Natascha Smargiassi - Nevzorov Horse Revolution official representative in Switzerland
NHE: The official NHR representative in Switzerland Natascha Smargiassi lives with her three horses in the town of Giubiasco in the Canton Ticino in the southern part of Switzerland where the language and culture is Italian. Natascha is one of the most action-oriented and successful members of the Horse revolution. She has already accomplished a great deal and continues to work hard for the benefit of horses. Natascha works as a medical advisor specialist in diabetes, thyroid pathologies, cardiology and infertility at a pharmaceutical laboratory. Her work gives her the financial ability to keep three horses. On the other hand, as Natascha herself admits, her affiliation to the medical field is really helpful in her main work with horses. It helps with all types of this work – whether in the manege with her own horses or with people to whom she allows the possibility to see the truth.
I work in the medical field and I can see that Alexander’s statement in which he points out that humans and horses are both mammals responding to the same physiological rules is true. That is a great Truth but is too often kept in the dark for economic reasons. I believe that the more my knowledge of equine physiology grows, the more I understand my horses and the better I can care for them.
My little filly Tzora has a parrot mouth and in the wild she would not have survived. With the care I give her (with the help of the dentist of course), she lives a normal and happy life, and is becoming a proud and beautiful horse.My salary is fully dedicated to the welfare of my horses. I could never bear it if my horses had to earn their own keep to stay with me, never! I spend 4 to 5 hours a day with and for them, working to offer them the best living conditions and care, because for me they are very respectable hosts and my best friends.
It is amazing how life turns. Looking back in time, I can barely believe that when I was 40 I was still terrified by horses due to a trauma in my childhood. Who knows why at the age of 40 I was literally pushed with an “inner energy” to horses?
I could not resist that attraction and I decided to face my terror and started riding lessons as if I was a small child. I rode maybe 10 times and understood that it is not the way I wanted to be with horses. That was not the way to remove the terror I’ve felt towards horses. After 2 years of Parelli and many bitter feelings I read an article of Alexander’s in a French magazine “Cheval Attitude” and that changed my whole life.
NHE: From this point Natascha’s fate is quite common – it is the inevitable fate of any rational and brave human who sees the platitudes and ferocity of the equestrian world and who starts to search for the truth. It is common for those who have found that truth and became part of it. And while speaking of Natascha we must admit that she has become an active and estimable part of the School. Natascha not only cares for the health, living conditions and education of three horses but also has became the founder of the Association named ipsi-E which is acknowledged by the government to be for the benefit of the public and received a commitment from the government to fight against the cruelty of Equestrian Sport, riding schools and circuses.
The NHE representative in Italy, Maurizio Patti, whom Natascha calls her “best human friend” became vice President of that Association as well as Conductor of NHE workshops at ipsi-E.
After I understood the importance of the study and the research going on in the Nevzorov Haute Ecole research Center (NHErC) and the value of the research done by Alexander Nevzorov, I decided to build up my arguments and made a file for the Highest Animal Welfare and Protection Authorities in Switzerland.
Kilos of papers, almost all from the NHErC, hours of work and study, proper dialogue with the veterinaio Cantonale (the highest Officer for the Control and the application of the law for animal protection) have helped me to lobby for what I believe to be the right thing: The Horse revolution values.
I am working with the highest Authority of the Animal Welfare and a special Commission has been created as a result of the reports from NHErC to make strict rules and make it very difficult for people to favour Equestrian Sport.
This work started almost a year ago and the progress is slow but I’ve gained some results: a goal to abolish all Equestrian Sport in 10 years.
NHE: The NHR representative’s work all over the world always involves not only the full understanding and acceptance of the NHE principles but also a great deal of knowledge of local culture and, sometimes, even politics. But, to be sure, it is essential not to change the School’s philosophy in any way. No way. It is essential to be able to translate the seemingly obvious but very difficult to accept School principles into other languages, other cultures correctly, to make them understandable for the bearers of a different mind.
Switzerland is a special land because of its cultural and political setup (4 languages and 4 cultures: French – German – Italian and romantsch) and a federal direct democracy. That makes the task of the NHR representative easy on one hand but complex on the other. Knowledge and diplomacy are essential for success.
Of course the task of mine is not easy because the Hr goes not only against all Equestrian disciplines, but also against circuses, against riding schools and bad Horse Management from ignorant owners.
The most difficult part of the work is to fight against the common belief that horses are born to be ridden, that bits cause no pain, and that horseshoes are naturally made to protect their hooves. The people’s mental Pavlovian conditioning must be severed at the roots and we have to make people think differently, look at the matter from a different perspective, to enable them to find out that all this is just easy self justification to legalize the horse’s torture.
Now we are struggling to avoid a polo competition that is scheduled to take place here in July. I provided the Authorities Office with a lot of studies and pictures and prepared my arguments based on the dangerousness of the sport and pointing out that our region must not become famous for severe injuries done to horses and riders in that horrible equestrian discipline. I am constantly in contact with the animal welfare Officer and I watch that he takes on the responsibility of his role, his position, which is to uphold and enforce our Animal Protection law. Our Swiss law is very severe and clear.
For me NHE is a sacred triangle, in which I feel to be in the middle. The top of this triangle is the NHE philosophy and the sides of it are the School and the Horse revolution. For me the NHE philosophy is a daily understanding of what a horse is and what is the nature of my relationship with my 3 horses who have lived with me since last October. Of course I follow the rules established in NHE and my 3 horses are really free to be what they are and to express themselves fully.
NHE School is the Understanding and Teaching of the School Elements, and at the same time the study of the anatomy and physiology of the horse. The Teaching of the School Elements is new for me because I’ve completely understood the meaning and the sense of it only recently.
It is not so obvious because it is easy to fall into the trap of making the horse perform tricks for treats. Teaching the School Elements is the result of a deeper work on oneself first of all before even pretending to teach the horse. We have to be the leaders of our own mind and be aware of ourselves before being willing to win the honour of guiding our horse to the School Elements. For me it is like Asanas in the practice of yoga of the Ancient Indian Wisdom of Patanjali. That is why I am very aware of the fact that I am at the very beginning of it with my horses.
Then the last point that is part of my embassy: the Horse revolution. That is my fight against Equestrian Sport here I feel like a knight, sure of my aim: the defence of the nonsensical use of the Horse as a piece of sports equipment. I have received a commitment from the regional Authorities to help the Cantonal veterinary Office set up a program that may protect the welfare of the horses in our region.
The matter is going to be a national issue, but that is also a big challenge because in some regions of Switzerland, the Head of the Animal Welfare competes in equestrian sports in total ignorance of the pain it causes to the horses. The files are very uncomfortable documents because they provide proof of the harm of the bit and the bad treatment competition horses receive but the mental attitude of these people has to change, they have to open their minds.
Nevertheless, I know that common people, who have no relation towards horses should not be ignorant anymore of the harm done to horses and that is why I am going to lobby with a horse’s skull and the bit and demonstrate the pain it causes in public places.
I know that in this battle I am like Don Quixote of La Mancha, but I feel that this battle is worth fighting and I will be very happy the day I leave my earthly shell if something has been done towards the abolition of Equestrian Sports by the efforts of the Horse revolution.
P.S.NHE: In the story Natascha has written for this issue of Equine Anthology and which we unfortunately cannot publish entirely there are more important things that have been written. One of them is this: “Whenever we love horses and we avoid deepening our knowledge about their true nature, including the Horse Management, the physiological and the psychological aspects, we cannot build up the proper argumentative instruments required for the Horse revolution if we really aim to change something.” We’ve decided to put one of Natascha’s principles in the header of this story, because only while guided by it one can be successful in the hardest craft of changing judgments and opinions which are centuries and centuries old. Let us say it one more time: Not only Love, but also knowledge.
Photo courtesy Natascha Smargiassi