Natural Horsemanship Essays
Essays and anecdotes by Franklin Levinson
Knowing when and how to reassure a horse it is safe is huge for humans interacting with horses, Whether on the ground with a horse or riding it, knowing what to do and when to do it to assist in alleviating a horse's fear is very important for both horse and human. Horses have two basic responses to scary situations. The first one is to run away. If it is at all possible for the animal to do this, it will. The second, if the horse feels trapped it will begin to fight for its survival.
As I watched the movie LINCOLN recently and heard these words yet again, I was struck by the fact that what is stated is logically, morally and undeniably true. To think otherwise just didn’t make any sense to me. How could buying, selling and possessing human beings as slaves be an acceptable way of life for so many, for so long is beyond me. Additionally, a truth that is self-evident, I feel, is a powerful truth. But what does this have to do with horses?
Was blind, but now I see.”
These words from the last line of the wonderful hymn “Amazing Grace” usually find me misty eyed and full of emotion. Sometimes I am totally moved to a very cathartic release and a flood of tears upon hearing and singing the hymn. Of course, I used to cry when watching Bambi’s mother get killed. I suppose that is just how I am and I am now at ease with my sentimental self....
...Taking away choices and freedoms is a way we punish law breakers. But horses have not broken any laws. We do not ask permission to ride them. We do not ask if they want to carry humans into strenuous competitions. Is this ethical? Do ethics only apply to human/human interaction?...
Humans take away freedom of choice by locking criminals in jails as punishment for their crimes. Consider the horse, always innocent and has not committed any crime but has little, if any, real freedoms or freedom of choice. The horse is made to do our bidding when and where we want it to and compelled to stay wherever we say it must...
“The inferior teacher tells you that something is wrong with you and offers to fix it. The superior teacher tells you that something is right with you and helps you bring it forth.” ...
Horses are like magnets for humans. People of all ages are drawn to the horse because of their beauty, grace, power, majestic stature and the mystery of their noble being. It's been that way throughout recorded history. In modern times, it has been clinically documented that just being around horses changes the brain wave patterns of humans, lowers blood pressure and reduces stress.
How a horse 'feels' when it is with us is the main, primary and most important responsibility we have with our horses. Does he feel fearful or does he feel safe? This is the big question.
My forever motto is and has been "success with horses is a life enriching process." My recent experiences at The New Horse, Bittles Brook Farm, Shaftsbury, UK. have again shown me how true this motto really is...
We have all had a one-sided conversation where whoever we are speaking with is not paying attention, distracted or trying to control the flow of energy and information. These sorts of experiences can leave us feeling dissatisfied, incomplete, angry and disrespected among many other negative feelings. Imagine what it might be for a horse to have mostly one-sided conversations with humans because even well-intentioned humans do not understand how to have a conversation with a horse...
As someone who teaches horsemanship and Equine Facilitated Learning in numerous countries annually I do get a uniquely international perspective on programs involving horses that are offered in other areas of the world. I find that some names people use to label their programs basically have little to do with what they are actually teaching, whether the presenter is aware of this or not. This article discusses the fine line between marketing and truth when it comes to instructors and trainers in the world of equus.
I have been looking for other ways to better define and name what I think is the best approach to working with horses. I have begun to make available mentorships in my brand of gentle, effective horse training.
Feeling what others are feeling is called empathy. Horses are naturally and always empathetic. The members of the herd feel what is going on for the other members of the herd. This is why the horses often move as one unit when in the herd. Empathetic responses help the animals to become bonded, develop trust, respect and create loyalties.
While a room full of ribbons and trophies might indicate some good technical abilities as
an equestrian (rider), it does not necessarily indicate that person is a great horseman. Unfortunately, I have seen and known many competition riders who appear to know little of the true nature and psychology of the horse they are riding. To me, this is a very sad commentary on how we humans frequently relate to the horse.
Self-awareness becomes an essential ingredient for successful communication with horses. When we are angry, stressed, hurried or unsettled emotionally, our bodies show it through how we move. The horses see this movement and interpret it relative to their feelings of safety or fear. Within this essay are a few suggestions of how we humans can appropriately and effectively use our bodies to successfully communicate to our horses.
Franklin's personal EFL horse, Pete, is looking for a new home. Franklin is moving his base and wishes to find a great home for a great horse. Please follow the link to read the full story of this amazing equine. Free to the right home.
I recently had a discussion with a friend who is professional instructor/trainer about the relevance of precision and firmness when communicating with, training and riding horses. I had asked if one was more important than the other. This essay discusses the importance and relationship of these two attributes.
An excellent introductory article clearly explaining Franklin's philosophies about horsemanship specifically the nature of horses and man's relationship with them.
There are many great riders who know little of the true nature of the horse they are riding. This lack of understanding prevents many fine equestrians from achieving the higher levels of competitive success.
Teaching equine relationship and communication skills assure successful outcomes with the interactions between horses and humans. These are the same skills that are required for successful relationships in all areas of human endeavor.
Franklin discusses the roles of Attitude, Confidence, Trust, Good Training, one's ability to 'Read' a horse, and other topics as they relate to successfull horsemanship.
Five or more ways you can bond with your new animal so he runs to greet you, rather than runs away from you.
Successful, efficient, yet gentle horse training has it’s own, special set of ‘rules of engagement.’ It is the engagement of the horse’s mind that I am referring to. Many humans do not realize how important it is to effectively engage the horse’s mind during training and how to do that. Actually effective horse training is all about engaging the horse’s mind.
What to know how to get your horse to love you? Read this!
(PDF) Chat Transcript, Nov. 15, 2006. STARFISH Celebrity Chats.
Horses don’t multi-task well. The way their minds are wired, they can only pay attention to one thing at a time. Fortunately or unfortunately, we humans seem to multi-task most all of the time...
During my years as a trainer I have found the horse will learn more effectively and efficiently when I allowed a very short rest immediately after a horse doing, or even trying to do, what I requested...
Personally, I don’t think punishment works. It didn’t on me when I was a child and I made an error in judgment. We all make mistakes, errors in judgment. But to make a judgment that a horse is ‘bad’ because of a specific, undesirable behavior is erroneous and a mistake.
Horses, being naturally social and inclined to appropriate interaction with whoever is with them, are a perfect manifestation of nature for children to interact with, become empowered by and have an experience that expands their world immensely.
“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” Relating this attitude is everything theory to training and communicating with horses produces immediate results of success or failure.
Confidence means having the knowledge that you know what to do in most all circumstances that will help the horse to trust and be confident it is safe. Developing this confidence is something that really does take place over time.
Franklin was interviewed via email by a student seeking information about becoming a horse trainer. Here are his responses...
A Natural Way to Improved Mental Health, Successful Relationships and Balance in One’s Life
Love is the great carrot and the great treat.
by Franklin Levinson and Lee Jampolsky, Ph.D.
NOW is the only time for horses. They do not live in the past or in the future. Their only concern is how things feel right now, in the present moment. In that present moment they either feel a sense of peace or feel fear and anxiety.
Franklin shares his thoughts on the early beginnings of his Training Through 'Trust' horse training methods.
Dorset Magazine, 2012. (PDF download)
This article describes what goes on at The New Horse facility in Dorset and my programs there. I have taught there before and loved it enough to have it become my UK base. The Bourchier family who own and operate this first rate facility are some of the best folks anywhere. The horsemanship is superior, the place is terrific and the people the best.
View the complete magazine in "flipbook" format here.
Central Horse Magazine, Sep 2011. Covers Franklin's 3-week fall trip to Englan where he offered classes and demonstrations on EFL and Life Enrichment.
BY Carol Sponagle, The State Journal-Register, Sept. 05, 2010
by Maggie Holley, Hartley Farm, (August 2010)
by Mary Sinanidis, Athens News Online Edition (Oct, 2009)
by Wes Johnson, former U.S. diplomat (May, 2009)
Written by the parent of a Colorado Immersion Program Participant (2008)
Debra Gehrke, April 2007
Debra Gehrke, April 2007
(New Zealand Horse Trek, 2007)
by Pat Martin. Reprinted with permission by The Fence Post
Eques Magazine, Dec '05 (Outside Link)
Interview by Anthi Stamatopoulou for Proto Thema (Greek Newspaper).
Published September 2005
Your Horse Magazine, UK Feb 2005
published in Greek National Horse Magazine, Jan 2005
by Christina Psaltaki, Horse Magazine,
Syros, Greece, May, 2004
by Thanos Kapsalis,
Public Opinion Newspaper, Syros, Greece, May 5, 2004
Lacome Globe, July, 2003
Travel & Leisure Magazine, March, 2002
Previously published in Honolulu Advertiser, September 24, 2000
Maui News, August 2001
Maui Concierge Magazine, March, 2001
Maui Island Weekly, August 8, 2000
Maui Island Weekly, March 1, 2000
by Annette Roller, November 1999
The Maui News, March 7, 1999