This last weekend I attended the IL Horse Fair. I had the opportunity to watch the magic of Guy McLean train a horse. He was able to get a never ridden, energetic horse to walk, trot, canter, back, side pass, do complete circles and more in less than three hours under saddle. For you non-horse people, this is truly amazing.
Natural horsemanship is a very popular way to train horses. Basically, it uses reassurance over punishment, you create a rapport with your horse, you use communication techniques derived from observation based on how horses communicate with each other, it is kind and gentle and pressure and release is used to get a horse to do something they might never do naturally. What if you used these techniques in your world?
Guy claims to use the following four things to teach a ½ ton animal to do what he wants:
Guy has been working with horses from before he could walk. I often talk of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour theory. Guy has this beat. What if you approached life with curiosity and an insatiable desire to gather knowledge?
Guy’s attitude is wonderful. He is truly an expert, yet does it with tremendous humility. The best horse people I know rarely blame a horse when something goes wrong. They know it is truly a human error. If the horse doesn’t do what you want then you are not asking correctly. When Guy is training and the horse does not do as planned, you will hear him say something like, “oh sweetie, I guess we will do something else today.” What if when someone doesn’t do what you want you look in the mirror instead of blaming and approach them with tenderness?
Guy has a philosophy of: if the horse never fights against you, it will never fight for you. Often a horse will want to back when he wants to go forward. Instead of punishing the horse, Guy will change his plan and work on backing instead. He knows too much punishment could ruin the trust he is trying to build in the relationship. If a horse trusts you it will eventually do almost anything you ask of it. With people this is one of my biggest struggles. I tend to lack patience. I hope my horse training seeps through in my people world which it often does.
Guy talks of finding a better way. He thinks tradition can be both good and bad. He does not follow the status quo. He experiments, listens and comes up with his own technique. Horses will teach you problem solving. When horse training, we usually enter the training session with a plan. However, we all know the one thing you can count on in planning is that the plan will change. With horse training you have to learn to go with the flow. When my challenging Andalsuian, Lexi, wants to dance around the trail instead of having a nice leisurely ride, I often use that opportunity to teach her to dance instead. I give a leg cue with pressure and let her do what she wanted to do in the first place. Later she will hopefully understand that language and we can dance when I ask for it. Is there a way to use this idea in your people world?
I think the world often sees cowboys as just tough and hard. Yet, the truly amazing cowboys are tender, patient, kind and compassionate. I’ve seen more poetry written by cowboys than many other professions I hang with. I think it takes heart to write poetry. You can see some of Guy’s poem’s here.
As I was walking around the horse fair this weekend, I pulled out my warm my ears head band and it was covered in hay. I told the cowboy walking near me that everything I have seems to be covered in hay this time of year. He said, “that’s a sign of a life well lived.” I think it’s better than sitting on the couch.