The first time I visited the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center at the Kentucky Horse Park, one of the directors asked me, “who’s your guru?”
I was a little surprised. “Um, no one. I learn what I can from everyone I can and let the horses tell me what works.” It was the director’s turn to be surprised.
I get that question often, in different disguises. “Who is the best? “What system reveals the REAL secrets?” “Who is the true Horse Whisperer?” The answer remains the same. Learn what you can from everyone you can, and let your horses tell you what works.
I have been blessed to ride with some of Pat Parelli’s top professionals. John Lyons’ “Bedtime Reading for the Horse Lover” is my current good-night reading. Skills learned at a long-ago clinic with Buck Brannaman, my barely-started colt, and my advanced show horse come into play every time I step in a round pen or swing into the saddle. Do I recommend them all? Yes! At the exclusion of each other? Absolutely not.
Perhaps Pat Parelli’s kinetic showmanship speak to you. Maybe John Lyons’ loving peace allows you to learn best. I encourage all you horse trainers out there to employ the “shopping cart technique” when it comes to gurus. Take what is useful to you now, leave what doesn’t work on the shelf, and don’t reject a possibility simply because it bears a different brand. On the other hand, don’t stomach something tasteless or harmful to you and your horse simply because it comes from a big-name label.
On the yellow brick road of horse training, many systems lead to Oz.