For quite a while I have been trying to work out exactly what it is that I do with horses. I have called it Natural Horsemanship, and in the past I have studied Parelli, Monty Roberts and other advocates of Natural Horsemanship. I have definitely incorporated many valuable tools into my kit from this source but I don’t follow any particular method and do not only do Natural Horsemanship.
I have called it Science Based Equitation because I have a degree in Equine Science and completed three behavioural subjects within my degree. I am fascinated by animal behaviour and equine behaviour in particular and there is a large part of me that is an animal behaviourist, but that’s not all I do.
I have called it Riding Instruction as I spent years doing Equestrian Australia Coach training and have been teaching horse riding for over 25 years. But I don’t ever do a lesson where I only instruct the rider, as it always includes horse training as well. And while I love a balanced position and light aids I am not stuck with the Classical Method of horse riding but also embrace other modalities.
For a while I thought it was Animal Communication. I studied Animal Communication using a variety of methods and learned the valuable lesson of trusting my intuition. I am open to messages from horses all the time I am with them and trust them to communicate their needs to me, and they do. But again this is not all I do.
Then it came to me, Considerate Horsemanship. In everything I do I am considering the horse. I ask the horse questions and learn from the answers. I change everything I am doing if that is what the horse requires. I never have a fixed plan of how a lesson is going to go. I follow my intuition and what the horse is telling me. Every horse is different and every horse on a different day is different. I try not to hold on to what the horse did in the past. Each time I see a horse I ask them how they are feeling about things. What do they understand? What do they not understand? What is scaring them? How can I help them? What’s the next step? I constantly check in with the horse and consider how it is for them at every stage. I endeavour to not impose or force things on a horse against their will, as I believe it results in resistance and unhappiness. If a horse does not understand what I am asking then it’s up to me to look for a different way to explain it. Then when I see that first moment of comprehension, I lavish on the praise.
I believe that treating horses with respect and considering their point of view results in a level of understanding and friendship between human and horse that can never be achieved when forcing things upon them. Horses can be made into automatons, machines that bend to our will and do as we order, but there is no love in that. A horse treated like that wants to leave you as soon as they can, not stay and share more moments with you. Some people want an obedient machine that can win ribbons and bring them glory, and when that horse is no longer achieving those things they sell them and get a new one. This is not relationship, friendship or love, it is using sentient beings to satisfy our own egos. This is not considering the horse, only ourselves.
So now I move closer to knowing who I am and what I do. Life is a journey and I choose to live mine walking alongside horses.
Suzy Maloney B.Eq.Sc.
Happy Horses Bitless
Lismore, NSW, Australia
Ph: 0401 249 263
Facebook: Happy Horses Bitless Bridles