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My Philosophy


THE MOMENT THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING

I've spent the last four years studying the heck out of how the mind works. To me, it is fascinating because it is so relevant to the struggles I have had growing up and also because I have always pondered why people and animals behave the way they do.

General Blog
By Amanda Wilson | Monday, 30 April 2018

I've spent the last four years studying the heck out of how the mind works. To me, it is fascinating because it is so relevant to the struggles I have had growing up and also because I have always pondered why people and animals behave the way they do.

 

2014 was the real beginning of my journey in trying to decipher what I was lacking in my own life; both personal and when working with my horses and in competition. I had reached a point where I needed to make some massive changes to the things I was doing and with little knowledge of the matter, I began heading down the track of learning as much as I could about the mind and its monumental impact on animal and human behavior.

 

The most influential and life-changing work I have ever been involved with was when I started working with wild horses in May 2014 after rehoming two wild Kaimanawa stallions and featuring in the T.V series ‘Keeping up with the Kaimanawas,' alongside my two older sisters. Everything I thought I knew about myself and about training horses was shattered in moments and what was to come, would be the pivotal point in becoming who I am today. Those horses challenged me, broke me, and made me start to question why horses behaved the way they did and in the process I began to get a basis of understanding about why humans behave the way they do too. It was Hoff, the thirteen-year-old black stallion who had severe injuries in his mouth and a fracture in his skull that taught me more than any other horse I have ever worked with and I am exceptionally grateful to him for that. I struggled with him for over a year and in the end, I had to make an incredibly hard choice to put him down, a choice that for a long time I questioned. Knowing what I know now though, I believe I made the right choice, for people's safety and for his own welfare. He was an extremely unhappy boy in a lot of pain.

 

 

During that year I was so frustrated with him because of how poorly he was behaving and mad at myself because I just couldn't seem to make a breakthrough. I have since learnt that when animals (and humans) are in pain their brains perceive and interpret information so differently, because their fight and flight modes are always switched on. With Hoff, he was always ready to fight and I believe as an older stallion in the wild that was how he got himself out of stressful situations. Hoff was the starting point of my journey. He was the horse that broke me but he was also the horse that made me.

 

 

After working with the Kaimanawa's, my confidence with handling horses was extremely low. I was terrified of riding the young horses and I could not walk out into the middle of a paddock without panicking that the horse in the paddock might charge me. Even my show jumping had gone severely downhill as my confidence in my own abilities plummeted. So, when we signed up just a year later to go to America to work with the wild Mustangs from the BLM yards and compete in the Mustang Makeover challenge I was extremely nervous.

 

The horse I was selected for the competition was a high strung 14.1hh 6-year-old mare from Sand Springs. Bought in from the wild as a three-year-old, she had lived in the BLM yards ever since. In the early stages of my training with her, I realized that she was not so much scared of me as she was scared of everything around her. In fact, she decided that I made a great safety blanket and every time she got a fright she would jump into me. She was a needy reactive mare and I was terrified of her. A horse coming towards me at speed (whether their ears were forward or back) was something that I still couldn't get over and not really understanding correct timing, or what sort of pressure and release was required with a horse like that, I struggled to know what to do with her.

 

Watching videos back of myself training Spring makes me cringe because I was so all over the show with my timing and feel. We got there in the end but it was messy and I made it much more complicated then it needed to be. She was the second influential horse in my journey, because she emphasized so highly, the first lessons that Hoff had started to teach me. I started breaking in Spring a couple of weeks after getting to America (after having road tripped ten hours from Boise, Idaho to Wyoming) and was having alright progress with her until one day she got me off by rearing almost vertically. My horse training back then consisted of me trying to dominate them and so I went in as boldy as I could muster and lunged her around me until she had settled before jumping up and down beside her and rubbing a towel rather briskly across her back and flanks. The purpose wasn't to give her a fright (although I'm sure that's what happened), but to show her that I was the boss and that her behavior wasn't expectable. In truth, I was just scared of her. One more try and the same result happened. I am dumb enough to make a mistake once, and often twice but I do have enough common sense to stop what I am doing and ask myself if something else is going wrong if I still am not getting results.

 

 

While I knew that my training methods were so off in timing and feel, I felt that it was something more than that. After checking over her body I discovered that she was very sore in her girth and shoulder area and not long after that Vicki found a hard calcified lump in her near fetlock. A 10-hour trip to a vet clinic later, we found out that she has severe damage to her sesamoid bone in her fetlock and was in pain every time she was asked to do work. The vet said straight up that this horse would never be suited as a ridden horse and yet again I had to make the very difficult decision about her welfare. She was returned to the BLM yards, a decision we didn't really have much choice over and something I still struggle with. She loved her life outside the BLM yards and I was the one who sent her back in. Guilt can be hard to live with sometimes.

 

It wasn't until we were near the end of our three-month trip in America that the third and final lesson came to fruition. We happened to drive past a property of a world-renowned horse trainer and his wife and were cheeky enough to go in to introduce ourselves. That's the perks of having sisters that are brave enough to do things like that. Back then I wouldn't have had the guts to have driven in that gate on my own.

 

The property was a stunning 3000-acre farm, set in the rainbow hills of Dubious, Wyoming, and the two encounters I had with the owners of the property changed everything. We were only at their place for a total of about four hours over two different days but after witnessing the owner of the ranch work with horses I was astounded. It is this training method that I now use and it has given me unbelievable results. It is also incredibly simple and easy to implement into your own training no matter your experience. I will do my best to explain everything to you as thoroughly as I can in my up-and-coming horse training videos but before I get into any of that I am going to talk about Robin Wiltshire, the horseman extraordinaire. The man behind the world-famous Budweiser commercials who changed my life.

 

See 'My Philosophy Part 2

 

 

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