I have seen horse whispering demonstrations where I do not know if there was truly a change in the horse or not. Many exhibitors feel that if they show that they can get on a horse’s back within an hour or so, they take credit for having gentled the horse. The fact is that a person can get on most unbroken horses nowadays without the horse bucking them off (in the short run, at least).

Horse whispering essentially shows good teaching. It clearly shows that a problem situation with a horse has been corrected in a reasonably short time. Just like true religion, there are no hidden secrets or agenda, only truth and light.

The record of Alexander the Great is a good example here. His famous horse, Bucephalus, was considered crazy and unmanageable by his father and the other men in the military. The 14-year-old Alexander asked if he could try the horse, and he succeeded where the others failed. When asked why he was able to succeed, he explained that he noticed that the horse was afraid of the men’s shadows. So when he started working with the horse he faced him toward the sun, step-by-step getting him more used to his shadow. This was not something that was hidden from others, but rather easily observable to anyone who was truly searching.

Mike Daniels

Mike Daniels

Most problems with horses today stem from people who have measured their success by whether a horse would let them on its back or not. For one thing, there is such a wide range of “horsenalities,” and many of them may or may not let us on their back in the beginning. But the most important considerations to measure are:

  1. How comfortable is the horse standing, or moving beside a human on the ground?
  2. How bothered is the horse while introducing different objects and movements on the ground?
  3. How well does the horse give to pressure, as well as rhythmic pressure?

These are the things that will help determine how safe a horse will be while we are on its back, and how reliable it will be in a partnership. If we test a horse in a certain area and it accepts it fairly well, then we acknowledge that it was not a problem. But if we find a problem, then it is up to us as a trainer to break it down into smaller chunks, so the horse can successfully overcome it. The speed with which we solve the problem is dependent on how many steps we can introduce, and also the patience to give a horse time to think. We will speed things up at times to purposely test emotions so we can find any potential problems here also.

In a comparison to faith, many times people complain about religion because they feel that the wool has been pulled over our eyes and we have been conned much like the scam artists that steal people’s life savings. If we observe peoples lives and see that there has indeed been a good change, then clearly something real and not phony has happened. The thing that impresses me the most about Jesus Christ’s gospel is that there is nothing hidden for us to find out later (in a more uppity stage). The Apostle Paul constantly reminds us in his epistles that there is no “secret” information to be revealed at a later date by a more “enlightened” person. The testing of the Bible through people’s lives over thousands of years have proved this to be true to people who have truly objectively researched the evidence.

Horse training like the gospel is in the testing business. We are constantly testing our horse in order to shed truth and light on them, just as we should never assume anything is true in any other part of life either. The test of time has proved the gospel solid, but we all can be tested to show where we need to improve, and this is the most important thing we can do for our horse also. There is nothing “magical” or “ elitist” here. In fact when we start thinking that way, we will probably skip something obvious with our nose in the air.  The sensitivity of striving to leave no rock unturned with the intent of shedding truth and light on our attitudes, as well as our horses’ attitudes is a narrow road that we can easily miss through our natural tendency to take for granted the things that are right in front of our very eyes. True horse whispering is not magical, but like the gospel, it is the humility of recognizing that we might not see the obvious right away, so as in Alexander’s case, it took a 14-year-old boy to point it out to the “elite” others.  But the most important point to make is that there should indeed be an observable change in a horse.

Of course, ultimately the same should be true for us as well.

Mike Daniels is a horsemanship trainer and barefoot trimming specialist from Raymondville. Email: rlhorse58@yahoo.com.