Feed on

horse-on-hillAs we move into the latter half of September, I am acutely conscious of a convergence of developments which are inviting me to contemplate what is required of the human, if the latter is to become someone whom a horse wishes to be with. Not only does this question penetrate to the core of my relationship with Pip, it is also the subject of a presentation which I will be giving in Australia later this month. As I prepare for it, I find myself drawing inspiration again from a man who is currently guiding the remnants of his one-year school students through the final stages of a course which is devoted in part to this very issue.


Corroboree Equus

Vicki and I have just returned from a visit to her twin sister, Agathe, and her partner, Ron, in Malaga, Spain, a dress rehearsal for our trip to Australia next week. While in Australia we will be attending the inaugural Corroboree Equus, where we will both be giving presentations which essentially deal with the horse’s choice as to whether or not to interact with a human and what the latter is called upon to do, if the horse is to be a willing partner in this process.

Nevzorov: training in isolation screened off by high, largely windowless walls and a roof

Our preparations are acting as a springboard for the most animated debates concerning the various guides who have inspired us. Does Nevzorov really offer a horse a free choice when he separates it from its kind to train it in isolation within a relatively confined space that is screened off from the outside world by high, largely windowless (to all intents and purposes) walls and a roof? Are not some of Carolyn Resnick’s waterhole rituals based on negative reinforcement? Is Hempfling’s control over a horse’s movement not much better? Can Mark Rashid and Frédéric Pignon really offer a horse freedom of choice with a bit in its mouth? Does Chuck Mintzlaff’s friendship training not try and condition a horse through the use of food? Imke Spilker may indeed befriend her horse as an equal partner but is she not fooling yourself by refusing to acknowledge her dominant status as a guide and protector? And what of Michael Bevilacqua? How did he come to horses so late and yet manage to be friend, protector and guide to his horses in a herd under the wide open skies?


My presentation

Perhaps you will indulge me if I set out the approach which I have adopted in my preliminary draft and ask you to shoot holes in it. I start by examining the meaning of the statement, becoming the kind of human horse seeks to be with. Does it not imply freedom of choice on the part of the horse? After all, does it not suggest that the horse may choose to be with a human or not? Does it not also imply that, unless the human is intuitively present and aware, they will need to change in order to become someone whom the horse seeks to be with?

So what is required in order to become such a human? Perhaps there are certain things which a horse enjoys and which you can do with it as a friend. Perhaps there are also other things that you can provide to a horse as its protector and guide, such as care and training? Yet are there not also qualities which a human requires, if those other things are not to fall short? And if there are, what are they?


Bevilacqua and Hempfling

I look for examples of those qualities in the inspirational books, videos and other materials at my disposal and keep coming back to two people: Michael Bevilacqua and Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. Such qualities seem to have developed naturally within Michael Bevilacqua, while in Hempfling’s case there seems to be a constant battle between the man who he is and the human whom he wishes to become. To this extent I find myself identifying more readily with Hempfling than with Bevilacqua, for it is a struggle that I too have had to contend with every single day.

Michael Bevilacqua demonstrating self-collection taught on the ground

Michael Bevilacqua demonstrating self-collection taught on the ground

In Hempfling I find the focus where I need it to be: on the human rather than on the horse. This is not to say that Hempfling offers us examples of the qualities that we need to have, if a horse is to seek to be with us, and that Bevilacqua does not. On the contrary, those qualities are more readily apparent in Bevilacqua and seemed to come more naturally to him. Rather, Hempfling has had to devise ways to acquire those qualities and he is prepared to exhibit them to whomever has the desire and money to acquire them through his books, videos, courses and body awareness coaches. The upshot is that Hempfling will be featuring rather prominently in my presentation at the Corroboree Equus.


The KFH one-year school

Some two years after it began, what remains of Hempfling’s first full-time, one-year school is limping to an end on the back of the master’s Summer Academy. Gone is his undertaking that no more than 10 students would be taught at a time. Gone is the accommodation that his students were promised. Gone is the commitment to allow his students to qualify as horse practitioners in addition to body awareness coaches. Gone are 30% of the students who started the course. Gone are 70% of the horses that started it with them. And gone is any form of critical questioning of the master on the part of his remaining one-year students which could in any way be interpreted as a sign of leadership and a refusal to indulge in servile hero-worship.

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

Jo Ross and two other KFH one-year students and friends doing body awareness at our home

Yet there is a silver lining to this sorry story, as there is too of many of the clouds that initially appear to be so big and black. The last two courses available to the one-year students as part of Hempfling’s summer academy are designed to provide skills and qualifications to those interested in qualifying as a KFH body awareness coach for general and horse-related purposes. Of course, the distinction is absurd, because it is my experience that Hempfling’s general body awareness exercises can play a key role in helping anyone to become a human with whom a horse seeks to be with, whether they are specifically geared to horses or not. And it is precisely in this area – and not in relation to the training of horses – that Hempfling’s skills as an educator lie. As he himself once mentioned to me during a telephone call while preparing to host a body awareness course under the guidance of his then sole senior body awareness coach, Jo Ross, in March 2011, ‘I train people, not horses’.


Challenges and opportunities

Some of Hempfling’s one-year students may be seen in one of his recent YouTube videos, a number of them familiar faces from the past. It is sobering to realise that Vicki and I came so close to studying with them. They will be completing their course with hopefully at least one of the two KFH body awareness qualifications that are also being offered to anyone else who may be interested in paying the roughly EUR 12,000.00 required to attend them after completing a few weeks of qualifying study by way of a prerequisite, as opposed to the full year of study which the one-year students will have completed over two years and for which a fee of EUR 84,000.00 was charged. While it may not seem fair, such a qualification would at least provide the one-year students with the means to start earning an income as KFH body awareness coaches.

Hempfling: colours of authenticity

Of course, the one-year students will also have to contend with challenges. The course fee of EUR 84,000.00 represents a major investment, which has been compounded by food costs and significantly more extensive travel expenses as a result of unscheduled study intervals due to poor course planning (the course had to be interrupted a number of times to deal with the visa issues faced by those one-year students from outside the EU). Based on Hempfling’s previous body awareness instructor regime they are also likely to be required to attend expensive refresher courses at regular intervals, if they wish to remain qualified. A great deal of work will be required of the one-year students if they are to recoup their investment.


More challenges and best wishes

In addition, those students who qualify as KFH body awareness coaches at the end of this month will have to compete with people such as Noora Enqvist and Jasmijn Wauters, who can rightfully claim in their publicity materials that they have studied body awareness intensively with Hempfling over a considerable period of time. They will also have to compete with instructors who offer Feldenkrais and Tai Chi (two of the disciplines from which Hempfling has drawn heavily upon in the development of his body awareness system). Tai Chi courses are widely available and the costs involved are considerably less than the EUR 250.00 which I have seen charge for a two-day KFH body awareness course. In addition, no course materials are available for students to take home with them, so as to enable them to continue the body awareness exercises at home, whereas numerous Feldenkrais and Tai Chi books and videos are readily available, some even free of charge on YouTube.

In the face of these significant challenges I would like to wish Jo, Kate, Karina, Nanda and the other remaining one-year students the very best for the future. May you find fulfilment in helping others become the kind of human a horse seeks to be with.


Freedom for a former dressage performer

Agathe and Ochet

Agathe and Ochet

Following our return from Spain it occurred to me that not only had Vicki and I enjoyed a very special time with Agathe and Ron, but we had also witnessed something truly beautiful. Four months ago Agathe had left the Netherlands with her 17-year-old warmblood mare, Ochet, to start a new life in Spain. This move has been major for both horse and human but perhaps even more for the horse. Born and bred in the Netherlands, Ochet had been trained to do dressage and had been ridden in competitions around this cool-climate country for her much of her life. Her move to Spain has marked her retirement from the sport and the start of a life of unprecedented freedom.

Ochet's new playground

Ochet’s new playground

Ochet has traded in her small stable in a livery yard accommodating some 280 horses close to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport for a seemingly endless, unfenced hillside across which she runs with a herd of other lucky horses. Yes, she has lost weight. Yes, she still has to acclimatise. And yes, she nurses minor cuts and bruises from time to time. Yet she is fit, her coat is glowing and her eyes are bright. This is a horse that is revelling in her freedom and her owner is happy to see her do so. This leaves a tiny fraction of just under half a million horses remaining to be liberated in the Netherlands.


The paradox that is Andalucía

Though brief, our stay in Spain was also very special for another reason. As we will be doing during our trip to Australia in 10 days’ time, we have been exploring the possibility of a move to Andalucía to join Agathe and Ron. To do so would be a challenge, as the region is rather undeveloped in relation to aspects which we feel are so important, such as the availability of organic and vegetarian foods, and holistic health care for ourselves and our horses.

Andalucia  from Ronda's bridge: a land of contrasts

Andalucia from Ronda’s bridge: a land of contrasts

Yet Andalucía also offers something which the Netherlands has largely lost: the capacity to enjoy life at an unhurried, spontaneous pace in spite of the huge socio-economic challenges which the area currently faces. Apart from being dirt cheap to live, work and play, it is also a region which has much to offer in the way of both everyday and high-brow culture, from the imposing structures of the Romans, Moors and Christians through to flamenco, Lorca, Picasso, pueblos blancas and excellent affordable wines. And not to forget, it is the birthplace and home to one of the noblest breeds of horses, the Andalucían and its Carthusian variant (Cartujano). Andalucía is where Jo’s stallion, Habanero (which features so prominently in many of Hempfling’s recent videos) comes from, as do Jasmijn’s former stallion, Esperado, and her current one, Eno del Cid.


The qualities

But I digress. So what are these qualities that a human requires if they wish to become someone whom a horse seeks to be with. Based on my study of Hempfling’s teachings as expressed in his books and videos, articles with or about him, and written and verbal accounts given by numerous students who have attended his one-year and other courses, I have come up with the following list:

  • contentment, relaxation and inner strength;
  • trustworthiness and reliability;
  • intent, clarity and the ability to communicate;
  • a capacity for empathy and empowerment;
  • authenticity and intuition: presence in the moment.

Hempfling body awareness: movements from the soul

As I read this list, it occurs to me that, if these are the qualities one requires to become a human whom horses seek to be with and one was to actually acquire them, one would become a vastly better human being in the process. To this extent it seems to me that the journey towards becoming a human whom horses seek to be with represents an opportunity to reclaim our humanity, to turn our back on all that which insists on commoditising life and reducing it to transactions of profit and loss, and to claim instead the freedom to be, which is our birthright.


Reclaiming our humanity

So how can we acquire the qualities that I have mentioned and reclaim our humanity? This is a question that I am currently considering as I prepare for my presentation at the Corroboree Equus. I hope to offer a few ideas in my next post, which I would like to publish while in Australia.

In the meantime I would like to leave you with a video which I discovered while conducting research in relation to becoming the kind of human a horse seeks to be with.



24 Responses to “Becoming the Kind of Human a Horse Seeks to be With: Part 1”

  1. Dear Andrew, I deeply and sincerely wish to take this opportunity to congratulate you – why congratulate you? – well, simply because you are more and more becoming the human horse seeks to be with…

    You are not there yet, though – my feeling and intuition tell me that as long as you continue talking about KFH the way you do – still linking him and what he has to offer to money it seems relatively clear that you have not yet understood the true purpose of the man’s existence on this earth…
    I am not judging you – not understanding someone’s true purpose on this earth in this day and age is not good or bad – it just is – your clarity of vision will be presented to you at the right time…

    And that ‘right time’ will be the moment when horse genuinely and authentically seeks to be with you – you, the human that ‘knows’ – you, the human that has unveiled all the qualities it already possessed, but was not aware of – you, the human that realizes that all relationships have a purpose – you, the human that experiences no unwelcome feelings for anything or anybody because it now knows it was all meant to be and a part of its own learning process – of its own evolution – you, the human that senses a feeling of deep gratitude for any person, situation or otherwise that has crossed its path – you, the human that understands that when TIME gets involved with making dreams come true it will kill the dreams…..

    When that ‘right time’ is there you will also realize that you have always been the person you have so eagerly wished to become – that that person was already there – waiting for you – patiently – just as horse has been waiting patiently for that realization to surface – horse knows who he is – horse knows who you are – it is you that needs to get to know you …….

    I wish you and Vicky a wonderful stay in Australia – safe travels – and we shall be meeting perhaps some day in Spain….


    • Andrew says:

      Dear Geerteke

      It is reassuring to know that you are able to assess my progress towards becoming the kind of human a horse seeks to be with.

      I do not link ‘KFH … and what he has to offer to money’. He does. I merely report that he does. There is a difference. Reporting is not a judgment: it is simply describing what one sees.

      Thank you for your good wishes. A meeting in Spain, eh? That would at any rate be a little warmer than here in Holland.

      Be well!

  2. Lauren says:

    Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for sharing your insights, research, and vulnerabilities. I appreciate how much you have sifted through, I’ve learned much from it. I’m at a place of introspection, I like seeing how that is a key part of seeking coming to a peaceful, enjoyable place regardless of how I judge my relationship with horses. I look forward to reading your posts.

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Lauren

      It is humbling to know that some of my musings have been of any assistance to anyone.

      You are right to suggest that it is possible to come ‘to a peaceful, enjoyable place’ regardless of how you judge your relationship with horses. If you were not, we would have to conclude that those without such a relationship would be doomed to never arriving at that place.

      My point is simply that in my limited experience it is also possible to arrive at such a place by trying to become a human with whom a horse seeks to be with.

      Be well!

  3. Cyndi says:

    Each of your blogs make me think. Thank you!

    A possible move to Andalucia?! How exciting! Can hardly wait to read about your adventures.

    All the best as you prepare for your trip back to Australia!


    • Andrew says:

      Dear Cyndi

      I am happy to hear that each of my posts make you think. Perhaps I should also be focusing on how they could help people feel.

      Thank you for your good wishes.

      Be well!

  4. Nanda de Jong says:

    Letter for Andrew

    It’s always easy not to live your own life but instead to criticize the massive and therefore publicly exposed life of someone else. We have personally experienced KFH for at least two years and we can all only say about your blog, that nothing of this has anything to do with the reality of this man and his teachings.

    This man will certainly be mentioned in history, because of the things he has accomplished through his own massively hard work and in spite of resistance from people like you.
    It would show good character, if you would at least keep your hands off everything he is doing. But instead it seems you take all you can get out of him and his accomplishments for free, just as you please, and in the same breath you write one negative thing after the other.

    One thing still needs to be said: what if you, at the end of your life conclude, that you were simply mistaken? That you have spent so much time and so much effort in your life doing everything possible to really hurt one of the greatest horse people and philosophers in every way you could. What then? Where then is your own time and your own life?

    Your words emanate for us only one single desire: only once to be like this man whom you are disgusted by so much. Just once, one single time to be so great, so honest, so authentic, so strong, so caring, so joyful and so respected.

    Inner and outer beauty has always stood in contrast to the people who are not able to accomplish anything on their own, which define themselves only by trying with all means to destroy what other people accomplished.
    Isn’t it so that you once wanted something from Klaus but didn’t get it in the way that you thought? As well known, the fruits, which are hanging too high, do in our imagination quickly get very sour. Even if it does not happen now – Time will enlighten dark activities.

    It’s never too late to take on better ideas and it’s never too late to admit a mistake and to turn towards life anew.

    Stop with your public guessing about Klaus, the School and us.

    Stop writing about Klaus, the School and us.

    KFH One-Year-School students: Vera, Nanda, Karina, Cecile, Kate, Klaudia and Jo

  5. Kelly Bick says:

    Hello Andrew
    As I was walking this morning, I was rolling your blog post around in my mind.

    The conclusion I came to is that no domestic horse has choice in the true sense of the word. They live in our world, they are surrounded by our fences, they are gelded when we feel they should be, they mix with who we say they should, they live because we allow them to. Regardless of how large we make the paddock/field, or how kindly we keep them, they are still trapped by the confines of domestication.

    The only time I believe a horse has true and authentic choice is if we meet them in the wild, in their own habitat – on the steppes of Mongolia, the bush of Australia, the prairies of America. Then we can say the horse has real choice.

    In saying all that, I am not criticising that we keep our horses captive – I have a paddock full of them, I am just merely thinking about what defines “true choice” for a horse.


    • Andrew says:

      Dear Kelly

      You raise an issue which goes to the essence of what constitutes freedom.

      What is true choice? Does it ever occur in a vacuum? Or can it only be exercised within the constraints of the circumstances that constitute the here and now for the creature concerned?

      Agreed, domestication does impose severe constraints on the horse. Yet, after having seen the sorry condition of of the brumbies that have come out of the Guy Fawkes River National Park, I am particularly aware that the wild can be equally harsh if not more so. Is it possible for a horse to have true choice in such circumstances? Or is that choice as severely circumscribed in the wild as in domestic conditions, if not more so?

      Within the context of this post true choice, as I see it, refers to the horse’s ability to choose whether or not to interact with us humans in the conditions in which the horse finds itself, irrespective of whether that occurs while the horse is in our care or in the wild. In my limited experience and based on my research, I have noticed that horses are capable of expressing an aversion to such interaction as emphatically, if not more violently, in a domestic situation than in the wild. Whether we heed that choice is of course another thing.

      I am so looking forward to meeting you and Glenn, and of course attending the Corroboree Equus.

      Take care!

  6. Hi Andrew; chiming in with Kelly this time:-) Really what you seem to be tilting at are the bounds of domestication itself. However, we know, too, that horses are also a product of domestication themselves and the beautiful shire in the last film hi-lights this. I can quite imagine that many horses would want nothing to do with us humans if they had a viable alternative. Yet, we do witness from time to time, incredible bonds between horses and human, like the one written about in the Eighty Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts that I recommended to you a while back. The story goes that Snowman was bound with a rope and tyre and jumped an enclosure repeatedly to escape and get back to the person he loved, Harry de Leyer. Clearly, this was someone the horse wanted to be with despite all the trappings of domestication. And it was someone who had to pay the associated bills to make a difficult and demanding living work with horses – something that I think no one takes for granted these days.

    Good luck with your talk and trip to Australia


    • Andrew says:

      Dear Ian

      Actually, I must confess that I had taken the bounds of domestication for granted as just one aspect of our control over the fate of our planet.

      Ultimately, we humans are in a position of dominance in relation to the earth and all who inhabit it. Here I refer to the dictionary meaning of the term: having power and influence over others (Oxford online dictionary). We exercise this power and influence not only over horses in captivity but also those in the wild. Witness the feral equine problem we have created in Australia by way of example, and our failure as a species to accept full responsibility for it and deal with it accordingly, resorting instead to cruel culling expeditions conducted from a moving fuselage.

      Within the confines of our failure as the dominant species on our planet, it is indeed inspiring to hear and read about the choices that some horses do make in favour of the humans who care for them with dignity.

      Thank you for your good wishes.

      Be well!

      • Lynne Gerard says:

        Andrew wrote, “Actually, I must confess that I had taken the bounds of domestication for granted as just one aspect of our control over the fate of our planet. Ultimately, we humans are in a position of dominance in relation to the earth and all who inhabit it. Here I refer to the dictionary meaning of the term: having power and influence over others (Oxford online dictionary).”

        I doubt immensely powerful and abundant bacteria and viruses consider humans as the dominant species. And as the planet heaves and her winds blow and fierce floods sweep away all that was once present, where, then, is the so-called “control over the fate of our planet” we imagine we have?

        Perhaps it seems I am ever contrary those few times I might leave a comment, Andrew…what I mean to do is offer a different perspective, for whatever it is worth.

        • Andrew says:

          Dear Lynne

          If the overwhelming science is to be believed, at this point in time the ‘”control over the fate of our planet” which we imagine we have’ is nowhere more evident than in the global warming which we humans have caused and are causing in the pursuit of profit and power, and which is already beginning to inflict massive destruction on our earth.

          Lynne, being ‘ever contrary’ and by doing so offering a ‘different perspective’ is most welcome. You challenge many of my assumptions, values and principles causing me to reassess them and make adjustments where necessary. For this I am grateful and I thank you. Perhaps I fail to communicate my replies in the same tenor. Please forgive me if I do.

          Be well!

  7. Gary Whinn says:

    On a light hearted note Andrew I thought I would offer a few thoughts for your consideration for your forthcoming talk. I am sure you have played this game in your own mind but I’ll suggest it anyway just for fun: If all the “horse people” you have spoken about in these pages – Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Carolyn Resnick, Michael Bevilacqua, Mark Rashid et al ( indeed all who are mentioned in the “tags” section at the bottom of the blogs), if they were all lined up in person in a picadero, side by side (what a wonderful image!) and you then led Pip in there to choose which one SHE would most like to be with…….who would she choose? With all the “new generation” of horse/human practitioners (clumsy description but we all know what I mean!) BEING NOW, being authentically present, have become the bywords of how to become the type of human a horse seeks to be with. Of course, as you point out Andrew, there are other essential qualities too but being “authentically present in the moment” would appear to be the foundation stone sitting at the lowest point in the foundations, upon which all the other qualities can then sit comfortably and naturally. That being the case it is fun to speculate that if Eckhart Tolle were to join the end of the line, powerfully resonating and emanating “BEINGNESS” that Pip would make a bee-line for him – especially if he was the one holding the carrot!

    Joking aside, it is of course a nonsense question but with a (hopefully!) meaningful purpose. What exactly is it that we are striving for? All of the people in the imaginary line-up have demonstrated an ability to connect with horses; they all have different ways of doing this, some with “nuances” of similarity and with some big differences between them too. But all of them could be said to have achieved substantial and demonstrable success in this aim of being the kind of human a horse seeks to be with. This perhaps says a great deal about the horse’s adaptability to the humans with whom they come into contact and also perhaps about the depth and range of qualities those humans possess in this interplay of two living beings. That being the case maybe there simply isn’t a perfect solution to the question and to keep searching for THE absolute, ideal way to be the ideal human for a horse is the search for the Holy Grail? We carry on trying to reinvent this wheel convinced that nobody has quite got all the answers but seemingly unable to put together all the best bits from all the best people to create the best possible way to be with horses. Is that simply because we instinctively know that so and so’s way is great but it’s not right for me and my horse because my horse is…. and I am…..in other words EVERY relationship is just that little bit different and in the end it really is between the two of you?

    I agree with Kelly that the horse never has true freedom of choice and if they did would they choose to be together with humans at all? If their lives did not quite literally depend on us would they not prefer to be with their own kind in a herd environment and spacious natural habitat? Of course that is also a nonsense question because the realities of this world do not allow such choice and so praise is due to those who try to make themselves the best kind of human possible for a horse to be with. Every horse ends up with the human it ends up with and they have to adapt to that human, end of story, no choice. But even when that human is one of those “good people” there are “conditions attached”. However sincerely and kindly we approach this (as Kelly mentioned) we still “use” horses when we see them as a vehicle for our own self development. In the bigger scheme of things this can hardly be seen as a bad thing but I think we should nevertheless bear it in mind as it may subtly colour our relationship with our horse when we are subconsciously saying to them “show me the way, show me how to live in your world so that I can reconnect to my soul and discover the mysteries of the universe”! Of course this is the “magical dream” that some are selling but it is a dream for horse people. Who knows, maybe the horses themselves would prefer not to have this burden of responsibility to enlighten us and are quite happy to find themselves with an owner who reliably and considerately looks after their physical needs and who are cheerful in demeanour and content in themselves and a pleasure to be around? Needless to say, I do not know the answers to these questions but it makes you think doesn’t it? What exactly are we looking for and would we know it and be content with it even if we found it?

    Good luck with your talk Andrew!

    Kindest Regards

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Gary

      Your musings about Pip, Eckhart Tolle and a carrot are both amusing and educational.

      I am inclined to concur with you in that EVERY relationship between a horse and a human is just that little bit different and in the end it really is between the two of you. Where we create problems for ourselves is that we fail to realise this when we look to people, such as Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Nevzorov, Michael Bevilacqua, Mark Rashid et al., for assistance.

      Instead of looking to such people for guidance as to how we can work on the relationship between ourselves and our horses, we are too often tempted to do so for methods or techniques to employ when trying to train our horses. We end up searching for some external means rather than recognising the essence of what they do and applying it to our own internal development.

      Yes, there is an external body language vocabulary which can be learned and training techniques which can be acquired and so forth but, without developing our own internal qualities to serve as a friend, protector and guide to our horses, experience shows that they are largely worthless, unless one is happy to have a horse that does everything one wants but without the light of life in its eye.

      You raise an important point about the use of horses for personal development. I must confess to being somewhat apprehensive when I come across terms such as ‘equine-assisted’ and ‘equine-facilitated’ even after reading Linda Kohanov’s The Tao of Equus and her stories of the mutual benefit which such an approach could yield for both horse and human.

      However, this is not what I am referring to here. The personal development that I have experienced through horses has not come through a conscious use of the horse for this purpose but rather a willingness to learn from what our horses have been showing me. The guides I have consulted along the way – Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Nevzorov, Michael Bevilacqua, Mark Rashid et al. – have simply been instrumental in helping me understand what the horses have been showing me and how I can change myself to become a better friend, protector and guide to them, always having regard to what the horses are showing me as I go. All too often I slip up but, if I am alert to the horses, they show me this very clearly and I can choose to learn from it or not. This is the kind of personal development that I am referring to here.

      Thank you for your good wishes.

      Be well!

  8. Dear Andrew – my E N E R G Y response ……..

    The Nevzorov clip – please be aware that I have never met Nevzorov – that I do not wish or desire him to be my teacher in any way – not because I don’t like him – it is just what it is – not sufficient resonance – and that is perfectly OK……..
    In my perception the surroundings, his riding school, are what they are and have no further influence – bad or good …..

    I sensed the clip and my ‘sensing’ shows an image of total balance – balance in horse and human – a state of ‘genuine authenticity’ most of the time – certainly during the footage shown here …
    The footage where balance is absent is where the stallion ‘attacks’ Nevzorov – see 2.43 and onwards – all the time the horse makes attacking movements – the horse’s energy is not in alignment with Nevzorov’s – this not-being-in-alignment originates from within the horse – it has nothing to do with Nevzorov – Nevzorov’s energy appears to be totally in-the-NOW – i.e. ‘genuinely authentic’ – the horse seeks to be with this human – the horse has this desire but doesn’t yet know how to connect – perhaps previous experiences are playing a role here – I do not know the man, I do not know the horse….

    At 5.25 although from the outside the horse’s facial expression might suggest otherwise this horse is tremendously enjoying himself and his human – the animal is totally focussed………


    The energy of The-Horse-Power-Now-Clip feels good!!!!

    Take good care of yourself Andrew
    We love you!

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Geerteke

      Like you, I also sense that the clip of Nevzorov ‘shows an image of total balance – balance in horse and human – a state of “genuine authenticity” most of the time – certainly during the footage shown here’.

      Still, I would like to beg to differ that ‘the surroundings, his riding school, are what they are and have no further influence – bad or good’. This was the subject of a great deal of debate within the ‘non-Russian’ section of the Nevzorov forum several years ago and led to a major exodus of students and participants. Many felt – rightly or wrongly – that in order to achieve the close contact which he enjoyed with his horses, Nevzorov relied to a large extent on accommodating his horses separately rather than together or as part of a herd and on training them in isolation from distractions.

      Vicki and I have noticed that it is much easier to achieve close contact with our horses when interacting with them indoors as opposed to outside where they can see other horses and everything else that is happening. We have also noticed that it is also easier when either of us interacts with our own horse indoors than when both of us and our horses are present. Interacting outside together with another horse and human demands more of oneself and is perhaps to be recommended for this reason alone.

      Keeping a horse separately would arguably also have the effect of concentrating its focus more on the human, than if it were kept as part of a herd.

      Having said that, Michael Bevilacqua and Imke Spilker have shown that it eminently possible to achieve close contact with horses during training or any other form of interaction while they are not only kept in a herd but actually have their equine friends around them at the time.

      As such, the difference I would imagine lies in the nature of the contact which Nevzorov, Bevilacqua and Spilker have with their horses.

      It is nice to be loved. Thank you.

      Take care!

      • I know Andrew – I know – and I understand the perspective the otherS are looking from – and I am NOT disagreeing – I deeply wish that every single person would be willing at a certain point to start looking with Expanded Eyes rather than with Constricted Eyes….

        Looking with Expanded Eyes goes beyond a lot of barriers – and I need to say time and time again even though my ‘stories’ most of the time sound as if I KNOW – I do not KNOW – what I do KNOW is that there is much more to be ‘seen’ – and when I watch or wish watching with Expanded Eyes looking at the energy solely I see different things – if that thing is a balanced horse and human who am I to question anything – then it does not matter what the surroundings are like – it is all about genuine authenticity – being genuinely authentic in my view is being fully aware of your Expanded Being – knowing that one is part of All That Is – and not only on the mental level but really FEELING it …

        There is so much talk about ‘harmony’ – perhaps a large number of these people would do well first of all to get themselves ‘educated’ with all due respect – and I know I am perhaps now kicking against vulnerable knees – I would not be surprised – I can only advise those who experience being kicked against their knees to start by asking themselves why it hurt and why they do not like that and why they react the way they react ….

        And perhaps I am now throwing the baseball bat in the chicken coop… 🙂

        I am not pretending I am totally educated myself – however I am constantly trying to expand my sight – to expand my being though I know I AM AN EXPANDED BEING ALREADY like we all are….

        And yes there is much more challenge connecting with a horse when there are 2 of them together in a field – I remember Vicky’s comment on one of my clips from a couple of years back how surpised she was I was Leading Marcello From Behind going into Companion Walking I think it was while his friend was grazing nearby in the same field – it is even more challenging to connect with a horse being part of a herd -I tried the same when Marcello was part of a large mixed herd and was in the end ‘accused’ by the owners of the other horses that I was chasing their horses around because it looked that way looking at it with Constricted Eyes – but why the heck all this discussion when the human him- of herself still has a lot to discover about him- or herself – if all would be able to recognize their own wisdom and could grasp the depth of their own wisdom there would not be any discussion like the ones on your blog – still I am convinced your blog has a purpose on this planet and a very valuable purpose as well – EVEN IF IT WAS ONLY FOR YOU TO GET TO KNOW YOU………..

        Love Geerteke

  9. Lynne Gerard says:

    Andrew brings forward important musings and queries in this latest entry to the Horses and Humans blog, a few of which I am feeling motivated to comment upon:

    From the blog entry, Andrew provided the following, which I feel important to include in my comment to make it easier for readers to follow along:

    “So what is required in order to become such a human? [that horses seek] Perhaps there are certain things which a horse enjoys and which you can do with it as a friend. Perhaps there are also other things that you can provide to a horse as its protector and guide, such as care and training? Yet are there not also qualities which a human requires, if those other things are not to fall short? And if there are, what are they?”

    “Based on my study of Hempfling’s teachings as expressed in his books and videos, articles with or about him, and written and verbal accounts given by numerous students who have attended his one-year and other courses, I have come up with the following list:
    • contentment, relaxation and inner strength;
    • trustworthiness and reliability;
    • intent, clarity and the ability to communicate;
    • a capacity for empathy and empowerment;
    • authenticity and intuition: presence in the moment.”

    “As I read this list, it occurs to me that, if these are the qualities one requires to become a human whom horses seek to be with and one was to actually acquire them, one would become a vastly better human being in the process. To this extent it seems to me that the journey towards becoming a human whom horses seek to be with represents an opportunity to reclaim our humanity, to turn our back on all that which insists on commoditising life and reducing it to transactions of profit and loss, and to claim instead the freedom to be, which is our birthright.”

    “So how can we acquire the qualities that I have mentioned and reclaim our humanity?”

    When I reflect upon what Andrew has written, “claim instead the freedom to be” strikes me as an inherently flawed statement–same goes for the later query posed, “So how can we acquire the qualities that I have mentioned and reclaim our humanity?”. In the first instance, I am feeling there is not so much a need to “claim the freedom to be”, rather, we need to cease supporting the mental constructs that serve as impediments to authentic beingness. In the second instance the implied action of “reclaiming our humanity” perpetuates the error of separation and reinforces the very cerebral conceptualizations that have us suffering from the so-called “human condition”, impeding our natural ability to express the excellent list of qualities Andrew detailed in his post.

    Though it is likely an oversimplification, it appears that the work Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling engages in (like any worthwhile guru) is designed to bring his human students to a place where they shift awareness away from their false selves allowing them to feel and experience their true selves, their authentic beingness. I contend that this “authentic beingness” is the state wherein rocks, trees, grasses, horses (when not damaged by humans) reside their entire lives and where we humans used to reside prior to our development of symbolism and the written word. With earnest intention and dedication to self-reflection and a turning away from false constructs, (putting our trust, instead, into our inner guru), duality ceases to be and those qualities in Andrew’s list no longer appear as elements we need to learn or achieve, but we recognize are the normal state of beingness of all that dwells within this earthly realm and from which “right responses” to situations occur naturally.

    As long as some of us are unaware of our own “inner guru”, or come from a state of mind that believes it needs the guidance of an “outer guru”, there will be work for important facilitators like Klaus. In the big picture, it matters not if he lives an exemplary life or not, or if he charges exorbitant fees, or if some students leave disappointed while others continue with the process he has orchestrated — it is about one’s own self in relation to all else…the process once started will continue on, much like the way water finds its way around obstacles on the gravitational meander back to the source.

    • Thank you Lynne Gerard – beautifully said – it is in essence a copy – well almost – of my response on the top but then English is your mother tongue – and isn´t English a beautiful language as well……

      Take care

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Lynne

      Long time no hear. It is good to have you back.

      In essence I both agree and disagree with you. You find the need to draw a distinction between my exhortation to claim our birthright and reclaim our humanity, on the one hand, and what you perceive as the ‘need to cease supporting the mental constructs that serve as impediments to authentic beingness’. I would suggest that the impediments are not confined to mental constructs and extend to emotions, habits and all the other baggage which we humans tend to collect from the moment our educators (parents, teachers and peers) get their grubby hands on us (I say this as one of those educators). The condition we are both referring to is alienation and has been the focus of attention of writers, practitioners, thinkers and artists as varied as Marx and Pink Floyd.

      The duality occasioned by such alienation is real and to the extent that we need to face up to it and strip away what separates us from ourselves, the process involves both learning and achievement (with or without an external facilitator). Discovering and learning to listen to one’s inner guru is part of the process.

      As such, finding our way back to our authentic selves is what we are both describing. The difference you believe you see would appear to be semantic.

      In the big picture it definitely matters how a facilitator like Hempfling acts for a number of reasons. For instance, it is very easy for someone in such a position, who has as charismatic and authoritative a presence as he does, to mislead people, much in the same way that sect leaders do. Anyone who is aware of this arguably has a responsibility to help others in relation to this where it is possible to do so, because the process of self-discovery does not only concern one’s own self but all of those selves whom we encounter in our journey. The notion that personal liberation from alienation and the rediscovery of one’s authentic being entails a selfish preoccupation with the self often at the expense of others undermines that very liberation, which to a large extent depends on the way in which we co-exist with our fellow creatures on this earth and indeed the planet itself.

      I am also not convinced that the process of reconciling ourselves with our authentic being is as inevitable as you suggest. In my limited experience it is something I find that I need to work at every single day.

      In addition, I am not totally convinced that the authentic self whom we may rediscover may be quite the person we would like to introduce to our family. We are tempted to equate authenticity with the ultimate positive experience. But what if the conditions in which we find that authenticity again reveal a monster? I am reminded of Joseph Conrad’s Mr Kurtz in Heart of Darkness. Was he not living authentically in the moment? And does not Conrad suggest that, if the circumstances are right, there but for the grace of god go I?

      Ultimately, I do not know the answers to these questions. It is enough that I live from one day to the next, each one presenting the opportunity of now.

      Be well!

  10. Lynne Gerard says:

    On the horse seeking out humans and the role of a separate space for individual horse/human encounters:

    Living as my husband and I do, on a 360 preserve that provides an approximate life of freedom for our “wild” Sorraia horses, many interesting experiences have shown us that given the appropriate habitat and co-inhabitants, horses definitely do not need humans – not as protectors, not as guides, not as care-givers, not as educators…their own cultural dynamics, interwoven with the natural environment, provide them the avenue to self-actualization.
    But this is not to say that as Ian suggested, “horses would want nothing to do with us humans if they had a viable alternative”…when wild horses are not being pursued, persecuted, harassed or enslaved by humans they seem to find us interesting! Based on my experiences on our Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang preserve here in Canada, and also from time I spent viewing wild Sorraia horses living in the Vale de Zebro in Portugal, when a human enters the world of wild-living horses simply to “be” among them, with no intention of “doing” anything to them, they eventually seek us out and draw us deeper into their world.

    Since our preserve is only an “approximate” state of wildness and freedom (we have learned that it would require much more than 360 acres to come closer the freedom the Sorraias ancient ancestors experienced) my husband and I are keen to provide the horses as much autonomy over their daily affairs as possible, especially when new foals are born. The ability for the horse to chose what she wants is paramount. Surprisingly, all the foals born in our wilderness preserve (19) eventually chose to interact with us – they sought us out in their own good time. For some it was almost immediately, for others, it took weeks or months (one foal waited 14 months before connecting with me!). Given our desire to provide this high degree of autonomy, it would be unthinkable for us to separate the mare and foal, or the older youngster, into a limited space like a small pasture, paddock or stall as a means of helping the youngster make our acquaintance and accept our touch.

    In video after video one sees that horse trainers like Resnick, Hempfling, Nevzorov, etc. facilitate a connection with individual horses by bringing them into an enclosure of some sort, and that it is a highly effective process and certainly “stacks the deck” in the human’s favour that such a connection will manifest itself. As an initial means of achieving a connection and establishing a relationship with a horse here on our preserve, with our minds ever mindful of wanting to blend into the horses’ world, rather them force them to accept our human world, I much prefer things to take place out in the big-wide-open among the full herd and am quite willing to wait for the stars to align so that my relationship with every foal born here comes from a natural process of mutual interactions.

    This is not to say that a picadero enclosure or separate schooling area does not have a rightful place – it does, and there are times when we have found them to be essential in building upon an already well established naturally-born relationship, mostly because it is the surest way to have a “one-on-one” interaction, otherwise me and the individual horse may be constantly pestered by others who vie for my attention too! Working in a formal enclosure with a horse is something I rarely do, and then only when it becomes necessary to ready a youngster who is destined to make his or her home somewhere other than Ravenseyrie. The most important thing is how the horse feels about it…for no learning can take place individually in an enclosure, or in the wide-open among the herd if the horse is not feeling good about where she is.

  11. Laraine says:

    Not being one who is involved in daily doings with horses as all of you and your acquaintances and colleagues of the horse world, but I know the power of a carrot.
    just last week I headed to our Son’s place in the Valley of Goongerah of The top end of the East Gippsland Forrest, my son has two horses, seldom are they ridden, they just “be”, free to wander safely around the various paddocks, I see them rarely as we do not have the luxury of time to go visit often. Whilst there my mother and myself took the horses a treat a carrot each, they galloped up to the fence line along the road as soon as they saw us eager to see what we had, now we have not seen or given them a carrot for almost a year and yet the sound of our voice brought them running to see if we had a treat, it was amazing that they knew.
    Now about another couple of four legged farm animals the goats, Topdeck and Elfie Spot Spot, I know the names are rather out there, my Granddaughter named them, Topdeck because two toned brown like the chocolate, and the other named because of the tiny little baby she was and the two spots on her flank… back to my story, we also gave the goats a carrot treat, then every time they saw us come out the front door they bleated and came running to the fence, but when they saw that we did not have a carrot in our hands they turned their backs. My Mother decided to see if she could trick them but it did not work, it was the colour they were drawn to.
    Just thought I would share our in depth discovery with you.
    bye for now

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Laraine

      Your in-depth discovery of the power of a carrot may appear to be profound but just wait until you see a horse come to you every single time whether you have a carrot or not. It is then that you discover just how insignificant that power is when compared with a genuine friendship based on trust.

      But you already know that from your experiences with dogs and other animals.

      Be well!