While most people would like to think they are friends with their horse, and many know that being friendly with your horse is the first step in any horsemanship program, few realise just how far you can develop that friendship.
One horsemanship program that bases its philosophy on the unique bonds horses form with each other is Friendship Training. Founder of the program Chuck Mintzlaff says “Friendship Training is an interactive method of melding the hearts and minds of a horse and a human based on the ‘preferred associate/peer attachment’ equine relationship by attaining the absolute extremes of RECIPROCAL understanding, communication and intimacy between a horse and a human. There is of course much, much more to it too.
Dr Deborah Goodwin writes in ‘The Importance of Ethology in Understanding the Behaviour of the Horse’
An important feature of equid behaviour is the formation of pair bonds; these are mutually supportive and can occur within groups through preferences for particular companions. Bonded pairs associate closely, grazing and resting together, and indulge in bouts of mutual grooming and affiliative neck overlapping.
Pair bonds seem advantageous to both participants, and seem to play an important role in social support, particularly in difficult situations. Pair bonds can also be established in domestication with other species such as donkeys or goats, and this tendency may also be the foundation for horse-human bonds which extend beyond the usual master-servant relationship.
So what exactly is Friendship Training?
Friendship Training (based on the equine Peer Attachment/horse buddy relationship and Positive Reinforcement – not the ‘Alpha theory’) was designed specifically to allow a horse and a human to share the deepest levels of Intimacy possible. This is accomplished through a series of simple interactions in a completely unrestricted, freedom-based area.
The size of this ‘meeting place of two hearts’ can be a hundred acre pasture or larger. (But it can never be a small corral or round pen where the horse feels trapped or forced.)
The building block of Intimacy is Reciprocal Trust. The building block of Reciprocal Trust is Reciprocal Communication. One of the requirements before using the Friendship Training Exercises, (FTXs) is developing a simple combined hand/voice language to ‘talk’ to your horse in a manner they easily can understand.
Another requirement before using the FTXs is gaining a thorough understanding of our horse’s physical, mental, emotional and instinctive needs through the FT curriculum of scientific/ethological documentaries.
Friendship Training is considered holistic in the sense that we consider all aspects including nutrition, social/living environment and hoof care to give our horse a pain-free, contented life. Stalling horses on a permanent or semipermanent basis is strictly forbidden.
Friendship Training has been completely successful with horses of any age, breed, gender and temperament from completely ‘shut down’ to deadly physical aggressive in Australia, England, Italy, Croatia, Portugal, Scotland, Nova Scotia and the US without the use of whips, round pens, sticks, clickers or other ‘gadgets.’
Daily email support is offered the first 30 days of use to insure each horse receives the full benefit of Friendship Training to fully enhance any type of mounted activity or discipline.
More information is available at: https://friendshiptraining.org/ or email Charles H. (Chuck) Mintzlaff at email@example.com