Horses... the sole healers of humans, the quiet peaceful path to escaping reality, partners to trust, hearts to connect, spirits to inspire... Horse people know their magic and therapy folks have tapped into it for years.
Many programs use the power of our gentle giants to heal, open communication and build connections. However, I've noticed that very few actually truly appreciate the hard work and mental strain these horses are exposed to, and actually ensure an all around well balanced care.
Sure, food, exercise, and cleaning is incorporated in most programs, but an all around training that is helping the equine partner to develop and stay suitable, and at the high standard we need them to be to work with children with special needs, veterans, and clients with neuro- diversity. That was refreshingly new when I started training with Rupert Isaacson and Iliane Lorenz.
Iliane being from Germany and having trained and been exposed to the German style of equine sport, very much understood what my training was based on, as did Rupert. Their goal to have well rounded, well developed, 'bomb-proof' horses for the program was based on a thought through and healthy approach.
Starting off by not allowing young, inexperienced horses into the program.
Ah, but being a ‘horsewoman' for many years, I was sure some of Rupert’s and Iliane’s suggestions could probably be ignored, right?
I knew my little three year old thoroughbred so well, and she was bomb-proof... surely I could use her on the trail with one of my PTSD suffering warriors?
So.. So... Wrong.
And I had to learn the hard way, instead of listening to the experts in the first place!
The tension the warrior brought to the trail did not impact the horse immediately, but I could feel her getting tense, stressed almost for no apparent reason. Until I understood that the hectic way the warrior communicated, the restless movements he presented while riding, the ridgid turns he chose on the trails got into my young horses mind.
She was dripping with sweat, even though her conditioning training was well developed and it was not a physical issue at all. Her mind was not ready for this exposure to human needs.
I felt so so bad for ignoring expert advice and guidance to keep young horses out of the program. Of course it made total sense. In addition it might have brought up her own issues she experienced on the track- we just worked through it and she finally started to trust and appreciate humans again, and I sent her to a set back that would take me days to fix and get her back to where she was her balanced self.
HorseBoy is one of the first programs I have seen to actually work on improving horsemanship, therefore leading to better quality horses and horse care in the long run.
The background is based of the Portuguese style of training and riding and again, the founders lived what they preached and went to the experts to learn.
Implementing their training right away with my young horses and horses at the Academy, immediate impact was evident.
I was more relaxed, everything was more smooth and with less pressure, and the horses became much more intuitive and sensitive to aids and communication. It was a highly pleasant way to train the horses, structured, organized, and highly effective.
I used the countdowns with my warrior who always seemed out of control. Since the horse was well trained, he experienced the feeling of joy when it took very little effort to communicate with his equine partner. No force needed, no strong handedness.
It was also his first time riding in an English saddle and when he got off the horse, we had our first conversation ever after the ride and not being on top of a horse.
His words - and he is not an emotional person at all...
“I felt so so free, it was amazing!”
The happiness, health, and condition of our equine partners is essential to allow that special partnership, that connection we need them to build, and the energy to heal!