What’s In It for the Horse?
By Joe Camp
Clinician Ray Hunt opens every clinic or symposium the same way. “I’m here for the horse,” he says. “To help him get a better deal.” He and his mentor, Tom Dorrance, were the first to promote looking at a relationship with the horse from the horse’s perspective. Their question was never What’s in it for me? But rather, What’s in it for the horse?
During our relatively short journey with horses we began to understand early on that What’s in it for the horse? should be the only question. And not just related to training, but to Lifestyle, Diet, Feet, the concept of Liberty, as well as Relationship. And that only by understanding all of these from the horse’s perspective could we begin to approach that illusory state of mind referred to as Horsemanship. We were discovering that our way to horsemanship could never be about how well we ride, or how many trophies we win, or how fast our horse runs, or how high he or she jumps.
For almost seven years now we have spent our days and nights attempting to discover the mysteries of the horse and have found it to be a never-ending journey. But the rewards are an elixir. The soul prospers from sharing, caring, relating, and fulfilling. Nothing can make you feel better than doing something good for another being. Not cars. Not houses. Not facelifts. Not blue ribbons or trophies. And there is nothing more important in life than love. Not money. Not status. Not winning.
Try it and you will understand what I mean. Apply it to your horses, and your life. It is the synthesis of The Soul of a Horse – Life Lessons from the Herd and why it came into being.
See the world from the horses’ end of the lead rope. Give them the choice of choice. Care enough to want them to be healthy and happy. It will come back a hundredfold.
There are many who teach relationship, riding, and training with principles of natural horsemanship. Others support the benefits of going barefoot with the wild horse trim. Still others write that your horse should eat from the ground, and live without clothes and coverings. Some promote day and night turnout, where your horses can move around continuously. But few have explored how dramatically one without the other can affect the horse and his well being. Few have put it all together into a single philosophy, a unified voice, a complete lifestyle change for the domesticated horse. When I gave my Cash the choice of choice and he chose me, he left me with no alternative. No longer could it be what I wanted, but rather what he needed. What fifty-two million years of genetics demanded for his long, healthy, and happy life.
I’m still astonished when I think where Kathleen and I began such a short time ago, and the impact our discoveries have had on so many. But there are still too many training with dominance and cruelty, cooping up their horses in small spaces, weakening their natural immune systems, feeding them unnaturally, creating unhealthy hooves and bodies. All because most folks actually believe it’s the right thing to do.
Yes, I suppose there are some who still only want a beast of burden. Do as I say. Make me a winner. Jump higher. Run faster. Slide farther. People who care not about having a relationship with their horse, and who will, when confronted, continue to care not about the health and happiness of their horse. But I believe that most horse owners today care about their horses and are operating, as we once were, with little more than emotional logic, old wives’ tales, and very little real knowledge. I hope our books and efforts will be a crack in the armor, a small breeze if not the strong winds of change, a resource for what needs to be done.
For that is our mission. A longer, happier, healthier life for all horses.
Joe Camp is the author of the national best seller The Soul of a Horse – Life Lessons from the Herd, The Soul of a Horse Blogged – The Journey Continues, and six other top selling books relating to horses. He is also the creator of the canine superstar Benji and the writer-director of all five Benji movies. The website: http://thesoulofahorse.com is a rich resource for all that’s discussed above.