BIO

Susan Harden

My horse story started on the beach in Scarborough where I fell in love with a donkey. That led to much nagging at parents till they finally caved in some years  later when at the age of 10 I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have my own pony. From then on horses have been my world, progressing through pony club, showjumping and eventing till the late 1980`s when I rode a Spanish horse while visiting Andalucia and fell in love all over again. I was lucky to be offered a job by the owner of that horse, Miguel Barrionuevo of Pura Passion so chose to stay in Spain and  immersed myself in the wonderful  world of classical dressage.  Some years later I was able to buy my own place where I started off just working with horses, specializing in starting youngsters. I was convinced that only by riding at least 8 horses a day, could I ever hope to be anything like as good as I wanted to be.  I soon realized that , for the horses sake, the humans should be educated alongside . Luckily I discovered that I really enjoyed teaching and found , to my delight, in that process, a whole new way of learning. This led to running residential courses and only taking in horses whose owners were willing to come and be involved in the work.

Over the last 25 years I have worked with students from all over the world  on topics ranging from  improving their dressage tests, facing fears, personal development, feel, building a stronger foundation of horsemanship , the common denominator being desire for a more authentic connection. Through all this, and my own explorations into bio-energetics, yoga , meditation, dance and martial arts, I have developed  some effective techniques which help humans find a harmonious connection with horses.  I am always working to improve myself so discovering Tom Dorrance, Bill Dorrace, Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman’s pure horsemanship through Feel, was wonderful and deeply inspiring as well as amazing I had never heard of Tom Dorrance or Ray Hunt ! Unbelievable! I was lucky enough to ride at a Buck Brannaman clinic a few years ago and he is even more lovely in reality. It is such a shame these talented horsemens work is not applied in all equestrian disciplines , after all good horsemanship is just good horsemanship. Whatever tack you use or don’t use, whatever your choice of clothing or name you give to what you do...... for the horse it is all the same.  Horses work on feel and for me this quote from the legendary Ray Hunt says it all.

“The human has to learn to feel where the horse is at, then feel of him, then feel for him so that you can feel together“

   

Without this basic principle nothing else makes sense. This is what I work on each day with my horses, always grateful for the opportunity to practice. We have much to learn from our horses, to spend time in their company, in integrity and totality is an honor.

In the presence of horses

Just being with horses soothes my soul

The horse is 100% total and authentic

He is completely in the present moment, acting on impulse without judgement.

He is aware of the most subtle shifts in energy in his surrounding, his senses alert and in tune with all information from his environment

He is grounded, connected to nature, to his herd

 

All this is essential for survival in the natural world while being important life lessons which us human have forgotten or struggle with in our modern hi-tech world.

 

When we are working with the horse he only does 2 things

  • what he thinks we are asking for or

  • what he feels he need to do to survive, defend himself (either flight, fight or freeze depending on his character and experiences with humans)

 

Remembering this , gives us accurate feedback to our requests and helps us understand that what we think we are asking for (intellectually ) may not be what is being transmitted to the horse who reads our intention, energy and body language better than we ourselves can

It can also be the case when we ask something of the horse that it is simply way too much so he may appear not to understand

Our job is always to dial it down, how little can we do and get the message across ? this is usually much less than we imagine, horses will pick up on minute changes in the feel and read our true intention accurately.

Much like ourselves horses just want to feel safe, cared for, protected.... if we can provide that space for them they will happily be our most faithful companions.

And so the practice of horsemanship gives us endless learning opportunities if we just lay down our pride and allow our humility to illuminate our lessons.

The dynamic power and graceful beauty of the horse inspires us to be better humans and guides us to integrity.

When all is said and done I believe , from my experience, that the single biggest factor is love. I don't know how the horse experiences it, but I do know that when the heart is open and full of love he will respond accordingly.

Thank you for being here with us.

Keep on living and breathing horses!

Susan x