sentimentality. This means that the only way left to be – that is to be or exist in the here and now – is to feel in all the senses of that word both literal and figurative. If you wish to walk, you feel walk in your core and your body moves accordingly, relaxed in the strength emanating from your centre. Similarly, as Rashid demonstrates in the video (about 19:00), if you want to move on a horse, you feel movement (‘I give myself this feel,’ he says) and the horse responds accordingly, free to move thanks to the softness in your body and the intent in your core.

As I understand it, if your body language occurs on this basis, balance, strength, grace and the like will automatically be aspects of its expression. And because you eliminate the conscious mind and heart from the equation, what you see is what you get: how the human appears or is felt, is what that human is at that point in time and no less. To this extent the human is authentic (at that point in time) and this is what the horses respond so well to.


Second question

B’s second question is this:

What knowledge do you gain from doing Tai Chi? Is it about an awareness, that comes from practice, which enables you to decide that you want to say move forward till that point and then turn around and stop – and you now have the ability to execute the movement efficiently and exactly as you would like it (no stumbling, say).

You can do Tai Chi outside

You can do Tai Chi outside

What I gain from Tai Chi is essentially the opportunity to develop the ability to move in the way described in the answer to B’s first question. The type of Tai Chi that I am learning is a soft form known as Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan), the traditional Yang style. It is similar to Aikido in that it recognises that the core of the body in the abdominal area is the true source of strength and that for any movement to be effective the body must be relaxed and rooted to the ground (in Hempfling’s terminology, ‘grounded’). Tai Chi enables you to learn how to regulate your body, mind, breathing, qi (energy) and spirit. In this sense it goes well beyond the purely physical.

The idea is to start training yourself consciously until such time as what you are training becomes natural and subconscious. For example, to learn to stand with knees slightly bent instead of locked, you can start to do this consciously a number of times a day. The frequency with which you do this automatically increases if you persist, until there comes a time when you realise that you always stand with your knees slightly bent.

Regulated breathing is an important part of Tai Chi. Essentially, you learn abdominal breathing to build up qi in

... or you can do it in your home

... or you can do it in your home

your core. Breathing also plays a major role when you move. In between exertions you breathe in, exhaling when you exert yourself. This has the effect of concentrating the qi in your movement. The body is relaxed and the strength comes from the qi in your core.

As a result relatively little effort is required to achieve a result. By way of example, while I was writing this post, I stopped for a Tai Chi session outside in the garden just before an enclosure housing a deer belonging to our landlord. This was the first time that I did this there. When I started doing some of the Tai Chi moves, the deer (we call her Greer as in ‘Greer the deer’) immediately picked up on the energy and trotted off to the back of her enclosure about 80 metres away and watched. As I progressed to more energetic movements, Greer sensed the energy from that distance and started to bark while pacing the rear perimeter of her enclosure. The moment I finished and relaxed, she immediately settled down and dropped to her belly on the grass for a siesta.

Greer the Deer

Greer the Deer


Third question

B’s third question is this:

How exactly do we communicate with horses using our bodies? Are there particular gestures or stances that if we adopt mean something to the horse? (Perhaps these gestures derive from what we learn by observing how horses communicate with each other in a herd.) Hmm, but this would still only be part of the story. A horse is a live, vital creature just like us. Whilst we don’t share the same language, we do, I believe, make connection through our hearts, souls… something intangible.

By this stage the answer should suggest itself, if we take what is stated above as the basis of body language in our communication with horses. First, let us state the bleeding obvious: we communicate with horses using our bodies by using our bodies. But this is only part of it. Yes, there are gestures and stances – techniques, if you like – which we can use to get horses to move in a particular direction or way even at a distance. Here is a video featuring Emiel Voest, a well-known Dutch horseman, who clearly demonstrates some of the techniques that you can use to do exactly that.



And yes again, this is still only part of the story, for what we see here is entirely mechanical. It is making the horse do something in a certain manner simply through mechanical body language employing clearly defined techniques. Some of these and other techniques are also used by some of the people whose videos, books and articles I consult for guidance, even Hempfling, although he may claim that he does not use techniques. Yet there is a very important difference between such a mechanical approach and the use of techniques as part of a fundamentally different form of body language and that difference lies in what we have already dealt with above. We humans can connect with the horse through more than just the mental and the physical. To them we can add the spiritual dimension: conscious being. Horse and human are alive to each other in the moment. They feel and respond in a constant interplay of energy between two living creatures, sensitive to and enjoying the other.

The only videos I am aware of that illustrate this graphically are some featuring Hempfling. He has a way of publishing a new video on YouTube just when I need it to illustrate a point in this post. And so too his latest. Here we see Hempfling riding again, and again it is Habenero, the black stallion we see him astride. And it is beautiful to watch. This is centred riding and, as Hempfling shows, you do not need a bit in the horse’s mouth or any other instruments of force to achieve it. There is clearly a connection between horse and human here that goes way beyond the mechanical. Spiritual, mental and physical unite in the human and connect him with the horse.



Having said this, I do not wish to create the impression that Hempfling manages to achieve this with every horse. There is enough anecdotal evidence available to show that this is not the case. Nor do I wish to create the impression that this video is flawless. It is so carefully edited (there is no trotting and all of the footage of the canter features the front or the back but not the sides) that it is difficult to see that Hempfling is far too big for this small horse and, more importantly, whether the stallion is actually collecting himself so as to carry the human far more easily. One must also ask where the owner is. Where is Jo Ross, Hempfling’s only senior body awareness coach? She is currently attending Hempfling’s One-Year Schooling and this video is a product of Hempfling’s work with the stallion since the beginning of November last year, representing a total of nine months and not four as claimed in the video. More importantly, if Jo Ross is supposed to be learning to do what Hempfling does, which is the logic of his one-year course, why are we not seeing her learning to develop a relationship with and ride her own horse in the series of videos featuring Habanero (of which this is the last for the time being – see my previous post, Taking Hempfling’s Advice for the others) instead of Hempfling producing yet another bit of video advertising material for his courses at her expense (literally too: Habanero is her horse and the fee for the one-year course was €84,000.00)? Would it not reflect a true teacher and leader if Hempfling were to present us with videos showing how he has helped Jo and his other students achieve with their horses what he has done with Jo’s stallion?

But I digress. What we should focus on here is the body language that Hempfling employs so effectively in his contact with the stallion both on the ground and in the saddle. There is a magical connection between horse and human which one normally has to look far to find. And a big part of the secret lies in body language.

If you have anything you would like to contribute in the way of an answer to B’s questions on body language, please feel free to comment. I do not have a monopoly on the truth so all input is more than welcome. For that matter, if you wish to comment on anything relating to this post, please do. The more, the merrier!


14 Responses to “Horses, Humans, Pip and Body Language”

  1. Dear Andrew, some time ago you asked on behalf of your SA friend if I could say something about a video – I can´t remember which one it was. I then communicated with you that the time wasn´t right for that. Something else asked my (and your?) attention.
    Now apparently the time is right. So I have taken the opportunity this time to tell you my feelings about KFH´s latest video with Habanero, which I received a couple of days ago.

    KFH – gives an energetic picture of insecurity felt deep deep down inside – so deep that KFH himself will most likely not agree with my statement – perhaps only with someone he trusts for more than 200% – this disharmony is found on all levels – this also means that KFH gives an image of being insufficiently grounded as well.
    STALLION – the caption says the stallion was very aggressive and nervous – I have a different feeling there – I have a feeling this stallion was very afraid and insecure – the horse gives an image of the same disbalance as KFH – however on the chakra-aspect (which is mainly emotional) it is the horse’s presentation/image – on the aura-aspect and the connection-aspect it appears to be a reflection of his owner – when I suggest to the stallion that he may give that energetic information back to his owner as it will otherwise prevent the owner from getting fully healed the stallion shows (after having returned/let go the information to its rightful owner) that the energy flow in his aura and connections is sufficiently okay.

    RIDING TO CULTIVATE YOUR MIND – I wonder if KFH really means what he tries to get across – or perhaps I misunderstand – the human race has lived for so many ages in/from the mind that more and more awareness has come about that instead it is all about body, mind AND soul – these cannot be separated so why cultivating the mind.
    THE CALMNESS OF THE LAST MONTH IS TO FEEL WITH EACH STEP – the energy here feels authentic/genuine.
    WE ARE COLLECTING THE FRUITS AND RIDING ON THE PATH OF BETTER UNDERSTANDING THE WORLD– the energy here feels authentic/genuine – KFH genuinely feels it like this – at the same time it is also a global increase in the awareness of people – not only horse people
    HOW PROUD HE IS! – that feels like wishful thinking – which is not bad at all – however the energy of the image tells me that the horse feels still insecure inside – the horse still has/needs to be taught to be proud of himself – needs more room to chose for himself – this feeling of pride is certainly KFH´s as this horse does and can make him feel proud for different reasons – so yes, there could be some sort of projection there which doesn´t have to be bad if in the end it gives the stallion an inner feeling as well that he really matters in his own right – I have my doubts there.
    MY JOY: HIS BRIGHT EYES – so true – the stallion feels perfectly safe with KFH – luckily as he has no one else to feel safe with so far.
    A PROBLEMATIC HORSE DID BECOME A TRUE BROTHER IN SPIRIT – I am not convinced that this stallion was a problematic horse – a confused horse probably, yes
    POWERFUL PULSING LIFE – LIMITED THROUGH CONFIDENCE – how can confidence limit man or beast – in my feeling confidence dissolves boundaries and creates endlessness – but perhaps I misinterpret.
    THE UNIQUE PREPARATION IN GROUNDWORK IS NOW SHOWN IN CONIFDENT RIDING – I am not so sure about the uniqueness of the groundwork – whose confident riding – KFH´s or the stallion´s.
    TIME TO GO HOME – true – just like ET.
    A DAY WORTH LIVING – mind you – every day is a day worth living.
    NO VIOLENCE, NO MENTAL ABUSE, NO COMPETITION – how about emotional abuse – unwanted and unaware of, though.

    When I continue watching the video on the energetic level/ from an energetic standpoint I notice KFH´s energy field becoming more and more balanced along the way. And it even feels like a genuine balance.
    The stallion´s energy field, however, gives the feeling of being constantly looking for reassurance – not that the stallion is tense or anything – KFH´s presence makes sure that there is no reason for tension in the horse´s mind (frame of body equals frame of mind) – at the same time I cannot get rid of a feeling that this horse feels somehow very dependent – how about the heartfelt strings of connection – there definitely feels a bond between man and horse – a bond out of necessity? – as I cannot get hold of the trust, focus and respect – but perhaps I am missing something.

    Am I harsh in my comments – I hope not – I don´t mean to be – I am just very curious and always asking WHY´s like a little girl that still has a lot to discover and the adult woman who knows by now that reality sometimes is far from reality.

    I shall respond to your/ your friend B´s questions later of I may.

    Take care

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Geerteke

      Your interpretation of Hempfling’s video is challenging. I myself would prefer to err on the side of generosity.

      What I do take issue with, though, is Hempfling playing loose with the truth. In my post I have already referred to the falsity of the claim in his video that Habanero had only been trained for four months, whereas he was already in training in November 2011.

      You have mentioned the reference in the video to Habanero having been a ‘problematic’ horse. The claim is made alongside a flashback to a previous video showing the horse trying to get past Hempfling and the latter emphatically driving him back. As I recall, mention was made at some stage that the stallion was trying to pass Hempfling to get to a mare in season behind him. Problematic? Only if you consider it to be abnormal for a stallion to try to get to a mare in season.

      However valid many of the issues may be that you raise in relation to this video, I still think it is fair to conclude that there is a true connection between horse and human. Personally, I would have loved to have seen Hempfling try and achieve the same with the horse that has presented him with his biggest challenge in the past year to my knowledge, namely, Karina’s horse, Cody. He would have had to dig deep and he (and we ourselves through the videos) could have had a more profound experience.

      Be well!

      • Dear Andrew,
        RE: … However valid many of the issues may be that you raise in relation to this video, I still think it is fair to conclude that there is a true connection between horse and human. Personally, I would have loved to have seen Hempfling try and achieve the same with the horse that has presented him with his biggest challenge in the past year to my knowledge, namely, Karina’s horse, Cody. He would have had to dig deep and he (and we ourselves through the videos) could have had a more profound experience.

        As for the connection there are different kinds of connections – I think – I agree with you that there is a connection alright. How you consider ‘true’ can be personal. I have looked purely energetically. At the same time I have looked at horse and human from a (very) large distance. Literally and figuratively.
        As for Karina’s horse, Cody, I agree with you more than 100%.

        RE….I myself would prefer to err on the side of generosity….

        My English is not sufficient for me to understand this sentence properly. Is it possible for you to change it so I do understand?

        Take care, Geerteke

        • Andrew says:

          Dear Geerteke

          Oops, there I go using difficult language again. Sorry!

          In this context ‘to err on the side of generosity’ means to say something which you know could be wrong, so you say it in a way that, even if it is wrong, it is likely to be friendlier to the person concerned (in this case Hempfling) rather than less friendly. I hope this makes sense.

          Take care!

          • Thank you, Andrew. It makes perfect sense – I think :o))

            The Universe takes care of me – but not only me. Also you and anybody else if one is capable of ‘reading the writings on the wall or signs in Nature’.
            Why am I saying this. Only recently I have been receiving quotes like ::

            You are responsible for what you are saying.
            You are not responsible for how the other person understands it …..unknown

            Some CHANGES/COMMENTS will look/sound NEGATIVE on the surface, but you will soon REALIZE that SPACE is being created in your LIFE for something new to EMERGE…..Eckhart Tolle

            We are all VISITORS to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our PURPOSE here is to OBSERVE, to LEARN, to GROW, to LOVE……and then we RETURN HOME….Australian Aboriginal Proverb

            Wishing you all a happy and glorious weekend with some rain for those who need that.


  2. Love the expression on Greer the Deer’s face – seems to be saying, ask ME about being super soft!

  3. RE……Our blog is now read throughout Europe (from Britain to Greece and Portugal to Finland) and in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, Brazil, Kenya and South Africa to mention but a few of the countries in the long list displayed on my screen. We also receive private responses from people in many parts of the world in addition to the comments left on the blog.

    How nice would it be and perhaps extra inspiring and educational/instructive to read all or at least most of these entries/responses on your blog as well?

    RE …. Although she would produce some lovely movement, she audibly winced and pushed her ears back……….. The change is enormous……….

    I have the feeling, Andrew, that there is more than the beautiful change that has already taken place. Something additional. Perhaps, it would be helpful to apply some extra Equine Touch especially to Pip’s shoulder area. Both shoulders. My suggestion is to ask Vicky to do some Equine Touch on yourself as well. Same. Both shoulders+blades.

    RE……..first question

    You have worded it really well, Andrew. Perhaps to make it a bit less mumbojumbo (although it is anything but that for me) it can also be looked at as having no tension in any muscle tissue. Relaxation gives softness as you yourself say. However, man can only really relax when there is no anger, frustration etc etc in the body/mind. These feelings can at one point in man’s life have been stored in muscle tissue. This kind of muscle consciousness will always interact with outside influences. Without man being aware. And what then to do about this unconscious muscle tension. There is a physician Niek Brouw who says mighty interesting things about this subject.

    RE…….second question
    Your reply makes perfect sense to me.

    RE…..third question
    ………Whilst we don’t share the same language, we do, I believe, make connection through our hearts, souls… something intangible…….

    Does it not become visible through the way the horse reacts to our ‘intangible communication’?? IF there is an authentic connection between horse and human where love, respect, focus and freedom-of-choice is a 2-way street.

    Thank you for sharing, Andrew.
    I hope this will make some ripples that will lead somewhere.
    Be Well, Geerteke

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Geerteke

      Like you there are times when I also feel that I would like people to respond to the posts by entering their comments in the blog. I think though that some humans prefer to reply through private email. Whatever their reason, I feel that I need to respect that and will only deviate from this if the situation really warrants it and then preferably with their consent.

      As usual, Geerteke, your comments do make ripples and they do lead somewhere. For this I thank you.

      Be well!

  4. Re:I saw them: the brumbies of my dreams, heads down, tails up, grazing near the grassy path. Today they eat. Tomorrow they may have nothing. They take life as it comes from one moment to the next and it can be very hard at times. But it is life and if life is for living and doing so now, then I am all for joining the brumbies.

    I don’t think that sort of dream-vision is unique to you, Andrew. In fact, I am sure it is a yearning that many of your readers – including me – share. And yet because of the interdependence all life shares, it is the challenge of our time to create a mutually beneficial existence. Previously, we were talking about how the type of relationship we have with our horses comes down to choice – choice in a situation-specific context. Hence, I am pleased that you are continuing your blog because it does make possible a healthy enlightening dialogue that can improve our decision making.

    You have raised so many interesting points in this blog post that I am replying bit by bit between sessions with the horses who are spending relatively too much time in their stables because of the climatic conditions here at present – would you believe that twice they have broken out of shaded pasture to get back to their stables because of the extreme heat! Relatively unheard of damaging extremes of heat. We’ll have to supply the horses with sunshades soon:-)


    • Andrew says:

      Dear Ian

      Re ‘it is the challenge of our time to create a mutually beneficial existence’, this is an observation that I can relate to, because I think that it is true at different levels. In the face of climate change and the madness of humanity’s profit-and-power establishment it is a challenge that faces the world as a whole. At the other end it is also relevant to any human who is in a close relationship with another.

      Somewhere in between those extremes I believe it is also true of those humans who are following the call of the horse. We increasingly seek each other out to give and receive whatever we feel will help us on our respective journeys. Fortunately, many of us have the technological means to bridge the boundaries of geography and culture.

      There are times though when I sometimes wish for a more immediate community of fellow travellers. It is sometimes tough on us and our horses to do time in a livery yard where inhumanity to equines (whether knowingly or not) is more the norm than not. In moments such as this I sometimes wonder how feasible it would be to put a call out for any fellow travellers who might be interested in exploring the option of establishing a horse-human community in which humans are free to live their own lives as they see fit but through which they can learn from and help each other and their horses, sharing all the common resources required to make that possible. To quote Martin Luther King out of context, ‘I have a dream….’

      Yes, we have heard about your crazy heat down south and, as I write this, your hot air (please don’t take this personally :-)) is blowing into Holland and threatening us with a heat wave. Hopefully you can hose down the horses and find a creative use for ice blocks to help cool them down.

      Take care!

      • Susan Van Wagoner says:

        Oh, Andrew, I share this dream for a community of fellow travellers sharing resources and support for our horse journey!! I have for some time wanted to set up just such a place where the horses can live in a natural environment, but still with the comforts they enjoy and where their people can help each other. It would be wonderful to have good facilities and invite enlightened teachers in many different fields to come. I have a detailed vision in my imagination and would love to make it a reality.

        I am planning to relocate and have some really good ideas for wonderful locations. I would be excited to work with someone on just such a venture, so you and Vicki need to just pack up your things one more time and come join me!! You, as I, can work anywhere and we all have many resources from which to draw!

        All we need is a winning lottery ticket. I will go get one right now!


  5. Susan Van Wagoner says:

    Hi Andrew ~

    I read each of your posts with such joy! And I have to laugh at how often what you are discussing is exactly what I have been working on. We ARE all on this journey together, aren’t we?

    I am just finishing reading Mark Rashid’s latest book, Horsemanship Through Life, and I was going to send you an email saying you might enjoy it! You might also like Carolyn Resnick’s book Naked Liberty, if you haven’t already read it.

    Your posts contain SO much information and I am loving the confidence you seem to be gaining in your thoughts and ideas. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself!

    Best to you and Vicki and Anais and Pip!

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Susan

      Good to hear from you again. Aren’t we just all on this journey together!

      Thanks for the book recommendations. As yet, I have not read Horsemanship Through Life but Naked Liberty was a pleasure to experience several years ago. By the time of my next post I hope to have some interesting news about books such as these, amongst other things.

      It gives me an inner glow to know that you are getting something out of the blog. I am not sure that I am growing in confidence. Sometimes I feel that I am walking the ladder by experimenting and hoping that nothing will blow up in my face or that of Pip. There are times when I feel like a right old egg putting something out here on the blog which others may find ridiculous or laughable. But then I comfort myself with the thought that there are many other fellow humans on similar journeys who may just avoid some of the dumb things that I manage if they can read about it first.

      May the sun lighten your way and flowers line your path.

      Take care!

  6. Re:They feel and respond in a constant interplay of energy between two living creatures, sensitive to and enjoying the other – that is a subject that might be enlarged upon. It has to do with collection, not only in the horse but human, doesn’t it? Poise? Empowered composure? Personally, I avoid working with my horses if I feel that my energy level is not up to it – that is to say, I need to be able to match the horse’s energy appropriately. On the other hand, the solution may also be to do something relaxing together with the horse. A lot depends on the moment.