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A Meeting of Minds

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Having witnessed the huge changes in the equine world over the past 15yrs, it’s increasing openness to different methods of horsemanship, and a better understanding of our horses needs, natural behaviours etc. I have also observed increasing confusion, seemingly conflicting advice, and at times judgemental opinions made by many owners and professionals alike, creating an almost evangelical approach in some, and utter confusion and disappointment in others.

Photograph by Carolyn J Seager
Photograph by Carolyn J Seager

During this time there has been an explosion of horse behaviour specialists, confidence coaches, natural horsemanship instructors, training systems and professionals throughout the world, giving people access to an exciting range of help with understanding, managing and training their equine friend(s). Yet at the same time there is no easy way to know which approach is going to suit you and your horse’s individual needs…

I was fortunate to be introduced to horses and riding at the age of 5yrs and as many may relate, so started a love affair that took me on a life changing journey. This journey of discovery, about myself and what these wonderful animals can teach us, became my personal ‘Spiral of learning’. In the early days it was tough learning, with a traditional approach and little consideration for the horses, I spent a lot of time gaining some impressive bruises and learning lessons the hard way!!

With access to the Pony Club I worked through the exams increasing my knowledge where I could and as I became more proficient I was often asked to ride some of the more difficult or ‘problem’ ponies with varied results. As a teenager I started to ‘listen’ to the horses and understand their needs more. Using my intuition I adapted my approach for each horse and was soon successfully rehabilitating horses.

During this time I also had access to learning from some of the better known trainers like Jane Holderness-Roddam, Pat Burgess, Lars Sederholm and Lucinda Green where I learnt invaluable lessons that I still rely on today to develop good partnerships…

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My journey then took a different turn and when I met Monty Roberts in 1996 I became inspired to study the language of the horse and learn what I could about equine behaviour. During this time I began to study and work with other ‘horsemanship’ trainers, including John Lyons, Michael Peace, Richard Maxwell, Kelly Marks, and many more. I went on to become an Instructor in Monty’s methods, from 2000 – 2004, helping Monty and his team set up the International Learning Centre in the USA and the training programs that now run worldwide. It was around this time that I really started to open my eyes and learn from the horses themselves, accelerating my understanding and building on my previous knowledge and skills. This is when my true path and journey to ‘Understanding Equus’ really began…

momcNow, with over 20yrs experience as a professional horse trainer, I continue to remain open to learning and listening to my horses. By 2004, with many success stories under my belt, it was easy to become complacent and confident that I had all the tools I needed… BUT as is the way of horses, I was soon to be reminded that no one way is the only way!!

Since then, I have developed my skills as a ‘horsemanship coach’, recognising that each individual horse/human partnership is unique and therefore responds to a different approach… Having first hand experience of the importance of a holistic and multi faceted approach to managing our equine relationships, I continue to strive to learn and share knowledge, working with other equine professionals to increase my levels of understanding and my ability to help each new partnership. Sowing the seeds for the Understanding Equus ‘Meeting of Minds’ program…

Carolyn Bourchier
Carolyn Bourchier

My passion and dream has been to get professionals with different approaches to work together in a non judgemental manner, coming together to share knowledge and skills for the good of the horses. All working together to identify the keys to optimising our relationships, whilst enabling people to get a taste of what help is available and to openly question different techniques and methods, to find what works for them and their unique partners. So finally, in association with my friend and colleague, Carolyn Bourchier, who has trained with a variety of other professionals including Franklin Levinson, Carolyn Resnick, Farah DeJohnette and Rupert Issacson, we started the Understanding Equus ‘Meeting of Minds’ program.

Wanting to share our experiences, review our learning and openly question our own techniques we started to explore the real foundations of good horsemanship.

Debbie Reilly, Franklin Levinson & Pat Burgess - © Carolyn J SeagerSo if you have an open mind, I’d love to meet you. Whether you’re a horse owner or horse lover, a trainer, coach or any other equine professional, let’s come together to share knowledge and skills, helping us all to optimise our relationships with horses and one other.

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