Horses do not pull their chin to their chest when they slide to a stop at the paddock fence, they do not roll their eyes and swish their tails when they freely passage in the field out of excitement or swagger, they do not prepare to jump over anything with their neck shortened and head pulled down. The nature of the horse is exquisite, the strength & majesty we prize them for is also their key to survival & what we must protect to gain the most from our generous equine partners.
It has often been said that in life, anything worth doing isn’t going to be easy. Following the lengthy path to top sport with your horse- while maintaining his health- is certainly not easy. It’s no wonder that fast-tracks & short-cuts, smoothly paved with glittering promises, can be tempting.
To successfully complete any given journey, you must stay true to your knowledge, your integrity, and your passion; sacrificing any of these to take a short-cut will only serve to disappoint you down the road. On our own journey, we have attempted the fast tracks & allowed ourselves to sacrifice integrity for momentary success. We did stray from the high road while looking for quick fixes & while we are certainly not proud of this, we are proud that the passion came back & led us to the understanding we have gained. While wrong choices have lengthened the journey & harmed the horses in our care, at least we can say with authority that these alluring short cuts do not work. We know, because we tried.
Why do we work so hard to show others the errors in their well-intentioned efforts?
Fear. OUR FEAR- that the basic lack of understanding of the horse- his biology, his natural physical functioning- is threatening the welfare of the horses that you love. It’s threatening the art of horsemanship & the continued popularity & improvement of equestrian sport.
We challenge all of you to think back to your very first interaction with any horse:
Think of your first riding instructor, your first pony, your first jump, your first fall. These basic interactions are often forgotten over the years, but the realizations of a beginner are true to what a horse really is. There are no expectations of what his performance will be, just WOW- he's big & has big teeth & big, hard hooves. Maybe you were exhilarated or maybe you were even worried. The horse affects us as humans- we are drawn to them, as they were drawn to our early civilizations, when food was scare & humans were starting to cultivate their own- to survive. From the very beginning, the relationship between man & horse has been this: The horse gives man power & serves him generously. Man, in return, looks after the welfare of the horse. It is the time, now, to reflect on how well we are keeping up our end of the bargain!
Think again, now to your most recent dealings with horses:
How is it possible that you do everything professionally recommended for your horse, and in addition, you worry about him, you risk your human relationships in exchange for the time you spend at the stable- working, training, riding, receiving instruction & yet you are still faced with occurrences of illness & injury in your horses? Are these animals of which we coined the phrase “healthy as a horse,” really as fragile as we have come to believe? Of course, no living organism, from sport horse to dandelion, can expect immortality- but what could horse's lives be like if we could stop doing the things, ourselves, that are damaging them.
What's important to understand is that no one damages his horse on purpose! It is only due to misunderstanding. In the 6,000 years since his domestication, the horse has not changed in his physiology or his biological needs. Environmental pressures many millennia ago evolved a horse that eventually was pressured again to find nourishment in a sparse habitat bringing him near the prehistoric civilizations of man. The proximity of our species coupled with the horse's innate sociability, made possible this advantageous interdependency. We offered horses sustenance in a harsh habitat & they offered us horse-power.
Now in the present day, the tables have turned- we no longer rely on horses for survival in the majority of the world, but now, more than ever, we revere them, breed them, purchase them, & compete them for exorbitant sums of money. Horses clearly continue to be a crucial part of human culture & so we must be sure that we reward their contribution to our humanity with care, training & expectations of performance that are fair & in alignment with the horse’s natural functioning. When we do these things- no matter how long & arduous the path- we will be rewarded ourselves, with equine partners (for companionship, recreation, or even top sport) that are optimized by the nature that evolved them. Since we have taken the horse from nature into our stables & paddocks & fields- we are the ones responsible to bring his nature back to him.
We personally have done many things to disturb & damage our own horses- many things I would like to forget. As we learn what does not work, we come back again & again to the realization that there is no benefit to shortcuts, training methods, or gadgets that attempt to override the natural function of the horse. Physics & biology are absolute- no matter how much you want your feed or bit or draw reins to improve your performance, if it goes against the horse’s natural function- forget it, IT WILL NOT WORK.
Clever marketing & glossy advertisement cannot change science. There is a limit to how much technology & pharmaceuticals can undo the damage you cause your horse.
If you want maximum performance from your horse, you must give him all that he is designed for & nothing of what disturbs his nature. This is especially true in how horses are trained.
We appeal to you to start looking for happy horses- horses that in their performances show how hard they work without showing undue stress. Please help us to find good examples, in all disciplines, all levels, those horses that clearly appreciate their humans working toward harmony, not just competitive success.
When you encounter questions regarding your horses that seem to have no answer, remember that biology & physics are unbreakable laws of the natural world- horse (& man) are held to these rules, no matter how sophisticated & modern they appear. Please go forward from today asking the question: How is my horse’s health & comfort being threatened by what have come to be regarded as “normal issues' related to age or blamed on genetics?
Why are so many problems with horses shrouded in mystery? It is no conspiracy theory- it is simply a difficulty to see the forest for the trees. We want to help your horses by encouraging you to love them- as your pet or your competition partner- but care for them as if they belong to nature, not to you. Because after all, we all belong to nature & the partnership between horse & human is unarguably the most elegant & enduring example of our oneness with it.
This is evident even in the most urban sections of famous cities like Paris. Recently, while walking through this most famous city, I became increasingly aware that every famous attraction swarmed by tourists, was being surveyed from above. Magnificent sculpture of horses with man on their back or by their side look over the entire city & its most famous landmarks. I have never been a very good student of history, and maybe because of that, it struck me so deeply on that day, how much we all owe to horses. I could feel the presence of the horses that changed history there, just as much as you can feel the horses in a collecting arena cantering past you. You could see their majesty portrayed in the artist’s work just as you do when seeing your horse arch his neck over the stable door when he hears you in the barn aisle.
It is important to maintain integrity, not only in what you ask of your horses’ performance, but also to maintain the integrity of the horse, as a horse, as a part of nature, unchanged for the last 6,000 years since domestication, in his physiology or biological needs. We are steadfast in our mission to remove what is harming your horses in all aspects of their care & training & to achieve this on a global scale. We encourage all of you to rethink your notion of what is “normal” for horses, as we have done…
Straight from the horse’s mouth
It is ironic that the only surviving prehistoric horse today was never domesticated by ancient humans, yet it was modern man that intervened to save him from extinction & regenerate the population to be returned to their native habitat. Though many may not classify Przewalski's Horse as elegant as modern horses, as the artist of his famous pencil drawing would say:
“All is pretty.” -Andy Warhol
Benefactors of Classical Art, may not think much of Warhol’s work, they may not find it beautiful at all, but what is most important with horses, and I would venture to say, with anything, is to be able to appreciate a broader picture of the world, and value it for what it is. Pretty is as pretty does & Przewalski's Horse has done pretty good to survive in environments so marginal, that even today, in this overpopulated world, their native habitat remains the least populated nation on Earth.
Andy Warhol also said, “The world fascinates me.” To be good to your horse, you must also be fascinated by his world. Having an extensive education is not nearly as important as being intently observant. Your observations of your horse are important; to be sure, you need a basic understanding of equine behavior & physiology, but please DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH ANIMAL SCIENCE OR VETERINARY MEDICINE. These fields are extremely important- they enable us to keep horses where we want to keep them, and not where they would necessarily be able to survive on their own.
However, animal husbandry & veterinary medicine are based on premises that start with nature already taken away from the horse. When you as humans, not being horses, attempt to replace their nature with what is available, affordable or convenient to you, there are many chances to make mistakes.
In training your horses, keep in mind their natural physics. This does not require a degree in biomechanics, it is not rocket science. Learn how to recognize horse-friendly training & riding, and if you lack time or horses enough to observe on your own, then seek out the teachings of those who study horses for their intrinsic value and not for their ability to bring commercial gain.
Learn from those who train horses to reach the pinnacle of art & harmony & not only to win in competition. Do not think that competition is wrong- it is noble & exciting & it keeps horses in the public eye in a time when few live a rural life & fewer practice classical arts. Instead, realize this:
At the end of the day, the best horse to ride, to win, to make money, to bring sponsorships, is the horse that is the healthiest. When you ask the horse to reach the ultimate limits of what he can do for you because of his nature, you cannot simultaneously take away nature’s fuel for his performance or demand that his engine work in a way that damages itself. Simply stated, you cannot fuel him incorrectly or use him incorrectly- you will break him down.
“A horse is a horse, of course, of course,” & not only has he not changed physiologically in the past 6,000 years, but as we have selectively bred for work, sport & recreation, we have not removed the primitive characteristics of strength, speed & beauty that made horses so valuable to us from the beginning- we have only strengthened them.
What you as competitors, owners, trainers & spectators need remember, is that MODERN HORSE SPORT, was born from a previous need for human survival, but very quickly became most important to humanity, through to the current day, as an ART. What keeps you here, spending money on your hobby, your sport, your obsession with horses is the BEAUTY of man & horse together in HARMONY. No man & horse can achieve true harmony without their common ground- nature.
A chance for equestrian “Re-evolution”
“I wake up every morning. I open my eyes & think: here we go again.” Another quote from Andy Warhol; I feel this way, myself, every time I try to explain to horse people why we have to put the horse first in all that we do.
I have no interest in persuading you that the current paradigms of horse care & training are flawed. You can look around & see it yourself. How many of these animals, the best ever bred, make it to multiple world championships? How many horses from the stables of famous riders will you never see because they broke down before they reached the international stage? I have nothing to prove here. What I want you to understand is that there is another way. Follow the nature of the horse, and he will lead you to it.
We will Re-Evolutionize the World of Horses, however long it takes to educate horsemen to want to join us in this effort. As Mr. Warhol also said:
“The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.” I wonder how long we’ll have to wait?
Want to learn more?
We are so excited to hear from all who value their horses & look for help from those that care as much about their horse as they do!