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.