Fellow Desert Breeze author, Stephenia H. McGee, is a guest on my blog today. She shares with us her insight into horsemanship.
Stephenia McGee wrote her first story from a first-grade spelling list. Many more have followed, but A Legacy of Lies is her first novel. In addition to writing, Stephenia also enjoys painting and working with horses. She has a bachelor's degree from Mississippi State University in animal science and has worked and trained for several equestrian farms. She is the Chairman at Spirit Horse Ministries, and a portion of her proceeds from book sales go to support the youth programs.
Stephenia is married to her best friend and greatest blessing, Jason, and they currently live in Mississippi with their two sons.
In A Legacy of Lies, the hero works as a cow hand at a Montana ranch. He has this "way with horses" that the other cowboys don't understand. Jim has crazy training methods, but he gets some pretty crazy results, too. This aspect of my character really came from my own life experience. I have spent several years studying the art of natural horsemanship.
Natural horsemanship is essentially equine communication. By learning how a horse communicates, you can more effectively give cues and expect better responses.
The most important thing to know about horse communication is to understand two very basic equine characteristics. First, horses are prey animals. Humans are carnivores. This may seem inconsequential to us, but believe me, it makes a world of difference to a horse. If you approach a horse head-on, focused, and intense, most likely you will be chasing it all over the pasture. You look too much like a predator, and your horse feels too much like prey. It's his instinct to stay clear of you. Second, horses are herd animals. They have a very distinct herd pecking-order. If you can be the leader of the herd (yes, this is quite possible) then your horse might test you, but will always do as you ask. Learn to speak his body language, and he will follow your leadership.
Spend some time watching horses. Notice which one is the leader and how it controls the others. Ears back and a bite to the neck means "I am the dominate horse, and I want your front shoulders out of my way." By using this same idea, I can frown at my horses, tap her neck and she steps right out of my way.
That's a very basic overview of natural horsemanship. Read my story to see some really cool things that Jim can do with his horse, Ciervo. That part's not fiction. My mare Fancy and I do it all the time.