Many of these blogs I wrote some time ago and appeared on my old website. Please ignore the date is says it was published. Enjoy. 

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  1. Not much is taught as grass roots to children about what a horse is and how equines are sentient. Or time given as a priority to simply enjoy non contact observation and learning of equines in their herds. Their language, how they communicate and express themselves. What matters to equines, what they desire, need and enjoy. How we can meet equines on their level. We live in a world that has a large disconnect with the environment and nature. Yet how much is taught to children about the environment and nature that lives alongside our equines? How much is taught about what is an aversive and non permissive method against what is a positive and permissive method? My guess is very little. Yet would we want our children to be taught in an educational setting that teaches them in an aversive and non permissive manner? And yes there is a scale of how awful aversive and non permissive can get from mild and difficult to identify to full blown abuse. Do we want them to grow up thinking an aversive and a non permissive way is the right way to be with others, be they have two legs or four? It for sure is a slippery slope that isn’t a good one.   

    I am sure we want children to learn to be kind, compassionate and caring towards others. Yet often when children embark on anything related to equines they are often experiencing education that encourages the use of aversive methods and techniques with equines. Who stops to consider what messages we are giving to young minds using such methods? There is big business in this, just visit any tack shop and you will find an array of equipment designed to be used in an averse way. Even designed especially for children, pink sparkly whips being the most obvious. Whips, sticks, carrot sticks, wands….call them what you like. It is a hot bed for debate over ethical use of such equipment. I for sure have my own views as I am sure you do. Yet do we ponder what we teach children in regards to the ethics of such equipment and its use? Or is it seen as the norm and leave such equipment available to be freely used with little insights in the application? Often the equine is seen as a tool for the child to achieve a goal by those educating or facilitating the experience. Sadly it is socially acceptable in the equine world to use methods, techniques and equipment that if we applied this to other animals there would be public uproar.

    My guess this has deep roots in tradition and cultural conditioning. I fear change will not happen in my lifetime. That equines will only be seen a commodity, there for a purpose and a job. To be used and sadly in some cases abused. Abuse is easy to spot when physical harm results or it is extreme. Yet even on the world platforms such as the Olympics we have seen such abuse. One case was Saint Boy who was clearly showing all the signs of extreme distress and was whipped, spurred and yanked about by his rider and thumped by the riders coach. No official stepped in to stop this abuse. Top level in any discipline or area of equestrianism is meant to showcase the very best practice and ensure it is without doubt the gold standard in line with current ethical thinking. Sadly often it is not.    

    For sure there are many pathways up that mountain and ethics are a wide topic. As what is ethical to each of us is dependent on how we see horses and how we connect with them. We all see through our own lenses of experience. Learning is life long and if we embrace wanting to continually learn how to be the best for our equines we open up to letting go old ways of thinking. It in turn creates an opportunity to make the world a better place for all equines.

    It certainly makes you ponder who is willing to step up and showcase to the next generation the best practice to interact with equines? I personally struggle to see the answers. Or what that should look like. Or who will champion this? The equine industry is fractured, divided, political and driven by finance, egos, greed and personal gain and glory. I tried to provide a diverse platform to showcase good practice by setting up the not for profit Non Ridden Equine Association UK. It had a website with lots of free resources from a diversity of professionals to inspire, delight and educate. It ran for 4 years. Yet the very industry it was set up to promote destroyed this with pressure, bullying and legal threats. So I have very little faith that individuals and or organisations are willing to put aside their own issues with each other for the greater good. I have lost so much faith in the industry as unpleasantness is rife. I have stood above the parapet and been shot at many times. I have little time left on this earth and limited energy that with sadness it was best to close the Non Ridden Equine Association UK. However I freely gift my lifetime of knowledge with free resources. Yes free. You will find the non ridden themed ones in Kez’s Club and all resources in the Horsemanship Resources section on my website. Many published articles, detailed downloads, how to guides, blogs and much more. All free, my gift with love.

    I still work with people and their horses. However I no longer teach riding as this is no longer my own personal journey. I am very interested in the profound connections between equines and their humans. How equines wish to connect and communicate with their humans. These bonds are wonderful, powerful and life changing. I am passionate about non ridden and the rich and diverse gifts we can enjoy with our equines. The healing we can experience by being with equines, being in nature, how equines and nature can release our creativity and self-expression. I am by nature a Maverick. The chances of me finding others who share this vision is very small in an equine world that struggles to see equines are sentient and are blissfully unaware of aversive methods. Yet I am very open to sharing my gifts with others on a similar pathway. So I remain hopeful that one day I may be given the opportunity to gift children some insights. To enable them to have rewarding, fun, healing and profound connections with equines. That in turn could lead to a safer future for equines. 


     Below a photo of my granddaughter Perri on a visit to our horse Kez.  perri

  2. The world is a crazy place. It can be a dangerous and frightening place. It is fast paced, throw away, with little compassion out there. With many living and working in uncompassionate environments. Struggling to be heard and understood. Unethical pressures and practices. All souls can and do struggle in a world that commoditizes just about everything and everyone. A value and price on all our souls. Life is fragile and for some limited. Love is often with conditions attached. Friendships for what we can do or give. The impact of egos and agendas who trample over others to climb the ladder. The equine world is not an easy place. Humans experience infighting, division, unpleasantness, cliques, bullying, isolation, judgement, criticism and more. Anything outside the mainstream is often a target for ridicule. Have you experienced any of this?

    For many horses this is their reality. The human world crashes into the horse’s world with human agendas and desires. How humbling this is when we consider how hard horses try to understand us and the gifts they give us. Our horses provide us with the opportunity to connect to what matters. However we are often blind to these gifts as we are hung up on our agendas, traditional thinking or cultural beliefs.

    The non ridden equine may represent the very essence of the good, bad and ugly of the horse world. There are the lucky ones loved unconditionally, cherished and live lives well cared for with all their needs met. In a world in love with riding many non ridden equines are seen to have little or no value in a world that commoditizes and values them on what a horse can do or give. They are often moved on with the truth hidden. Or given away or free into an uncertain future. Some enter the dark underbelly of the equine world, and are sold from noisy auction to auction and enter a downward spiral. Moved from place to place. Some are abandoned. Plenty live in the shadows with poor care or are neglected. Welfare organisations try their best to rescue as many of these souls as they can. The truth is many have no loving guardians. These souls see the bad and ugly side of the equine world.

    Yet a horse without a riding agenda asks us to see the world side by side. It is far easier to step into their world when we are not on their back with a human agenda. I am not anti-riding. Permissive riding is truly an amazing experience. Simply I see there is more to a horse than riding. Side by side there are opportunities to go into their world.

    Thoughts to ponder….To connect into their world? To experience what matters to them? To feel what gives them peace, safety, and stability? Or to step off from doing and just be in their world? What would this do for you? What would be the benefits?


    3.8.22 kez and i

  3. Have you ever felt you have been overlooked? Not regarded? Ignored? Not understood? Not listened to? Invisiable? Cast aside? Unfairly judged? Used? Abused? My guess is at some points in your life the answer maybe yes to some or all of the above. And how did it make you feel? I guess not great? Did it leave lasting damage? If we can relate to some or all of this it gives us an isight into what happens to many equines. Food for thought. As equines are sentient. My personal belief is they are capable of depth of wide range of emotions and have a spirit / soul. What does it take to really see another? To really listen to understand? If we can master these qualities our fellow man and our animals would really benefit. Sadly it is often in short supply in our modern fast paced, throw away world. 

    Listening and Observing to Understand.

    With communication everyone likes to heard and understood. To be able to effectively communicate we need to put our needs, wants, desires or agendas to one side and open up to truly listening and observing to understand. An interesting one to ponder, how good a listener are you? Do you help others to express openly and honestly what they are thinking or feeling? Do you give them space and time to say what they need to say? Are you able to put the other person at ease so they feel safe to express themselves? Are you able to be non-judgemental and compassionate? No one like to be judged or criticised and it is sure fire way to close down communication. Are you an active listener who pays attention to what is said and the body language? Are you able to spot if the words and body language don’t match and the incongruence? Often a lot of information is also about what was not said, do you check out this? Do you ask open questions to encourage the flow of more information? Do you check with the other person to see if you have understood what they are telling you? 

    Listening and observing is about giving yourself to the other person, paying close attention to them, giving them the spot light. You need to not only listen to the story and what is said, but how it is said, the tone, expression, inflection, feeling, emotion, the energy, the use of language, and body language. Communication is not just words, verbal, it is non-verbal too. (With horses their language is mostly non-verbal so really learning to give space, listen and observe are essential). We need to listen with all our senses engaged. It is not a passive process. You need to be fully present and involved in listening. You must really concentrate and care what the other person has to say. Getting distracted with our own thoughts, feelings or things going on around can greatly interfere with effective listening. As communication is a two way process the person you are engaged in a conversation with will notice your lack of attention in your body language. 

    What is really interesting is if you are not good at listening and observing to understand others you are going to find what has just been expressed here very difficult to understand or apply. However just like any skill you can learn. It requires is for you to put into practice being an observant and active listener, and being more aware and playing closer attention to those you engage in conversations with. Think of all the daily golden opportunities you have to practice this skill on your fellow humans, your horse will thank you.  

    Before we move on let us explore listening as a skill, how to nurture and develop our listening skills.  Did you know there are three different listening types we may be one or more of at any given moment? They are:-

    •             Listening to Learn

    •             Listening to Evaluate and Analyse

    •             Listening to Understand Feeling and Emotion

    Listening to Learn

    Listening to learn happens in many aspects of our lives: When we study at school, college, in lessons, workshops, at work, listening to the news, being talked through a technical problem, in meetings, etc…. It requires us to concentrate and put our minds in a deliberate state to learn and understand. When we are in this state we are taking information in to absorb it and at this stage we are not analysing or criticising the information. This is a different state of being, which we will come to. Listening to learn may even involve taking notes to review later. Which in turn may prompt questions to gain more clarity and roads to explore for more information gathering. If we think about listening to learn from our horse, how often are we quiet enough to allow our horse to talk? Ethical horsemanship is dialogue not monologue. Do we allow space for our horse to be listened to and understood? Are we open to being the student to the horse? 

    Critical Listening

    Engaged in critical listening requires us to question and evaluate what is said. For critical listening to help us it needs to be informed and educated listing. Gaps in our knowledge, cultural bias and traditional thinking when we engage in critical thinking can cause us problems. As critical listening often about decision making and problem solving. It requires the listener to analyse information against existing knowledge and beliefs. Therefore a lack of knowledge here can lead down a path towards flawed judgement. For us to make great judgement it pays to be educated, hence why listening to learn is so important, especially when we look across the species divide to the horse. For who is a better expert on being a horse, than a horse. They say when the student is ready the teacher arrives. Some teachers have four legs, some have two. How can we become better at critical listening? We can ask questions, open questions, encourage others to open up and elaborate. Ask ourselves questions what is the horse or other person trying to say? How does what I hear differ from my opinions, what I believe or know? For critical listening to be effective it is best to come with an open mind. This is not as easy as it sounds as there are many reasons why open mindedness is not easy, especially with equestrianism.

    There are many pressures that keep us from being open minded or to try a new or different approach. Peer pressure is one, if you are on a livery yard you will find people are always happy to offer their advice and help. What you may find in short supply is people’s understanding and tolerance to approaches they know little or nothing about or disagree with on principal. You may even be unlucky enough to have a non-professional “yard-pert”  “expert” or “experts” on the yard who will expect you to follow their advice as clearly they know it all and know what is best for not only your horse but you too. Using a different approach to what they expect you to use can then cause you further problems. You may even been seen as a maverick for going against the norm. All pressures for open mindedness.  

    Tradition is another pressure that can hold you back from trying a different or new approach. If something has always been done that way then it can be hard to open your mind and try going in a different direction. Still today there are people who are very rigid in their traditional thinking and will only work within one method and approved guidelines. However consider this: There is a big wide equine world out there outside these guidelines.

    There are also people who will only work within one horsemanship approach too. By narrowing your thinking you will not allow yourself to open up to trying another approach, or something new. As with all things there are fashions and fads within the horse world. It is easy to get caught up in this, to jump on the latest band wagon / try the fashionable training method / be attracted by the media and marketing / and use the latest training gadget that promises to fix your problem etc... All of these are barriers for you to being open minded and trying something that is not in the spotlight or fashionable.

    Assuming something will not work before you have even tried it is another barrier. I love the word ASSUME as to assume makes an ASS out of U and ME. 

    All of the above and more effect critical listening. As a horsemanship practitioner I see this in many shapes and forms when there is a problem in the relationship between horse and human. As bringing beliefs, bias, value systems always colour critical listening to the horse.

    True critical listening needs an open enquiring mind, with the passion that learning is lifelong. It is about asking questions, and recognition that sometimes we don’t ask the right questions too. 

    Compassionate Listening to Understand Feeling and Emotion

    Compassionate and Empathic Listening is understanding the feelings and emotions of another. Close empathy feels like a blurred line between one’s self and another. It is about the ability to put oneself into the mental shoes of another to understand their emotions and feelings. You cannot convince me that horses are not sentient and feel a wide range of emotions. Learning how to read your horse’s emotional state is essential in equine communication. If I asked you to reflect and gave you a sheet of A4 paper and a pen and asked you to write all the things your horse is capable of feeling and the horse’s emotions I am sure you would be back to ask for another sheet of paper? Your horse can read your emotional state too. Trying to hide your feelings creates incongruence and it rattles them. Communication is emotional.

    You need to have a certain amount of empathy before you can feel compassion. Research shows that compassion and empathy take place in different parts of the brain. So we have to move from our empathy to compassion to move forward. A main characteristic of compassion is wishing that others be free from suffering. A lack of compassion, by contrast, can in extreme result in cruelty. So empathy helps us to identify feelings of another, and compassion is what we do. Taking compassionate action is the key to success. If you get caught in empathy and sympathy you and your horse will get stuck and not be able to move forward. Without compassion you can get stuck in the emotion without positive action. This can lead down a very unhelpful path and pull you and your horse down. So let us not confuse compassion with sympathy. They are very different. And will create different outcomes. Having sympathy, you will understand another’s situation even without feeling it yourself. Compassion is led differently as you feel and know what another is experiencing and want to step in to help and take action.       

    I am seen


  4. Today snowflakes settled to a world of white,
    Making everything magical, sparkly and bright.
    My nose can snuffle through the snow to graze,
    A roll makes snow angels that truly amaze.
    I am cleaner after a good roll in the snow,
    Once the snow melts clean will soon go.
    Snow is fun if you have plenty to eat,
    And big piles of sweet hay can't be beat.
    My dry shelter gives me a place to rest,
    A soft dry bed to snooze on is the best.
    Fresh clean water with no layer of ice,
    It is more than wonderful and really nice.
    Hooves make ice blocks all over the place,
    You can see where Beau and I had a race.
    Equines who have everything snow can be fun,
    An opportunity to prance, dance and run.
    No loving guardian it's a different story to tell,
    Snow for the neglected doesn't end well.
    Winter's cruel grip too many suffer that's true,
    Please support a welfare for the work they do.
    Kez X 💓 X