Workshops with Equi-libre Horses

Posted in: Classical Equitation, Clicker Training

“You can always tell when a trainer is coming from method instead of principle.” 

Tim Sullivan, curator of behavioural husbandry at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.

The above quote is from a blog article by Karen Pryor It’s Not What You Do. It’s How You Do It

Do have a read of Karen’s blog post, it is so very true! We can all learn by following a ‘method’, but it is always a little dangerous. Ideally, we need to truly understand the principles, the real science, the ‘why’s’ behind what we are doing.

To become truly skilled at something, we also need the practical understanding of what we are doing. 

Equi-libre’s workshops allow us to take a much deeper look at both the principles AND the practical elements of training our horses.

One of our clients wrote up a workshop she attended after the event, which she has kindly allowed us to publish – thank you Philippa.


Rope Handling Workshop Write Up

by Philippa Gort-Barton

“Before the Equi-libre Horses rope handling workshop, I’d never have realised how a successful  workshop didn’t have to involve horses! It’s now several weeks later, and I still feel like it was yesterday! It was a wonderful day, for sure, but there was something particularly special about it. Yes, it enabled me to see things differently, and it marked a definite moment in time when I gained new awareness. I always enjoy clicker training get-togethers, but often there’s so much to take in that I get home and it’s all a whirl in my mind. This one was different. And it had a different format, which helped things sink in…

We were a small group, and we had a good few hours together. We were all there for the same shared reason and were at similar levels in our training and understanding, so we understood each other’s fears and successes without need for clarification. We were horse-free – which might sound crazy for a horse related clinic, but boy was it liberating! No need to permanently have an ear on your horse, OR feel like ‘only a spectator’. It was all about just us as people – and the solidarity and freedom that gave us was brilliant. We were all actively involved, and could learn the physical feel of something, without having to go through the potential trauma and expense of travelling our horses.

As a result of being there without our steeds, we were in a non-muddy, comfortable environment. We were warm, had lovely facilities in beautiful surroundings, and the venue allowed us to find the balance and tranquillity needed to explore the Tai Chi physical explorations deep at the roots of the rope handling work. This in turn truly fostered our learning.

The  workshop started with introductions and constructive chat, followed by watching Alexandra Kurland’s Rope Handling DVD. At salient moments, this was paused and we were able to talk about our thoughts so far. Somehow these moments seemed to be timed perfectly with when we all bursting to speak!  The group’s needs were well read as well as listened to and supported perfectly. It’s a complex subject and there was such a lot to take in. Feeling the freedom to ask questions did wonders for learning and self-empowerment. Equally though, it wasn’t just a free for all – the balance between structure and self-expression was managed masterfully. This structure was essential and really made us feel fully supported. And as a result of this, we could process things as we went along, which I found helped me avoid having a spinning brain once I got home and the dust had settled. This also meant I was easily able to process this learning and knowledge and take it back to my horse with wonderful results.

After lunch we took the discussions and verbal explorations onwards and played with ‘human horses’. This took it to a much deeper level of intellectual understanding which I personally had not experienced before. Since we were a small group, we were able to experience and take joy in each other’s realisations and mutually support one another through areas that we found challenging.

Everything about the planning, structure and flow of the day seemed natural and conducive. I learnt so, so much, and feel privileged to have spent that special time with those that were there. Thank you Equi-libre Horses, I can’t wait for the next one!”

Our ‘horse-less’ workshops have been so well received that we will continue to hold them through 2012. For more information, please contact us