Happy New 2017!
For some months now I’ve been cogitating about the best way to expand the reach of Horse Charming to the world of horse owners.
My mission is to improve the way that horses, ponies and donkeys are cared for and trained, the world over. I want to do that by making it possible for people to invest in their own education and personalised training and to do that at a pace that suits them and a price they can afford.
I’ve spent the last few months of 2016 developing ideas for a different type of organisation to take this forward, and I’ve managed to co-opt some people who have shown a willingness to collaborate, co-operate and campaign for better horse keeping and training.
These are people who have shared principles and values, and some unique talents and skills they can contribute to enhance what we can all offer.
I’ve chosen people to be part of this who I think are passionate about keeping and caring for horses in the best way possible, but who recognise that everyone has constraints on their own personal resources, and that these can fluctuate.
These are people who are totally committed to training horses with positive reinforcement and determined to both displace the myths that surround the use of rewards-based training, and to challenge the status-quo when it comes to the use of aversive training, coercion and force.
They are individuals I’ve seen giving generously of their time and knowledge to educate or persuade, who’ve invested in their own education and in getting experience both with horses and with other species. They’re people who are looking to grow, and who have been willing to ask questions and seek help to improve themselves for the sake of their own horses, as well as to pass that on to others.
What I’ve offered to these people is the means to pool the skills and knowledge and resources we all already have and to work together with each other so that we can share our knowledge and experience on a professional basis to horse owners under the overall Horse Charming banner and philosophy.
We want to help people who are interested in transforming the way they keep and train their horses but who want the flexibility to do that at their own pace and in a way that doesn’t require a significant up-front monetary investment or an ongoing financial commitment, because we know that – for all kinds of reasons – people have periods when time and money does not allow for anything other than basic horse care.
We will be operating as professionals, offering personalised tailored advice on horse keeping, horse care and training, by meeting with horse owners face to face, by offering experience days with our own horses, by video coaching, or by Skype / Whatsapp / phone calls, email or messaging services. We’ll interact in whatever way works for us and our clients and their horses, according to where they are based, the resources they have and what they want to learn about.
We also aim to be working with other equine professionals who we can refer to and call on for support and who we know to be operating in ways that are consistent with or promote the principles of positive reinforcement. These could be people who make bitless bridles, fit saddles, who offer massage or physiotherapy services, or who are professional hoof trimmers.
There are some people whose involvement I can announce today who have been already working with me on this behind the scenes, and who are keen to get started without further ado!
They are Alison Willis (UK), Mary Richards (USA), Pauline Keil (Australia) and Vikki Spit (UK).
Alison is someone who’s become a good friend of mine in Scarborough in North Yorkshire in the UK. Alison is a qualified Equine Massage Therapist – so keeping horses feeling good physically is a real passion for Alison. She is really determined to make professional help to train horses with positive reinforcement affordable for people who are trying to manage to keep and train their horses on a budget. She wants quality hands-on help to train horses with positive reinforcement to be accessible to anyone in her area.
What I love most about Alison is that her belief in a need to shake the foundations of the horse world. My favourite quote from her is “I’m for revolution not evolution!”
Vikki is based in an idyllic fell-side location near Alston in Cumbria in the North West of England, so she is in reach of Lancashire, Cumbria, Country Durham, Northumberland and North Yorkshire and the Scottish borders. Vikki has 3 horses and she will be specialising in offering horse training Experience Days at home and teaching face to face locally as well as supporting clients doing video coaching.
You might know Vikki from her Facebook Page “Buck You”. I love Vikki’s laid-back playful fun style of training, and she produces fabulous, compelling videos – both on positive reinforcement training and on challenging the use of fear and pain to control ponies and horses.
Pauline lives near Melbourne in Australia – a country that’s been the birthplace of quite a number of the currently popular practitioners of natural horsemanship type training. Pauline’s going to help us give them a run for their money!
Pauline keeps me in check because she loves a really well structured methodical approach to training and she has an amazing eye for detail when it comes to the nuances and subtleties of horses’ emotional responses.
I love how Pauline puts the emotions of the horse first – above everything else. She’s a role model for people who really care more about how the horse feels than about what they want the horse to do for them. She’s been a great support to people new to positive reinforcement through the Facebook group she co-runs called “Equine +R Australia”.
Mary is our first Horse Charming professional in the USA and I am thrilled to have her as part of the team. Based in central Florida, she’s well placed halfway between two big horse industry regions – Ocala and Wellington.
She’s been using positive reinforcement for over 20 years, first as a zookeeper, training species including sea lions and rhinos and hippos and now training horses and other equids. She currently works as an Equine Zoological Manager at a large facility with 90 horses.
Mary’s passionate about helping people work out how to better care for their horses and wants to raise awareness in the equestrian world that taking an holistic view of welfare is much more effective than looking at unwanted behaviours in isolation.
Mary’s recent focus has been on rescues but she wants to broaden her reach to anyone who could improve the welfare of their horse through horse-centred keeping and positive reinforcement training and she gets a real buzz out of teaching people how to clicker train.
“The look on their faces when they realize they are sharing a language with an animal is priceless!”
I’m chuffed to bits to be able to share this news and to welcome these ladies on board.
I see this as only the first stage of the expansion of the Horse Charming movement. There is lots more we are cooking up!
If you want to be part of that and this sounds like your dream job – then get in touch!