How I found that normal was not natural
You hear so many stories of how great horse trainers just intuitively knew how to interact with horses. There are so many that just watched horses and knew how to read the body language. That is natural horsemanship. They knew how to communicate with horses in their own language, developing a relationship of trust and respect through use of the horse’s own instincts and behaviors. Most of this comes so naturally to these horsemen they have a difficult time explaining what they’re even doing. This is NOT my story.
Being natural around horses is not easy for me. My predator instincts are very strong. Part of that predator instinct includes my desire to be right, to not give up – ever, and to have instant gratification. My love for horses was not strong enough to overcome these predator tendencies on my own. Although, I enjoyed being around horses, I didn’t stop to think about anything from their perspective. One day my horse told me.
Getting bucked off in front of a group of trail riders can really hurt more than just your hind end. Maybe I’m not always right? Maybe I should give up? Maybe I should have gotten off and not continued the ride when I knew things weren’t going smoothly? There happened to be one of those great horsemen at that trail ride. He asked me a question. It was basically something like this, “What happened before the horse bucked?” There were plenty of signs the horse was unconfident. Upon further questioning, there were plenty of things I did wrong with this unconfident horse. So the big question is, why didn’t I know better about how to deal with this situation? I had never been taught any form of natural horsemanship. I always forced the horse with whatever means was necessary to do what I wanted. I never learned to read the less obvious body language of the horse. No one told me how horses learned. I had been riding horses for 20 years and never had a horse that really wanted to be with me.
All that is changed now. Thanks to all of the great horsemen out there who have shared their knowledge, even some of us diehard predators are able to convince a horse to be a partner with us. I started watching every horsemen I could such as Pat Parelli, John Lyons, Clinton Anderson, Monty Roberts, and Dennis Reis. They all basically used the same techniques. However, I found that the Parelli program was the best for my personality and attention to detail. I need the step by step booklets and videos. I need the continued support they give as well as new imaginative ideas. The Parelli program truly focuses on the relationship not just on getting tasks completed. I am currently working on my “tasks” through Level 3 with Parelli. I still have my predator tendencies. However, I now pay much closer attention to my horse, and she reminds me when I ask too much or too hard. I’ve learned to see things from her perspective now. Once you have a taste of what it feels for a horse to want to be with you, a horse that really tries its heart out for you, there is no going back.
So that is why I say, “ Why be normal? Be natural!”