I have loved horses since I was a child. I haven’t been much around horses the last year, but they always have a special place in my heart. Since I’ve thought more about horses the last years, I’ve also noticed how people treat their horses. I have seen many pictures and many videos that I wish was unreal. This picture of Olympian champion Anky Van Grunsven makes me sad and angry.
She might be a champion in forcing the horse to stand out pain, but what’s that good for? And what’s the purpose? Do the horse look happy, or at least, content? I can only see sadness and pain in his eyes. Is she a dressage lover? Probably. Is she a horse lover? I think not. I only hope that someone would open her eyes – or her heart? Rollkur (hyperflexion of the horse’s neck) was prohibited in dressage riding – thank God. That’s a start, but what about the bit?And what about the misuse of spurs?
The two photos above are from a polo match in Windsor Great Park, Berkshire, England. Do you recognize the rider on the bloody white horse? It’s actually Prince Harry of Wales, puncturing his pony with his spurs. As a horse can feel a fly, imagine how this would feel.
So how can we treat the horses with the love and respect they all deserve?
There are a lot of alternative horse trainers now, who has a deeper understanding for horses and are concerned about how the horses are feeling. They might have different methods, but they share the same thought about treating the horses or other animals, as gentle as possible. Here I have listed a few DVDs and books that approaches alternative horse training:
I read a book called Horses Never Lie, by Mark Rashid. The book is about how Mark got to know horses as a child and how he learned to treat them they want to be treated, with a deep understanding, a sensitive approach and a free will. Every horse lover should read it.
You can get it at amazon.
There’s also a great DVD out called: The Path of the Horse, directed by Stormy May. The DVD contains clips and interviews from all over the world about horse training philosophy. The horse trainers interviewed in the DVD are Alexander Nevzorov, Klaus Hempfling, Linda Kohanov, Mark Rashid, Carolyn Resnick and Kim McElroy.
You can get it at the Stormy May Productions website.
The third DVD I want to introduce is the Cynthia Royal Approach DVD set. Cynthia trained the horse Shadowfax who starred in the Lord of the Rings movie. Shadowfax’ real name is Blanco, and Cynthia describes how different Blanco was trained compared to other movie horse trainers, and why Gandalf can whistle and make him come to him. In the DVD set Cynthia teaches how you can make the horse want to be with you and want to see you as an nurturing leader, as she calls it. She has some really genius methods, that don’t imply forcing the horse in any way.
Here is one of the Shadowfax and Gandalf scenes from Lord of the Rings. I cry every time I see it.
Take a look at Cynthia Royals website.