Ralph Waldo Emerson and Horsemanship

Expert Author William Savage

English Lit was not high among my favorite classes in high school but I thoroughly enjoyed the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson. I always intended to have a book of those essays for my own and after many ( many, many) years of procrastination I bought his book of essays not long ago.

I enjoy them as much now as I did then.

Emerson didn’t say much about horses. Of course in his day nearly every one was transported from place to place on the back of or behind one. Maybe somewhere in his writings he talkes about horses – I ‘m not sure. But, in reading his essay “Compensation”, I thought there’s much about horsemanship here, even though Emerson doesn’t discuss horses at all. Still, it’s a good essay for the horseman or horsewoman to read.

In Compensation, Emerson discusses the dualism of nature and the forces of equilibrium that in effect rule our lives. There are basic principles that we are either unaware of or choose to ignore in our daily pursuits. When we “go with the flow” (my words not Emerson’s) we tend to be rewarded, when we don’t, things come back to bite us.

Horses seem to understand the laws of nature bettter than we do. Being prey animals they aren’t risk-takers. They’re happier in the herd than being the “individual contributors” that we tend to prize so highly. To be an “average” horse is likely not shameful as far as the horse is concened, where to be satisfied with being “average” implies a bit of the slacker in us.

What comes out of all of this, is the reward granted in learning to live in harmony with the horse. The horse after all instinctively tries to maintain equilibrium. We try to do this when we’re first learning horseback riding, but in general we end up doing the opposite.

We haven’t yet learned to “go with the flow”.

In halter training the foal the best way to get it to initially follow a lead is to put a rope around it’s hindquarters and gently tug, pushing the foal towards us. With with gentle pressure applied to its hindquarters, the foal yields to the pressure to restore equilibrium. If we try to pull the foal physically by the lead rope, it thinks it’s being forced to heaven only knows where and it doesn’t want to go there.

So in training the foal we learn something ourselves – how to achieve equilibrium.

In the saddle we learn that a horse naturally yields to very slight pressure. We’re the ones that have to learn that – not the horse. The horse is just trying to reestablish equilibrium by yielding to pressure, be it tension on a rein, pressure by a leg or a subtle shift in body weight.

In the round ring, the horse responds to what I like to think of as visual pressure. Our location and movement in the center of the ring influences the actions of the horse, even though there is no physical force exerted. Again, the horse is responding to this pressure to get the situation to where it “should be” – that is, equilibrium.

In Compensation, Emerson states that if we do something (e.g. train a horse) poorly, we end up with a poor result (e.g., a poorly trained horse) because we’ve messed up equilibrium and will suffer the consequences as the world seeks to get back in equilibrium. We get our just rewards, our compensation and have to live with it. Deal with the horse harshly and you’ll always have to deal with it harshly to get it to do anything. That’s the new state of equiibrium and it costs.

Had Emerson devoted an essay or two to the art of horsemanship I’m guessing he’d be regarded as the 19th Century equivalent to Xenophon, Lyons, or Parelli. I could be wrong but I’m guessing that Ralph Waldo Emerson believed his own stuff and he’d have been a pretty effective trainer of horses.

I’d encourage everyone to give Emerson a try. Recommending his writings on my equine oriented website http://www.your-guide-to-gifts-for-horse-lovers.com probably doesn’t make much sense – unless I add a section titled “Other or Misc.”. And I don’t promise reading his essays would make you a better horseman or horsewoman – but it probably wouldn’t hurt any either. You might even get to like Ralph Waldo.

William “Bill” savage lives in Montana. A retired engineer he has a few horses on a few acres. When not spending time with family, horses, or doing chores, Bill works on his equine web site where these articles are created.

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Originally posted 2012-07-22 16:50:34.

Books on Horsemanship – Xenophon Had it Right

Expert Author William Savage

Xenophon was a 4th Century BC Greek cavalry officer and military hero, student of Socrates, historian, author, and expert on horsemanship – a man of many talents. His horsemanship writings addressed the proper care of the horse, how to choose a horse, and the training of the war horse.

I don’t propose that his writings on horsemanship be required reading for the horse lover, but you’ll find many nuggets of solid and fundamental advice therein. We can relate more to what Pat Parelli, John Lyons, Cherry Hill, Buck Brannamen, Ray Hunt or other contemporary trainers have to say. But Parelli, Lyons and the others will certainly give a tip of their hats to Xenophon and acknowledge the debt owed to him by all who have followed him.

What makes Xenophon’s work so special and timeless? If nothing else it’s because what he had to say is built upon his love for the horse and his strong belief that the horse’s mind in many ways parallels the human mind. You can take Xenophon’s teachings and distill them into a few “commandments” which, if you keep them in mind will take you a long ways in working with a horse

Temperament – A fundamental principle of his teaching is “never show anger to the horse”. If we can keep that in mind we avoid many of the problems with horses which we in reality often bring upon ourselves.

Our youngest Fjord gelding, Lars, is a wonderful animal who has a stubborn streak (Norwegian background I guess). I find myself smiling at him through clenched teeth on occasion and have learned that anger on my part either produces zero results or simply makes a touchy situation worse. Anger does not work, nor does force. Xenophon taught that horses, like people, respond poorly to force. We will do things when forced, but not necessarily do those things well – at best enough to “get by”. A horse doing something under force does so without understanding and it is fundamental in teaching the horse that the horse understands.

The use of force is almost always counterproductive when the horse is in a situation in which it is afraid of something. If the horse is afraid of an object, such as a mailbox by the side of a road ( been through that one), you need to either avoid the object or slowly work the horse in closer proximity to it. Anger, force or punishment will only reinforce the horse’s fear. It now associates the bad things you’re doing with the object, compounding its fear. We learn this when first placing a bridle on a horse. Trying to force it on the horse only makes it that much more difficult the next time.

Trust and Care – Xenophon insists that a horse be well cared for including food, grooming, proper and clean quarters, and attention. While it was the custom back in his time that training be done by a groom, Xenophon insisted that the owner visit the horse daily to ensure it’s welfare and as a means of building trust for the time when owner and horse will become “partners”.

My favorite riding horse comes to me instead of running away when she sees the halter in my hand. She associates the halter with grooming, a bit of grain, or exercise and perhaps a good ride. I don’t have to chase her around the pasture which would be the case I’m sure if she received rough treatment. Even Lars comes to the halter, which means I have done a good job with anger management when he experiences a stubborn streak. We are indeed “partners”.

Riding – Xenophon taught that the horse should be mounted slowly and the rider should be able to do so from either side. The horse should be encouraged to carry it’s head properly and once that is accomplished to proceed with a loose rein. To quote from Xenophon:

“If you teach the horse to go with a slack bridle, to hold his neck up and to arch it towards the head, you will
cause the horse to do the very things in which he himself delights and takes the greatest pleasure.

A proof that he delights in them is that whenever he himself chooses to show off before horses, and especially
before mares, he raises his neck highest and arches his head most,looking fierce; he lifts his legs freely off the ground and tosses his tail up.

Whenever, therefore, you induce him to carry himself in the attitudes he naturally assumes when he is most anxious to display his beauty, you make him look as though he took pleasure in being ridden, and give him a noble, fierce, and attractive appearance”.

Now Xenophon was primarily introducing novice horsemen to the purchase, care and training of the war horse. But with the exception of some “battlefield” training exercises, nearly everything in The Art of Horsemanship applies to our relationship with horses in this day and age. Xenophon assumed zero experience on the part of his audience and, like a good teacher will do, heavily stressed the fundamentals.

If you’re looking for a book, video or DVD on some aspect of horsemanship or training and have the luxury of being able to review the item in advance, try to see where the author is setting the foundation of his or her work. Is there an underlying theme based upon a few basic principles or beliefs? You’ll certainly find this in anything published by Parelli, Lyons, or Hempfling to name three.

And if you want to explore the world of Xenophon further several sources are –

Life and Writings of Xenophon from The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy at


His work on the Art of Horsemanship is nicely summed up at

and, [http://angelsfall.eshire.net/horse/onhorsemanship.htm]

For a scholarly translation of The Art of Horsemanship, sometimes difficult to read but written in great detail –


You’ll get a thumbnail sketch from – http://emotionalliteracyeducation.com/classic_books_online/hrsmn10.htm and at the same time be introduced to a fine Internet reference source – Wikipedia; their main page is –


Copyright © 2005 W. Savage. All Rights Reserved.

William “Bill” Savage, a retired, engineer lives on the Goose Bay Ranch in Montana where he spends time with family, horses, and his web site. You can read other articles of his including those on horsemanship on his web site http://www.your-guide-to-gifts-for-horse-lovers.com

Originally posted 2012-07-21 16:50:26.

Peppermint, Not Just A Horse Treat: Using Peppermint Essential Oil For Horses

Expert Author Lisa Ann Carter

Most people who have been around horses for any length of time know that horses LOVE peppermint! Peppermint has been used as a cure-all for thousands of years by many ancient civilizations ranging from the ancient Egyptians to the Chinese. Horses are naturally drawn to the natural health properties of the peppermint plant (Mentha piperita). Animals instinctively know what plants are beneficial to their health and seek them out in their diets. Ancient peoples followed suit and learned from observing nature. You’ll be surprised at some of the benefits of peppermint for your horse and see the importance of having it handy in your barn’s medicine cabinet.

Natural Remedy For Colic/Digestive Upset

One of the most powerful benefits of peppermint essential oil is its positive effects on the digestive system. It has been used as a remedy for nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion and gas. Peppermint has a very soothing effect on the stomach and intestinal tract of the horse, and as such is a must for any natural colic remedy kit.

For horses showing signs of colic, while you are waiting for your vet to arrive, allow them to inhale some peppermint essential oil. Then drop about 20 drops of the oil into the horse’s mouth by pulling out the lower lip and dropping the oil in the space between the lip and gum. You’ll also want to apply 20 drops of the oil to the horse’s umbilical area. Repeat about every 30 minutes as needed.

Natural Pain Relief For Sore Muscles And Joints

Peppermint essential oil is a wonderful pain reliever and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. I use it on myself for tension headaches and sinus pressure. It can also be applied directly to painful muscles and/or joints. You can use peppermint essential oils during in conjunction with an equine massage, particularly at the poll, temporalis (forehead) and TMJ areas. The oil seems to have a very relaxing effect on most horses when applied to these areas.

A Quick Summer Cool Down

If you have ever applied peppermint essential oil to yourself, you’ll understand the cooling effect it has on the body. During hot weather, you can provide your horse with some quick relief by putting a few drops of peppermint essential oil in a bucket of water and sponging them down with it.

HINT: You can also fill a water bottle and add a drop or two of peppermint essential oil for a nice cooling spritzer for yourself on a hot summer day!

Aide Concentration And Alertness

According to Dr. Mary Starr, studies show that peppermint actually increased focus by 28% and that some schools encouraged teachers to give peppermint candy to their students just before testing. If you have one of those horses that has a hard time maintaining focus or has a short attention span, try putting a drop or two of peppermint essential oil in the feed bucket at feeding time or give it to them just before a training session.

Natural Pest Control

Peppermint essential oil has been used as a natural pest control for centuries. Its strong smell is useful in repelling insects like fleas, roaches, flies, mosquitoes and ants and has even been used to deter rodents. It’s a great addition to any natural pest control program in your barn.

Add several drops of peppermint essential oil to a spray bottle with water and spray your horse down as an inspect repellent.

Soak cotton balls with peppermint oil and place around your home or barn to keep rodents and crawling insects away.

Natural Flavoring

In addition to all the wonderful health benefits of peppermint essential oil, it tastes really great too! To ensure that your horses drink enough water during both the summer and winter months, add a drop or two to their water buckets. It is a great inexpensive alternative to having to add molasses or other sweeteners to your horse’s water.

The next time you are offered a peppermint, remember some of these benefits. Adding peppermint essential oil to your barn can replace several chemical-based products, making it a cheap and efficient natural alternative for your horse care arsenal.

Share your uses for peppermint oil by commenting on this article.

About The Author:

Lisa Carter is a Certified Equine Massage Therapist (CEMT/LAMP) and small animal veterinary technician. She has helped numerous horses return to a state of balance and improved performance. Get Lisa’s free report “Achieving Balance In The Horse Through Teamwork” when you sign up for her weekly Natural Horse Care Newsletter.

Find other helpful horse health and equine massage tips by visiting www.heavenlygaitsequinemassage.com/horse-care-articles-tips/.

Originally posted 2012-07-18 05:17:51.

Handling Horses With Confidence – Stop Fearing and Start Enjoying Your Horse

Expert Author Tamara L Svencer

Quiet Confidence

There is one tool that any person needs to have in order to successfully work with horses. It is a tool that is of more importance than any other tool that you may possess. You cannot buy this tool at a feed store or order it online. It is a tool that will make all other tools of the trade more useful. And without it all other tools useless. That tool is confidence. A sort of fearlessness in the face of an animal that could very easily hurt you at best, and kill you at worst.

A horse by nature does not really communicate its wishes through verbal commands. They do on occasion let you know what they are about to do by whinnying or neighing, but for the most part they speak to each other through body language. I want to address the fact that when you step into their world your body language will do the speaking for you. You need to learn what they are saying and be able to anticipate what they are about to do. The more fluent you become in speaking their language the easier and safer your horse experiences will become.

A horse is a prey animal. It survives through picking up on the slightest signals around it. It is also a great reader of things unseen. They have a sixth sense of sorts, filtering in information from between the lines, as well as directly. When you venture into their space they are picking up on so much more than what you are doing. They can sense what you are feeling. They have a sponge like ability to absorb what you are feeling especially anxiety. It is very important to remember that when you are feeling nervous or anxious so is your horse. This signals to your horse that they need to be ready to flee because danger is around.

Unfortunately they do not understand that to a person who lacks confidence they are often the danger that is around. So whenever you are going to interact with your horse or any horses for that matter, you need to really be aware of the feelings you are projecting onto them. You need a quiet confidence, a sense of relaxed energy, that will allow them to remain calm in your presence. And over time you will develop this quiet confidence more and more.

What do I mean by quiet confidence? Well quiet confidence comes from a sense that you truly know that everything around you is alright and that you are in control of the situation. It speaks of a true leadership state of mind. That is what a horse is looking for, a true leader. If you want to have a natural leadership role with your horse, this is the key, quiet confidence. When you see people yelling and screaming at their horses teetering on the edge of abusing them into doing what they want, they are reacting out of fear or anger. Fear and anger do not make for good leadership qualities. Horses understand that when you are out of control you can not control them.

Before you can have control of your horse, you must be able to control yourself. The horse knows this and you should learn it before going any further. Focus on understanding that with a horse fear is a sign of weakness or danger. Weak people do not lead horses, weak people get pushed around by horses. When a horse senses fear it also can become nervous and ready to flee for safety. When a horse does not respond to something you want it to do and it makes you angry you need to take a mental timeout. Horses do not lead through anger. Horses lead in one way and one way only – quiet confidence.

Confidence is not something you can just get either. It is learned, built upon, and grows. It takes time to get the confidence you need to be a true leader in all situations.

The whole idea of natural horsemanship has taken off to a great extent in recent years. It has helped put some of the archaic and outdated training techniques to rest and for this I am thankful. Just like any new idea that comes along, it has been over marketed and milked for every single penny it can produce. People have slapped the “natural horsemanship” label on everything from books to gear in order to sell it more quickly. I am not a natural horsewoman. I am just a woman who seeks to have a very balanced and productive relationship with my horse. In fact if I wanted to be a natural horsewoman I don’t think I would ever place my rump in a saddle. My horses would be left running free on open ranges and I would never subject them to the training, fences, trailers, and shows I so often do. Everything humans do for the most part with and too their horses is unnatural. Calling it natural doesn’t make it that way.

Whatever I can do to learn more, I will. And whenever I can help teach someone else something that will aid them in developing a deeper relationship with their horse, I will.

I hope by the end of this book you will have learned something and moved forward in the understanding that a horse is not just a beast. They are very intelligent, very perceptive, very able creatures that I feel every human can call their partner.

The relationship you have with your horse is much like the relationship you share with people in your lives. To have a successful relationship of any kind it must be a working relationship. It must continually be growing and as it grows it will strengthen itself naturally. It must also be a balanced relationship. The start to having a balanced relationship with your horse is to understand that a horse is a horse and not a human being. That is the beginning to having a fulfilling experience that makes both parties happy.

Human beings have this inner need to humanize animals and other “things” that inhabit our lives. We assume that animals think and react like people through spoken words. I have heard many people referring to their horses as if the horse was just another human. I want you to understand that a horse speaks a different language, feels different emotions, and is very non human.

I think the world may be a better place if people were a little more like horses and a little less like people. And that is the key here, be more like a horse instead of forcing the horse to be more like a human.

The biggest mistake most people make with their horses is to “love” them too much. It isn’t hard to love a horse. It is really easy in fact to develop a very deep emotional attachment to it. I want you to love your horse. I want you to love your horse so much that you make unselfish decisions when it comes to their development. Spoiling a horse in the name of love only benefits the owners own need to feel loved by the horse. But horses do not “love” people in the sense than humans love one another. Yes they can become very attached to their human companions. They become bonded in a way that resembles human love. But it is not the same. When you truly love your horse you will understand that you must make every effort possible to bring forth a well mannered and obedient animal.

Chances are that you will not own your horse for the entirety of its life. Things change so rapidly in our lifetimes. People lose jobs, they need to relocate, get new jobs, have children, become physically unable to care for their horses. Many things can happen that will result in you needing to find a new home for your horse. A horse that is well mannered, submissive, and obedient will go on to have a long and well-lived life.

It is horses that have been spoiled in the name of love that develop the multitude of undesirable behaviors that will dwindle their chances at finding a good home. And even worse your beloved friend could end up at a stock sale being shipped to Canada or Mexico to have their lives ended in a cruel and unimaginable way.

It is a sad but truthful reality that as the economy has dwindled in recent years we find far too many horses left in a state of homelessness. Many people who loved their horses have had to make the ultimate decision on the welfare of their animals and surrender them to others so that they can be cared for adequately. There are so many horses and not enough quality places for them to live right now. Many horses have ended up in the hands of horse traders, or less than perfect living arrangements. Only the good horse who is useful to man will find a place in this world to live a nice quality life. Horses that have issues are often the first to be sent off to the sale.

So if you truly love your horse, you will be a strong leader. Leading your horse in a way that will produce a balanced animal will insure him a place in the human world for many years to come. I ask you to put aside your own needs and consider your horses long term needs. Spoiling your horse will not gain you anything other than a lot of problems or worse injuries.

I want you to understand what I mean by spoiling. Anything you do with your horse needs to have a few simple boundaries. You need to maintain a space around you. You can envision a bubble of sorts – it expands out about 1 or 2 feet around you – this space is yours and the horse is not to enter it. (When we look at the lead mare behavior in the next chapter you will learn more about why this is so important)
You can pet your horse, in fact I feel touching your horse all over his body is an excellent way of gentling him/her. You can offer your horse treats on occasion as long as it is done in moderation and at the correct time. People tend to think that because a horse comes rushing over to the fence to see them, somehow they have created a special connection with their horse. The horse will always come running to the fence if it is given treats for showing up. They come running to see the treat not you.

I want to show you that the horse can come running from a true bond to you, not because he is bribed into behavior. You need to remember that everything you do should be done in moderation which will end in balance.

Balance is not something only needed in the saddle. Balance must exist in every aspect of horsemanship. Imagine a scale if you will on the left hand side you see the opposite of spoiling, you see neglect and abuse. It is easier to picture this end of the spectrum in your mind. On the left we have the abusive owner who try’s to beat submission into his animal and neglects to even care for its basic needs of food, shelter and water. Now look to the right hand side of the spectrum and you will see the polar opposite of the bad side. You see the owner who allows the horse to dominate and dictate to him/her what is going to happen. On this side the owner pops in every once in awhile with sugary treats and over indulges the animal. Soon the horse is nipping at his owners’ pockets and dragging him around by the lead rope or worse kicking them out of disrespect or being uncontrollable in some other way. You need to be somewhere directly in the middle of this scale. You need to maintain balanced and fair treatment of your horse through quiet confidence.

A horse is a simple animal. You can show your horse “love” by giving him/her proper nutrition and as much clean drinking water as they can drink. You can show love by feeding him grain twice a day, giving him a good supply of hay, and a nice pasture to graze upon. You can show them love by keeping their stall clean, and keeping their bodies clean through proper grooming. You can show them love by providing proper veterinarian care and keeping them pest free. You can show them love by scratching under their chin or in any other place they can’t normally reach. This is a horses happy place, being cared for and being provided for. This type of love will benefit your horse for many years to come and will produce a pleasant animal to work and play with.

The key is to find balance, where both parties are happy and content with the partnership. If the horse isn’t happy you are too far to the left. If you are not happy you have drifted too far to the right. If you stay in the middle everyone will be content.

It is human, not horse beliefs, that dictate that we must buy affection. I told you earlier to think more like the horse. They don’t care if you are spending lots of money on new halters and bridles. They don’t care that you took a loan out to have a better horse trailer than your neighbor. The true connection that will bond you tightly to your horse doesn’t cost anything but time. Humans somehow try to make up for not enough time spent by placing a monetary band-aid on the shortcoming. You cannot buy your way to control. You must put in the effort and the time needed to make the connection and the connection can only be made through confident leadership.

In the horse world there are two types of social roles, a leader and a follower. If you take a look out in your own field you will see that there is only one true main leader and the rest filter in behind them. Number 2 horse will follow number 1 but she will also lead number 3. Number 3 follows number 1 & 2 but leads number 4. There are no two number 2 ranking horses, it is a single file line that leads all the way down to the lowest member of the society. They all bow down to number 1 and number 1 submits to no one. Your job is to study number 1 and learn about how she leads with quiet confidence.

Confidence is something that comes from the inside and extends out into our physical being. It is a feeling of collected self awareness. You feel powerful therefore you are. Maybe you are fortunate and are a naturally confident person, then your task is going to be easier. Be sure that your confidence is not actually arrogance. Arrogance is actually the lack of true confidence. It comes from feeling inadequate and trying to over compensate by puffing oneself up. Horses can call this bluff easily. Arrogance and horses will add up to injury or worse death.

The horse will look for a confident leader. You need to stand with confidence, move with confidence, breath with confidence. You need to personify confidence. I want you to stand up tall and move like a mountain around horses. In your mind you ball up all of that strong energy and you move right through them instead of wavering around them. If they are in your way, you make them move out of your way.

Time will prove to you as you apply this simple state of mind that the horse will respond naturally to you and move as you will them too. You must be very clear and focused in your thinking as to exactly what you want them to do and then apply just enough energy to make it come true.

There will be times when you may face a horse that has more confidence than you. In these instances you will need to make sound judgments on how you proceed. Training an animal with more confidence than you can be dangerous.

Ask yourself if this horse is really more confident, or is he more afraid? Are his actions based on dominance or fear? You need to study this horse and see if you can learn something from it. Remember horses are our teachers and they have mimicked their way to where they are. Study his/her confidence and then do just that, mimic their behavior, but always be safe.

I want you to really develop this confidence around horses. Become consciously aware of what you are projecting at the horse. Be aware of what you are feeling before you go through the gate. Be diligent in your pursuit of this quiet confidence.

You can spend thousands of dollars attending a seminar or clinic on horse training to learn how to train horses. You can go out and spend hundreds of dollars on new training aids or even thousands on a new round pen to do your training in. All of it will be money wasted if you don’t have the confidence to lead the horse. You cannot fake it. You cannot buy it. You must develop it. It is free except for the time you spend building it. It is invaluable.

There are many horse owners who have a fearful relationship with their own horses. Being fearful is the main mistake people make with ther horses. Being even the slightest bit nervous around a horse will put you in the subordinate seat. You will not get results in your training. You will have a very flat and unsatisfying relationship if you base it on fear.

I want to suggest to those that are afraid, even in the slightest, of their own horse that they go out and buy a whip. You may never even need to use it. It is more a tool to help you feel safe and more confident. Get out your lunge whip if you want. Carry it in your hand when dealing with your horse. I am not asking you to use it, I am asking you to carry it. Sometimes the security of knowing you have it will give your confidence the boost it needs to start conversing successfully with your horse. If a horse respects a lifeless stick that only weighs ounces because it can produce a slight sting on his rear, imagine how much more respect you alone could have with the horse. Carry your whip in hand until you feel safe in leaving it behind. It is merely an aid to help you start to understand that horses are not as big and bad as some people believe them to be.

Before long you will understand just how powerful you can be and just how submissive a horse can be. You will also find that this new confidence will filter out into the rest of your life. You will walk a little straighter and be bolder in what you do. You learn to be more aware of the feelings you are projecting. Confidence will attract the horses attention just like it does a humans.

Remember confidence is not bullying. Think back to when you were in school and there were bullies. Usually a bully was just puffing himself up and acting aggressively towards others because he was afraid. A horse can tell when he is being bullied and it will not have the lasting effect that confidence will. You can bully a horse sometimes but bullying will only get you so far.

I have seen lots of horse bullies and none of them were horses. They have all been humans trying to put on a show of strength. And that is all it is, a show. The horse knows the difference between bullying and confidence. Bullying comes from inner fear, confidence comes from inner strength. A horse will follow strength, he will flee from fear. And keep in mind that if he can’t flee from the fear, he can as a last resort, act out in protective aggression. Bullying a horse is a good way to get hurt or killed.

I don’t want you to fear your horse. Sometimes it is easy to fear an animal that has so much power and so much strength. His size alone can easily make him dangerous but for the most part a horse is a docile and timid creature.

He is also submissive and willing to be a part of man’s world. If he weren’t he would simply jump over the fence we have built to contain him or bust through the barn door and set himself free. He doesn’t use his strength in the same manner a human being would. He will if faced with a life threatening situation, but for the most part he is docile and timid.

That’s not to say it is a guarantee that your horse will never assert itself over you physically. He can and chances are he will, but it will be in more subtle ways than stomping you to death. Horses often “test” you to see if you are paying attention. Subtle invasions of your role as leader can add up to a mutiny, so be aware of what the horse is saying to you at all times.

Try to replace fear with respect. Respect the fact that he is large and you should proceed with educated caution when handling him. Do not irritate a horse or tease it. Do not provoke him to prove a point to other humans. In fact leave all your desires to impress people with your horse skills at home. Concentrate on you and him and the relationship you truly want to share.

Use common sense. Do not stand behind a horse and taunt it to kick you to prove it won’t. You may get unlucky one day and try this with the wrong horse. Show respect, not fear. After you start to have a “safe” track record your confidence will naturally grow and replace the fears you once had.

This article is an excerpt from the book H.E.R.D Human Equine Relationship Development by author Tamara Svencer

Learn the secrets of equine communication through body language. End problem behavior and have more of a natural balanced relationship with your horse today! Tamara Svencer is the author of H.E.R.D Human Equine Relationship Development visit http://www.herdbound.net to learn more!


Originally posted 2012-07-17 05:16:59.

How To Clean Your Suede Saddle

Suede saddles require special care and attention when cleaning as suede reacts differently to leather and requires a different cleaning regime. The following is a step-by-step guide on how to care for suede (or doeskin) saddles:

1. Firstly when cleaning a suede saddle it is important to note that the cleaning process may lighten the colour of the suede. It is advisable to do test patch at the back of the cantle where it cannot be seen prior to any use of a cleaning product. If a colour change happens (and you are not happy with the change once the test patch is dry) do not use the product. In addition, due to possible colour change issues it is important to clean the whole of a saddle so that any potential colour change is even.

2. When the saddle is dry use a suede cleaning brush and brush vigorously; you want to get as much dirt and grease off the suede saddle as you can.

3. Once you have brushed the saddle if it is mostly clean but there are a few patches still showing that appear a little dirty then clean the whole saddle with shoe suede cleaner (concentrating a little more on the dirty patches). Note, before you use a suede cleaning product you need to have done a test as described in step one above. Once you have cleaned the saddle with suede cleaner you will need to let the saddle dry before then brushing it again with a suede brush. Once you have finished cleaning the saddle and it is dry then it is advisable to waterproof your suede saddle with a suede water-proofing product.

4. If your saddle is really dirty and the shoe suede cleaner does not bring up the suede then you could use a mild carpet cleaning solution. Don not use the carpet cleaning solution neat; you will need to follow the instructions on the product regarding diluting it. It is important to test the effect of any cleaning product first as described in test one where you test on a non visible patch at the back of the cantle. The test patch needs to have been allowed to dry before being able to see if the cleaning product is suitable. If you are happy with the results of your test patch then prepare the cleaning product solution in a suitable bowl and use a nail brush scrub for cleaning by dipping it into the carpet cleaning solution; after each dip use the nail brush to brush your suede saddle. Clean the whole of the suede on the saddle. The saddle will get wet during this process, you can use a suede brush during cleaning to help part any greasy suede.

5. Once you have brushed the carpet cleaning solution over the whole of the suede saddle then use a clean towel to rub as much of the cleaner as you can off the suede, if the suede still looks dirty then you can repeat step 4 where you clean the whole suede saddle with the mild carpet cleaning solution and a nail brush until the grease is gone.

6. Leave to the saddle to dry naturally, this could take 24-48 hours, do not put the saddle near heat.

7. Once dry brush the suede saddle with a dry suede brush and waterproof the suede with a suede water-proofing product.

8. Please note, suede can go a lighter colour once dry and brushed up, once the waterproof spray is applied the colour may darken again.

9. If your saddle is part suede with leather skirts and flaps make sure you keep the cleaner off these leather parts. If excess cleaner does get onto leather parts then wipe the cleaner off the leather parts immediately.

Copyright (c) 2012 Native Pony & Cob Saddles

Andrea Hicks is a saddle fitter and designer, she developed The Native Pony Saddle Company range for wider horses and ponies and has been fitting saddles for over 20 years. Her designs include Phoenix Saddles for native ponies, Warmbloods, Arabs, Icelandics and Iberian horses.

Originally posted 2012-07-15 13:55:47.

Horse Riding – Is It Wrong to Dismount When Your Horse Acts Up?

A mantra for many horse trainers and riding coaches is that you “can’t let the horse win”. This belief leads to riders – even nervous ones – being told that it is wrong to get off their horses when they act up because the horse has “won” and learned how to get the rider off his back. I disagree with this thinking and encourage riders to dismount whenever they choose and especially when they feel unsafe. The threshold where fear starts is different for everyone. Some people are triggered by just the thought of the horse possibly “acting up”. Other people might only become very unsettled after the horse has bucked, reared or spooked. The important factor is your awareness of tension caused by fear and your ability to manage it.

A primitive part of our brains, the amydgala, controls our fear response. It is also known as “the lizard brain” because its programming is able to take over the rational mind as well as the physical responses. It is what triggers your fight, flight or freeze mode. You lose the ability to think logically, your body tenses, your heart rate quickens and you either stop breathing or your breathing becomes very rapid. As the fear heightens, other physical symptoms may occur such as being light headed, feeling nauseous, getting tunnel vision, shaking, sweating or clammy skin. Your horse may become anxious as well as he senses and reacts to your nervousness. In this state, the situation can go from bad to worse if you stay in the saddle. You may be able to ride through it, but it will not be an enjoyable experience for either you or your horse. Unless you are able to work through your anxiety, release your tension, breathe and think clearly, it is likely to negative training experience for you both. In order to improve your confidence, you need to build on positive experiences – starting with small steps.

When you recognize the first signs of fear, your little inner voice telling you to get off, or that you do not have the riding skills to deal with the situation, you can create a positive training opportunity by dismounting and working through the situation from the ground. Ground work, done correctly, gives you and your horse the time and opportunity to get your composure,regain focus and work through the fearful situation. Use a foundation of training building blocks, that allow you and your horse to take one step at a time at your own pace to gain trust and confidence in yourselves as well as in each other. In your own time, continue the exercises from the saddle. But, you don’t have to do it all in one session.

If your horse is calm but you are a bundle of nerves, just practice mounting and dismounting over and over. While you are doing this exercise, your horse will get used to the idea that he should not walk off as soon as you are in the saddle and that dismounting does not mean you are finished working. When you are ready, ask your horse to walk a few steps – as far as you are comfortable going – before you halt and dismount. Extend the length of time you stay in the saddle and/or the area of the trail or arena you go to. If you need to settle before remounting, do a bit of ground work. You can change your mind at any time because your horse has no idea what your plan is. Gradually push the envelope of your comfort zone by asking a bit more of yourself and your horse as you feel more comfortable and confident.

Avoid putting the pressure of deadlines and expectations on yourself and your horse. Your journey will have highs and lows. At times, you will retrace steps you have already taken and other times you will leap forward. Confidence is built on a good foundation of solid building blocks, having trust in yourself and your horse, and having a support team that encourages you but allows you to grow in your own time and at your own pace. Enjoy the ride.

Anne Gage is a Gold Level trainer certified in the Chris Irwin method of horsemanship. She teaches adult riders to confidently work with their horses, improve their riding skills and bring the joy back into their riding experience. Her training and coaching methods are based on building mutual trust & respect between horse and human. Anne coaches and trains clients out of High Point Farm near Orangeville, Ontario, Canada and also travels to other locations giving one & two day clinics, workshops and private sessions. For more information, visit her website http://www.annegage.com

Originally posted 2012-07-14 13:55:01.

Cowboy Dressage live with Michael Martin Murphey

The Dressage is my discipline and the Cowboy is my Freedom ebh

Famed horseman and clinician, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, well known and respected for his unique style of horsemanship shares his Cowboy Dressage on video. Eitan is a popular horseman here in the U.S. and abroad. Just a little bit different Eitan has long combined the discipline of classical dressage and western riding to create what he has coined as Cowboy Dressage. It is not all dressage, not is it all western. It is a combination of both resulting in an artful and sincere partnership with the horse.

In this video segment from Eitans very popular Dances With Cows DVD Eitan and his two equine companions, his beloved Morgan Stallion, Holiday Compadre and the beautiful palomino Saddlebred Stallion, Galahads Golden Warrior perform to music at select events and in the great outdoors. True to Eitans reputation this is artistically done with beautiful scenery, music and masterful horsemanship.

Eitan teaches all over the US and abroad. Two places you can be sure to find him in 2010 are The World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY and Light Hands Horsemanship. www.lighthandshorsemanship.com.

You can visit Eitan and his horses at: www.cowboydressage.com or email him at: eitan@foothill.net. On his website you will be able to find out more about, DVDs, Books, Lessons, Clinics, Competitions, Horse Sales and Training Tips.

Originally posted 2012-07-13 13:54:08.

Brand Spanking Used Horse Show Clothing – How to Get Quality Looks For Less

Why choose to shop for used horse show clothing? If you have ever fallen in love with an outfit only to experience a sudden case of sticker shock when you see the price tag; used clothing may be another avenue you may want to consider.

Let’s face it, horses and everything about them are expensive. We crazy horse people are often thought to be on another planet when we decided to put off minor car or home repairs to buy a new show halter or headstall.

Show clothes are just another piece of that pile of horse show expenses. Below we will be discussing where you can shop for used show clothing along with some helpful tips when picking the right clothes for you.

Online Shopping

Using your computer to research and purchase many items for your horse, including show clothing, has been gaining in popularity in recent years. The internet can grant you more power by offering you more knowledge on specific pieces of horse show clothes.

The internet can provide you pricing information and the ability to compare prices without the hassle of driving around. You can then use this information to purchase off the internet or when shopping in a store.

When looking for this information on the internet there are a few sources to consider. Many businesses that custom make horse show clothes will likely have some used pieces for sale.

You also have the option to check the many online auction sites. eBay is by far the largest market place for used horse show clothing. With the larger auction sites you have many more choices available to you.

There are also regular classified ads you choose from on the internet for clothing. Some ads from private parties selling clothes they no longer need with other ads from businesses selling gently used pieces.

Because you are buying straight off your computer make sure you are confident in measuring yourself for clothing. It would be disappointing to buy something and have it not fit when you get it home.

Offline Shopping

If you feel you need see and touch what you are buying, then you may want to focus your efforts into shopping offline. If you decide to go this route, you can still use the internet to compare prices before heading to the store. This will help give you an idea of what you can expect to spend and keep you on a little bit of a budget.

Tack shops may have a consignment area where you can find used horse show clothing along with other things. Tack sales are another option if you have any in your area. You may have a chance to bargain with the seller for a lower price.

If you know of anyone near you that makes horse show clothing, it may be a good idea to let that person know what you are looking for and in what price range. They spend a lot of time talking to people about show clothing and may come across something that works for you.

Buyer Beware

Whether you choose to shop online or offline, make sure you smart shopping sense. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. When shopping online make sure you research return policies. Some sellers will offer a return option and some won’t. Although the clothes you are shopping for are used, you can still spend a pretty penny for quality items.

Any reputable seller will have a return policy. If you are looking at purchasing something from a private party they may be less willing to take the item back.

Make sure you have a really good sense of your personal measurements and what types of colors and patterns work well for you. Please visit our website for more information on shopping for used horse show clothing.

With these helpful used horse show clothing shopping tips, and others from Stock Horse Show Source you can get quality looks for at lot less.

Looking for more helpful shopping tips? Lynn Espinoza invites you to check out stock-horse-show-source.com for more information on finding the right fit, color, and price when shopping for used horse show clothing. Join us for our complimentary monthly newsletter, The All-Arounder and get your free printable horse show checklist.


Lynn has 7 plus years of horse showing under her belt and admits that since buying her first horse, she is an expert on not being an expert in the world of horse shows and horse ownership. Share in her lifelong passion for horses and make that learning curve a little smaller by avoiding many of the mistakes she made as a new horse owner and exhibitor.

(c) Copyright stock-horse-show-source.com, all rights reserved

Originally posted 2012-07-12 13:53:39.

What Horsemanship is All About

Riding horses is more than sitting atop a horse and having the horse move gracefully. Riding takes skill but having the horse understand one’s cues is more important than your riding. Without the horse knowing what your legs and body are trying to tell them, one’s communication with the horse will be useless as the horse will not follow your commands like one will be expecting them. Horsemanship is more than groundwork, but covers ground training all the way to training them to be responsive while ridden and one’s ability to ride well.

Groundwork is essential to have mastered before sitting atop a horse. Working with a horse as if it were being taught this for the first time, tends to be an excellent way of re-enforcing the basics of horsemanship. For example, if a horse were to not be able to tie or stand in the cross-ties at it’s home stable, it’ll probably react to everything at the show ground and become rather agitated and unrideable. Ground training must be mastered in order to progress to being able ride let alone show.

Training the horse, once in the saddle, to respond properly to one’s aids is important to be able to have a bond with them and succeed in the show ring. Every move one makes in the saddle to the way the hands and legs move sends signals to the horse to do certain things. Often mis-communication happens between horse and rider because the horse hasn’t be trained to respond to one’s aids properly. In the end the response one may be seeking may not happen because the horse is misunderstanding what their rider is trying to tell them.

Learning to ride well is also horsemanship. Not one person has mastered how to ride the horse because horses are creatures that tend to be unpredictable. If one did not know how to properly communicate with the horse without causing problems or injuries there would be issues with the riding which could lead to death. Every moment on and around a horse requires horsemanship, including petting a horse’s body to leading a horse safely.

Without horsemanship and learning how to properly communicate to the horse what one wants issues would appear and put people in danger of injury and even death. Clear communication between both the rider and the horse is important to be able to ride at leisure or compete at a local schooling show. Horsemanship takes the level of communication to a higher and clearer level so horse and rider can reach their dreams.

Katie is an avid horseback rider that has had difficulties with her posture while riding in her couple years of horseback riding but found that taking lessons is not the most effective route to fixing the problem. She has a site on Pilate exercises and horsemanship for horseback riders called Pilate Rider. The site focuses on Pilates and horsemanship for horseback riders and how they will improve the rider.

Originally posted 2012-07-11 13:53:10.