In the last twenty years or so, there has been a sweeping revolution in horse training.
Many “horse whisperers” have started to give clinics in the last several decades
across the country and, indeed, throughout the world. Articles have been written,
books published, videos made, websites created. In a way unparalleled in history,
millions of horse aficionados throughout the world have learned to better understand
horses and horse training. Of course, there was a lot of resistance at first.
But over time, as horse owners tried new techniques and allowed themselves to be
educated, these methods became commonplace. Not only just horse trainers, but
everyday horse people as well, started to talk in terms of “natural
horsemanship,” “resistance free training,” “join up,” “levels of pressure,” and “feel,
timing and balance.” People like Dorrance, Hunt, Parelli, Lyons, Parker, Shrake and
Branamen have been our mentors and have enriched our lives. Throughout history,
there were enlightened trainers such as these who promoted similar methods
(Xenophon lived over 2000 years ago), but it was difficult to get the word out.
Until now -- until the advent of mass communication. I like to think it also has
to do with the overall state of our emerging consciousness, our hopefully increasing
empathy with other living beings.
Who has been the biggest winner in this revolution? The horse. About time, I say.
The debt we humans owe to the horse in shaping the course of our destiny and history is
incalculable. Humans have been great winners, also – we are learning to better understand,
communicate with, and enjoy our fellow creatures.
Lest we be too hard on trainers of the past, the “breakers” and “cowboy”; trainers,
remember that their lot was not an easy one. They often had to figure things out for
themselves, and had to get a great deal done in short amount of time, in a time
when survival was much tougher than it is today. We are lucky these days – we have
the luxury of training animals just for fun, rather than for survival. This freedom
is allowing us to embrace new, fairer, more effective methods while letting go of the old ones.
Not that the old methods of training don't work – they do. It always amazes
me how many different training methods can achieve similar results. But these “new”
methods (for simplicity, I will lump them all under the term “natural horsemanship,”;)
allow us to have a fairer partnership with a fuller, more gratifying understanding
of the horse's mind. They allow us to communicate better and work more as a team with our animals.