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There was a time when I was a “natural horsemanship” proselyte. You know the type, generally a human who insists that no horse should be kept in a stable, that they should always be kept outside in a herd without metal studs on their feet or rugs on their backs, that they should be ridden bitless, that they may only wear rope halters, and that they should be driven from behind rather than pulled from the front. Continue Reading »

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Ultimately, the type of relationship which has worked best with Pip is that of friendship. Being a friend to her is a lesson that, once learned, she has reciprocated. But what does being a friend mean? At the end of the day, it boils down to a simple four-letter word, one which I had difficulty acknowledging in my relationship with Pip until I met Michael Bevilacqua. It is this: love. Continue Reading »

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This is a lesson which goes hand-in-hand with expecting nothing. When Pip came to me, her experience of humans had been dictated by their demands and expectations of her. Instead of being allowed to live like a horse, she was confined to a stable with the exception of a few hours a day and her behaviour was dictated by force or the threat of force with the aid of equipment which would not be out of place in some despot’s torture chamber.

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Often when we refer to trust in relation to horses, we treat it as a one-way street from the human to the horse. How often have we not heard that the horse needs to learn to trust the human? Part of the truth, as Pip has taught me, is that a horse does not need to learn to trust. They either trust or they do not.

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This has been one of the most difficult lessons. Down the years I had been taught that the object of interaction with a horse was to demand instant obedience in the manner that I required, and that this was the purpose of all training, an approach which fit the bossy part of my nature like a glove. Not much has changed since then, albeit that demanding and cajoling are now referred to as “asking” but perhaps I am yielding to cynicism.

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