CFN– This Column of “Spirits in Unity” is being published by CFN for the community of Stormont Dundas & Glengarry. It is an honour to have you as a reader. I welcome any comments, questions or topics you would like me to discuss. I hope you enjoy reading about the wonderful world of horses and the impact that natural horsemanship can have in making it a better world for both horses and humans.
This week we are making our final preparations for our first “Spirits in Unity” tour stop of the year at Avomore Fair, July 21, 22. I hope you will be able to join us and experience some remarkable young people, and a few not so young, as they partner with some amazing ‘Spirit’ horses in demonstrations of natural horsemanship.Unfortunately there will be one truly amazing Spirit horse who will not be present.That is my old pal of 16 years, Shotgun, who I featured in a couple of my previous columns. Shotgun passed away peacefully on July 7 at the age of 32. He touched the hearts of many people on his life journey. You can read more about him and those whose hearts he touched at www.droghedamanor.com/Shotgun.htmlThe whole concept of “Spirits in Unity” has taken us 10 years to develop. It was this amazing horse who inspired me to study natural horsemanship in the first place and to operate the Drogheda Manor we know of today. In the beginning he frustrated me, made me feel like a failure, and inflicted pain upon me in various ways. We had many adventures and misadventures together. But he was just trying to give me a message. At first I blamed him for his bad behaviour until someone said to me, “Maybe you’re the problem.” That was the moment when my brains finally kicked in and I realized that I had to learn more about this amazingly complex animal.
In the beginning I had to accept whatever knowledge was passed on to me by various instructors who were probably just passing on what others had taught them. But was it true knowledge?
Have you ever noticed how a myth or even an outright lie, when repeated enough times can appear to become the truth? How do we distinguish myth from true knowledge? In horsemanship terms, true knowledge is ’natural know how’. It is based on the science of nature. It is based upon psychology and understanding of the animal you are dealing with. Unfortunately, for all our supposedly superior intelligence, we humans seem to find it difficult to tell the difference between fact and fiction. I know I did. You see the problem is, you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. So you have to seek out others to improve your competency.
There are four stages of competency: The first is unconscious incompetence. The people at this stage are those who continue to do what they have always done, whether it works or not. But if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten. In some cases these people at this stage don’t even realize how incompetent they really are. I was stuck at this level for a long time.
The second stage is conscious incompetence. At this stage, your attitude changes and you become more positive and progressive. You now realize you need true knowledge to succeed.The third stage is conscious competence. At this stage, you change from being handy with new skills and tools to becoming Savvy. Now you are beginning to understand the meaning of natural know how.The fourth stage is unconscious competence. At this stage you become a true horseman. You start to do the right things without even thinking. It is like learning to read. Once you have learned the basic skills it just becomes automatic to read…your horse. This is the stage that I am striving to achieve.Horsemanship is 90% mental and 10% physical, but most instructors will tell you the opposite. I had to make a conscious mental shift in my attitude before my relationship with Shotgun started to improve.
Shotgun was the catalyst that helped me strive to become a horseman. Through his inspiration I discovered Pat and Linda Parelli 10 years ago and that has changed my life with horses and with humans as well.
At Avonmore Fair you will have a unique opportunity to see my ‘Young Horse Whisperers’ as they show you how they have learned to develop a relationship with horses and how they have learned to play in harmony with them. I will be joined by Ron Barker, who is in my opinion one of the best horsemen around. He has a special way of connecting with horses that is magical. You will see him in action at the fair.On Saturday Ron and I will be restarting a couple of horses in a series of demonstrations we are calling: “Pain Pen or Play Pen”. This is another example how a valuable tool, which can sometimes be turned into a torture pen for horses, can actually be a place where you can have a lot of fun together. We will be taking two horses who have never experienced a horse show of any kind and trying to give them the confidence to participate in the ‘Horseman’s Challenge’ on Sunday.The ‘Horseman’s Challenge’ is not a competition, but rather a challenge to the human to develop a better relationship with their horse through understanding, communication and psychology. The fun starts at 9 AM with an “Introduction to Natural Horsemanship” clinic with Ron Barker and Garry Meek and the Young Horse Whisperers followed by a series of challenge games. The first game features on-line skills at various levels where horses and their handlers navigate a series of obstacles and challenges in testing their partnership. The second will feature Liberty Play where humans are required to communicate with their horse without the physical restraint of any lines attached. The third features freestyle riding of various forms, from bareback, doubles, bridleless etc. And the fourth features Savvy Spotlights where participants demonstrate special talents with their horses. This is when Ron and Garry will try to see if they have been successful with the restarting of the two horses so that they are confident enough to ride the obstacle course. We hope you will join us.If you are interested in learning about our Spirits in Unity Tour for 2012 or what other people interested in horse welfare are doing with natural horsemanship in our area you can become a member of www.meetup.com
When asked type in the club name: Natural Horsemanship Club of Eastern Ontario.
Whether you are just a horse lover, have dreams of owning a horse someday, or already have one, I hope these columns will give you some insight into the true nature of these magnificent creatures. I hope you will find them both informative and inspirational.
May all your dreams come true,
Garry “Horsetalker” Meek