Most helpful critical review
158 of 186 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2008
A friend of mine gave me this book. I was so excited as I have always raved to her about the magical bond between humans and horses. I have owned, trained, and loved horses for the last 30 years. Most of my experience predates the relatively newer "Natural Horsemanship" movement that has seized the horse community. There has always been a rash of bad trainers and bad horse people in the world who felt domination was more important than respect. I am NOT one of those people. I myself use and implement natural horsemanship techniques every single day. I have a very strong bond with all of my horses.
The book began on a good note; the key to a successful relationship is establishing a good strong bond. KUDOS! But then it went downhill with the author criticizing and dismissing nearly 90% of the equine owning world. Horses should be outside 24/7... they never need to wear shoes... they never need to be blanketed... etc... He spoke in terms of absolutes and certainty... that those things NEVER should be done to a horse. To do them is inhumane bordering on abusive.
I have owned many horses and performed in many different fields. I have shown, jumped, dressage, endurance trail, and pleasure. While your typical pleasure horse that is not being worked vigorously daily probably will never need shoes, or need to be stalled (I don't believe in stalling a horse 24 hours), or need a blanket; performance horses are a different story. Some of my performance horses do need shoes, and in winter they do in fact need to be blanketed to allow their body to regulate after a work out. Sometimes we even have to body clip them so that they can cool down without catching a chill or getting muscle cramps. Leg wraps are for their protection, not for my vanity.
After reading the book you may ask, "why would you subject your horse to such things... everything you are doing is against the horses natural evolution of 55 million years." Well 55 million years ago, horses did not have a relationship with man. If you take the authors argument to its logical conclusion, it is inhumane for man to ride or have a relationship with a horse. (I know some of you feel that way, but that is probably a topic for another day.) My point is that you can take the "what is natural" argument to far. It is not natural for a horse to have a human on its back, or a bit in its mouth, or a halter on its head. If we should never blanket, shoe, or stall our horses than what gives us the right to ride them in the first place? Surely carrying around 150 to 200 pounds of excess weight is much worse than the afore mentioned sins.
It is exciting to hear that someone has embraced their horse with such fervor in such a short period of time. But I think he goes wrong when he begins telling the entire horse world that everything they know and have been doing for the last millennium is wrong. Especially considering his entire horse experience has been derived from books, DVDs, and 18 months of horse ownership. It is insulting and it is not intended to further the human/horse bond. It is only meant to chastise horse owners who do not subscribe to his brand of horse ownership.
The book may be entertaining to someone who is a novice in the horse field, but for those of us who have been around horses our entire life it rings hollow. I feel pretty confident that if my horse was allowed to rejoin its herd, he would return to me as well.