with Don Blazer
Now I've always been a believer in talking to horses.
Conversations with them are simple and straightforward. They say what they mean, and they mean what they say. I like that.
In the morning, Walter nickers in soft, low tones. He's ready for breakfast and he says so in a pleasant manner. He's an easy kind of guy who is ready to get along.
Katy Bar Dee Door always lets me know she's been waiting for hours. She's impatient and tells it like it is, hanging her head over the door, and bumping the door gently with her hoof. When she speaks, it's with her whole body. She uses her ears, eyes, stance and tail to let me know just what she thinks.
Once a horse has thought about something, he takes action. The action may be nothing more than talking about what he is thinking, but he takes action.
Horsemen have always talked with and thought with their horses.
Henry Blake, an English author, has studied, observed, recorded, tested and re-tested horse conversations, which he has turned into a dictionary in his book, Talking With Horses.
According to Blake, there are 47 basic messages and 54 sub messages, usually connected with sound. However, he says, some messages are conveyed solely by signs. His work of identifying and listing horse messages is very useful and a solid contribution to the understanding and care of horses, but maybe his most important offering is that on extrasensory perceptions and telepathy.
Blake offers a number of experiments as examples of mind communication between man and horse.
I am definitely a believer in the power of the mind. And I believe that the ultimate communication between horse and rider is a mind thing. I also believe it takes time, practice and the experiences of error before the mental aspects of horsemanship are mastered. And even when mental communication is mastered, messages are still often misinterpreted or misunderstood.
I believe Blake's ideas are correct, but when he treats the subject as if it were an automatic happening and suggests anyone could use mental communication to break and gentle the wildest, most vicious horses, I cringe at his remarks. While I know he is correct; it is a matter of mind, attitude and mental communication, I also know very few horse owners or horse lovers are ready to practice what he preaches.
Too many people already think love and kisses and good mental vibes will conquer all problems. There is much more to it than that, and the number of serious injuries to horse-huggers proves it.
Horses, with a perfect understanding of horse talk, don't rush in where angels fear to tread. And that's telling you something. You don't just decide one day that mental communication with horses is all you need to be a great trainer or rider. First you have to learn to correctly halter a horse. Some horsemen, after years, never learn it.
While what Blake offers is insightful and the ultimate form of communication for experienced horsemen, the best advice he gives the majority of horsemen is "horses are not humans."
"The greatest barrier to the understanding of any animal is anthropomorphism, that is to say, attributing human personality and behavior to animals," Blake advises. And when he said that, he said a mouthful.
Horses are not humans. They shouldn't be treated as such; it's degrading to them.
Blake worked very hard to perfect his training skills, and there are few who would deny he could communicate with horses by both talking and thinking.
Yet, in an effort to help all horsemen, I'm afraid he makes his understanding and accomplishments dangerously simple. Beware the offer of instant results, gimmicks, special equipment and the magic solution.
They offer the same in-depth assistance as declaring, "Riding is easy. Just keep a leg on each side."
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