When choosing someone to help us with our horses, we need to be sure that we are entrusting our horse to someone who has principles and practices that are aligned to our own values.
We know that many of us have made mistakes in our past, following people who said one thing and in reality did quite another thing with horses.
It is all very well for us to talk about ethical training or positive training or training with connection and empathy, but there are few people in the horse training world who would claim to be anything but ethical and positive, and yet a lot of harmful, outdated and damaging practices still exist.
So we like to let people know what kind of person makes a good Horse Charmer because these are the sort of people we are attracted to help and who we think will be most successful and benefit most from having help from us.
How can we help you, and who is this for?
We can help you if you want a long term solution.
We can help you if you are willing to take the time it takes.
If you are enthusiastic about the idea of using much less pressure (and eventually none) to communicate, and fear-free ways to motivate your horse, then we can help you.
We can help you if you want to be able to make the promise to your horse, pony , donkey or mule that you will never hurt them or cause them discomfort if you can possibly avoid it. That includes using any form of punishment – verbal chastisement, food deprivation, physical punishment, discomfort or “work” as a consequence for unwanted behaviour or non-compliance.
We believe that safety, comfort, freedom, friends and food are pre-requisites to ethical training, and not things that the horse should ever be expected to work to earn.
We can help you if you want a relationship where the horse wants to collaborate with you for what s/he has to gain, rather than because you create uncomfortable consequences for not doing so, or because you use discomfort as a motivator.
We can help you if you want to be able to show your horse where to be and what to do, rather than where not to be and what not to do.
We can help you if the way your equine friend perceives you is more important to you than what anyone else thinks of you.
We can help you if you are ready to objectively question what you are doing, or what you have been told to do by others.
We can help you if you are willing to come out of your comfort zone to be better with animals.
We can help you if want some inspiration and hope that your interactions with horses can be both better and different to anything you have experienced before.
We can help you and will always support you if you come to us when you have questions, moments of doubt or fear or frustration. None of us can learn everything we need to know in one or two lessons of doing something new. You will need ongoing help and, if you ask – and show gratitude for it – it will be generously given.
We can help you if you are prepared to look at yourself as being key to the solution, and to work on changing your own expectations and your own behaviour at least as much as you do that of the horse.
For our animals to change, we need to be willing to change first. That may mean reducing our expectations to something that is more reasonable or realistic for this individual horse, or indeed any kind of horse.
If you feel a need to always been in control and you prefer correction to choice, collaboration and cooperation, then we may be able to help you see how you can be more in control if your animal has good experiences with you rather than bad ones.
We can help you if you are willing to hear that as intelligent humans we have the ability to motivate animals in ways that go far beyond how animals react to each other.
We do not subscribe to any of the popular myths that it’s necessary to behave like an animal to communicate with or motivate that animal. This has been disproven countless times to the extent of being beyond requiring further debate or discussion.
If you are committed to the belief that we must use pressure or discomfort to communicate with and motivate animals, or that it is necessary to dominate animals in order to be able to influence what they do, or that animals should know what we want them to do and that we are justified in punishing them when they don’t comply, then we’ll try to help you to a new place of understanding that in the modern world, these things are not necessary.
We can teach a horse anything – including how to be calm, relaxed, focused, confident, athletic, brave, energetic, responsive, balanced and happy – without punishment, corrections or psychological or physical pressure.
We can help you if you have a strong desire to improve, to know more, to be challenged to think in new ways and to use more sophisticated modern ways of training that make use of the brain power of the human AND the horse.
We are not attracted to participating in most competitive sports with horses and we don’t very often involve ourselves with training horses for mainstream equestrian competition.
We believe that most competitive sports expect participants to routinely subject horses to extreme stressors, including separation from friends, travel, flooding to new environments and situations, and aversive forms of training, coercion and choiceless control. Indeed there are few forms of equestrian competitive sport in which positive reinforcement is even permitted, whereas aversive prompting of behaviour with negative reinforcement and aversive corrections (positive punishment) are allowed to be used continuously.
In the end, when it comes down to it, we also don’t want to put ourselves into situations where we have to see that being done to horses. It’s not good for the soul.
Overall we think that it’s never to the benefit of an animal to be in a situation in which he or she may become a tool for a child or an adult to use for their own self-aggrandisement or social acceptance.
We find that we do not really want to be involved with, nor do we compare ourselves with others, according to the rules of the equestrian competitive playing field.
So you can be sure that the last thing you experience from us is any judgment for you not wanting to ride (yet or ever) or preferring not to compete. We think what counts above all else is the relationship – not the rosette.