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Meeting your horse where they need to be met... by practicing Holistic Horsemanship

Updated: Apr 8

Ask not what your horse can do for you, ask what you can do for them!

I’d say about 95% of the time, my students start in the mindset of making instead of allowing or guiding their horses.

Even with the best intentions, we can find ourselves being forceful, linear and laser focused when working with our horses. Believe me, I understand. I was there too, and it took a while for me to really see what I was doing wrong. You can thank my open heart (my mind was closed and fixed) and my Trinity for showing me the way.

Back in the day, when I got back into horses, I was a zealot about horsemanship and learning everything I could before I started my business. While my drive and passion might be commendable to many, it was both a gift and a curse.

I had no problem being focused, staying on task and pursuing my goals but to what disadvantage? The disadvantage (the curse) was my drive, my fixed mindset and my ambition.

Thank God for my Trinity - Legend, Smokey and Sundance. It didn't take long for each one of them to show me how my drive, mindset and ambition wasn't going to work. That’s how my love for them allowed me to see. If I wasn't listening to my horses – paying attention to how they showed up, felt about the work with me, while taking (and learning new) lessons – they would let me know. And, believe me, they let me know! It was during these first years of being an ardent student and working and learning every day, all day, that my three beloved horses taught me the most.

The Trinity that started it all for Caroline Beste and the Tao of Horsemanship. Teachers of Holistic Horsemanship - better than Natural Horsemanship!
Legend, Sundance and Smokey, The Tao of Horsemanship “Trinity“ that started it all!

Every new exercise, clinic and experience we shared together was heightened, intensified, and enhanced, because my love for them was greater than my pride, my ego. I’m not saying I didn’t have pride or ego... I had plenty. But because I valued my horse’s experience more than mine, they were able to show me how stupid my ego and my pride actually were.

This meant that when my ego, my fixed mindset or my arrogance got in the way, my horses showed me and drove me to humility, despair and eventually growth. None of this would have happened if I didn’t care more about them than me.

I can’t count how many times I ended up on my knees crying, groveling for forgiveness because I pushed too hard, asked for too much or showed up with too much energy and force.

For those of you who know me, you’ve probably heard me talk about how Legend broke me. He didn’t break my spirit, but he broke my patterns, my fixed mindset – my very core of being at that time. If it wasn’t for him, I would not be the person I am today, and this I know for sure.

This is why…

Ask not what your horse can do for you,

ask what you can do for them.

Holistic Horsemanship is more effective than Natural Horsemanship because it considers the WHOLE horse!

It is so important when it comes to doing right by our horses. It means every time you are with your horse, and you ask them to do something with you or for you, ask yourself this question: are you asking or are you making?

An example is asking your horse to come to you so you can halter them. If they don’t come when you call, instead of trapping them, tricking them with treats or running them tired, ask... “why is this happening and what can I do?”

Another example I see all the time when students begin learning my art of lunging for connection and carriage is getting into a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset.

When this happens, we become laser focused on the objective, goal or destination and not the process, steps or journey. This is how we can really mess things up with our horse and for our horse as a learner. This means that when our horse deviates from what we perceive to be the correct way of doing something we jump in and get really forceful and try to correct our horse instead of being an observer first and taking notes.

Observing and taking notes allows us to understand where our horse is coming from, what they need as a learner to understand what we are asking of them.

Most of the time students don’t even know the method or exercise well enough to be at the level to correct. And this is why (when) their horses get frustrated, confused, irritated and scared. Again, another reason why being an observer first, and when learning and teaching new skills, helps us be present and mindful.

Because horses are energy feelers, and communicate through their nervous system (senses), they instinctively know when someone doesn’t know what they are doing. Horses can sense when the mind, heart/emotions and actions aren't aligned, or congruent. And this either makes them crazy (fearful or frustrated) or dull and checked out (survival mode). If you have a confident horse they can handle it, like water rolling off a duck's back. Unfortunately, we don't see too many confident horses and that's why we have so many unconfident learners and horses with many behavioral issues. We've confused them, influenced them and in turn created unhappy, unbalanced horses.

What I’m trying to say is training doesn't have to get to this level. It's not training when we’ve lost our horse’s feeling of safety, trust, and confidence in us. I see it happening more than it should and that's why I'm here to give you some advice.

When you see your horse becoming uncomfortable... step back, stop, hit the pause button, dwell for some time and start over differently.

In my method, stepping back means we ground ourselves. We then invite our horse back into our heart and dwell together. (Lick and chew for a while!)

Mistakes aren’t mistakes when made once. Rather, they are learning opportunities. The opposite is called insanity. This is when we keep making the same mistake, over and over, expecting a different result. Let's not drive ourselves and our horses insane! Believe me, I did and that's why I'm here today, to help you and your horse the best way I can, by sharing my experiences.

So next time this happens... and it will for most of us until we learn our horses and what they need to be confident learners... stop. And when you’re ready to begin again, slow-way-down and don’t just pay attention to your horse, allow them to show you what they need - and meet them where they need to be met.

In the end, learning is never a straight line. So, allow your lunging circle to be an "oval" in the beginning so you can see where you need to be to help your horse straighten out... and when you spend that time and give your horse what they need to be a confident learner, you will reap the rewards of a consensual partnership that lasts forever!

I invite you to experience this for yourself and to learn more about these methods I teach by joining my free 7-Day Holistic Horsemanship Mastery Miniseries below.



Free Holistic Horsemanship Mastery Mini-Series

Sign up here!


If you’ve been searching for a deeper way to be with horses, a better way to train horses and in a connected and safe riding partnership, the Tao of Horsemanship Academy is for you!

With a comprehensive website of holistic horsemanship information, as well as free resources, support and a complete online learning program, you can immerse yourself in the world of consensual partnership with your horse and love the journey as you learn together.

May you always be one with your horse,

Caroline Beste

Founder, Tao of Horsemanship


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