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John Rarey: Horse Tamer

An excerpt from the introduction to John Rarey: Horse Tamer.

“How can the life of a horseman who lived almost a century and a half ago, give us clues to the questions we struggle with today? Because, despite all the technological marvels that have come forth in the last 150 years, horses and humans have not changed very much. We are all born with the experience of millions of years of evolutionary responses programmed in our brains; so we think and react very closely to those of yesterday.

Therefore, we can learn a great deal by studying the mistakes, discoveries, and wisdom of the ages past. In the arts the foundation is laid by studying the masters -whether a musician studying Mozart, Beethoven, or Bach; an artist seeking out the work of Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, or Michelangelo.

Likewise, in the art of horsemanship, serious students study the thoughts and techniques of the master riders ad trainers. As Samuel Sidney wrote in his book, The Illustrated Book of the Horse, published in 1875, that the ‘man who learns nothing from the collected experience of the finest horsemen of the present and past generations must be a very poor or very conceited creature.’

And as Rarey reasoned in his book, ‘What would be the condition of the world if all our minds lay dormant?’ In action and in words, Rarey challenged his generation to use the higher qualities of their minds and hearts in training horses, rather than their anger, fists, and whips. In getting to know the ideas and life work of John Rarey, a question that has long disturbed me was answered. It is: do we have to accept the violence and abuse done to horses in the name of training, economics, or sport as just the way it is - or can we do something about it? The answer I received was: we all have within us the power to speak up for what is right.

This is a message we need to hear again today, at a time when the violence of our age so often spills over to our horses, our children, and among ourselves.”