If you are looking for a step by step “how to” for working with horses, this book is not it. Getting Along With Horses is laced with some specific hints and tidbits, but it is mostly a philosophical book.
By sharing stories of her own experiences (repurposed in part from her blog), the author encourages the reader to think about their own horsemanship philosophy. In focusing the reader on learning to be aware of ones own body and mind, Mcdonald sensitizes us to how we might affect our horses. She notes that when we change ourselves, we will often see a transformation in the horse.
Crissi Mcdonald, an experienced horsewoman in her own right,is married to the well known horseman and author Mark Rashid with whom she gives clinics. As a long-time trainer, she more recently became a certified Masterson Method Bodyworker and instructor. She is also friends with Anna Blake, one of my favorite horse authors. While McDonald, Rashid and Blake all clearly share commonalities in their approach to horsemanship, each infuses their own flavor into their work.
The book may challenge your way of thinking and lead you to feel uncomfortable at some points. I think this is part of learning as a horseman. As we sit with varying points of view, we can expand our own understanding of different ways to work with horses, even if we ultimately decide not to agree with a particular notion.
As an example, many of us (me included) have talked about our horses resisting something during a ride. Maybe we think he resisted coming onto the bit. Perhaps we think she resisted a request to stand at the mounting block. In her chapter “Horse As A River”, Mcdonald offers another view on thinking about a horse refusing a request.
“…if we feel what we would call “resistance”, it is because we are bringing it to the horse . . . Either our bodies (the outside) or our emotions/thoughts/intent (the inside) close and create a sort of roadblock the horse now has to get around… What if we instead focused on being more open ourselves, and helping our horse through troublesome spots? . . . It is time to lay to rest the notion that it’s us against them.”- Sentences excerpted From the Chapter “Horse as A River”
I ordered Getting Along with Horses: An Evolution in Understanding directly from the author’s website. I unexpectedly received a signed copy of the book as well as a bookmark. Definitely a nice touch.
I give the book “Getting Along with Horses: An Evolution in Understanding” a five-star review. If you would like to order your own copy, go to https://crissimcdonald.com/blog/ and click on the “Books” link. You can also access her materials on Amazon. While you are on her page, you can sign up to follow her blog.