Back in the Old Days....
Yep. I used to be a traditional horse trainer.
I used to chase a horse until it "relaxed" thinking I was doing it a favor. I believed I was helping it work through it's tensions and anxieties. I used to aggressively back a horse up that spooked or came at me to teach that horse that behavior was unacceptable. I admit I acted out of anger because sometimes I took reactive or defiant behavior personally (you're not going to get away with that you so-and-so!!). I also kicked horses that jumped into me or lifted their leg (or kicked) at me. They do it to each other, right??? That's how they communicate "who's the boss." That's exactly what I believed and what I learned from every horse person I had ever met.
I Got Results
These methods "work" in the sense that teaching a horse that unpleasant circumstances follow "bad" behavior may reduce the possibility of that behavior occurring again. However, they also cause pain, distress, and fear. Similarly they do nothing to build the relationship (partnership is NOT created through subjugation) we all want to have with this magnificent species.
Times Have Changed...
Now I know better. Now I understand how much physical and emotional damage I was causing. Sure the horses eventually "behaved better" and may have learned to relax around me because I didn't have reason to "get on their case," but that isn't good enough. I also knew, deep down, that what I was doing wasn't right. I could feel it in my heart - the hurt.
I have since educated myself about equine emotions, neurological responses, physiology, and how the mechanics of movement can negatively or positively affect the horse's comfort and longevity. I know now very well how easy it is to cause harm. I also know how to create a joyful comfortable horse too! We ALL have the power to create a life experience for our horses for the better and for worse.
What Matters Now
Now what's important to me is to make every horse's life better. I want them to be happy, healthy, and comfortable - the best possible versions of themselves. I want to restore health to those who have had it taken away, those whose body's have been broken, hearts damaged, trust lost.
I am also passionate about teaching humans who have horses in their lives the absolute joy of connecting with their horses by truly understanding them, and interacting with them in the most humane and compassionate way possible.
Hello Welfare-Centered Horse Training!
I have a successful and incredibly gratifying career now because everything I do is for the benefit of the horse. I practice and teach horses relaxation, healthy carriage and posture. I use clear, compassionate, non-compulsory communication, and I ensure each horse has their needs for comfort, balance, diet, socialization, enrichment, and movement met. I believe, more accurately I know, that the most successful relationship we can have with our horses begins with giving them what they need and treating them with the respect and understanding they deserve.
Understanding how much power we have over or horse's lives and doing the best we can for them is the ultimate gift we can give to our horses, one for which we will be rewarded 1,000 times over.