Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mark Rashid

It was research for a book that first led me to investigate horse whispering. As you might expect, I started with the books by Monty Roberts. Then Amazon’s recommendation system told me that people who read Monty Roberts also enjoyed books by Mark Rashid. So I bought Horses Never Lie - the Heart of Passive Leadership and after a few pages, I was completely hooked. For Mark Rashid is not just a brilliant horse trainer – he's also an excellent writer.

His books aren’t guides on how to train your horse. He doesn't try to get you to use a specific Mark Rashid method or to buy special Mark Rashid equipment. Instead, he tells stories about his experiences with horses and shares the way he learned to work with them, including many of the mistakes he made. In the process, he teaches you how horses think and how important it is to be adaptable to what an individual horse needs.

Horses Never Lie turned me into a fan so I swiftly read every other book  by him I could find. Then, just as I wondering what to do next,  I made a discovery so perfectly timed that it made me wonder if I was actually treading a path already laid out for me. This Colorado cowboy who normally works half a world away from me was about to give a weekend clinic at a yard not far from where I live.

I’ve never booked anything quite as quickly, and I’m so glad I did. Watching Mark Rashid in action was even better than reading his books. He’s quiet spoken, modest and absolutely focused on doing what’s right for each individual horse. He taught us the importance of softness, both in the horse and in ourselves. He demonstrated how tenseness in the rider can change the way a horse moves and he showed us how to ask a horse to canter just by changing the rhythm in our heads and breathing out.

I came home with a different approach my favourite animal. I even brought a not-quite-perfect horse to practise on. (see my previous post.) And I still reread Mark Rashid's books from time to time just for fun. They’re well worth a try if you enjoy anecdotal horse stories with a touch of humour and you want to learn more about the way horses think.

1 comment:

  1. I read a couple of his books after reading yours, and thought they were very good. Generally my 'go-to' for NH is Buck Brannaman, as I really like his approach and he doesn't sell gadgets either. Just like with people, there is no 'one-size-fits-all' training method that suits every single horse - other than patience and common sense! But I read something in one of Mark's books that I have shared with several people, which is the idea that horse and rider as a combination should equal a level 10 in energy levels. So if the rider is at a 5, the horse should be at a 5. If the horse is at a 2 (low energy) the rider needs to move up to an 8 - and if the horse is at an 8, the rider needs to drop back to a 2. Definitely a helpful analogy and one I've explained to several people lately, who have all benefited from it.