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February 4, 2010

A look at a horse whisperer

Just like the scenes in those old western movies vividly portrayed, horse breaking  was always about a battle – man vs. horse.

Whooping, hollering and waving their hats from a position along the corral fence, cowboys watched as the cowboy in the corral attempted to jump atop a wild horse. Wild-eyed, panting and snorting, the horse bucked his way around the arena, trying to rid himself of the thing on his back. The cowboy, also snorting and wild-eyed, dug his spurs into horse hide, trying to exact pound of horse flesh in direct proportion to the horse’s energy, temperament and strength. A classic clash of wills.

In the movies, generally the cowboy won, riding off on a now complacent horse, ready for the day’s work. It didn’t always turn out that way in real life.  Sam Powell grew up breaking horses in a manner similar to those scenes. He also suffered numerous broken bones. More often than not, so did the horses he was ‘breaking’.  Along the way, he wondered if there could be a better alternative, a path to gentling a horse that didn’t involve breaking spirits, energies, and will.

"Helping my student grasp the concept of physical pressure."

Enter the ‘horse whisperer’. That’s what Mr. Powell calls himself.  He says he can gentle any horse brought into the arena. Any horse.  He’s proven it over the years, even with the wildest horses brought to him by skeptics and those who didn’t want him to succeed. But succeed he has and he’s written a book chronicling his life from horse breaker to horse whisperer.   He also shares his methods so that others can become horse whisperers too.

So, exactly what does a horse whisperer do? Why use this holistic approach to working with your horse?

To whisper means to speak softly. It’s subtle – you must listen closely in order to hear what is being said. It is the essence of the language of the horse. It’s what you must learn to really communicate in an effective manner, to become a horse whisperer.

In his book, Almost A Whisper, Sam Powell teaches you how.  You’ll learn to understand your horse, his needs, desires and feelings. You’ll learn to think the way a horse thinks and why he acts and reacts in certain ways. He’ll teach you how to present ideas to him in a manner he can understand.  According to Powell, on that knowledge, “rests the success or failure of nearly everything else you do with your horse.”

When you take the time to learn, to understand and to really communicate with the horse’s very different culture, you’ll earn his trust and respect and your horse will give 100% to please you.

And, as a horse whisperer, you will know, as Sam Powell does, that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Sam Powell loading a horse in the trailer.

In he goes while Sam sits on the fence.

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