A HORSEMAN IS ONE who knows how to ask a horse to do whatever the horseman desires.
The horse already knows how to do all that a horseman would ask of it. A horse is a normal animal with normal animal instincts and normal urges which guide it to fulfill these urges that would seem to possess and drive it to a conclusion. A person aspiring to be a horseman is a person who has a special feel for horses. An aspirant feels a closeness to horses. An aficionado of horses seeks harmony, love and joy with these giant gentle beings. However, it must be recognized that the horse is just as eager and sincere in seeking to be a friend of the horse lover.
Horses can be loved even while one may not have a horse within a hundred miles of where he lives. Horse loving is the same as human loving, it does not need a physical object to love to love it. Horsemanship could in other references have another use for the word such as peoplemanship, dogmanship, catmanship, fishmanship, seamanship, workmanship, childmanship, mothermanship, fathermanship, rockman ship, boatmanship, athleteman- ship-all viewing life from one focus wherein there is an attachment to the "ideal" object manship.
One does not need to have a rock to have rockmanship nor a boat to have boatmanship. These vicarious relationships can be made through thought first and always with the help of books, movies, pictures, words, an inner urge to love or care for something you have never cared for in your life-as far as you know.
Truly, we can have horsemanship without a horse.
I love animals. I love dogs. I love cats. I love all creatures great and small-mostly. Among my loves are horses. Though I am not an avid equestrian, I do like to ride. As a child I had ridden a little. As an adult my riding was limited. When I ministered a church in the Minneapolis area one of our members was and is an avid horsewoman and I rode with her a few times.
I studied horsemanship in Minnesota for a season. It was in the cold weather-the fall, winter and spring. My steeds were normal stable trek horses used by an academy and were well used.
I remember one time in my training I was being taught to really clue myself in with the horse, a number of them in fact, and I had to sit on their rumps backwards. We had to lie down on the horse. We learned to jump-hanging on vigorously at first-and do all the things a riding school expects of its clients. I slugged my way through. I bought all of the gear, all the tack necessary, had a hard black derby hat for riding to the fox and hounds, proper boots and jodhpurs and jacket and gloves-oh, yes, a crop the riding whip also. Never did use the crop, the horses knew what they were supposed to "teach" me. I had a number of private talks with my horses but I was expecting them to understand me and I did not understand myself. All the while I was getting nowhere fast.
Katarina Suter and Gregor Müller introduced me to the name Parelli, Parelli Natural Horsemanship. They were into training horses this way in New Zealand and in California. Katarina has a horse trekking business in New Zealand with her four horses. I had little interest in their program. The program had ten steps and they were on step three which did not seem very advanced.
Finally one of our monks, Anita, told me of her abiding interest in special horse, and of the special horses she has known. One tale she told impressed me greatly. She was in New Zealand riding on her horse enjoying a run down the beach. She had a halter but no saddle. She and her horse were playing in the ocean surf when all of a sudden the spirited steed turned sideways and Anita slipped off sitting on the sand in the incoming surf. The mare, free of her charge, dashed madly down the miles of beach and was almost out of sight.
Anita had been training her horse for some time and they played games together in the paddock and elsewhere, but now the real test stood before her. She was drenched, covered with sand, alone on the beach with her horse off beyond recall.
Anita remembered the game too and remained sitting in the surf. She bowed her head as though not caring. The long sighted eyes of the horse picked up her lassitude. The filly turned and came running full out to Anita and stopped short a few feet before her with a gallant motion of her entire body. Anita got up-more of her game-and she threw her hands in the air and shouted happy cries. Waving her hands joyously about the horse thought surely she was playing a game with her. The mare dashed away and came roaring back to stand at her side, to almost-but not quite-brush against her.
I asked her what level of horsemanship she was on, Anita said level one, and not yet there even.
A neighbor has a lovely mare quarter horse who is lively and looks beautiful in her chestnut coat so well groomed. The neighbors John and George allow Anita to "train their horse" if she likes. She likes. Daily at 4 pm she walks off the Absolute Monastery grounds, two doors away, to the paddock of the horse Loco. There she puts her special halter and line on her. Then Anita and Loco parade around in a friendly fashion playing the "friendly game" Parelli teaches. Loco loves to be with Anita, she feels Anita knows what she is doing and does it lovingly. Loco likes that. We have seen the Parelli video tape of the seven stages of horsemanship. Anita is giving us all a preview of her work with the horse as the two of them parade through our hundred acres, paradise for the horse and man alike.
Seeing the steps on video they seem so natural and right that the horse just wants to be whatever the man has time to train himself to be. Anita realizes it is not the horse that is being trained but rather herself. When the horse knows that she knows what she wants from the horse, then the horse responds in a harmonious manner and gives its trainer exactly what the trainer expects of the horse. This seems to be the key to the natural horsemanship training program.
I believe it. I watch daily as the miracle of Anita's training takes place and the horse does just what she wants it to do in the way she wants it to do it. Wonderful!
-Dr Herbert L Beierle