For nearly sixty years I’ve been seducing horses. At first I was only able to do what I was taught by my mentors. These were mostly cowboys who were graduates of World War II. Their methods were effective, but sometimes they were a touch on the forceful side.
I yearned for a method that didn’t involve so much punishment. With the Eighties, a new kind of horsemanship emerged, what we now call “natural horsemanship”. I also began to find teachers who were trained in the classical schools of Europe.
Even armed with these three widely different schools, I am still frequently baffled by some horses. However I am finding that more and more, I do less and less. What I mean is that as I approach each equine student, I look for something I can improve on that day: “Just one thing”. When I can I quit working ( playing) with that horse, and go on to the next victim.
Unless a horse needs strength or endurance training, a lesson doesn’t need to be more than a few minutes or half an hour long. Sometimes I work one horse two or three very short lessons in a day. I believe what I am told: that quitting on a good note is a more potent reward even than feeding.
I sometimes think my former methods may have seemed to the horses more like drinking out of a firehose.