By: Joe Camp
Have you ever wondered what kind of person could begin writing a book like The Soul of a Horse less than a year-and-a-half after acquiring his very first one? I have. There were times when I thought I was crazy. How could all of the discoveries we were making be true? Surely someone would have been talking about them before now. “Keep writing,” Kathleen said. And I, the dutiful husband, did. And I’m so glad I did.
Now I’m asking everyday: what’s in it for the horse? With lifestyle? With training? With diet? With feet? With relationship? What’s in it for the horse? Not what’s in it for me? Until these questions are answered there’s no way to even imagine how good things can be.
Clinician Ray Hunt always opened every clinic or symposium the same way. “I’m here for the horse,” he would say. “To help him get a better deal.” He and his mentor, Tom Dorrance, were the first to promote looking at a relationship with the horse from the horse’s perspective. Their question was never What’s in it for me? But rather, What’s in it for the horse?
During our relatively short journey with horses we began to understand early on that What’s in it for the horse? should be the only question. And not just related to training, but to Lifestyle, Diet, Feet, the concept of Liberty, as well as Relationship. And that only by understanding all of these from the horse’s perspective could we begin to approach that illusory state of mind referred to as Horsemanship. We were discovering that our way to horsemanship could never be about how well we ride, or how many trophies we win, or how fast our horse runs, or how high he or she jumps.
For almost fifteen years now we have spent our days and nights attempting to discover the mysteries of the horse and have found it to be a never-ending journey. But the rewards are an elixir. The soul prospers from sharing, caring, relating, and fulfilling. Nothing can make you feel better than doing something good for another being. Not cars. Not houses. Not facelifts. Not blue ribbons or trophies. And there is nothing more important in life than love. Not money. Not status. Not winning.
Try it and you will understand what I mean. Apply it to your horses, and your life. It is the synthesis of The Soul of a Horse – Life Lessons from the Herd and why it came into being.
See the world from the horses’ side of the fence. Give them the choice of choice. Care enough to want them to be healthy and happy. It will come back a hundredfold.
There are many who teach relationship, riding, and training with principles of natural horsemanship. Others support the benefits of going barefoot with the wild horse trim. Still others write that your horse should eat from the ground, and live without clothes and coverings. Some promote day and night turnout, where your horses can move around continuously. But few have explored how dramatically one without the other can affect the horse and his well being. Few have put it all together into a single philosophy, a unified voice, a complete lifestyle for the domesticated horse. When I gave my Cash the choice of choice and he chose me, he left me with no alternative. No longer could it be what I wanted, but rather what he needed. What fifty-two million years of genetics demanded for his long, healthy, and happy life.
I’m still astonished when I think where Kathleen and I began such a short time ago, and the impact our discoveries have had on so many. But there are still too many training with dominance and cruelty, cooping up their horses in small spaces, weakening their natural immune systems, feeding them unnaturally, creating unhealthy hooves and bodies. All because most folks actually believe it’s the right thing to do.
Yes, I suppose there are some who still only want a beast of burden. Do as I say. Make me a winner. Jump higher. Run faster. Slide farther. And do it wearing metal shoes nailed to your feet and a steel bit in your mouth. People who care not about having a relationship with their horse, and who will, when confronted, continue to care not about the health and happiness of their horse. But I believe that most horse owners today care about their horses and are operating, as we once were, with little more than emotional logic, old wives’ tales, and very little real knowledge.
I allowed my very first horse to choose me. To tell me that he trusted me to be his leader. Not the other way around. It was his choice. And when it happened everything changed. I promised him that day that he would have the best life I could possibly give him. No stone would be left unturned because I now cared deeply about this horse and I would be asking everywhere how do I make his life better. Not how do I make my life better. My life would get better when his did.
And I thank God for Omega Fields because they became a huge factor in Cash’s life getting better, along with all seven of our other horses. We train with treats so we use a lot of them. And with Omega Fields’ Low-Starch-Low-Sugar treats we never feel guilty because these treats are actually good for our horses. And Omega Fields’ Horseshine makes our horses shine not just on the outside but on the inside as well. And on and on because these people really care about our horses.
I hope our books and efforts will be a crack in the armor, a small breeze if not the strong winds of change, a resource for what needs to be done.
And a longer, happier, healthier life for all horses.