There’s a quiet shift in horse circles. More and more people are asking for scientific proof to support what works – from supplements to bit use to conditioning – good science is helping supply answers to our questions.
Just like radar and computer models have helped us predict weather, equine research will enable best horse practices.
It’s a wonderful advancement. The entire horse world is slowly learning that (among other things):
• relaxed horses perform best.
• brute force does more harm than good.
• stalling a horse is unhealthy.
Fifty years from now, our kids and grandkids will likely laugh at our primitive ways.
Our present horse care and training, steeped in tradition and largely unverified by science, will seem a bit like how folks consulted the Farmers’ Almanac for the weather for the upcoming season.
The silver lining?
Some old fashioned methods will pass the test:
“Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight?”
Information on the Internet is like that table of magazine in the doctor’s waiting room. Most of us thumb through entertainment rags and look at pictures. That’s the stuff on top.
The stuff on top, regardless of its real worth, stays on top. Medical journals, which might have the content to enlighten us, remain buried and unread.
In today’s culture, we reward flash. Sound bites and first impressions draw the most clicks. And clicks beget more clicks. It doesn’t pay to be quiet.
But research shows that quiet people often have the best ideas. In the horse world, especially, I think those least interested in flash can be the most worthy of attention.
Where would Tom Dorrance have ended up on the proverbial Waiting Room table?
Would you have dug deep to find him?
How we further our horsemanship will be decided, in part, by how well we dig through the Waiting Room selection and whether we have the tools to understand the more serious material. We can learn a lot to from the quiet folks.
As it debuts, BestHorsePractices will not show up as anyone’s top search result. And that’s ok. Because again, research shows the most powerful ideas and the most relevant materials aren’t always on the surface. You have to dig for them.
Welcome to BestHorsePractices.
Thanks to the work of two talented women, BestHorsePractices is no longer just domain name that I bought last year.
All my scribbles, scattered files, and multicolored posterboard diagrams have become a real live website.
I owe a huge public thanks to web designer, Suze Fisher and graphic artist, Jen Cigno. I’ve known them since developing NickerNews years ago when we all lived in Maine.
Four years later, I’m in Iowa and Cigno has moved to Hawaii. Thankfully, distance doesn’t matter in our business.
When developing BHP, I knew how important aesthetics and functionality would be for the new site.
I also knew I’m pretty bad at that stuff.
I offered them a jumping-off point:
- To connect BHP with NickerNews through design.
- Use NickerNews’ two horses heads as a symbol of dialogue.
- We stumbled on the idea of flipping one horse head, to make a yin-yang type design.
Common sense and science will indeed form the yin-yang elements of all BestHorsePractice reviews.
Fisher and Cigno refined the look and altered the font to match the more serious tone of BHP. We selected earthy, close-to-nature colors to reflect the site’s overall message.
It was a thoughtful, fast-moving, fun collaboration.
Thanks, ladies. You’re the best.
We all like affirmation.
It’s that virtual pat on the back.
It’s that positive feeling you get when you find an outside source to confirm your beliefs. It’s especially rewarding when it comes amidst the pressure of opposing views.
In horse terms, it’s a lip-licking moment.
One thing you’ll find here at BestHorsePractices is the premise that horses do best in a natural setting. That means they have herd mates and freedom to move, for starters. We run into problems when we embrace domestication too tightly.
This “Nature Knows Best” tenant has been affirmed by equine research, lots of personal observations, and recent work with the manuscript of “Evidence-Based Horsemanship,” the book by Dr. Steve Peters and Martin Black.
The other day, though, I found affirmation in the oddest place, halfway through James Galvin’s book, “The Meadow.”
It was with clear albeit inebriated conviction that Ray uttered:
“…if you imagine the natural world without the human race, you are thinking of something perfect, perfectly balanced, that just keeps going. Only thing as messes it up is the people. Especially when they try to manage things. The more of ‘em there are the worster it gets…”
Thanks, Mr. Galvin, for that lip-licking moment.