A Note from Sherry's Desk
"Think Like A Horse"
Michele and Sherry smiling with joy on the beach.
As the leaves begin to turn during my favorite time of the year I am reflecting back over a very exciting year. The beginning of Sept we celebrated our first year anniversary with the new bunkhouse. It has become a very popular horse lovers destination. It is one of the best investments I have made in my business thus far, besides going to clinics like Buck Branamen for my continuing education.
Speaking of investments one of the best ones you can make for your horse is when you begin thinking more like a horse. Greg a horseman that I highly respect recently wrote on my chat group about this very topic.
He said, "In anything you do with horses, always try to understand WHY are they doing what they are doing. Until you have a darned good idea behind the why, you need to proceed slowly and cautiously. Horses tend to be pretty honest with us, most often when we have difficulties with them it is the result of our failure to read exactly what they are telling us. That's why horses are so much easier to deal with than people. People lie to us, horses don't. Depending on who you are, you expect people to lie to you. It's hard to get out of that mindset when you are with your horse. I've done things with thousands of horses for more years than I'll admit and none of them have ever lied to me.
There's an old saying something to the effect that you can learn more by listening than talking. The really good trainers are really good because they are good listeners, to their horses. Stop thinking like a human and start thinking more like a horse."
It concerns me when people show a blatant disregard for how a horse thinks. It is a fact that the horse is a living animal with feelings, nerves, and thoughts which are usually much different than ours. How is it that we lose sight of the fact that the horse is trying his hardest to understand us, do what we ask and to serve our needs? But yet we are so quick to blame the horse or say the horse has a problem, when the truth is the horse may have a people problem. I have seen this over and over again throughout my career and it is always saddens me. I know that in many instances, the people started out with a love and passion for horses but somewhere along the way lost sight of the fact that a horse is a living, breathing animal that has his own way of thinking and that it is our responsibility to learn to think like the horse and communicate clearly to him in his language. Trying to talk your horse into doing something with your voice is just rather ridiculous. He learns through conditioned responses, and as much as you want him to you won't be able to give a verbal cue that will help him frame up and collect, it must be done with the feel of a good rider with an independent seat and hands that can support.
We can learn so many great things from horses which include: responsibility, accountability, patience, thinking, common horse sense, problem solving, good husbandry, and respect for animals and property. These are small prices to pay for the privilege of working with horses. I hope to instill these values in the youth, students and protégés that I have the opportunity to influence.
Joan riding a dune on the Calamus Beach
As I look toward 2012 I am renewing my commitment to encourage people to think things through from the horse’s perspective and to increase their awareness of the horse’s point of view. Once you can start to think like a horse then you must also have good skills of feel and timing that are so vital to communicating effectively with the horse. Thinking like a horse may be easier for some people than the actual physical coordination it takes to work well with a horse. It takes mental, emotional and physical fitness to be a great horseman. It will take thinking and hard work to put it all together. However, I know you can do it, if you really want it bad enough.
A true HORSEMEN understands there is no ONE training technique that is going to be appropriate for ALL situations under ALL circumstances.
There are so many different ways to train a horse.
None of them are going to be RIGHT for ALL situations.
The person who believes otherwise, hasn't trained very many horses.
Which is why my next book may be titled "IT DEPENDS!"
Horsemen who possess a WIDE RANGE of knowledge are the ones who can train a horse to do just about anything. In order to start thinking like a horse you must keep an open mind and be willing to let your prejudices go.
Then work your tail off, cause it is going to take some consistent effort to become a true horseman. And I don't preach anything I haven't been through myself or may even still be going through.
By Michele Tetreault-Mertes
My husband Doug and I have come to the conclusion that Sherry's Horse Lover's Bunkhouse is a slice of heaven on earth! We spent our anniversary celebration
there this past weekend and it ROCKED!
The bunkhouse was very comfortable and homey. It made me feel like I was at a family residence. The first night we slept with the windows open and I could hear my horse Shelby neigh. I board my horse and I have never had the opportunity to lay in bed and listen to her as I drift off to sleep. I was awoken by coyotes in the night and it was cool to listen to them as well.
But, the best part was the riding and the experience it brought. We saw so much wildlife: mule deer and whitetail, turkeys, sand turtles, a jackrabbit, sandhill cranes, pelicans, and huge turkey buzzards. Doug was wishing for his Ruger or bow & arrow!
There were so many rolling hills and they went on and on. It was so open out on the prairies and the sky looked like a huge globe, blue and dotted with puffy clouds. The weather was exceptional.
Then we had challenges interjected into the riding, or at least I did. We came upon the Bermuda triangle for my horse Shelby: windmill, water crossing, and SCARY cows! Shelby reared quite a bit but Sherry was right there with me, instructing me to one rein stop and disengage the hind end, which I did successfully. We got through the water AND helped Shelby's mind to not blow from the cows. At one point, we moved a cow-the cow ran away quite quickly and Shelby's eyes were glued to her. Sherry made mention of how she thought Shelby wanted to chase that cow, and that was all the encouragement I needed. We trotted at a FAST pace, across the prairie to catch that cow. Shelby was relentless and I had to really concentrate to not let her gallop (I wonder what she would've done if I'd have let her get real close to it?). We had a blast. Then yet another time with the cows, Shelby and I ran after a few of them and Shelby pinned her ears and made her attitude known to all cows in our path!!!
Ohhhhhh, it was so enjoyable. She is still cautious, but with repeated exposure, I've got a feeling she will progress very nicely.
We had a day riding with Joan and Julie and those guys
were super cool and FANTASTIC
riders. It was a joy to ride with Julie and her Morgan - it gave me a chance to watch a Morgan instead of ride one all the time. Julie was a plethora of information of all things horse. She is a damn good rider too. We all climbed crevices up the hills and verticals down them. It was a total trip and a little scary at times but ohhhh soooo addictive. It was
a rush. Can't wait to ride with those guys again.
Then we went to Calamus Reservoir. The white beaches were so gorgeous and inviting. We cantered away and everyone, horses and people had fun. I finally opened Shelby up and it felt great to 100% trust her. I've always trusted her about 95% but now due to that breakthrough of freedom, it's 100%. I gave up control and engaged in the "dance". What a wonderful experience. Again, Sherry
was right there, saying the words and actions that I needed to get past that threshold. Her timing is impeccable.
I really like Sherry's approach to horse training and preserving the integrity of the horse and rider but still getting the job done. Sherry doesn't't coddle you - she will tell it like it is - but she shows respect and creates an
effective learning environment. She is clear with her direction as well. What a pleasure it is to be taught by her. Even my husband who doesn't ride and didn't really know what to expect had ah ha moments and relayed that he felt he had some major take-aways. He liked Sherry even more than when he had met her at some of my trainings up here in Omaha due to getting to know her and Keith better.
The food in town was awesome - we went to the Sandstone on Fri. night and Pizza Palace on Sat. The town really does have a lot of different restaurants to
choose from. The pizza was the best I've eaten - expect for in Rome.
I would encourage anyone who wants to experience breakthroughs with an experienced trainer by your side for individual attention to work through your areas of less strengths. The value exceeded our expectations, it was relaxing, and we made some beautiful memories (for when I'm in the nursing home and I need to reflect)!!!! It is different than arena work - I'm not bashing that, I love
Sherry's arena lessons, but this was an adventure in the big playground of nature.
Check out the video of Shelby & me on the beach - nice flying lead change from Shelby. I felt so free... http://youtu.be/J-pj7nXdFfA
Thanks for everything Sherry - you can count on the fact that we will be back more than once next year!