Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On Choosing a Mentor

I believe that the future of the horse industry lies in kids and novices. I also believe that with all of the information that is at hand about natural horsemanship there is no reason for a person with a real interest in horses to remain a novice more than a few months. One of the things that keeps people in the permanent status as novices, or even worse drives them away from horses altogether, is the choice of a poor mentor.
The world is full of people who believe themselves to be authorities on all things equine. Unfortunately, the world is nearly devoid of those who actually are such authorities. A good mentor recognizes this limitation and will consider herself a student who is always looking to learn more about horses. A good mentor will not be a fierce disciple of any individual clinician to the point that she denigrates all other clinicians. A good mentor will have a library of resources for the novice to read and view.
More important than the mentor's store of knowledge is the make up of the mentor's personality. The key points are these--Does the mentor truly want you to learn or does the mentor want to make sure that you remain a novice, always in awe of her skill? Does the mentor's view of her own expertise extend to an incredibly wide range of subjects, making her an expert, not just on horses, but on every topic that she encounters?
Is she arrogant or humble? Nothing humbles one like having a great deal of experience with horses. Very few arrogant people understand horses and even fewer arrogant people understand humans. Listen to her training stories. Do they often conclude with "So we finally sold that horse!"? Listen to her stories about her students/disciples. Do they tend to explain all failures and injuries as a result of the the student/disciple deviating from the instruction that the mentor gave?
What is the potential mentor's attitude towards the concept of power? Is gaining power and control a goal in itself or is it only a means to gain a better relationship with a horse? Does the mentor recognize that patience is the best indicator of true power and self control?
Does the mentor possess self control? Is the mentor's self control so strong that it generates confidence in both horses and humans?
Does she believe that horses are incapable of feeling human emotions, specifically love? Does she appear incapable of feeling human emotions, specifically love?
Without a doubt horses can bring out the best in people. Unfortunately they can also bring out the worst in some people. If your potential mentor is driven by only a desire to control a horses and students you will have a problem in your development as a horseman. If your potential mentor is driven only by a desire to teach horses and students then you will find many of your problems solved on the road to becoming a deserving partner to your horse.


Anonymous said...

I am a mentee of Steve's - (less than 2 yrs) knowledge that I have gained from him far exceeds what I would have ever dreamed of knowing.
He is everything you always wanted to know about training horses, natural horsemanship, horses, history and more and NOT afraid to ask.

Danielle The Horse Whisperer said...

I am one of Steve's riders, trainers, and helpers always willing to do what ever is asked. I have learned more with him than any other horse "expert". He understands horses and cares for them unlike people who care mor about looks than feelings. Im his "right hand man" or women ;-P

Katelyn said...

I am a rider of Steve's too. No better mentor out there in my opinion. He has taught me more than I would have ever thought I could know and everyday I learn more. He teaches you the kind of stuff that makes for a great horse; natural horsemanship completely and totally.

Vickie Ives said...

Our place is different from Steve's in climate and terrain, but so much that Steve says here just echoes our own experiences. Love how articulate Steve is for REAL horsemanship.Thanks once again, Steve!

Nanci said...

Thank you, Steve. Your words ring true once again.