I want to pick up here on something mentioned in the previous section on "Philosophy". We are the school of Conscious Horsemanship, and that means that it is up to us to "consciously choose the best management options and training protocols for individual horses." This highlights the need for horse owners to actively educate themselves so as to know many options -- to have a full toolkit. We do not follow any set training methodology because horses are individuals with specific needs -- we believe it is stupid and destructive to shove every horse through the same "training routine." We respond to the fact that every horse-rider combination represents a unique set of needs and priorities.
This page outlines a mere sketch of the kinds of things that every horse owner would be well off knowing something about. The very existence of this website and Equine Studies Institute are due to the great need for "higher education in horsemanship". Please let the following outline inspire you to come ask questions in our Forum, to download free materials from our Knowledge Base section, to read books on our recommended list and build your own equestrian library. You can purchase educational materials from us and other recommended vendors. We hope you'll also want to participate in one of my Horsemanship Improvement Clinics, where the importance of factual knowledge is emphasized.
The following are broad areas of knowledge that are crucially important to every person who considers owning a horse -- or even just taking lessons.
HISTORY OF HORSEMANSHIP
Horsemanship is an art and science over 4,000 years old. At one time (before about 1920, before the World Wars and before the mechanization of farm equipment and the coming of the automobile), horses were vitally necessary to every aspect of life: for transportation, agriculture, and commerce as well as for warfare. Their value as entertainers and for sport did not become predominant in developed countries until the 1950's, when "horse shows", along with racing, became the primary use and for many owners, the entire reason for their keeping horses at all. I founded Equine Studies Institute in large measure to counteract the fact that racing and horse shows have a tendency to teach participants to value their horses only if they win. The horse becomes a disposable quantity, a mere vehicle, a "dollar sign" with no intrinsic value. I believe that this approach is death. My commitment is, by contrast, to help you find abundant life and joy through fostering your interest in the horse AS A HORSE rather than for anything he may be able to do for you. When you have your priorities in this order, I guarantee that you will come out a winner.
THE BIOLOGY OF THE HORSE
Relationship to other species (classification)
Evolution of the horse
Lifespan and ontogeny ("ontogeny" means how the body grows and matures from conception to adulthood)
What kind of skeleton and teeth they have (unique features)
Unique features of equine soft anatomy (i.e. reciprocating apparatus in fore and hind limbs, many muscles converted to ligaments)
Herd structure, gestation, twinning
Differences between wild, feral, and domestic horses
Geographic distribution of wild and feral horses
EXCELLENCE IN HORSEKEEPING
Feeding -- place of supplements
Fencing -- suitable materials, safety check
Housing -- dimensions, feeders, watering systems
Turnout -- as much as possible but with consideration for health tolerances; choice of pasturemates
Pasture Management --know grasses and pp's
Blanketing -- per weather, age, health
Veterinary care -- shots, worming
Farriery -- trim and appliances
TACK AND EQUIPMENT
Selection -- quality, fit, functionality
Saddle fitting -- anatomy, mechanical fitting vs. fitting by eye and feel
Selection of bit -- anatomy and leverages; SEE THE CURRENT QUIZ !!!!
Other necessary equipment -- flag, ballstick, long lines, cavesson, surcingle, types of halters and equipment for work on the long and the short rein
SELECTING AND PURCHASING RIDING HORSES
Suitability for riding
Where to buy a horse -- "rescue" vs. purchase
Horse "psychology" and academic behaviorism
Biomechanics of collection -- fountain not frame
Anatomy and biomechanics of straightness -- straightness is prerequisite to collection
Birdie Theory and the Thread
Task analysis (teaching the horse one step at a time; no "desensitizing")
CHECK THE QUIZ PAGE FOR A NEW QUIZ APPEARING EVERY SO OFTEN.
QUIZZES ARE VERY SUBSTANTIAL ESSAYS AND THEY ARE GREAT SELF-TESTS ON SUBJECTS THAT EVERY HORSE OWNER SHOULD MASTER.