Last but not least, we gathered these key aspects from The Lost Art of Horsemanship panelists at Equitana – understand shaping, know the end to find the beginning, take small steps, always remember the joy and be in the moment. Note that the order of the questions doesn’t follow the full hour; we pulled excerpts from the panel to share. Jen Roytz of the Retired Racehorse Project asked questions of the panel that led to some very illuminating answers. We highlighted aspects below by using some keywords and the knowledge shared accordingly.
The panel consisted of Karen Rohlf of Dressage Naturally, Ronny Riemer, the “German Riding Instructor” of RC Equestrian, Pat Parelli of Parelli Horsemanship, and Max Corcoran, Supergroom and USEA President.
Understand shaping. Know the end to find the beginning.
Take small steps.
Corcoran: Step back. Sometimes we have to just walk away, put the horse away for the day. Have them think about it and then start again the next day. And someone once said to me, the faster you go, the slower they’ll go. If you don’t slow down, they horses will slow down for you. And that goes with everything from on the ground to on course, whether you’re trying to teach them how to load in the trailer or if you’re going to try and stand still at ‘X.’
Rohlf: I think the other part of a well-rounded horseman is someone who understands the beginning and the end. Because if you understand the end, then you know better how to start. And I think if you understand how horses are started, it better informs your ‘icing.’
Always remember the joy.
Be in the moment.
Rohlf: I think something that makes me a good horseman is that I remember why I got into horses in the first place. So every day, I’m a little kid going to the barn. It’s that dedication that comes from joy, from feeling the joy every day. And also a curiosity, but the kind of curiosity that comes from humbleness. Because I know that I don’t know. I know there’s still a lot more to learn.
Riemer: Sometimes there are just moments. You can’t pay money to recreate this moment that just happened. And there are times when I just miss it because I wasn’t in it 100 percent with my heart and my full attention. And this is where I need to get better, dedicating all my time at that moment to that horse. Because that is exactly what they’re doing for me.
Corcoran: Achieving small goals, I think, is also a good way to be a horseman. Because then you get very excited about small increments. and that makes you happy, that’s a moment. And then that leads to a bigger one. Whether that is you went to your very first horse show or you’re at the Olympic Games, it’s the same idea of ‘a moment.’
When deciding to sponsor this panel of experts discussing horsemanship at this year’s Equitana, we knew that the conversation certainly would be interesting. We were pleased to see it expand beyond our wildest expectations! Listening to what each expert had to say was an unparalleled opportunity to consider one’s personal place as a horseman or horsewoman, and one’s own definition of horsemanship.
At Via Nova, we meet each person where they are at. It was heartening and touching to hear the open, willing voices of these experienced horsewomen and horsemen as they talked about their continuing equestrian journeys.