Introduction To Horsemanship

Horsemanship is leadership.  This simple phrase sums up all of my experience with connecting with tens of  thousands of horses I have never been with before and creating a willing partnership in minutes.  When asked by someone if they could learn what I do to connect with horses quickly I respond with these questions.  How is you connection and relationship with your parents, your siblings, your spouse or the guy behind the counter at the convenience store?  Invariably the person respond with, “Not so good.”  I then suggest they start the journey of relationships and connection with their own species first.

This subject follows “The Ten Irrefutable Laws Of Horsemanship.” It will empower you in a life with horses, allow you to become a better horseman improving every day, and will make you a better human with your relationships with other people in your life.

Let’s make an example.  Pretend you own a boarding barn and most days you want to spend your entire time out in the barn no matter what weather is coming from the sky.  But eventually there is an irritating boarder where you just want to hide in the house to avoid them.  If you have ever experienced this feeling then I want you to apply that exact feeling to the horse that sees you come into the barn.  If the horse doesn’t like you or what you do to them the reaction from the horse will also be to hide.  Maybe this won’t happen at first because you are believing that food equals love and they come to you for the food.  But when asked to actually work, the horse says goodbye.

What most professional trainers and horsemanship instructors do is they try to CHANGE THE HORSE or they teach the students to change the horse.  This never works.  Evidence for this can be seen with the barn owner in the above example.  The barn owner tries to change the irritating boarder with written signs or confrontation.  Eventually the boarder leaves or is asked to leave. The same is true in a marriage when one spouse tries to change the other.

The key to horsemanship is to change yourself.  Learning leadership is a job made only for you and your self improvement.  I often joke that the only gimmick I would sell to a person wanting to become a better horseman is a full length mirror.  When having trouble, stand in front of it and figure out what is wrong with you.

In the boarding example above, what if the irritating boarder went to the barn owner and said they were going to change themselves and try to become a better person.  You can agree that this might take some time but at some point the barn owner would no longer be afraid to come out of the house when the once irritating boarder arrived on the farm.  This same experience will happen over time as the horse recognizes the change in you.  They will want to follow you because you have become a leader.

I have more to say about this but now you know the core of what horsemanship is.  It is leadership and it comes from changing YOU and not the horse.  No gimmicks needed.

Here is a 2 minute introduction to The Ten Irrefutable Laws Of Horsemanship


Here is an hour long introduction to The Ten Irrefutable Laws Of Horsemanship

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Law 1 – A Horse Can Hurt You & Even Kill You

There were 201 deaths caused by farm animals in a year.  This included horses.  But there were over 1 million visits to the emergency room in a year for injuries caused by horses. If there is a good chance of being injured by a horse then why do we still get around them?  The answer is probability neglect.  The probability of being injured around a horse is high but we love being around them so we neglect the probability.

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Law 2 – The Horse That Can Kill You Is Your Own

The horse that will hurt you is your own. This law is about complacency.  As we become comfortable around our horses we start taking short cuts.  Another aspect to this is that with experience people tend to become over confident with other people’s horses.  In other words, with each passing day that a horse doesn’t hurt us we start to think that they will never hurt us.  

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Law 5 – Become The Leader

I define horsemanship as leadership.  There are no other ways to look at this.  If you can’t become the leader of your horses then they will become the leader of you.  And not all horses are good leaders!

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Law 7 – Seek First To Understand …..

No one will be led unless they feel that they have been listened to first. If a man has no legs and you bark an order to walk to town, your leadership will end there and nothing will get done.

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Law 10 – A Horse Is A Horse

To treat any person or animal other than as their species is disrespectful. Treating someone like a dog is as offensive to that person as you treating a horse as a human is to that horse.

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Do Not Reward Bad Behavior

Rewarding bad behavior is the most common mistake people make every day with their horses as well as the other people in their lives. Horsemanship IS leadership, but there can be no leadership if good behavior is not acknowledged and bad behavior is rewarded. It is impossible.

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Never Stand With Food In A Field Of Horses

This is a very dangerous situation to be in. Walking into a field of horses with a bucket of grain can lead to your death. It has happened. Horses are like sharks in blood filled water when they think there is food and this includes you with a pocket full of candy.

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