I wish people would subscribe more to theory, more to what is said, and less to who says it. I wish people would believe in a technique or approach, not because so-and-so said so, but because it's the right thing. I wish people would condemn improper training methods because they're wrong, instead of saying it's okay because the trainer's really great. I wish people would learn to accept that people are not infallible, and sometimes, things are just not what they seem.
Stick with me on this post, because this is an actual, thoughtful, important one. I think there is a journey we must all must take as horsemen. It's a journey riddled with highs, lows, cock ups and triumphs. It's a road where we try different things, branch out into new territory, and learn what works best for us and our particular horse. It's where you learn to sort the garbage out from the truth, where you learn to appreciate both the nature of the horse and our nature as humans, and find a way to make them work together.
I'll leave the details out, but suffice it to say I've seen some recent evidence of a BNIT (big name internet trainer) doing some rather unnecessary things to a horse in his charge. It was not necessarily abusive, but it went well beyond what he preaches to his students. It was simply not appropriate, not useful in ANY sphere that I am aware of, and just flat out looks bad. The horse was being forced into doing something, looked very uncomfortable and pissed off, and wasn't being slowly eased into the work per this trainer's philosophy. It was unfortunate to see, and there were several videos of this demonstration of force. And yet, people defended it.
When someone is introduced to a new concept which works, they often get blinded by how amazing it is, and those that introduced it to them can often be put up on a pedestal. They're untouchable. They're a "genius." No matter what they do, even if they go completely against all the great training theory they've introduced and the horse is upside down, gnashing its teeth and looking very uncomfortable, it's acceptable to the pupils because the horse eventually gives up and submits to what is being asked. I call bullshit.
The idea of forcing things goes against everything this BNIT has said in his popular website and videos. The idea of forcing a horse to where it gives up is reprehensible. But the close followers who are still in the "They can do no wrong!" stage don't see an issue with it. I've never seen someone preach correct training so fiercely, and go against it so blatantly as this BNIT in those videos I saw. It's just unnecessary. Completely, utterly unnecessary. If the horse won't relax right away, then you give him time to warm up. Get him on the lunge and let him work it out without someone on his back. Set the horse up for success. Don't get on, do the Yank 'N Crank and make an example out of that animal. That is NOT training. That's bullying, the very thing this BNIT speaks out against in a popular video series.
Bottom line, my fellow horsemen and wanna be horsemen: trust in techniques, trust in theory, do not trust in people. People screw up. People make mistakes. People get egos. People do not belong on pedestals. I wish the up and coming horsemen reading this learn that you have to decide for yourself what you will and will not subscribe to in terms of training methods. You have to find your own path on this journey of horsemanship. Just because a favorite trainer does something, that alone does not make it right by the horse. The ends never justify the means. Take those theories, those techniques, and use the parts of them that best suit you and your horse. Learn that your riding and your training will never fully resemble anyone else. Take the best from the people you learn from and keep those lessons in the front of your mind. Take the worst from those people, and keep those in the back of your mind of what NOT to do...
And before you ask, YES, I have use techniques on horses that I no longer use today. I've used gadgets like draw reins, German Martingales, ridden front to back, and jumped an unnecessary amount as a ribbon hungry teenager. I chased points when I was younger. I am not perfect, but I've learned from my mistakes, and I have evolved.
I will be stepping away from this particular trainer, as clearly we do not agree on the "Do as I say, not as I do" approach. To me, a truly great trainer practices what he or she preaches, always. There are ways to accomplish the end result without unnecessary force or harshness. It requires patience and tact. He took a shortcut instead, and I do not agree with that, and I will sure as hell not sit here and defend it. The overall techniques and approaches he preaches are true; but they are not his, and he clearly does not live by his own rules. I will not endorse someone who operates like that.
So it's time for me to head back out on my own again, taking the best of what I've learned and leaving the rest as a valuable lesson.