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The Greenhorn Chronicles 31: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Equestrianism and Horsemanship (4)

2023-01-01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Publisher Founding: January 1, 2014

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightpublishing.com 

Location: Fort Langley, Township of Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Journal: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Journal Founding: August 2, 2012

Frequency: Three (3) Times Per Year

Review Status: Non-Peer-Reviewed

Access: Electronic/Digital & Open Access

Fees: None (Free)

Volume Numbering: 11

Issue Numbering: 2

Section: E

Theme Type: Idea

Theme Premise: “Outliers and Outsiders”

Theme Part: 27

Formal Sub-Theme: “The Greenhorn Chronicles”

Individual Publication Date: January 1, 2023

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2023

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Interviewer(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Interviewee(s): Leann (Pitman) Manuel

Word Count: 6,405

Image Credits: None

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN): 2369-6885

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citations, after the interview.*

*Interview conducted January 13, 2022.*

Abstract

Leann (Pitman) Manuel’s bio states: “Leann was as good as born on a horse, and has been fortunate to work with them daily since her very early twenties. From Pony Club and 4H as a child, through national level competition and several World’s Show qualifications with her Quarter Horse as a teen, to some Dressage tests, a few Cowboy Challenge clinics, and the daily operations at Riding 4 Life today, Leann’s horsemanship practice continues to seek out anything and everything she may be able to learn or experience with horses. Leann is passionate about helping others realize the value of having horses in their lives – no matter the breed or creed – and she hopes to continue to grow and nurture the horsemanship community in her region well into the future.” Manuel discusses: hours; part-time employee; closest facility; women or men in the staff; infinite funds; facilities; suitability; feral horses; equestrian industry in Canada; an expensive industry in general; politicization connected to a social elitism; the equine industry; the white collar versus the blue collar; challenged in the industry; therapeutic assisted development; an evidence-based foundation; evidence; horses teach us; and horsemanship versus equestrianism.

Keywords: blue collar, equestrianism, equine industry, evidence-based, facility, horsemanship, infinite funds, Leann (Pitman) Manuel, Okanagan, Riding 4 Life, show jumping, therapeutic riding, white collar.

The Greenhorn Chronicles 31: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Equestrianism and Horsemanship (4)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How many hours are you putting in a week?

Leann (Pitman) Manuel: Right now, my husband and I, combined, to keep this afloat. We, probably, put in 60 hours per week combined.

Jacobsen: How many are each part-time employee putting into it?

Manuel: None right now. Come March, 10 hours per week because they are all in school. I am picking up a half-time staffer, adult staffer, who is going to have a job created entitled Program Coordinator or something. An adult with experience teaching beginner lessons. Part of her work will include helping with the lesson planning, we do some group stuff, too, called “Barn Kids”. They are taught about colic and de-worming and all of the other stuff needed to own a horse some day. Because that is where some of my clients are headed. Some come to ride and that’s all they’ll ever come for. Some come for a season; some are lifers. I have a program called Lifers. They have access to us. They have a horse that they ride and do a report on. They have gelled as a group.

Jacobsen: What is the next closest facility to you? How far is it, approximately?

Manuel: The next closest that boards, teaches, and stuff like that.

Jacobsen: Yes.

Manuel: 15 or 20 minutes away.

Jacobsen: That’s a decent amount away.

Manuel: There are several like that in Summerland. There is one active in OK (Okanagan) Falls.

Jacobsen: Are there more women or men in the staff?

Manuel: I have a higher average of male participants because autism diagnosis tends to be skewed towards the male population rather than the female population. Although, that’s shifted. We have more young women and girls diagnosed. Access to proper diagnosis is getting better. They are realizing. Rhere are far more females who have it. Because of the way women are socialized, it gets missed.

Jacobsen: If you have infinite funds, what would you do with Riding 4 Life?

Manuel: Ha!

Jacobsen: It is always the barrier.

Manuel: There have been a few pieces of property that have opened up for sale. A 10-minute drive out of city centre Penticton. Super close, as close as we are in terms of driving time, I would like one of those properties. We’d probably double out program capacity. I would probably set up some boarding. The other problem is people who want to buy a horse. I have a dozen in my program who want to own a horse, someday. I don’t even know if I helped them find a horse; if I helped them buy one, I don’t know one that would be a half-hour away. I would want to get an entry level boarding for the public. Maybe, for vetted members of the public who fit the flavour of what we’re doing at our facility, we are mainly a non-competitive facility too. It is to protect the client base who I have, and their needs and wants. I am, personally, not going to coach somebody at a horse show right now. I will refer them to a colleague, instead. I would love to include some farm animals. Maybe, include another service provider that is similar, there are, certainly, a few more colleagues who are propertyless. They are trying to do their thing. But when you don’t have the ability to give input or shape the facility that you’re working on, it is really hard to do your thing and really offer what it is that you have to offer. I can think of a couple.

I would love to invite them onto the property and say, “You set up your program how you do it on the program.” I’d have covered arenas and some farm to table stuff. Some farmed beef. Quarter horses are incredibly prolific. They are common. They are more affordable. Their mental health is supported by having a job or chasing some cattle around, sort of like a border collie.

Jacobsen: [Laughing] Some facilities will focus on warmblood. Others will focus on thoroughbred. What are the logistical reasons for the split?

Manuel: So, at the higher end of that economy, if you are a business owner, you are specializing. Maybe, most of your contacts are in that industry with those breeders. Or if it is certain disciplines, they have preferences for certain looks, breeds, or styles, of horses. If your skill set is in the dressage arena, you are going to be more keen to have the breeds of horses that are best suited or the trendiest. Personally, a horse is a horse. I can do horsemanship with any horse. I have a teen. We got her on a horse. My lesson horse is a bit spicier. So, she can learn how to work with her. I have an older bony Arabian who packs around some kids. We call him “The Grumpy Old Man”.

Jacobsen: I saw that one.

Manuel: It is attached to certain kids. He would do well with just one person. It is something Arabians are known for; they are very loyal to their people. I have some thoroughbred and thoroughbred crosses. They tend to be more sensitive. They work well with our equine assisted learning program because the immediate response of the horse helps people learn the subtleties and get a handle on themselves. Thoroughbreds are a little bit more quick to respond. It is a good model for PTSD work because they’re wired. When that adrenaline hits, they just run. As soon as a horse’s fight or flight hits in the thoroughbreds, it requires more precise and quick acumen. Whatever breed of horse, you pick. It needs to do the thing you want to do. I never got to pick the breeds of horses. Most of the breeds in my possession were rescues or were given, or were next to nothing. Nobody wanted them. So, I did what I could with those horses. It does seem to me: People either fall in love with the discipline and end up with the breeds best suited to the discipline, or if they are a stud owner, they end up with the breeds of horses that breed well with that stallion because there’s some mixed breed stuff going on.

If you have a Lusitano stallion, some quarter horses will want to be bred with them. Then you have an Azteca. Some of it is market driven breeding-wise. Some of it is, unfortunately, ignorance. It is like racism. The idea is that this is the superior breed. Actually, if you take that horse and put it in this environment, then it will die fast. Because that is not where it was selectively bred for years. I mean thousands of years. For me, the true horseman of this horse world. I think there are very few who are consummate master horse men and women. They can tell you the values, the strengths, and the weaknesses, of each breed. They will say something similar. “What do you want to do? What’s your dream? You want to chase cows. You want a quarter horse. You grew up in Portugal. Then you want a Lusitano or something.” Culture and tradition go into it too. It is another piece of it.

Jacobsen: So, it is less about better or worse horse. It is more about suitability.

Manuel: For me, at least.

Jacobsen: What is the purpose? What is the suitability to this purpose?

Manuel: Totally.

Jacobsen: Some of the websites for the facilities list the horses as staff.

Manuel: Yes.

Jacobsen: What is the fun fact behind that?  

Manuel: They are working.

Jacobsen: [Laughing] Fair enough.

Manuel: I feed them. They work. So, I am ‘paying’ them. I calculate my costs. The operating costs of the business. I am trying to calculate my time. It tends to be the first thing to fall off when I want to pay my instructors. There is a piece for the horse. So, it is a way of tracking whether a horse is earning its keep or not. The other thing some of us are guilty of: Accumulating horses and to what end. Do they have a purpose? Do they have a job? Why do you have so many horses? A very near to us, a gal who trains and teaches and flips horses. She has a habit of accumulating more horses than she can’t get ridden and trained, and then sold back out into good lives. So, she accumulates a lot of freeloaders. It is a real threat to her business because she has to feed them. They are taking up space. She cannot put up a boarder to occupy that space. There’s the, maybe not, making decisions that are business-based enough. The other fascinating fact of this industry is the rescues. So, really big hearts doing good work, if I am really pressed and someone says, “Would you slaughter a horse?” I would say, “I guess, yes.” I cannot definitively agree with horse slaughter. It is a distinct problem. Something in the Okanagan that doesn’t exist on the coast. We have feral horses. It is grassland. It is cattle country all the way up North into Kamloops. There are grazing lands and cattle guards.

Jacobsen: If a horse gets loose, it becomes feral, potentially. Because these things run 50 km/h, easily.

Manuel: They do. Apex Mountain, which is one side of the valley here, to the West as I sit here now, a few years ago, there was an aerial view of the area. There were about 500 head count of feral horses. They are not ‘wild’ horses. Good luck genetically proving that any of these horses were indigenous here. You go further into the Chilcotin. There is some genetic evidence of there having been some actual wild herds. But not so much in the Okanagan, it is a couple of hundred years of cattle industry and horses used for transportation. They end up turned out, get loose, and become feral. In the last 50 or so years, horse owners on Indian land or Penticton Indian Band or a few other places have turned their horses loose because they live like that. Suddenly, there is a feral horse population.

Jacobsen: Are these feral horses ever accepted into indigenous herds? Is this ever a thing?

Manuel: This is the thing. What constitutes an indigenous herd? There are some things on the Okanagan news lately. The Penticton Herald, etc., because a lot more snow has brought some of them down looking for feed and water. They have been right along the highway. It is a hazard for them and for traffic. Penticton Indian Band has mentioned this is a nuisance issue for them. They are equally as frustrated. Inevitably, there will be folks who want to rescue horses. “Oh my gosh, they are starving.” Yes, living in the wild is harsh, our horses live better and longer because we meet their needs. Like anybody who was weak or not fat enough going into Winter, they’ll look bad. We file their teeth. In the wild, the weak do not survive. If we want to help the larger community of horses, we have to make some decisions. There are some groups who work with the bands, OKIB (Okanagan Indian Band), the Vernon Jurisdiction, the Oliver-Osoyoos Jurisdiction, they are pulling some of the horses out of the herd. They are making decisions of who should go where.

A lot of the young horses, yearling, etc., just old enough to come off mom, are being run through rescues being born free. They will go, get started, and will get auctioned. The funds from auctions will go to feed the herd that they are currently training and trying to bring the horses into our human economy that can survive; that will find homes, be cared for, and be safe if handled by experienced people. Sometimes, they are pulling horses off these herds that have either been feral too long, are not trainable, have health issues, and whatnot. They are going for slaughter. Those funds buy hay, etc. This whole rescue world in the horse industry has become more and more of a thing. In fact, once in a while, Horse Council BC sends out a survey to its membership asking, “What part of the industry are you in: competitive rider, recreational rider, or rescue?” Rescue is a category. I’m like, “Oh my.” [Laughing] There are enough folks involved in this now that it is a whole category of the horse industry. Yikes, yikes, I have a lot of thoughts about that.

Jacobsen: What are the parts of the equestrian industry in Canada that are highly politicized?

Manuel: Highly politicized, racing, it is where you find the most money, probably going to find the most politics.

Jacobsen: What kind of money are we taking here, as we are talking about an expensive industry in general?

Manuel: I would say the money that is, actually, measured from a business sense. If CRA, you pull numbers down from CRA in the horse industry. Horse racing is viewed as the most economically active sector and high-end competition, so Olympians. Those levels are highly politicized. When I showed up, a rusty trailer showed up with nowhere knowing how we got there.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].  

Manuel: It is true. We’d pull up from Vancouver Island. If you took the ferry after 11 p.m., it was half the cost. We wouldn’t arrive until 2 p.m. because we couldn’t afford it. We pulled up in this rig worth more than my parents’ house and property at the time. I’m sure. $120,000 of rig in 1991. You’re like, “Oh my God.” [Laughing] I pulled up in this rinky dink rusted trailer looking like it is from a bad spaghetti Western in 1967. My horse comes out of that. I go compete the next day and beat some of these people. It is highly politicized, for sure. Because there’d be days when the judges alone; sometimes, things are double and triple judged. I go in a ring. I do the same obstacle course. One judge placed me first. Another judge places me second. A third judge doesn’t place me at all. Meanwhile, every other placing, all of the other professionals are there in about the same way with a few switching places here and there. You cannot tell me that is not political. I was the only non-pro rider in the class. One judge just feels one non-pro doesn’t belong there and will ignore me, very political.

Jacobsen: Is this politicization connected to a social elitism?

Manuel: Social elitism, I would say so. The judge might argue, “Why are you in a class with people who make their living? This is part of how they make their living. You need to go back into your division.” They would say it is, probably, not elitism.

Jacobsen: How do they define it?

Manuel: They define it as respect for industry. I call it misogyny. I call it colonialism. The fact I was female and the rest were male professionals is a thing. It’s pretty fascinating.

Jacobsen: How long has the equine industry, in its modern context or form, been present in Canada? So, the professionalization of equestrianism, broadly speaking, in Canadian society. Because, in years prior, a horse was a sign of being poor.

Manuel: It depended. It depended on what you did with them. If you did thoroughbred horse racing, that was a thing. If you did polo, it, absolutely, depended on what you did with them. Having mostly grown up with quarter horses, once in a while, I could borrow the fancy dressage saddle and could fake it at the dressage test, the local dressage test. I would beat all of them too. They’d be like, “You can’t do that on your quarter horse.” “You might want to check with your judge about that.” There are cultural artifacts still floating through these disciplines as well. Dressage, jumping definitely carries some elitism in it. Horse racing, as far as breeders involved in it and the trainers that they hire, a lot of money goes into buying, training, selling, these horses. There is a lot of old money there. A lot of them look down their nose at those of us who ride in our Western equipment.

Jacobsen: There is a similar thing with shanty Irish and lace curtain Irish. Shanty Irish as the poor; lace curtain Irish as the poor.

Manuel: I came from the more blue-collar side of the horse industry. I competed a bit with the white collars. “Who are you?”

Jacobsen: What is a tell, to an individual in the white collar versus the blue collar? Is it not having the right brand?

Manuel: I have trouble – literally – understanding from the outside looking up [Laughing] or in. My guess is that it challenges a lot of things that they think are true. Then there I am, I am not following the rules. How can that happen? It creates a cognitive dissonance that they’re uncomfortable with and don’t know what to do with. It comes to the idea of what you need to do and to accomplish to get where they are. “How can she at the ripe old age of 17 and 18 be able to ride like me?” Good question, I haven’t been able to figure that one out, except that it is what I did with every spare moment of my time from 11-years-old onwards. I rode anything I could get my hands on. I, probably, shouldn’t have. I fell off hundreds of times in my earlier years. That teaches you a lot about what not to do again. [Laughing] Then you try something else. “Don’t try that either, it didn’t work.” For a lot of them, it really challenged what they thought was real and true about their lives, and who they were.

Jacobsen: What needs to be challenged in the industry? What needs to be discussed in the industry explicitly?

Manuel: There are a few categories. One of the categories is that we almost need to be recognized: Horses’ impact on society needs to honoured. The last 100 years, the internal combustion engine, horses went from everyday life for so many people, especially in North America because it is so big. If horses were not part of your life somehow, I don’t know how you survived outside of urban areas. 100 years ago, they were rare and extremely small as a portion of the population. It is almost like a mass extinction of some basic equine involvement or horsemanship practice. Then it has died off in a couple of generations. That’s pretty quick. Again, the writing curriculum, the good horsemen are in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, and they are talking about their mentors who were 20, 30 years their senior. We’ve lost that. So, that recognition by our governments and culture as a whole. We are really missing something.

I think that that longing, missing, or recognition, might be missing, or people may be unable to put their finger on it. But so many people when they ask me, “What do you do?” I tell them about Riding 4 Life and what I do. “Horses are so healing. There is something about them.” I’m like, “Yes, it is cellular. A generation or two ago, they were a part of everyday life. If you have read anything about epigenetics, it wouldn’t seem that weird anymore as to why you have that longing.” It is – literally – in the psyche of our human species and development for 1,000s of years. Our historians are still and researchers are still pinning down the debate as to when were horse domesticated. The more resources put into figuring it out. The further back that number goes. I think last I was listening and looking at it. Those estimates were at 8,000 and 10,000 years ago. It keeps reaching further and further back the more we look into it. To go back to Malcolm Gladwell needs to reach a tipping point, before we reach a value of horsemanship, not just agriculture, it is one piece. I think it is part of this equine therapeutic movement in mental health now.

Jacobsen: When did the therapeutic assisted development begin?

Manuel: There are a lot of different answers to that. In the 70s, there were some definitive evidence with a human on a horse stimulates the brain. It was some first evidence base in our Western world medical view of it. I think a lot of notable people have been commenting on that for decades before that. One of the famous quotes from Winston Churchill. ‘There is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.’ It has been misquoted. I think we’ve known that. A lot of Indigenous populations have acknowledged the horse as healing in their mythology forever. Certainly, I am aware of some nations in the U.S., for example, who view the Dun horse as a healing horse. It happens that the colour, genetically speaking, is a “primitive colour” because those colours can be brought back to horses in Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The hippo-therapy one, the research about the human motor cortex stimulated when being on the horse and the human pelvis aligning with the horse pelvis is the one most familiar to me. Because it is the one that gets access to me for funding for autism services. I am most familiar with that one.

But I am sure there are several. Therapeutic riding associations became more of a thing in the 70s and 80s. Some of them date back further to the 50s. It is not, exactly, new. But I don’t think it started to happened on this scale until the last 10 or 20 years, at the most.

Jacobsen: Is this most a move towards an evidence-based foundation in some small parts of equestrianism?

Manuel: I’m sure. There are blips that are evidence-based. I’m so happy they happened. Then you will get these other practitioners starting their own thing. I think, “It sounds fluffy.” Then I am frustrated again. It is a slow march forward and, hopefully, improves as we go. That’s one. That recognition of the history of horsemanship and our human history. Honestly, I don’t think that we would be the humans we are today without the horse. I don’t think we would have made it. Land bridges and mass migrations of populations; I don’t think it would have happened without the horse and other livestock like cattle and sheep, as part of people’s survival. But the horse is what allowed us to move that far.

Jacobsen: What part of the industry seems to lack evidence? Those that can be considered, not a standard practice but, a practice and don’t have the wherewithal to substantiate themselves. They’re based on error.

Manuel: Based on error, again, there are quite a few of them. The first one is this Natural Horsemanship movement. To me, it is expert marketing. [Laughing]

Jacobsen: [Laughing]

Manuel: It is fantastic marketing. In fact, it is most commonly attributed to Pat Parelli. He is not the first person to put it in a book. Several other notable master horsemen have used that term. Some of them were making the point that to say horsemanship is natural. It is false. We have to, as horseman, become familiar with and experts at horse’s state to become experts at something unnatural. Evolution didn’t necessarily lead us here, again, 10,000 years. Human history is a speck on the beach. It is really, really quite small. Then there’s the argument of this natural and better way as opposed to the old way. Some of our proponents of this type of horsemanship are guilty of that. The old way just a pocket of it in a certain region of the world, which seemed like the whole world to them – speaking of North American culture, because this is on U.S. soil. The gentler ways, the softer ways… I would argue truly successful horsemanship has been non-violent the whole way. There are varying degrees of success that have shown up. You can get some success using methods that are, even by my standards, quite violent. I am not opposed to standing my ground as a horse, but I define violence a bit differently too. Natural Horsemanship, where did that come from? It is like Santa being in a red suit. It is like, “Do you realize who started that?”

Jacobsen: You mentioned that there were a few. Any others that come to the top?

Manuel: It depends on who you ask. The difference between the disciplines, dressage, often, like to see themselves as distinctly different. “We do it this way because this is the pure way or the way that matches with the horse.” So, one of the comments that I hear from the average horse owner: Western riders were always gunning to ride on one rein with a loose hand to have a hand free. I do demonstrations where the bridle comes off the horse. I do not need a bridle on its head. It’s all my energy and body movement and everything else a horse can pick up from me to direct the horse. I have two hands free. But the one hand free comes from ranch work. I need to get a calf, need to open a gate. It’s a horse that works. If I cross train a bit, and if I go to a clinic with a dressage trainer, good horsemanship is good horsemanship. Core skills are core skills. These are my people.

Then there are the other people who are like, “You sit crooked and your posture is wrong, because you ride with one hand all the time.” I ride with two hands most of the time. But if I am on a finished horse at a competition, then I will ride with one hand. Those things. Then they try to tell me the dressage way is the better way; and I will get much better results if I do it that way. The Sun will shine, and the clouds will part. I have been at this a long time. I listen, listen, and listen, to the bits that I can take away that do improve the horsemanship. There are days when I need to vent about it. It is annoying and unfortunate. We cannot come together on the common ground pieces. Part of me wants to remind them where dressage came from, originally. It is a hangover from the calvary. I hate to break it to them all. Calvary riders in war rode with one hand because they had a weapon in one hand. You might want to do the research into the history of your own discipline before you go speaking about it that way. Not many people know that. For me, it outs them.

Jacobsen: You see them as fluffy.

Manuel: Yes, fluffy.

Jacobsen: It is someone in a business meeting coming inappropriate attire. They look lightweight. They are not necessarily bad, but lightweight and seemingly ignorant in this domain.

Manuel: Sometimes, that term “fluffy”. I run into it in those businesses that are therapeutic. If you want to have a therapeutic practice with horses, even more so, your horseman chops have to be there. Whenever you put inexperienced humans there with any horse, you are responsible for that relationship. If you don’t have the chops to understand all the dynamics there, you are putting people in harms way. “But doesn’t it just healing?” This is anthropomorphizing of horses.

Jacobsen: Sure, they’re putting human qualities on a horse.

Manuel: It can read emotions well, but it can’t think about what happened yesterday or what might happen and worry about it. It doesn’t have that ability. It is only dealing with you right now in front of you, and all of the emotions that you’re experiencing. It is only going to respond and react. If fight-flight, it is react. If calm, it is response. All to right now. Looking for professional development is tough for me because I pay some money and take some time off, and I will listen to these folks, “Oh my God, there were 15 things wrong with those beginners.” Cringing, things I would not allow in my yard.

Jacobsen: These weaved issues. The issue of non-standardization is connected to the issue of poor understanding of the management of a trainer with an inexperienced person – let alone with an inexperienced human being with a particular condition that limits their scope of functionality in life.

Manuel: One of my assessment tools for folks. How far have they come in horsemanship? It is how readily they project onto the horse things that have nothing to do with the horse. Do they see the horse or something else? That’s how you know they’re skills are coming up.

Jacobsen: What can horses teach us?

Manuel: You don’t grow and learn with horses without first getting a handle on yourself. Every time my horsemanship progresses, a key piece to that is I’ve healed, grown, or gained wisdom into me. Because if I don’t run me well, I don’t engage the world well. It is true for horses. True for so many things. All my relationships, it is true for horses, too. I can talk my out of a lot of things. You can’t talk your way out of a horse. They will see you, how you are in the moment because they can’t lie.

Jacobsen: If a horse is happy, what are the immediate tells? If a horse is unhappy, what are the immediate tells?

Manuel: I think happiness is more of a human concept.

Jacobsen: Positive affect as opposed to negative affect.

Manuel: The tells on a horse are either stressed or at ease is a better way to describe the spectrum of arousal on a horse because they are a prey animal. At ease, it doesn’t matter what breed of horse. They tend to have a slack, level top-line. An alert or on alert horse will raise its head. How they carry their ears, it is part of the top-line through the ears. Relaxed floppy donkey ears are a sign of ease. Any sign of tension is a way along up the arousal continuum. Flat back is quite a ways down or quite a ways along the opposite of ease. “I have to fight or flee.” With that comes all kinds of facial expression, as humans have recognizable facial expressions with our emotions, when you spend time with horses, hopefully, you will learn what those mean. I have some horses with some idiosyncrasies.

I know some horses who hold one nostril higher. It tends to coordinate with what back foot they’re resting because it goes along the spine. Pain in a horse is difficult for a human to read because of how they hold their face. They are not alert. They are not fully relaxed either. They are a bit distant. They try to dissociate from their pain as well. Rhythm, anything a person doing a rhythm with flies in the shade. When they break the rhythm, something is going wrong. That’s why, when we ride, if we have no rhythm, we will irritate the crap out of that horse. Rhythm is a soothing, harmonizing, connecting thing for them. The rhythm of their foot falls, a horse that is long and low. Its stride length gets lower or a slower beat, whatever gait they’re at; there’s a lot of relaxation there. When their feet strides get shorter and quicker, you see that a lot. This is when they’re being ridden in particular. A rider is, in a big way, interfering way causing stress and discomfort. A horse that won’t stand and rest at any point. If they need to continually move, pain, worry, loneliness, or if they don’t feel safe in their surroundings, or if a horse never lies down and has some health issues or isn’t in a herd where they feel safe, I run my horses in groups or pods because we work with beginners.

The herd has to be comfortable with each other. If they accidentally do bumper ponies, I can trust the herd’s familiarity and respect, and dynamic of them, that no one gets hurt. If I go on my show horse, and go on a riding ring, and collide with somebody, it can get ugly pretty quick. Beginners who play bumper ponies can get hurt. I get my horses familiar with the whole herd together. Quite often, on a warm sunny day, there are a few standing and one or two sitting two. One or two standing watch while the rest are taking a rest. The boss mare is watching out for the herd. If we see out in the herd that there is a lot of movement, nobody is really standing around. Nobody is at ease. We know something happened on the property. Maybe, the bear in close behind. One morning, you couldn’t see what happened. I looked at the property and the rest of the horses. We realized a horse a few packs over was colicky.

Jacobsen: Are there any aspects of equestrianism that we haven’t covered, but could cover?

Manuel: The only thing I want to mention, for me, is a distinction between being an equestrian and being a horseman. The reason I think there is a differentiation. I can see people ride and can identify people who are great equestrians, not great horsemen. I can identify folks who are great horsemen, but, in the ranks of the equestrian world – which I view as the competitive world with the judges, are unorthodox. It is possible to be a great equestrian and a great horseman.

Jacobsen: Is it a similar difference between a horseman is more of a cowboy and an equestrian is more of a show jumper?

Manuel: No, I think I know some great horseman. Ian Millar is a fantastic horseman. Mario Deslauriers is also a great horseman, in my opinion. They are consummate professionals and masters at not only the riding and training of a horse – the horse’s whole. When they take it home, its living environment and the psychology of the situation. Thinking of my own immediate horse community, there is a rider who can ride fire-breathing off the track thoroughbreds, but who can for a moment make them look wonderful. When she stops, it becomes every bit as dangerous. She is a great equestrian. She can ride anything. Kudos to you, and looking great doing it. She will compete and could go far and would be a rider who could compete at the Olympics and do really, really, really well. But she doesn’t have the ability to change that horse in how it experiences life, how it views people. She is not affecting that horse’s experience of people well enough to hand that lead rope off.

Sometimes, you meet horses that don’t do that for people in a noticeable way. I think master horseman do and can tell you all about it. I think I put myself in the horseman category more than the equestrian category. I excelled at the events where you had to get things done. You have to do an obstacle course. The horse’s maneuvers were fantastic. I looked at doing it as 5’2” pudgy teenager in an unorthodox way. But in the course where they score you, I beat them. How do you explain that, gentlemen? I made a career out of taking the fire-breathing dragon horses and change them, so I could hand the lead rope to others and make them more safe. Then advise people. “This is the horse’s needs and temperament, and here’s what you need to watch for and be a steward for this horse,” and who might be appropriate, and who isn’t. Sometimes, you meet horses who are so traumatized or neurochemical makeup is too sensitive. I have one here.

They will always be here. I don’t know many people who could be successful riding him. He is too sensitive. He is a sweetheart. I can give a lead rope to him for kids. He is a great therapeutic tool, expressive, and responsive. But he is a big boy. If he is nervous when you are on, you are coming off because is just so big. So, equestrian versus horseman, a horseman describes a broader skill set.

Jacobsen: It sounds like equestrian, in your terminology, means the original meaning of a horse rider.

Manuel: Yes.

Jacobsen: As opposed to a horseman as someone who deals with the general arc of a life of a horse plus riding.

Manuel: It is one thing you do with a horse, riding.

Jacobsen: It is, probably, the smallest thing you do with a horse.

Manuel: I know, right? [Laughing]

Jacobsen: I mean, put it this way: How hard is it to find a good stall cleaner? Someone who can muck well.

Manuel: Surprisingly hard. I get so many emails, “I want to help and volunteer.” It is good nobody can see me when I read them, because I am awful, “Oh, hell no.” Because so much energy goes into teaching someone to go into a paddock and being with the horses and mucking.

Jacobsen: Not being afraid of horses is probably a big step in their favour in being decent at cleaning. Cleaning is an extremely hard job. To maintain a standard, to do it fast.

Manuel: One of my assessment tools for clients who want to be more involved is the Lifers program. “How much is it? I want to sign my kid up.”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Manuel: That kid can’t even put their saddle pad away. The kid who wants to stay, wants to ignore the parent to get them into the car, and who picked up the poo in the yard, as many excuses as they can come up with to stay here. I am all for it. If the parent says, “How much does it cost for them to stay in? They’re in every time.”

Jacobsen: Leann, it has been a very lovely and educational conversation. I appreciate both the opportunity and your time today.

Manuel: Thank you, the questions were great. I don’t often get to talk about this stuff in detail.

Bibliography

None

Footnotes

None

Citations

American Medical Association (AMA 11th Edition): Jacobsen S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 31: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Equestrianism and Horsemanship (4). January 2023; 11(2). http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/manuel-4

American Psychological Association (APA 7th Edition): Jacobsen, S. (2023, January 1). The Greenhorn Chronicles 31: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Equestrianism and Horsemanship (4). In-Sight Publishing. 11(2). http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/manuel-4.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. D. The Greenhorn Chronicles 31: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Equestrianism and Horsemanship (4). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, Fort Langley, v. 11, n. 2, 2023.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (17th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2023. “The Greenhorn Chronicles 31: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Equestrianism and Horsemanship (4).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 11, no. 2 (Spring). http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/manuel-4.

Chicago/Turabian, Notes & Bibliography (17th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott The Greenhorn Chronicles 31: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Equestrianism and Horsemanship (4).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 11, no. 2 (January 2023). http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/manuel-4.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. (2023) ‘The Greenhorn Chronicles 31: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Equestrianism and Horsemanship (4)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, 11(2). <http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/manuel-4>.

Harvard (Australian): Jacobsen, S 2023, ‘The Greenhorn Chronicles 31: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Equestrianism and Horsemanship (4)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 11, no. 2, <http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/manuel-4>.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 9th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. “The Greenhorn Chronicles 31: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Equestrianism and Horsemanship (4).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vo.11, no. 2, 2023, http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/manuel-4.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. The Greenhorn Chronicles 31: Leann (Pitman) Manuel on Equestrianism and Horsemanship (4) [Internet]. 2023 Jan; 11(2). Available from: http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/manuel-4

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Based on work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

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© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, or the author(s), and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors copyright their material, as well, and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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