5 Star Principles of Irwin Insights
- Ask not what your horse can do for you; ask what you can do for your horse
- We can’t control the horse. We control our responses to the horse
- Frame of Body = Frame of Mind
- Don’t pull the horse where to go, block where not to go
- Training Before Schooling
When we see a young child “cuddling” a kitten we are so often aware that the poor kitten isn’t feeling the love. Sometimes the kitten becomes frustrated and defends itself with a quick bite or scratch. The child drops the little feline and cries out “bad kitty”!
We know the kitten is not bad. We understand that the animal is not the problem at all. In the mind and heart of the child there was only pure innocence expressing love and affection. But, the simple truth is the body language of the child contradicted his or her true intention.
So now if we substitute child and kitten with horse and human we have a similar issue in a much bigger and more volatile context. Global estimates from the World Horse Welfare Organization suggest that as many as 400,000 “problem horses” are slaughtered annually due to undesirable behavior.
Then there are the horses who are not extreme problems but still live so visibly unhappy from man-made stress in their lives that they must express their anxieties by laying their ears flat back in anger, threatening to bite any who dare come near.
There are multitudes of “good horses” respectfully doing what they’re told. But these sad horses do so with braced backs, hollowed spines, with tails swishing in annoyance, many either avoiding or often leaning heavy against the legs and reins.
Of course, there are the “great horses” we see competing or performing circus tricks at shows with perfect obedience and super athleticism. But horses don’t lie. Look more closely and again we see their swishing tails whispering their annoyance. Tightly closed tails reveal their suspicions and fear. Wringing tails cry out in rage.
The child matures and learns how to handle kittens with more awareness for appropriate body language. Knowledge is power.
Irwin Insights are based upon Chris Irwin’s more then 35 years of competency-based success with a wide variety of breeds and horsemanship disciplines.
Chris leads his students through the horse industry’s deepest and most detailed process on how best to think horse, speak horse, and play horse games by horse rules. As students learn how to authentically earn respect, trust, focus and willingness from their horses, we see a new reality of body language emerge. Horses yawn and express their relief and appreciation for the change in the students approach. Level headed, calm and collected horses swing forward with curled tails, relaxed ears and soft eyes.