I have to tell y’all about my recent get away to Colorado.
It all started when Jordyn DeCarlo, who was my intern a couple of years ago, asked me to be a guest speaker for the equine behavior class at the Department of Equine Sciences at Colorado State University. She knew it was my dream, bucket list stuff, to teach at the collegiate level. Never graduating from undergrad much less with a graduate or doctorate degree limits me to be able to teach in this arena.
I chose to lecture on, “What is Holistic Horsemanship.” This is a huge topic and I was grateful for the three hours of class time. I broke it down by suggesting that there is no such thing as Natural Horsemanship. Most of what we do with horses goes against their very nature and design. I asked the class to consider instead a truly “balanced horsemanship” upon which to build relationships with horses.
Begin by balancing Nutrition, Hoof care, Chiropractic issues, Dental, your tack most importantly the saddle, and then the handler/rider. The suggestion is that if we achieve total balance in everything involved with our horses, and our interactions with them, that we will begin to think holistically.
A big part of this can be achieved by learning and practicing the tenets set out by the Reach Out to Horses Methodologies. Lead from finessed subtleties that are passive in nature, build a trust based relationship and not a dominant one, abandon fear and pain in everything that we do, and last but not least, give each and every individual a voice so that the communication is balanced.
I asked the students to drop common words like break, broken, make, made, tell and told, and to replace them with trained, started, asked, and suggested as the very intention that goes along with the word has the potential to bring in the wrong kind of feelings and actions.
I talked to them about the language of the horse and how we all feel better when we are able to understand what someone is saying to us. I touched on positive reinforcement and suggested that rewarding the try can help you gain ground exponentially.
I did touch on the into pressure phenomenon as most people have never heard of it. And when I asked what optimal timing for reward was the whole class said three to five seconds. This is still being taught incorrectly. I shared that I had learned the same thing but that in reality you have to be spot on in less than a second, 3-8 10ths of a second to be exact, and this made sense to everyone.
I demonstrated shaping and giving the horse a voice, Jordyn displayed lots of equine behavior as I picked up her feet and lead her around the class room in different ways.
I administered the VAK test so that they could understand that we all learn differently and they were excited to see what their strengths were as well.
Then we all went downstairs into the indoor arena where I was able to demonstrate the Reach Out process and TLC. At one point I looked up to see if I still had a class because they were so quiet. What I saw were forty sets of eye balls intently watching everything presented to them. I really enjoyed this opportunity and hope to be able to do this again in the near future.
But I must back up here a bit because when Anna found out that I was coming to CO she invited me to come Instruct with her the weekend before my lecture at CSU.
We had the best time teaching a newly formatted clinic “Spook-busting into the Saddle” This was an amazing two day adventure where everyone had breakthroughs and nothing was lost except for Anna’s Truck keys. We did TLC and Spook-busting the first day and then obstacles the next day; first in hand and then ridden. It was challenging, but so much fun and extremely rewarding for all involved.
Thank you Anna, Vin, and Joseph for letting me come hang out and play with y’all for a few days; such a treat to visit friends and catch up at the Reach Out ranch.
p.s. Anna and Vin…your arena looks amazing!!! ;