Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I am all about the phrase "Knowledge is Power!". I used it a lot when I was a librarian. I had a t-shirt with the slogan on the back. However, in my horse-life I've decided, Too Much Information, aka TMI, can be confusing and unproductive especially when it comes to figuring out what you want, or need, to do with your horse. Kind of sounds contradictory, I realize, but the past six years, I've been through tons of information and lately, I've decided I need to glean what is useful to me and my horses. Yeah, took me that long to figure it out for myself.

There comes a point where TMI can hurt your progress more than it helps. There comes a point when TMI leads to confusion. Most of the time this is in the areas of training techniques, clinicians and horse health, to name the most common concerns.

Back in 2004 I left a librarian/branch manager position at our local branch library. Too stressful. Imagine that! A library.Turned out I'm not a public oriented type. If you ever get a chance to talk to a librarian, I'm sure you'll hear similar stories. My son is working for a community college library. I have to laugh at his tales. They are similar to my experiences. Anyway, after I left that job, I decided I was going to take the time I had to make my dream come true, the one I'd had since I was a child, horses. My husband was all for it, our sons were grown, and we were in a position where one income would work for us. 

We prepared the property. Learned the best fencing to put in, built a run-in type shed area, and all the other amenities needed to make a couple of horses comfortable. I took riding lessons which led to a part time job at a summer camp helping with their riding program. There I was, a 45 year old woman working with teenagers, but it was probably one of the best summers I ever spent! I learned so much about horse behavior that year. I was happy to have the opportunity. After the summer, the stable needed another assistant so I stayed on. It was a hands-on opportunity to learn more about horses and riding. 

That fall I bought my two horses, brought them home and worried I wasn't doing things right for about the next 5 years. I watched clinicians. Ordered books. Watched videos. Observed one clinician (on RFDtv or video) I really liked for a couple of months then switched to another which ended up being a pattern. Finally, about a year ago I had an epiphany. I needed to find what exactly worked for me and stick to it. Not necessarily one clinician although that's a help if you can be particularly loyal, but your own consistent techniques. Since I decided I wasn't doing a cookie cutter type of training I've been more relaxed and my horses are responding in kind.

What am I getting at here? Well, you need to have all the knowledge you can acquire to pursue any goal in life. But in the getting there, don't get caught up in the right or wrong of who or what. Some people will flourish following the exact techniques of a clinician. Others will find that too restricted and will discover their own talents in following their horse's particular character and talents. We are in an age where we are extremely fortunate to have tons of information available to us. Don't allow TMI to cloud your goals. Knowledge is POWER but TMI can overwhelm.

Enjoy the journey!


Linda said...

Oh my goodness, I KNOW how you feel, and if you're reading my blog at all, I'm probably giving you more TMI. I'm kind of on a different trajectory than you right now, but for the last four years or so I shunned almost all book knowledge, trainers and clinics. I think I just knew I needed to go out and live with my horses a little. After so long doing that, I have all these ideas and I'm wanting to read again and go to clinics. But I don't want to get too hooked into it. I love my horse freedom.

Leslie said...

Linda, I have been reading your blog. No, I didn't feel it was TMI. The funny thing was, I had decided to do my post, stopped in at yours and saw the one on Natural Horsemanship. I thought, hmmm, the Universe is connected in many ways!

I feel much the same way you do. It's wonderful we have so much information at our fingertips.I'm not fortunate enough to live in an area where there are trainers on every corner,they seem to hide if they're out there, so I've had to use as much of the outside info as I could find.I finally figured out I was just confusing myself by not listening to my own instincts about what was right for all of us.

I believe some people have a natural connection with horses and animals, some people have to learn or at least try to learn. I know myself, I understand my horses' behaviors because I believe it's just a part of me.My husband on the other hand, is not that natural around them but he's working on it.

I agree,if more people would spend time just observing how their horses behave, they'd learn much more about them.

I look at it like any other talent or instinct we have..My mom is great with numbers, I'm not, never have been although I tried. My husband can build, fix, repair just about anything...I sure don't have the knack for that no matter how hard I try! If I take something apart, it's going to stay that way. I think it's the same way when working with horses. Some of us just understand them better than others do.

Gosh, I'm not saying I'm some kind of horse whisperer...hahaha...far from it, but I do understand horse behavior and dynamics. Some I did learn through media, but most came to me as though it was always there and the experiences I had at the stable where I worked helped a great deal.

My two guys are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Bo is a laid back lazy type who's main motivation is food most days. Spirit is a sensitive one, but always wants to please me. Neither have very many vices and I feel so lucky that way.

I think one clinic a year...I've mentioned to Hubby that Equine Affaire is in April so we might head up to Columbus, OH. We'll see.

Linda said...

You're right, I think we all have our different gifts, and people who want to be with horses usually have the gift. My husband has told me his love of horses is basically all about his love for me--so, his connectedness to them is not the same.

Anyway, I think you're right on--just listening to yourself and your own instincts and enjoying the relationship with your sweet horses.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Great post. There is way too much information out there to choose from and in my opinion most of it is wrong. I'm not big on clinicians I think they're all about doing one thing their way right or wrong and making money on unsuspecting riders who are tentative in their riding and managing skills.

I feel that experience is the best teacher and common sense plays a big roll in dealing with our horses. The only clinician I actually liked what I've read and seen about him is Mark Rashid. I think his books are good because their really about figuring out what's best for your horse and working things out.

Of course there are some very good videos I've liked but they are mostly dressage and hunter jumper methods and I don't know if that's what sort of riding you do.

Leslie said...

Linda, that's pretty much my husband's association with horses, through me. He's more of a motorcycle kind of guy but since I share that with him, he's been wonderful about my horses and all the work he's had to do because of them.

GHM-Dressage is a wonderful discipline for horse and rider, but no, I'm just a plain old trail horse type.Right on about the experience and common sense!

When I worked at the riding stable, we had a staff assistant who was fearful of most of the horses when she worked with them the ground, yet she wasn't fearful of riding. She was actually quite an accomplished rider with show credentials.I had trouble wrapping my head around that.I don't have problems with horses on the ground, but I do have a lack of confidence in my riding ability sometimes. I tend to over-think my riding.I'm working on that!