Starting out as simply as helping folks understand the concepts and tools for at home success after sending their horses to me for starting or ‘problem-solving’, it has inevitably turned into more. Much to my surprise, I love teaching humans. The challenge of finding ways to better understand and teach what I consider non-negotiable skills has been, well, challenging. In a sense, I am putting a proper foundation on people…such vital skills and comprehension that is simply ‘assumed’ or you either ‘have or don’t have’ or is supposed to magically appear years down the horsemanship road was a significantly absent part of most horse people vocabulary. Most of us don’t even know we don’t know and this I struck me as such a ridiculous situation. I myself have learned tremendously through this process; grasping deeper meanings, nuances, subtleties and the vast metaphors of life which in turn allow me to become a better horseman/person myself.
Feel is a primary ability and I feel (!) it is infinitely learnable. Will it require a substantial shift in your perceptions, awareness, presence and commitment? Absolutely. Will it compel you to begin to actually, oh, I don’t know….Feel? Absolutely. Will it change your responsibility of self and horse to become an almost closed unit of teacher/student operating out of awareness of feedback and developing finer and finer lines of communication between the two of you? If you allow it….
Balance is another non-negotiable ability/skill. It has its roots down there beside feel, growing out of presence and awareness. Balance is infinitely fascinating in its facets. Balance of softness/firmness; energy/neutral; intensity/ease; body position(vertical/horizontal); boundaries/allowing; play/work; and more.
No fight. The hidden blessings of the “Challenges”. Footfall. Approach and retreat. Forward and engagement especially if you think your horse is forward/emotional/hot/go-y. As a strong advocate of yoga and the concepts of the Tao with their powerful parallels to riding (oh, ok….Life), I incorporate them into my teaching to varying degrees.
The Californio Bridle Horse or Jaquima to Freno has been my personal love and ambition…and so has evolved into another aspect of what I get to share. In my mind and heart, this respectful method of developing a horse into a well-rounded, empowered and confident partner that is met by an equally developed rider that has developed right alongside the horse is brilliant. The levels of feel, timing and balance gained in every aspect, from the hackamore thru the two-rein and up into the bridle are second to none in my opinion. Being a signal based system, it is essentially all a big bluff and yet can allow the most sophisticated lines of communication to develop and indeed, a relationship based entirely upon quality mutual communication. There is a deep and abiding respect for the natural world and the harmony needed to work with horses and cattle on a vast and often challenging landscape with sensitivity, subtlety, clarity and quiet patience.