The Search for Equestrian Truths
by Yvonne Welz ©2000-2014
(I wrote this in 2000.)
Yvonne riding Kendra, January 2008
Many years ago in one of my letters to the late author/trainer John Richard Young, I proclaimed that I was "searching for equestrian truths, wherever they may be." Mr. Young promptly told me to stop bragging. I realize now how pompous that statement must have sounded coming from my young mouth, but it is as true today as it was then.
And I am very sure Mr. Young would be extremely pleased with the truths that I have finally discovered for myself. I believe I came full circle to find what I was searching for. You see, when I first began riding at age 21, I didn't want to just "ride"--I wanted to know the very soul of the horse. That took me on a journey through classical training, studying of the great equestrian authors, and of course horse showing. But I didn't find that elusive thing I was looking for.
Through all this training and showing, my horses were body clipped and blanketed, therapeutically-shod and box-stalled, their hooves smeared with grease, their bellies filled with incredible combinations of super vitamin formulas. In my heart, I knew something was wrong, but what could it be?
It is so very sad that it often takes a tragedy to create change and reform. And so it happened in my case. My beloved horse's founder sent me on a journey into a different place, and there I discovered "the natural horse", the way he was meant to be. This was the horse I fell in love with as a child! I began to truly appreciate the natural horse for what he was, not for what I could make out of him. The pamperings of humankind only degraded his beauty. I realized how very much I had abused him, neglected his welfare and ignored his greatest needs. In my desire to love and care for my horses, I had created their suffering! Such an ironic twist of fate.
Now I feel like I have "seen the light". There is no way anyone can argue against it--horseshoes are damaging to horses feet. Close confinement is damaging to a horse's entire body system. Body-clipping and blanketing destroy their natural thermoregulation. Why do we, as a society, continue practices that are harmful to our horses? I believe it is mainly because most people do not know these things are harmful!
Our greatest challenge right now is to let these equestrian truths be known. Many will argue against them. The opposition will probably be fierce. But by sharing your story with others, a few may follow. It will take time, but things will change. I think if Mr. Young could see me now, he would be applauding. (2000)
John Richard Young was one of the truly great horsemen. I am very surprised that so few people remember his work, as he wrote prolifically for many major magazines throughout decades. I have kept his books "Schooling for Young Riders" and "The Schooling of the (Western) Horse" close by me throughout the years as my bibles of training. I used his methods in the training of my horse, Inty, and as a beginner trainer I was able to take an unbroke horse, trained only by myself, through medium level dressage.
He has been called one of the first "natural horsemen"-- even before natural horsemanship became fashionable. He based his training on the great classical principles of horsemanship, yet made them simple to understand and easy to follow. His work is timeless, so if you are interested in training (and who isn't?) you need to read his books. They are out of print, but are in many libraries or can be purchased by special order from places like Amazon.com.
©2000-2014 by The Horse's Hoof. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher and/or authors. The information contained within these articles is intended for educational purposes only, and not for diagnosing or medicinally prescribing in any way. Readers are cautioned to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional before pursuing any form of treatment on their animals. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.
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