Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A View From The Hoof

Since college, I've always wanted to write a book and it has been a great honor and privilege for me to co-author a book with Kerry M. Thomas, founder of the Thomas Herding Technique.

Kerry is a unique individual who studies the psychology and Emotional Conformation of the horse. His research is cutting edge and, in my opinion, it will someday have a big impact on every aspect of – buying, selling, breeding and training – how the horse is handled. His website is nearing one million hits and he has a good following on Facebook.

The book takes the reader on a journey of discovery of the intimate drama of life in the equine circle. Kerry’s research of horse psychology shows how nurturing the Natural Herd Dynamic of the horse in the domestic environment is vitally important for its health and well being. Emotional Conformation is the most important factor that can determine if the horse has the heart and mind of a potential champion. Behavior triggers and Behavioral Overcompensation can be tremendous obstacles, preventing the horse from living up to its fullest potential.

In addition, the book illustrates how the importance of nurturing the Natural Herd Dynamic of horses in the domestic environment and Emotional Conformation was also important to illustrious individuals such as Federico Tesio and Burchard Von Oettingen, the Director of Germany’s Royal Trakehnen Stud from 1895 to 1911.

The book is finished. Now all we need is a publisher.

Here’s a sneak peak at the book Introduction:

The Magic Within

Often mystical is the nature and flowing beauty of the horse. For centuries mankind has been enticed by the allure, infatuated with the power, and awed by the magic within the spirit of the horse.

Intertwined along the path of life, through many trials, wars, and mass migrations, the human spirit so often has been lifted and propelled by its partnership with the horse. Indeed, prior to modern society, the horse is the stoic and tireless companion that has been a part of nearly every major human movement, war or sporting event our species has ever undertaken. Try to imagine the human race and evolution of societies without the horse. Our world would be much different without the horse. More than any other creature on earth, the horse has been our best friend and companion.

For many in our society, the history of the horse and its partnership with us through the ages is unknown or forgotten. Ask your average horse owner, horse lover or enthusiast, how horses made their first trip across the ocean to America or about the migration paths of breeds into the new world. Ask them if there is an endangered list for breeds of horses. Ask the average racing fan questions about the history of the Thoroughbred and many will have no answer.

We see in the many breeds we have bred all the wonderful horses: the speed on the racetrack, the dance of the dressage, the height of the jump, the ever so expensive accouterments and trappings and we marvel. It is worth marveling at for sure, but pales in comparison to the accomplishments the horse has made in the past: The war horse who helped shape great nations, the big, strong, athlete that also plowed the fields for our crops, the incredible endurance of the horse who carried forth humanity onto the prairie and the cannon across miles of land to forge new worlds and new governments, or to sustain an old government.

It isn’t the image of a horse in front of a cart or on the racetrack that most enthralls us. It is the spirit flaming bright inside each horse that makes them special. Indeed, not only is it this beautiful spirit and grace alone that makes the horse so precious, but rather it is the valor in which the horse stood by us as we moved along our journey of life.

When visiting a battlefield such as Gettysburg, I see the monuments of the great men who fought and died and know that alongside many of them was a trusty horse. Like so many angels, the horse was a refuge of power and safety, a spirited beast standing beside the spirited soul of man, to guide and assist him in the heat of battle.

I see the horse as a true, living and breathing monument in the field of history. Touching the horse is like touching the past. Many generations before us have heard the same sounds, recognized the same smells and all of the characteristics that make up the magic of the horse. For me, this connection is a direct link, a window into the past, a way to touch a small part of the world that was familiar to times gone by – reminding me of who we are and how we came to be at this moment in time.

The horse is not a pet, though it seems easier to assume so. An animal, who has taken such great care of us so many times, deserves to be respected and treated as a companion. If you love your horse, or all horses, as many of us do, it behooves you to appreciate the history of the equine.

The horse has a magic within that enthralls us and captures our hearts with what could be called a spiritual connection. Horses, more than most any other animal, offer all of us an interactive relationship without limits or prejudices. The magic in their large, soft, eyes is full of expression and curiosity and they seem as interested in us and the things we are doing, as we are of them – true signs of companionship.

In my work with horses, I have had the opportunity to socialize them to interact with people, mostly children, afflicted with various physical and mental challenges. The senses of both the horse and child connect to reach far beyond the physical expressions we are accustomed to - breaking boundaries we never knew existed - offering unspoken and enchanting interactions between child and equine that can bring tears to your eyes. In this fleeting moment of time, there is a feeling of deep spiritual connection with the horse. Connecting spiritually is paramount to connecting physically, for the spiritual connection is the higher power that transcends and controls all that follows. The horse today may not be needed as much for pushing forth human evolution, but the cathartic nature of its presence will never be out of season.

Throughout the ages we have looked to the horse to entertain and help us with tasks both spectacular and mundane. Today, the horse is looking to us for help. Inhumane slaughter and unchecked wild lands picked clean of the magnificent Mustang are a few of the problems that plague the equine community.

Is this how living monuments to human history are to be treated?

Preservation of the pure breeds and horses on the endangered species list is the dream of everyone who loves horses. Help surviving in the wild and to be understood and properly taken care of on the farm and racetrack is what the horse needs most from us today.

If we wish to return the full measure of what the horse has given us, we need to reach beyond our own world and embrace the magic within the spirit of the horse.


  1. Hi Calvin,
    After reading the chapter that Kerry emailed me, and now this beautifully written introduction, I am really looking forward to reading it in its entirety. Congratulations to you and Kerry on completing your project, and I can't wait to get a copy of this book!

  2. Thank you Sharon, Sid for the compliment of the book.

  3. Barry,

    Hopefully we'll find a publisher.

  4. sadadipset52,

    Thanks for the input. We are looking at all options.