Sunday, March 27, 2011
Virtue of Frankness
Unfortunately, in this modern day we horsemen and horsewomen have to find a way to relate to a society which is born afoot.
This has spawned a new “horse age”, new breed of horse culture and a new breed of horse trainer. There once was a time in which there was no barrier between an artist and his art: there was a time when a horseman did not have to try, he simply picked up the reins and began to ride his horse. A painter would simply pick up his brush and begin to paint his canvas. The horseman was natural in the saddle and what he did with his horse was extraordinary and done with great ease. The painter pushed against the canvas, looked deeply into the work and produced a masterpiece. Between the two, no words spoken, no explanation given, no “how to” book read, simply what came naturally and honestly.
Rarely in this day and age is the virtue of frankness appreciated in the horse industry. We have to be careful of how we talk about horses, how we tell our clients and onlookers the issues regarding how someone else trained their horse or the problems their horse might have. We have to be sensitive to the persona society has placed on the horse and those who have found a way of capitalizing not only on the horses, but on the people as well. There was a time when we could actually tell someone they had a bad horse or the horse is not right for you. Now we have to tell people that the horse has people problems. Our society will allow a doctor to diagnose a child as simply a bad kid, but we have to be so careful as to tell someone a horse is bad. We have created ways around this. Horse training has become an industry of catch phrases and one- liners, and those are the methods of how we get around the sources of real problems and we simply bury them with happy moments and short pleasures. Horse trainers have become method actors and the round pen has become their stage, along with the main prop, our horses. Method is the key word with today’s training, no longer is it hard work and perseverance, but step by step, how to videos and books and tools. Yes, people need help with their horses and yes, there is a need for education, but with all of the new age training, we have begun to squeeze out those born with the quiet natural ability to train a horse. The public will send a horse to training with someone holding a graduation certificate over someone holding their father’s or grandfather’s bridle.
We have given up the splendid chance to be silent:
We are moving away from the days of training a horse by doing and becoming a society of training by talking. A horse might hear our voice but they remember our hands and our legs and the feel of us showing them instead of telling them. If we must also train the owner of the horse, I do believe we should do it the same way. Let the owner sit on their own horse, but show them what to do. If you have to stand by your client and use your hand to push their leg into the horse, do it! Grab their hands with yours. We can get on a horse and do something, but real success comes from the owner being able to do that very same thing. Expect more from your horse and from your client. Remember, it is all about feel and being physical. A body builder does not talk to his muscles, he works them. I believe, we must reconnect with the horse and the horse owner. No more smoke and mirrors, no more editing and splicing, no more catchy one-liners.