Occasionally, fate steps in at a most opportune time and that is how I met C. H. (CB) Mintzlaff. He was, for all intents and purposes, looking for someone else, but had been given our phone number on the off chance I might know how to contact them.
I will say that had I not just been sitting here, groveling in self-pity and uncertainty about my progress (or lack thereof) with a certain Arab stud I might have shrugged off my conversation with C. B.; however, during our brief conversation on the phone I had gathered that C. B. was a clinician of sorts and was trying to put his program together in a nice little package. I had asked for his E-Mail address and told him that I would be contacting him about his program. I suspect that he never thought he would hear from me again. If that’s true, he was wrong. I thought, “What the heck, you can’t know too much and maybe this guy isn’t just some weirdo, fly by night hypocrite.”
I was right. C. B. is a genius. I am admittedly a student of other clinicians/trainers, big name people, but I don’t adhere to any particular method necessarily. The methods we use are dependent upon the horse, its personality, and history. I invest a lot of time in getting to know a horse as an individual because I have always felt that it was my job to understand them before I expected them to understand me–and that’s where he really got me. He said, “It is your decision to work with him. That makes it your responsibility to understand him and be prepared for the proper response, not his. He will always be what he is, a horse. No more, no less.” Suddenly, I quit speed reading the materials he had sent me and went back to the beginning, really reading his words and really grasping the principles and that is when I chose…
I started over with LeStar using FT (Friendship Training) and things got much better in our relationship very quickly. The horse that had acted offended every time I went into his area now trotted up to the gate and was happy to see me. He followed me around when I asked him to. He understood “no” very clearly. I could calm him down with a single command. We had developed an understanding, an understanding that was very soon going to be put to the test. You see, I had not yet tried to put a halter back on LeStar, nor had he allowed anyone else but me into his area, and the vet was coming on July 2nd to geld him. Sounds challenging doesn’t it? Not at that point it wasn’t. LeStar was the calmest animal we vetted that day.
Friendship Training isn’t fast, easy, or “immediate”. It takes dedication, forethought, and time on your part. I think the difference in a persons willingness to do it this way is the difference between those who love to “ride horses” and those who truly “love horses”. It requires consistency, something MANY humans truly lack, as well as an astounding amount of focus. Its about respecting them as being glorious, embracing their spirit without trying to control it, and viewing them as being as individually unique as we are. It will make you both relate to and perceive your relationship with them in a whole new way.
Julie in Utah