I’m told I was trying to bond with a horses before I could walk, and I guess the habit stayed with me! Now I spend a lot of time helping other people develop a better and more understanding relationship with their horses both face to face and online.
I’ve never been a professional rider, I just love horses, and they have simply always come to find me, even when I least expected it. Generally speaking, we had a pretty good rapport.
Then I met Sunny, a 5 year old horse who had been born semi-wild, and had never quite got the hang of the domestication bit. She loved the attention, and the warm, dry, clean box, and the plentiful supply of food and a field full of other horses to play with – it was the riding and handling by humans part she wasn’t so keen on. At least, she was fine with it while we both agreed on a course of action, the problem was when we disagreed, at which point she’d stand on her back legs and try to tap dance on my head.
I was sure she wasn’t “bad”, even though there were plenty of people telling me she was unreliable and unridable. I was convinced she was just trying to tell me something. My search for an interpreter led me eventually to Richard Thompson, a wonderful natural horsemanship trainer based in Canada. He hopped on a ‘plane and came to introduce me and a few of my friends to the horse’s view of the world.
Sunny didn’t change overnight – but in a way, I did. With Richard’s guidance and teaching, I began to see how her mind was working, and with a lot of practice and experience, I started to convince her that I could be a leader she could respect. Richard became a regular visitor every spring and autumn, and in a few years I started helping other people with their problems. That grew and grew, until it became a second occupation.
In 2002 I was given a 6 month old Hungarian warmblood filly. I decided to use the opportunity to start spreading this way of working with horses and the theory behind it via the Internet, and started a blog called The Harmony Project, describing her basic training and development. The intention was to follow her all the way up to being ridden, but sadly she contracted grass sickness and died just before her 2nd birthday.
By this time, I had my hands full with the Harmony Centre and a long list of people wanting to come and learn about our techniques and philosophy. With the help and encouragement of Dr Konstanze Krüger we also managed to conduct and publish research on the horse’s preference for putting people on the left (which is not, as one is usually told, purely a matter of habit and training!) and that led to further research projects which you’ll see on the research page (link).
However, I still wanted to find a way to spread the word by electronic means as well. It took some time to get there, but Thinking Horse is intended to do just that!
I hope you find it helpful, and do get in touch if you have any questions or comments!
Photo © Artecast 2010
Be safe and have fun with your horse!