For you consideration.
This I BelieveTHIS I BELIEVE
...that beliefs are a choice.
I choose to believe that horses are smart, hardworking, willing creatures. I choose to see horses as confused, uncomfortable, hurting, scared or uneducated rather than lazy, disrespectful, evasive or stupid. I believe horses are sentient beings who can feel pain, have memories and form relationships.
I believe that as herd animals who understand and thrive in a structured social herd environment, horses look for and find peace in confident, quietly assertive leaders. Horses may not be so concerned about liking their leader as they are about the stability and good judgment of their leader.
I believe that many of us are pursuing a similar goal; to have a satisfying relationship with a good, solid, safe horse who consistently and successfully performs his job.
I believe there is more than one “road to Rome”. The ways I present and practice are not the only valuable or valid ways of working with horses. They’re just the ways I’m familiar with and have worked to some extent for me and other horsemen I know.
I believe that it’s about the horse. It’s about what he needs, how he might see his world and how he communicates. I don’t know that we could ever walk a mile in his shoes, really. The divide between the species is too great. But the work we do must center around the horse, and when we’ve truly achieved that, our presence adds to his, not his to ours.
I believe in pragmatism. If our horses have a job, they need to understand what their job description, job requirements and job benefits are. Certain individual horses may or may not be suited for certain job situations. This is reality and responsibility. I believe a horse can appreciate and understand an honest days’ work.
I believe in independent thought. Sometimes we can get in the position where we’ve subscribed to some sort of dogma and maybe lost some of our independent thought. Dogma can be discipline-specific (dressage dogma, jumping dogma, western pleasure dogma, natural horsemanship dogma, etc), breed-specific (gaited horse dogma, pony dogma, Thoroughbred dogma, etc), gender specific (gelding, stallion, mare), for instance. Each horse and person we meet is an individual. As horsemen, we need to understand why we do what we do, rather than blindly follow dogma. We need to ask questions, experiment and make stuff up. Dogma needs to be examined, questioned and tested. The horses will tell the truth.
I believe that there are three elements to address in the horse and in the person: the body, the mind/intellect and the spirit/emotions. If we work to address all three elements, consistent learning and a quiet, stable frame of mind can result. It is important that the horse’s body and mind are doing the same thing at the same time if possible. If we can work with the inside of the horse (his mind and spirit) the outside (body) of the horse will come along. If he’s okay inside he’ll be okay outside.
I believe that the frame of mind of the horse is of great importance in training. A horse who is in a heightened state of mind, who is stressed, worried, anxious or bursting with excess energy will have trouble learning. As horsemen, we need to be able to recognize and reward only profitable frames of mind. We need to be careful to reward quietness, calmness and attentiveness. We probably shouldn’t pet, comfort or otherwise reward a scared, anxious or stressed horse. This is hard for us as humans, as we benefit from nurturing when we’re anxious, fearful or stressed. Horses do not have this tradition of nurturing weak or heightened emotional states in their culture.
I believe we are the energy we project. It is possible for our energy to say one thing while our words say another. Our horse reads our energy. Positive energy (and thoughts/words) attracts other beings while negative energy (and thoughts/words) repels other beings. Horses have an amazing capacity to absorb and process varied types of energy, but not without cost or benefit to themselves and others.
I believe everyone (horse and human) has a story. Everyone has tragedy in them, has pain and bottomless wounds. Trauma is subjective. We do not know the burden others carry. Horses are perfect at being horses. If we ask the horse to carry our story and our trauma, that can cause some confusion between us where we'd like to see understanding.
I believe that all we can do, as people and as horsemen, is the best we can do that day. We need not apologize for doing the best we can or for not knowing what we don’t yet know. Tomorrow we’ll hopefully do better and know more than today. Horses have an extraordinary capacity to move on, and we could learn from that.
IN THE COMPANY OF HORSES: A YEAR ON THE ROAD WITH MARK RASHID (2006)
When Kathleen Lindley showed up at one of Mark Rashid’s horsemanship clinics, she told him that she didn’t know who he was and didn’t really care, as long as he could fix her horse. In the course of working with him and learning about his way of training horses, not only was Kathleen’s horse “fixed,” her life was changed. This book documents her time spent with Mark Rashid and the deeper appreciation and knowledge she gained for horses and life. A Life with Horses is an intimate look at Mark Rashid’s craft of horse training as seen through the lens of Kathleen Lindley. These photographs illustrate the faith, trust, commitment, and integrity that is inherent in Mark’s work. Each poignant photograph is accompanied by descriptive, lyrical text; the words of Mark and Kathleen illustrating the close, personal moments. “The best horse training tools are the human mind and body, in particular the hand.” A Life with Horses details the aspects of horse handling needed to create the unique bond between horse and rider and perfectly captures this intricate journey. A Life with Horses is a beautiful 192-page soft-cover coffee table book.
A LIFE WITH HORSES: SPIRIT OF THE WORK (2007)