HOW DID I GET INTO THIS IS A QUESTION I AM ASKED OFTEN BY PEOPLE ABOUT MY UNIQUE APPROACH TO HORSES?
It actually seems like it was a million years ago now.....but I had rescued a few dogs in my late teen as I have always loved animals, and this lead to me ending up with a wild pure bred American Timberwolf when I was in my early twenties and living back in the UK.
I was dumped with this amazing but raw animal unexpectedly, and the human world was a place this innocent canine was just not capable of understanding..... sadly it was a tragedy nobody wanted to see as she was a big animal, who was fretful, scared and a total shivering and frightened wreck as she tried to cope with being in a human world, so I was desperate to help this tortured soul adapt into our domestic world successfully to alleviate these issues for her.
As I had already been heavily involved in obedience and dog training, as I was brought up surrounded by german shepherds as shown here at 16 with my dog Zac, but this new challenge took me to the next level of understanding in animal behaviour, as I launched myself into learning all I could about canine behaviour in a very big way, to try to help this poor lost wolf soul...., and I trained with Police dog handlers, zoo keepers and some of the best canine behaviourists in the country in a bid to help my lovely wolf, who was called Amie....and thankfully this set me up for a life-time of trying to see life from the animal's point of view.
The snarling vicious images of the wolf shown here are what most people imagine about a wild wolf living in captivity, when the truth couldn't be more different as they cower, shiver and live in fear of the human world as shown in he more realistic body posture on the 2nd photo. Which is the same for a lot of horses learning to cope in our world too.
Therefore when I returned to horses in my early thirties, the "corporal punishment approach" to horses just didn't sit right with me after the experiences I had encountered with canines, and I started to rebuff the advice and coaching from the so called "experienced" horse people, as it often involved force and dominance to the horse, which I didn't like, and refused to use....plus the odd few times I am ashamed to say when I was "firm", it only made matters worse anyway....as shown here with my riding crop and tight reins etc....
And I could see the relationship between me and my horse was dissolving in front of my eyes through that approach, as I concluded we were not using any language the horse understood, and that he was not being difficult or naughty as these trainers surrounding me claimed ....he was simply being a horse, and just like Amie the wolf, he was just trying to survive in our domestic world.
So I returned to what I knew, which was to study the innate behaviour of the animal themselves ....and I observed in great detail (often when the horses didn't know I was watching) on how equines treated each other within a herd, and after a while of doing that I tried to reflect that into a form of equine /human language that both horse and human could understand.
This lead me to explore many areas of the horse, including biology, as finding out about the horses body, eyes, digestive system, skin, whiskers, teeth, diet, nutrition etc....was all beneficial, as I was fascinated on how all of these areas shape behaviour within our horses, which helped me to understand the equine ways in more detail, and I watched with a keen interest too on how other clinicians and trainers etc.... were also discovering equine psychology was the way forward into achieving a beautiful partnership with these magnificent equine souls......
At first I started using a more gentle approach on my own horses with this knowledge and insight into the horses mind, which rewarded me with immediate results, and even my difficult stallion was turning into a willing smooch, which was fantastic.
I then began helping friends with theirs horses too, as they saw the benefits with my ever increasing herd....and went on to share my methods with more people on how to understand horses by offering clinics and lessons to groups as demand grew and word got around about me, as well as started our NATURAL HORSE NZ RESCUE CENTRE, in order to help rescue horses, as I saw so much cruelty in the equine world, mostly brought on through ignorance rather than people being intentionally mean to their horses.......and horses with behaviour issues who are often treated appallingly were being chopped up for dog meat when these could be successfully rehabilitated if the right language was used to hep them understand what was required of them in our human world, and unfortunately the world over there are still so many problematic horses and ponies still being needlessly slaughtered due to these issues that their human owners don't know how to address....so I started being more public about things to try to help people with these types of horses...
And the rest as they say is history as that was ten years ago now and I have been helping horses and the people that love them ever since :)
So if you have a difficult horse, I implore you not to tell him off or scold him for his actions, as he doesn't understand that language, which only serves to frighten him further.......there is another way that keeps his and your dignity in tact....and that's what this website is all about so please feel free to check out the pages for hints and tips on how to improve your relationship with your equine friends using a language he does understand :)