After 25+ years of spending time and/or living in the presence of horses, here are some basic observation/experienced based choices:
1. Do It Yourself healthy horses
Some of the DIY choices I have made are:
a) Feed and supplement as locally and naturally as possible (healthier, less expensive, too)
b) Use local hay and vary it
c) Develop a laymen's knowledge of integrative therapies in equine, veterinary and farrier science
d) Respectfully choose veterinarians who respect your efforts to gain equine knowledge
Useful links and references: www.maryannsimonds.com , www.proequine-dvm.com , Michelle Stringham , HORSES
2. Bring Classical Equitation to your riding discipline
Whether you use snaffle or leverage bits, hackamore, bosal, or bitless bridle, does not really matter. (It's a personal/"horsonal" choice because... the "tool" is only as effective as the hand that wields it.) It's about developing feel. Feel comes from the heart.
Guidelines that have always worked:
a) Use as loose a rein as possible at all times
b) Allow the horse to work mostly with the poll as the HIGHEST POINT
c) Sit balanced in the saddle with ear, shoulder, hip and heel following a plumb line
Useful links and references: www.tiranogdressage.com , www.gerdheuschmann.com , www.classical-equitation.com , HORSES
3. Building Relationship - Line and Liberty Groundwork
Groundwork, in the halter or on the line, begins on day 1. Foals are precocious and learn quickly. Any good groundwork on the line technique "takes hold of the equine mind" and good education in several approches is abundantly available. I call this "halter play" but it works best as part of the daily repertoir.
Liberty groundwork or "off the line" (using eventually, the handler's body language) only seems "other-worldly". But the magic is really the enlivening of the relationship potential between the horse(s) and the human(s). Liberty groundwork builds an enduring relationship through play that becomes performance.
Useful links and references: www.imagineahorse.com , http://sylvia-zerbini.com/wordpress/ , Michelle Stringham , HORSES
4. Listen More! Whisper less! Observe, feel, observe, and feel again.
This is the foundation for animal communication (and animal telepathy). Horses communicate by body language (called language of equus by some) AND through telepathy. Based on my day to day observation (by horse-keeping at home), horses "speak" to each other in pictures, feel and share emotions, form lasting bonds (friendships/family connections) and learn tones and words.
Useful links and references: HORSES
5. Put yourself in their hooves!
Imagine...yourself as a horse. Feel what it feels like; your eyesight designed to perceive sllight movement against brush for at least one mile, your hearing capable of detecting frequencies beyond the human scale, your smelling power that detects meat-eating predators a mile away.
So, when you ask your naturally claustrophobic companion, who depends on his/her ability to run in order to avoid being a meal for a large mammalian predator, to be confined to a 12x12 wooden box, or a 7x7 compartment in a wheeled metal box (trailer) have some time and patience. Turn your horse out as much as possible, let your horse be a horse whenever possible, relate to your horse's needs as a HORSE, not as a slave in the human world.
Tell your horse(s) how superb they are. Horses have self-esteem issues too. Horses require and deserve praise and positive reinforcement for efforts to learn living in the foreign (to them) world of humans. Only human hubris assumes horses owe humans anything.
Useful links and references: Byron Clark , HORSES
6. Horses are Therapeutic (for humans)
Horses find emotional dishonesty intolerable. Horses feel the real you and thus know when you are deceiving yourself. The ones who have not shut down out of protection or been shut down by human machination will, one way or another, reflect back emotional dishonesty.
Horses bring humans face to face with their souls.
Horses can help humans feel their wounded selves.
Horses show humans the way back to our instinctive selves.
Useful links and references: www.maryannsimonds.com , Michelle Stringham , HORSES
7. Regaining our "wild" (real) self through horsemanship
The earth and her inhabitants are ascending in consciousness. Horse's role in this evolutionary leap is leading humans back into heart-centered existence, based in the frequency of what we define as love, harmony, compassion, or connectedness. Some might even call it Unity Consciousness.
Useful links and references: HORSES
8. Horsemanship and the renaissance of the instinctive human
See Gallery - this understanding transcends words