Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Equestrian Challenge Day 17

Day 17 : Your equestrian Idol.

Hmm, I may have been avoiding this one a little.  I honestly don't have an Idol.  I haven't been riding all that long, about a year and a half now.  I didn't grow up in the culture, and now that I am riding, I don't think I am completely emmersed in the culture.  I don't know when there is equestrian on tv, I couldn't name a barrel racer if my life depended on it.  I couldn't name any famous show-ey equestrian if my life depended on it, honestly.  Except this guy, but only because once you see this picture, it really has a way of sticking with you


I really respect and idolize people who have practiced and made the art of natural horsemanship famous.  People like Buck Brannan and Clinton Anderson. Also there is a man named Dr. Lew Sterret, who is a pretty awesome guy.  You can see his website here.  My grandmother saw him doing a clinic and got his shirt and sent me his book.  It's all about how your relationship with horses is similar to your relationship with god, etc, etc.  My grandparents are very devout southern baptists, and while I am not religious like they are, I appreciated the book. (My personal religious philosophy is that the way I act reflects upon myself.  I should treat others with respect, respect myself, and really try to be the best person I can be.) I really loved the book, and while there was a lot of religion in it, there was also a lot about his relationship with horses and how he trains them.

There are two things that stuck with me in his book more than anything else.

1) He was always great with horses, and finally got noticed by a reputable trainer and was offered a job under him. (This was when he was young and just beginning his professional career.) One day the trainer had given him the task of having the horse put his front hooves in a tire, and move the back ones around it.  So basically, a turn on the fore.  He said that he started by having the horse step into the tire, then tried to move his hind.  The long of the short, was that he was so concerned about making the horse do it so that he looked good on his new job, he hit the horse with the whip every time he took a wrong step.  The horse had no idea what was being asked of him.  Later, the trainer helped to show him to start from the beginning.  Only ask baby steps of your horse. Then move on to the harder task.  He had given the horse a task that he did not know how to do, and offered him nothing but criticism.  Looking back, he said he has always felt bad about the way he treated that horse that day, and has never gone a day without regretting it.

2)  There was a horse at one place that he worked at.  The horse was clearly high strung, and had more spirit than many other horses.  He was a good mount, but always had his head high.  The trainer of that horse could do nothing to get that head down.  His solution, was to take him out into a field, and tie his head down onto a concrete slab for a few days.  He said that once that horse came back in, his spirit was broken.  He was no longer the same horse.  He didn't have the sparkle in his eye, and never acted the same again.  He said that was when he realized he didn't want to be associated with people who used those methods, and he never, ever, wanted to break a horses spirit.  

Those don't exactly sound like passages that you would want to idolize, but those were two things that just really stuck with me now that its been over a year since I read the book.  But the breaking a horses spirit, thats something that creeps up on me all the time.  I never want my horse to feel like they don't have an opinion, or a say, or that they are only there to cart me around.  I want them to have spirit, to be able to run through the fields with me with no collection in sight.  

One other thing that comes to my mind when I think of equestrian idols....

Has anyone seen Wild Horse Wild Ride? 

Me and bubby watched it a few weeks ago, and it really was great.  I think it helped me work with pony a lot, seeing how scary it is for the mustangs.  

There were a few of the 'good old cowboys' that worked with the mustangs.

There were a few 'stupid as shit bimbos' that shouldn't even be on a horse, let alone training a mustang.

And there were a few people that really were awesome.

There was Wylene Wilson (who has a clinic a little north of me that I really want to go to in March!!!)

She got her mustang Saturday night, and was on her by monday.  If there was one way that I could describe the way she treated the horse, I would say fearless.  Like, honestly.  I think she was so sure of everything, that the horse had no time to even think! It was honestly like the horses attitude was 'what the hell, shes crazy'.  Which honestly, is a pretty cool attitude, when you think about it.  

She was just so dang confident, the horse had no option but to be confident as well.  By like three weeks in, she was riding her horse bareback and bridleless.  She trusted in him, and in turn, he trusted in her.  

There was one other guy in the movie that had the same approach.  

He put his horse in a round pen, and then just kind of sat on the edge of it.  He finally got up, walked about halfway in, never making eye contact, and then turned around and went back to the fence.  He looked like he had forgotten something and was going back to get it.  He continued to do that, everytime getting closer.  He finally got right up to the horse, reached out to touch him, the horse stood still, and he turned around and went back to the other side again.  It was honestly hilarious to watch.

The attitude of the horse was that he was so damn curious about what the hell the guy was doing that he forgot to be scared.  

So I guess, I don't really have an answer for you about who my equestrian Idol is.  Check back in a few years, I bet I'll have one then. 

By the way, here is the trailer for Wild Horse Wild Ride, in case you haven't heard of it.  It was definitely worth watching, it was really good.  It was so interesting to see different peoples approaches to it.  I was able to find it on Redbox, if you have those in your area.

And I looked far and wide for clips showing you guys Wylene Wilson, and Nik Kokal (the guy in WHWR) and I could not find any. Guess you'll just have to watch the movie!


  1. Can I just say that those excerpts from that book are exactly why I would idolize someone like that. Not becuase he made mistakes, but because saw mistakes and rather than just saying, "That is what I did because it is how it was always done" he vowed not to let those things happen to a horse by his own hands. That is huge!

    1. I'm so glad you see it like I do! His book was REALLY good, including the religious parts. In his clinics he does the same thing as Buck Brannan, he has people bring horses that are unruly or 'can't be tamed' and is on them within an hour. One part of the book talked about how the horse that was supposed to be coming wasn't going to or something, so he said, ok, bring me any horses I don't care. They brought him two rodeo broncs. He worked with them both, and after about an hour he was on the older of the two. The younger though, he said didn't want to be trained. The older wanted to be gentled, and wanted to feel a connection, the younger did not have that desire in him at the time. He said that he could have stayed there all night trying to get through to that younger bronc, but he wouldn't never get through to him until he wanted to be gentled.

      I thought that was also a REALLY cool approach, since most people won't admit defeat with horses. He hadn't exactly admitted defeat, he was just saying 'not right now' since its true, if a horse doesn't want to be gentled (most horses really do!) then the only way to get them there is to break their spirit, or wait around until they change their attitude.


I love comments!