Should you follow just one program?
Some people will say so…but we have found no necessity or benefit long-term.
It is not uncommon for the different program owners and their affiliates to advise students that their program should be followed in isolation. For some, it’s a near religious declaration
Typically, the reasons given are that it is easier to focus on one systematic process.
They also advise that adhering to a single task driven path (theirs) will prevent confusion at the same time as bringing faster results.
This can be true for some people, and maybe more so for those just starting out.
It is certainly possible to be overwhelmed by varied opinion and choices at every step.
Add sagely wisdom from the inevitable ‘local experts’ into the mix and it can be difficult to find the path that’s the best deal for you and your horse.
But consideration should be given to the fact that program owners have a vested interest in singling out their own products.
You can’t blame them for wanting to polarise our attention on their particular products - after all they are running a business.
However, there are obvious limitations imposed by the constraints and tunnel vision of following a single seller’s program.
Our view is that there are real and tangible advantages in getting a wider perspective of different approaches -They facilitate looking at things in different ways.
Don’t become slave to a program
We wouldn't recommend it if we hadn't lived it ourselves.
The extraordinary results we get with horses do not come from following any single program.
Instead, we like to choose our approach dynamically in response to the individual horse and scenario that is presenting itself at a particular point in time.
We believe the program or technique should serve our horse and us, not the other way round.
Otherwise, we end up becoming slave to the program and in its bondage.
If something is not working, we don’t simply continue with the activity and escalate the pressure.
To us, that's like raising your voice to repeat yourself to someone that has already made it clear they don't understand what you were saying when you said it the first time.
We would always rather look for a different way to present the information or request to the horse.
Horses aren't people, they are not trying to be difficult, they just don't understand the language and constructs you are using.
Growing our options for how we get our message across requires us to develop knowledge and insight.
Knowledge of multiple ways to approach our objective, plus a deep enough insight to be creative in adapting to try something different.
For us, this has been facilitated through a never ending appetite for knowledge - constantly watching, reading, analysing, and experimenting with what we have learnt.
We discovered that nuggets of horsemanship gold can be found in many places and moulded together to create something of combined value.
Even if we find it difficult to align with a particular brand of horsemanship, we usually find that it is due to the attitude and manner with which exercises are presented to the horse.
The exercises themselves can still have useful value if applied with a different mindset.
Using a varied knowledgebase
Over the years we have built up a varied knowledgebase harvested from multiple programs, teachings, and experiences.
Our chosen response to the needs of our horse in a given scenario can be derived through any of the following processes:
- Taken straight ‘out of the box’ as taught by a particular practitioner
- An adaptation to suit the needs we are faced with
- A combination or merging of techniques from multiple sources
- Our own creative ideas responding to what we feel is needed
Whatever we do, it is always done with the attitude of a nurturing servant leader looking to enhance relationship, trust and confidence, as well as motivation and engagement.
How does this eclectic approach to horsemanship work for us?
We work on the principle that there are really only two types of horsemanship – good horsemanship and bad horsemanship – and that the different disciplines in horsemanship are secondary.
We also believe that the foundation to good horsemanship is relationship.
This view was impressed on me early on in my horsemanship journey through correspondence with Philip and Jenny Nye.
Tasmanian horseman, Philip Nye, was one of my early inspirations for putting relationship first with horses.
I was fortunate to make contact with Philip and his wife Jenny, from whom I obtained their full set of videos showing Philip’s interaction with horses.
In the videos, Philip demonstrated the potential relationship and extraordinary results that could be achieved.
Over the years, we have studied, scrutinised, and utilised the offerings of many different horsemen and women.
Despite their differences, we have never had a reason to change our view on the ‘two types of horsemanship’ principle.