Hi and thank you for all your lovely stories, photo's and videos from Tuesday about working with my Method. Sorry if I haven't replied to you yet, I will try and get to you. It is only natural when we learn something new to have many questions and I know how frustrating it is not to have these answered. As you start to work with the Waterhole Rituals therefore, I really want to support you and so I am thinking of putting together a program that will enable me to walk you through the Rituals and then answer any questions you may have as you go along. We're still looking into this at the moment but if you have any questions that I haven't answered or any suggestions as to how this would work best for you, then please email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The other day I was asked how my Method fits in with Natural Horsemanship and afterwards I thought the question would make for an interesting blog post. So this is the written up and expanded version of my answer.
In the initial relationship, rather than training a horse, my desire is to create a spiritual connection, which will in turn bring out an enthusiastic performance. My first interest therefore is to make a heart connection and a deep friendship. I start the bonding process of a horse’s training by working him in a large enough space that he has a clear advantage over me and that he is aware of it. I put food and water in the area I start him in. I do not start his training until he looks on this area as his new home and that he is comfortable with my presence at liberty.
I want a horse to be aware that I respect his space and I am willing to wait until I get a clear invitation that he will allow me to walk up to him. I make sure I don’t overstay my welcome by leaving right away. This way, when I leave he becomes curious, pleasantly surprised and gets a clear idea that I just wanted to say ‘Hello!’. In this initial approach, I am demonstrating to the horse my interest in leading like a leader would with a mare he is courting. This demonstration is a very valuable tool in winning the horse over to expect my leadership. The basic training needs to be built on the relationship, developing social order and a language we both understand rather than the horse feeling he needs to learn that he cannot escape my presence or needs to learn that he cannot escape what I am asking him to perform. It is better if a horse does not want to do what I ask, that I stop asking and then ask again when he is more sure of himself.
Horses need their instincts honored and developed. My Method is therefore much different than so called natural horsemanship. I want a horse to know that he can run away if he chooses and the reason I seek his company is because I like being with him, not that he needs to do something for me. I demonstrate to the horse that I will always respect his wishes and I will never enter his personal space without permission.
From observing horse behavior when horses first greet each other you will see the rituals I have chosen to use as they develop a deep bond with a lead horse that is a care-taker. When I interact with the horse using their rituals they understand my intent because they know the subject I am addressing is the bond.
From these rituals and laws that horses feel are fair and just, I am able to develop a personal language I can share with each horse that I am getting to know and trust. From this initial bond, the training time through the teamwork skills we have developed significantly reduces. The bond I create makes the horse a quick and willing learner with a desire to perform what I ask of him. The burden is on me to become the leadership he would choose without the influence of fences and ropes.
A herd of horses has a culture similar to ours with rules that all horses find desirable. Following their code and developing a language is vital to gaining a working relationship with a horse.
When a human approaches a horse the first questions in a horses mind are “I wonder want he wants?”, “Is this human a friend or foe?” and “I wonder how strong he is?” If he is stronger, it might be a good idea to stay away. A horse is first mistrusting and afraid he must follow leadership rather than being allowed to choose.
When the horse gets over this initial fear and becomes bonded with the humans he will then become aggressive and demanding. This is the natural progress and behavior of horses because of their pecking order nature. The ritual I have chosen develops the trust and a bond at the appropriate time. After the horse feels bonded, I gain leadership before the horse loses respect and begins to start telling me what to do in an unpleasant manner.
The rituals horses use are the natural process of developing a committed friendship using the pecking order rules horses respect and honor. The deep bond that I have created enhances the life experience for the horse and myself.
Enjoy your weekend, till next week... Best wishes