WHAT IS EXPECTED OF A GOOD HORSEMANSHIP MANUAL? PART 1
What should we expect of a good book on horsemanship and a good horse training book?
We can ask a few closely related questions, such as: what should a good riding instructor teach his/her pupils, or what should the main goal of any coach of horsemanship be?
Naturally the answers to these questions will vary as much as breeds and types of horses vary, depending on various facts, such as goal of the trainee, purpose of participation, discipline, background of the pupil etc..
Quite a few horseriding children and adults see certain certificates and qualifications as their main goal. To them passing certain examinations with the highest honor is the ultimate. These pupils are likely to study thick text books and learn a tremendous amount of theory, thereby acquiring a lot of theoretical knowledge.
The bottom line question remains: what is the most important when you stand eyeball to eyeball in front of a horse? Is it theoretical knowledge and qualifications, or is it practical knowledge and practical horsemanship (ability) which is going to be the decisive factor when you and the horse are alone?
I’ve seen many pupils (and even a great many “upper class” instructors) who have all the theory and qualifications, but who are not capable of handling anything more than a bomb proof horse, neither do they have the knowledge of making an excited horse calm, confident and disciplined.
My interest was tremendously aroused recently when I received an e-mail from an “expert horse calmer” trainer, who made an excellent presentation as one who “really” knows the best techniques for making “spooky” horses calm and confident. The subject of her demonstration was described by her as the “local spook”. I couldn’t wait for her to finish her introduction and get started.
And then “the local spook” was introduced !!! All the poor horse did was to lift its head and prick its ears, and looked a little smarter than the rest to show it had just noticed something and was paying attention !!!
I’ve visited prestige riding schools with extremely snobbish and highly qualified “can’t tell me anything” instructors, where all the poor people can handle is bombproof horses of the kind required for a three year old child. Some of the instructors can handle no more than what a ten year old year in a rural community can handle.
I am by no means advocating endangering inexperienced children’s lives and safety. My own daughters are very petite and feminine women, and so are my grand daughters, so I know how precious one’s children are. But what some people, especially in some prestigious riding establishments, call “dangerous” and wild, “spooky”, is just ridiculous.
I realize that to some city kids just being led on a horse, or even just touching a horse, is an exciting experience, and I have no problem with that, but shouldn’t we try to get them beyond that point and RAISE SOME REAL HORSEMEN? I mean, people who can show the other how they can handle a horse those who are less “qualified” cannot handle? I’ve seen so many “strong, experienced” riders, who, after years of instruction (and despite being rated as a real good rider), are scared to death when a horse just sidesteps a little.
I’ve also seen equally refined, sophisticated girls who don’t even move when a horse suddenly shies badly when a scary object appears unexpectedly.
READ PART TWO NEXT WEEK