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What is holistic Horsemanship?

From: Susan

Dear Jessica, I saw this term in your signature, and I wondered if you could tell me about it? Is it like Natural Horsemanship?

thanks in advance, Susan


Hi Susan! Holistic Horsemanship (R) is my trademarked method of teaching and training. I came up with that particular description of what I teach because I couldn't think of a more accurate word (and believe me, I tried!).

I always begin by telling people that "Holistic Horsemanship" ought to be redundant, but unfortunately it is not, because so many people know so very little about the animals they enjoy riding. ;-)

I teach that the rider is responsible for, and must take into account, EVERYTHING to do with the horse in its total environment -- not just how promptly the horse responds to the rider's aids, or how well it does at a show. Riders who want to get the most from their sport need to know horses as a species, their physiology and psychology. They need to understand something about conformation, nutrition, shoeing, medical care, and horse management -- and they need to be aware of their individual horse's physical characteristics and limitations. They need to understand at least the basics of tack-fitting, and of bits and bitting, and how these principles apply to their particular horse. They need to learn to understand how horse-training works, and how it can be done kindly and correctly rather than abusively. They need to be aware of their OWN physique and psychology and fitness level, and of their own characteristics and limitations.

Riders need to understand what a classical seat is, and why it matters!, and how to achieve it, because without a good rider position, the horse cannot be properly trained or ridden -- and riders need to understand this, so that they don't blame their horses when the horses are not at fault.

Riders need to consider the effect of weather and footing (for example) on what their horse does when he's being worked, and they need to understand the horse's life during his off-duty hours.

I teach riders to look for, analyze, understand and deal with CAUSES rather than focusing on effects -- e.g., if the horse is opening his mouth and tilting his head because of tooth pain, there's no point in trying to force his mouth shut or his head straight, and no TRAINING that can take place until the pain has been eliminated. So although my passions are eventing and classical dressage, this is the CONTEXT in which I teach, and in which I teach riders to deal with their horses. My riders learn position and aids and gaits and movements, of course -- but as part of a whole.

That's where "holistic" came in -- correct training and riding based on an understanding of the total horse in his total environment, as opposed to just the mechanics of riding.

So, now you know. ;-)

Jessica

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