Q. Why are no ‘aids’ allowed?
A. Simply put, because they are not needed. The alternative paradigm offered here goes far and beyond ‘animal training formats’ to establish an intimate relationship most horse owners dream of, but rarely ever attain with their horse. Thus it has no need for the commonly accepted ‘tools of the trade.’
Q. Why no round pen?
A. Because ’round pen work’ and the use of restriction to ‘train’ a horse hasn’t been working too well for the last six thousand years. If it did, we would not see an ever-growing number of behavioral ‘bad horse problems’ filling Internet group lists and equine magazines.
Q. What is the alternative?
A. The alternative is fairly logical. We teach the horse all the basic cue/requests he will need to know for ground and later mounted interaction in a restriction-free open area. For in all truth, ‘the mounted relationship can never be better, more trusting, more inter-reliant and more intimate than the relationship you share with your horse on the ground.’
In a natural setting, in the Horse’s home environment, the Horse is born to the freedom of open spaces and the opportunity to choose when and where he goes. His survival, his entire life is dependent upon his ability to not only choose where to eat and who to share his life with, but also the ability to instantly flee from a predator attack in a microseconds notice. If he becomes trapped in a small box canyon, entangled in heavy vines and brush or stuck in mud/mire it is, (if not an automatic death sentence) at the least an extremely apprehensive and fearful situation for him to experience and comparable to the ‘condemned prisoner waiting for the hangman’ syndrome. Thus freedom of movement is not just some insignificant spatial convenience, it is the very survival and essence of his entire being.
Given our goal is establishing an intimate, bonded interspecies friendship/partnership, our initial priority would be to prevent any possible apprehension, mistrust or alarm/hyper-arousal by first eliminating the fear of restriction. To do that, we would initially form our relationship in an open, unrestricted area on what the Horse felt was ‘even ground.’
The simple logic being that it is difficult to accept someone as a very special friend if he ties your arms and legs, then holds a gun to your head (or a knife to your throat) and threatens to whip you while ordering you to be his friend (and then later brings you delicious pies and cakes). Thus ’round pens,’ lunge lines or any other form of restriction in the initial phase of the relational association would not only be useless, but to say the very least, extremely counterproductive.