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School / Donald Newe
I have been born and raised in Western Germany on the countryside… animals of all kind have always played an important role during my childhood and afterwards. After watching each Saturday “Fury” on TV (the story about the friendship between a wild stallion and a boy) during a couple of years, I was starting to “go on the nerves” of my parents by asking them for a horse… for X-mas, birthday or on whatever kind of opportunity possible … the answer was always the same : “too expensive !”… instead to get rid of my ever up- coming question for a horse, I was starting to look for my own for a “non-expensive” horse. And finally I have found one in the village where I was living for the price of his own weight. I was 7, nearly 8, years old and “proud owner of a horse”.
This horse , a 15 year old mare, was planed to go to slaughter, since she was not easy and the Farmer wanted to get rid of her. Now the argument of my parents that it was too expensive was not more working and so my father have bought her for very few money. The only problem was, that I never have been on horseback before in my life!
So my father have send me to a riding-club in the next village to take riding lessons there and paid in advance the lessons for me. Here I was supposed to learn riding on a school-horse each week for one hour. After maybe six or seven lessons I was coming home and telling my parents that I don’t wanted to learn this way of riding. “kick him to go…and pull him to stop!”
Beside “Gulliver’s Travels” , books about Cowboys and Indians have been my favourites at this time, and I had read somewhere that the Indians where able to hunt buffalos without saddle and reins. (Later on the books about animal behaviour, starting with the books from Konrad Lorenz, where getting also more and more important to me) The only thing that my Dad was telling me, was : “Do what you want, but don’t come and tell that you have fallen off!”… So I was asking for a saddle and “all the other stuff that you need to ride”… The answer was “NO! No more money for this!” I was furious about my parents to be honest. So I was finding myself with a difficult mare on a pasture with cows , a halter and a lead-rope, great dreams about Cowboys and Indians… and no idea concerning how to get there to ride this mare ! Anyway, after managing to get on her, by climbing on the fence, I was trying hard to stay on… and finding at least 150 different ways to fall off each time. This horse was dragging me around, pushing (and running over) me if I did not get out of her way and putting me back on earth as soon as I was on her. Afraid of it that my parents will sell her, I was hiding my scratches and blues from them. Pretty soon I was figuring out that I did not had the force to impose myself toward her, so I was on the search for an other way… Spending the hole summer sitting by the fence in the grass watching her and thinking of the way how it can be done to ride this horse more than just 20 meters without getting smashed on the ground? Asking myself questions like: Why she behaved like this ? What was wrong? Why? (These questions I still do ask myself when with a horse today…)
Each time when I was trying to ride her…I was getting thrown off again… until one day I was able to stay on and cantering over her field during ten minutes without any resistance from her side!… I was feeling like Joey riding Fury… I was in heaven!
Next day, next try… and guess what? After a short distance I was finding myself again flat on the ground and catching my breath, when this horse was turning around toward me, and biting me in the butt!
This was one of the biggest lesson this horse have ever given to e ! I have made something right on the previous day and now not! But what? I was lost! So after several weeks of try and error I was getting it right finally for her, and after this she never have smashed me to the ground anymore . During the next 8 years she was the best riding teacher that I ever had in my life-time. She died by colic at the age of nearly 24.
Few years later… when I was 19, I had the chance to cross the ways, during a 2 years trip through the States, of the late Dorrance brothers Tom and Bill and Ray Hunt. Here I was learning again… in a nutshell: “Have a look to the other ones and how they do things with and toward there horses… go home and do exactly the opposite of it… and you will see that it works like magic!”
Today I’m approaching the 50th, some great horseman and a lot of horses have been my teachers, with or without to be aware of it. I have “stick” my nose in a lot of horse-riding disciplines from Volitige to Western, over Driving and Dressage, but almost 80% of all what I know today, the horses have given to me, and I just try to pay back my debts that I have toward the horses by sharing with other riders what I have learned from them by being a Clinician and Bitless Bridle Instructor. Always on the search to offer the horse the best deal by considering his point of view and to do it better for him.
Now this search have bring me here, to Nevzorov Haute Ecole, and the journey comes somehow to an end… but I still learn…
I still learn each day from the horses, but more and more I learn from them… more and more I do discover how much I still do ignore. I’m afraid that my life will be too short to learn all what I need to know, even if I get 100 years old it will be not enough… anyway I do keep on learning, in hopes to get one day perfect. There will be always a horse out there that will teach me something new.
Donald U.Newe, E-mail: , www.equinebehaviour.com.