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Horse Whisperer: Real or Myth?
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Horse Whisperer: Real or Myth?

When people saw a horse trainer talking to a horse in the dark ages they used to think they were evil. And in the seventeenth century in France, a horse was actually burned at the stake along with his trainer. Any 'mystical knowledge' back then was mistaken for sorcery. Witchcraft was the charge and no one was free of it. Any training of this type was done in secret. How better to create a myth than with silence, secrecy and mysticism?

Dan Sullivan in Ireland had the reputation of whispering into the ear of an unruly horse and having it become tamed and calm. But, it didn't last and the horse returned to its earlier self once out of the influence of Dan. The term 'horse whisperer' had been born.

For many generations such secret societies as the Toadmen and Horseman's Word became prevalent in the Cambridgeshire and Angila regions of England. Toads were killed and their bodies hung on a thorn tree until its skeletal remains were taken to a stream under a full moon and it was then thrown into the running waters. A forked bone seemingly small and insignificant would break off and go upstream and this demonic covenant would give the horseman power over the equine world.

Charlatans have an interest only in the monetary gain of such ventures and so for each gifted horseman, there are many that are not. A true horse person has a personal temperament, a knowledge of body language that, when coupled with experience, gives them their mystical craft. This teamed with patience, a real interest and true affection for the horse gives them their unique ability to have such a influence over the horse.

In a testament to the years of love and respect he has put into his 'join-up' technique, Marty Roberts has written a young adult book entitled "I'm Shy Boy-Here's My Story". It is the story of his experience with Shy Boy, the once wild mustang he tamed and then took back to his wild life only to have the horse return to him and take his place at the Flag Is Up Farms in Solvang, California. This is only one in thousands of stories about how a human and lover of horses can become a 'horse whisperer' or one who understands and anticipates the horse in both training and behavior.

In Conclusion

What it comes down to is a enlightened and unique relationship between human and animal. A love and respect on both sides. A true coming together of minds and spirits. As in any well defined relationships, it takes a special person with a loving and gentle hand to communicate effectively with the mystique that is the horse.



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  1. jst4horses
    I liked your article of the history of the term horse whisperer. It of course brought out the truth of the words of Dickens in Christmas Carol, in which he tells humans that of poverty and ignorance, ignorance is the worst enemy of a great world..........I am half Native American, and am a Nativenaturalhorseman Trainer with my younger son. My younger son has been a "whisperer" since the age of three or four. He just has mystical connection with horses. He was training baby race horses for syndicates at Santa Anita and was often given million dollar Kentucky hopefuls that for one reason or another were really vicious, and dangerous, or studs who were back at the track for match or stakes races for older horses to build their stud fee bookings. Those were some scary horses. One amazing colt he called "Junior" The horse was owned by a large syndicate and had been gelded because he had killed a groom in a stable in his first baby months of racing. My son in days had him so in line that when he would hear the horrified words, coming from the track and across the backside, "Junior is loose" he would step to the door of wherever he was working, and yell out," Junior, come to Dad". That horse would stand stock still, swerve towards his voice and come right on to him. He would cool him down, and send him back out with his rider as he told every furious exercise rider, we can't let him get away with that. At first he would have one of the exercise riders just sit on the saddle, and walk Junior himself, around and around the cooling ring, and then send him back, for just one walk/trot around the track, waiting at the end for him, and somehow that horse got it, do not throw your riders, this is your job. My older son is the same with his dogs. I have heard him over the decades tell a new dog, "once you are one of the W........family, you are not going to get thrown out, but you are going to learn to behave. He would often tell them, go sit on your blanket until you have calmed down, and they would. I think horse whispering is a LOT of hard work, and learning to think like a horse and teaching a horse to think like a human..........I have worked in fields with horses that are so expensive and have to perform that I had to learn to help them be their best, there was no other choice. As my younger son said, either we train them to do their best, or someone will beat them and kill at least their spirit, if not the horse to try and make them do it. I think some trainers are better than others, and yes, the article is right, some are just out for the money, but there is one that can not be fooled, and that is the horse. I find that my work with NativeNaturalHorsemanship has made me a better vet whisperer, and a better kid whisperer...........as well. I was watching the 2015 Horse Nation programs for the top three colt starting champions, and it was awesome to see that everyone of the top three contenders is more interested in the development of the horse than "winning" a title and belt buckle. What a lovely growth in the horse world. Thank you for a lovely article.
    1. Eve Sherrill York
      Eve Sherrill York
      Communication is so important. Doesn't matter if it is human or animal we are dealing with. And, I think showing the animal respect enough to do so instead of just beating it into them. Understanding them and them understanding us-such a spiritual thing. Thanks for commenting and I am so glad you enjoyed it.

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