Read the Book

The Path of the Horse book cover

The Path of the Horse eBook on Kindle takes the reader beyond the Path of the Horse documentary, following Stormy May's path in the years following the release of the movie. Originally released in 2012 and updated in 2016.

Email us to get a free 2012 audiobook with purchase of the Kindle edition!

Buy now on Amazon.com

or

Learn more

All proceeds are used to support OurHorses sanctuaries, educational programs and service projects.

Horses may feel more pain than humans

Have you heard the news?  A new study has found that horses have a thinner top layer of skin with more nerve endings and sensory fibers than humans.  This finding leads scientists to believe horses may actually feel more pain than humans.

horse skin thickness

In the microscopic view above, nerve endings have been stained red. There are more nerve endings in the horse skin than the human skin. The epidermis is the top layer of skin with the concentrated area of blue circles. source: study by Dr. Tong

 

The study was done by Dr. Lydia Tong, a veterinary pathologist and forensics researcher at the request of Australian ABC show, Catalyst.  The study was meant to determine skin thickness and pain sensation in horses versus humans.  The Catalyst show focused on the use of whips in racing but the study paints a new picture regarding all horses. 

When asked if something that would hurt a human would hurt a horse, Dr. Tong said we should assume it’s likely to be painful.  Although Australian Racing Board chief executive Peter McGauran said with a straight face during the Catalyst interview that he does not believe a whip inflicts pain on a horse, I have to believe that most people didn’t need a study to tell them that being whipped is painful.  

I will now predict the future and say without hesitation that it is simply a matter of time before more studies show that bridles, bits, saddles, spurs and the weight of the rider are also causing horses pain, maybe even more pain than a human would feel under similar circumstances.  It seems useless to explore further questions on the topic until we can answer, “How much pain is acceptable to expect horses to experience to feed our human desire for speed, freedom and mastery?” 

How much pain is acceptable to expect horses to endure to feed our human desire for speed, freedom and mastery?

The problem with asking this question is that everyone has a different answer.  Some people believe horses should not be subjected to any pain for human pleasure and others believe we are entitled to do whatever we want to horses, for example in horse tripping and the consumption of horse meat.  All riding and use of horses for work or entertainment falls somewhere between these two extremes.

As a culture, perhaps the fact that these studies are being done is evidence that many do want to move together with little steps towards a more humane future for horses.   As more studies are published, people who make rules for horse sports will undoubtedly spend time weighing current public sentiment with the “tradition” of their sport and opinions of current trainers and competitors.  They will likely make changes that will help their sport survive this awakening of humanity as long as possible.  The next step I predict is we will learn how to consult with horses and other animals so we can make choices that allow us to live in balance on a clean and abundant earth, treating each other as we would like to be treated.

It might seem that one person’s opinion of what’s best for horses and humans won’t make much of a difference but I know it does.  I am thankful to Margaret Mead for saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  I am also thankful to you who must care enough about horses and our world to be open to learning more and experiencing different perspectives.  Let’s enjoy this ride!

 

 

Stormy May is the producer of the documentary “The Path of the Horse” and author of the book of the same name.

 

 

Does aggression end aggression?

Are aggressive human actions an effective way to modify behavior?

In 2012 dog trainer Cesar Millan worked with a dog, Holly, who had food aggression, a behavior also called resource guarding.  In the session Cesar confronts Holly over a bowl of dog food.  When she warns him away with a growl and snap, he hits her (or touches her on the neck depending on how you want to describe it) likely scaring, distracting, and showing her that he is also aggressive and capable of hurting her. 

Guarding resources is a natural dog behavior but of course it is also unacceptable behavior according to humans who don’t want to be bitten.

Next, he continues to push her away from the food with an intense stare and body posed to attack at any moment.  Her body language in response could be described as “insecure” and “aggressive” depending on a person’s perspective at different times.  After Holly relaxes for a moment and Cesar begins talking to the owner standing nearby, Cesar either absentmindedly or misreading the dog tries to put his hand on her nose and she snaps at him again.  He withdraws his hand and then she lunges for it and gives him a serious bite, perhaps proving to herself in that moment that she is the more quick and agile one who should win the battle to get the food and be left alone.  Guarding resources is a natural dog behavior but of course it is also unacceptable behavior according to humans who don’t want to be bitten. 

You can see the video here:

Because aggression is part of animal behavior, does that mean it’s useful conduct in humans as well?

This video and others like it have created a division of public opinion with people either agreeing with Cesar and emulating his ways of matching aggression with aggression or disagreeing and finding non-violent ways to modify behaviors.  A similar division is found among people working with horses.  Behaviors such as biting, kicking, bucking, bolting and rearing are natural for horses yet can be dangerous to humans.  Understandably, we don’t want horses that do these things around us.  Do we solve these problems by proving to the horse that we can inflict intense pain quickly if she does something we dislike, or do we essentially ignore or separate ourselves from the undesirable behavior and reward behaviors we do like?  This second method is known as positive training, as demonstrated in “clicker training” and lure reward methods. 

Are our methods correction based or reward based?

In the human world, it’s a correction based belief that if we spank kids, have guns, nuclear weapons and the right to harm those who are engaging in aggressive behavior we will live in a safer world than if we lay down our weapons and wage peace, engaging in ways of helping each other get along.

An excellent article describing non-violent methods of dealing with resource guarding by Grisha Stewart of Ahimsa Dog Training says, “…the first thing we must do is not to see the issue as one of our dog engaging in ‘point scoring’ with ulterior motives of longer term control of his human pack, but rather as one of safety for ourselves. If we become drawn into physical combat with our dogs over possessions, as we will see later, we are more likely to cause ourselves a great deal of problems with our dogs in our day-to-day lives together than we are to teach them not to guard their toys or bones.

If we become drawn into physical combat with others over possessions, territory or ideology, we are more likely to cause ourselves a great deal of problems…

There’s something profound in that, especially when I look at it as it might apply to humans, “…the first thing we must do is not to see the issue as one of a person engaging in ‘point scoring’ with ulterior motives of longer term control of other people, but rather as one of safety for ourselves.  If we become drawn into physical combat with others over possessions, territory or ideology, we are more likely to cause ourselves a great deal of problems with people in our day-to-day lives together than we are if we teach and inspire reasons not to need to guard resources or opinions.

Wow.  Could this be the path to world peace?

If we look at the tools of correction based training (e.g. collars, leashes, bridles, guns, bombs and whips) they are more or less designed to cause pain, yet people using these devices almost invariably believe they are either minimally painful (a touch rather than a hit) or necessary pain needed to ensure the animal (or human) remains useful and sociable to other humans.

In an NBC interview in 2013 Cesar is asked, “Have you ever felt badly about doing something to a dog?”  He replied, “No, no, no, I’m not doing it to hurt him, it’s not my intention, it’s not the whole essence of what I do.”

Our history as well as many current training practices seem to prove aggressive human behavior does work to create less aggressive animals and perhaps it is responsible for the level of peace that we have achieved.  According to a video published in 2014, Cesar adopted Holly and has developed a relationship with her that looks kind and friendly.  After all, horses typically seem to prance contentedly between bridle and spur, right?   Isn’t that just the world we live in, the way things work?

Video of Cesar and Holly 2 years after the bite:

will violence always necessarily be on the path to peace?

The majority of people, and certainly the ones in most leadership positions, seem to believe that correction based control is an acceptable option and sometimes the best way to maintain safe households, safe communities and a peaceful world.  We all do it. Domestic violence is the most prevalent type of violence in the world.  Many people believe in our right to hurt others.  We bear arms and support military and police forces to keep us safe.  Maybe it’s because we haven’t yet found a better alternative.  Are there positive ways to modify human and animal behavior that might work better than correction based methods or will violence always necessarily be on the path to peace?

Doesn’t it seem like a good thing to try to find as many non-violent solutions as possible? 

When a person studies and begins to understand she can end up with a safe and trained animal using positive techniques it’s easy to get drawn into believing that correction based training is harmful and that those who practice it are “mean” or abusive.  Calling Cesar abusive is abusive and a form of correction based training.  Compassion includes the understanding that he is using the techniques he believes to be the most gentle and humane to ensure safe and healthy lives for both humans and dogs. 

the winner in the future will be the one who gathers with everyone on the same team and keeps us safe from human aggression in any form

It’s time to get past name-calling and realize the winner in the future will be the one who gathers with everyone on the same team and keeps us safe from human aggression in any form.  We all want the best for the animals; we all want the best for our entire human family. 

I’m doing my best to stop calling people names, blaming others and believing that any level of violence will lead to lasting peace.   I know it’s important for me to spend time doing the things that really matter, ensuring my family lives in a peaceful environment.  I want to live in a non-aggressive world so I am choosing to creatively find non-aggressive ways to get along with other residents of this planet.

Luckily, we don’t have to lobby to cancel Cesar’s show, change gun laws or overthrow the government if we believe positive actions are more effective than corrections.  We have infinite opportunities available to instigate positive solutions to disputes in our own lives.  As long as we haven’t found peaceful solutions, people will continue to use aggression.

It starts at home, with my own ability to see what I am doing and modify my own behavior to meet aggressive acts with compassion and empathy and to inspire in myself and others behavior that connects us and makes us feel safe and comfortable with each other.  Beyond that, it’s important to support and empower others who are committed to peaceful solutions.

I’m ready for a future where it is considered mental illness to believe that hurting or scaring another will solve a problem and make our world better.  In the new world, people with this illness will not be leaders; they will not be allowed to be with others they could harm.  Instead, they will be surrounded with people serving them with compassion and understanding.

 

 

Stormy May is the producer of the documentary “The Path of the Horse” and author of the book of the same name.

Can too much love hurt a horse?

Someone sent me a link to an article written by a horse trainer warning people about loving horses so much that they spoil a horse and create a dangerous animal.  The person who sent me the link thought perhaps I could set the author straight about the value of being loving towards horses. Instead, I ended up agreeing with the author’s assessment that many horses become dangerous because of inappropriate and largely unconscious human actions. 

many horses become dangerous because of inappropriate and largely unconscious human actions

The author wasn’t addressing the value of correction based training versus positive training, she was simply pointing out that people are misusing the sentiment of “loving” the horse as an excuse for not learning how to ensure that when horses are around humans, we both understand that nobody wants to get hurt. 

more people are hurt by horses than hippos because we have this concept that we love horses and are entitled to live in close contact with them

It seems obvious that more people are hurt by horses than hippos because we have this concept that we love horses and are entitled to live in close contact with them.  We breed them, we keep them in stables, we ride them and when they don’t do what we want, we typically sell them.  In this paradigm, it’s a disservice to the horse to think you’re being kind and loving when you’re actually teaching and reinforcing dangerous behavior which often leads to a lower quality of life for the captive horse.

The love that I experience whispers for horses to be free to live lives of their own choosing.

Today, the love for horses that has developed through my life-long passion no longer looks like wanting to ride or keep horses in stables.  The love that I experience whispers for horses to be free to live lives of their own choosing.  As much as my resources can support, I give horses this freedom. 

The horses in my care today were not born in a wild herd, they are products of another human’s desire and captive breeding but that doesn’t mean that their lives need to continue to be molded to serve humans.  I do need them to be safe around people on the ground so I use the most loving and conscious techniques gathered over decades to ensure we understand each other and are kind and careful with one another.  That’s my job as a human guardian and the least I can do to express my gratitude for being able to share the earth with these noble animals who don’t owe me anything.

 

Stormy May is the producer of the documentary “The Path of the Horse” and author of the book of the same name.

Still time to get the Path of the Horse DVD before Christmas (if you live in the USA)

The Path of the Horse movieThere’s still time to give the gift of the Path of the Horse DVD for Christmas (if you live in the USA…if you live anywhere else, give it about 2 weeks to get to your door).

Watch it, gift it, loan it to a friend, hold a film screening, donate it to your community library — think of the possibilities — what could you do with a Path of the Horse DVD?  All DVDs play in all regions, include special features, and subtitles in German, Polish, Spanish, Italian, French, Danish, and English.

Also check out our special when you order The Path of the Horse DVD and Horse as Teacher book together you also get a signed copy of Horse as Teacher: The Path to Authenticity with Horses.  This is the first book in a series bringing together the writings of people working on the forefront of the shift in consciousness with horses. Contributors include Stormy May, Anna Twinny, Kathy Pike, Lisa Dee, Susan Williams, Wendy Golding, Holli Lyons, Karen Head, Melisa Pearce and Mary Beth Meyers.

All orders contain a few other little gifts as well. 

View our products here: http://ourhorses.org/products

Does riding actually hurt horses?

sundance sun horseDo you really want to know what is going on under the saddle?  Do you wonder if there are certain types of bits that can help horses?  Does riding hurt horses?  Can horses be happy in domestic environments? 

Never has it been easier for horse owners and lovers to study these animals. 

Over the past decade or so there have been an increasing number of scientific and ethological studies available to help us answer many questions that arise in our modern relationships with horses.   There is so much free information, sometimes it’s simply a matter of sorting through and finding reliable sources.

The following is one of the best current videos presenting some solid scientific information in only 5 minutes.  A must-watch for all responsible horse enthusiasts!

What do you think?  Add your comments to this blog post

For more studies and information about the effects of riding and domestication on horses be sure to read The Path of the Horse ebook and audiobook available at this link.

A beacon in the horse world

May 3, 2014

Many people are excited about glamorous horses running races.  Millions watch closely and try to feel the lives of these horses, riders and trainers. Is horse racing the sport of kings, or an exploitative business? Why do we marvel at horses? Are there other ways to enjoy their beauty? Share this post with your friends to spread awareness of what the horse world looks like behind the scenes, and from a horse’s perspective.

A beacon in the horse world

by Graeme Green

In producing the film “The Path of the Horse” Stormy May created a beacon for those in the world who believed there might be something more in our relationship with horses. In so doing, she took a journey, that so many of us would love to have taken.

How many of us though would have traveled, observed and listened, then returned wiser but most likely, just continued our lives.

Watch the Path of the Horse here:

But for Stormy the film proved not the journey, it represents no more than the start; albeit a very inspiring start. The book takes us deeper into that experience and then continues to share with us the subsequent journey. Bringing together frank experiences from her life as a trainer, including candid and honest reference to some of her own of false starts and challenges, with the hope giving direction born of personal enlightenment and change; culminating in the sanctuary and freedom that has grown within the OurHorses movement.

In the book Stormy champions a different way to share our lives with our horses. A way that is underpinned by equality and respect, as well as one that displays the real depth of honesty and intimacy that can be shared with these truly incredible beings.

The Path of the Horse book cover

It is a book for those who seek to be the change that our horses need. It is a book to challenge our place in this world, as well as one that reconnects us with true humanity.

It is a path which is still being laid; creating and holding the space for OurHorses, it has facilitated the growth of a deeper shared awareness built upon more honest and equal experiences. And so the journey continues.

I cannot wait to see where we go now.

Learn more at www.OurHorses.org

The Path of the Horse: from competition to compassion is now available as an audiobook! 

After 25 years in the City of London, Graeme decided to let the horses set the path and runs an Equine Facilitated Learning business in the UK called HorseHeard, working with young people and disadvantaged groups around the country. He is now developing a complementary service as an equine healer, specializing in distance readings and dowsing. He owes an enormous debt of gratitude to a large Irish Draft called Ernie whose persistence has helped to create and develop this new life direction.

 

Messages from our friends on Facebook:

Horses are the worlds peacekeepers. Beautiful and wise…. I cannot thank OurHorses enough for the new eyes that I now have.
 
Namaste
Thank you! Path of the horse, Was very heart warming, Now I am understanding more about why I have not rode the two six year old horses I have, After riding most of my life, Not that I never will, But that it has been a learning experience that I understand much more clearly now, Have been doing the dance without even realizing, I love you, and thank you for being you and sharing, Really touched my heart.
 
Stormy May, OurHorses thank you for doing what you are doing and sharing your journey to increase awareness and conscience of humans everywhere who share their lives with horses. Your work is life-changing, inspirational, and above all, the MODEL for how we all should be with our horses. Thank you for asking the questions and doing the work, for the sake of horses everywhere.

Guido Bonino
just saw the entire documentary…thank you, truly an eye, and soul, opener!

Thank you so much for your touching documentary ! – It changed my life !!! ♥
 
Thank you for writing the gift that these wonderful soulful beings provide us daily. Thank you
 
Wow I just watched the path of the horse …… I have been trying to tell express how I feel about these animals and finally you have put it all together thank you!!!
 
“The Path of the Horse” it is worth your time to watch and ponder and learn!
 
I just watched your documentary on YouTube. It was beautiful. I connected with the message, being a passionate horse person myself and having built and earned those deeper relationships with my own horses. I always strive to pass that greater knowledge and experience to my horse friends as well as students. We should all be so lucky to feel that connection. Thank you for a wonderful film.
 
Crying…. so touched. I celebrate what you have done. Thank you so very much for this.
 
hi, such an amazing documentary , you really produce a change in my mind , thank you so much for that , you remembered me the reason of all the thing , since when i watched your video i understood the really important stuff with my life in general and with my horses, really…thank you so much
 
The path of the horse film is the most amazing film I have ever seen. Thankyou and thank my friend Sandi who showed it to me. At times I could not stop crying something so deep in me was touched. Having just finished a basic horse care and riding course this film should be shown at the start of the course. Infact I think all beings should see it… We all have so much to learn if we are to be the truely loving sentient we were meant to be ..

 

OurHorses supports Gratitude Bowls!

OurHorses is proud and excited to be a primary supporter of the new Gratitude Bowls Indiegogo campaign!

gratitude bowls food bowl

Gratitude Bowls is a project that uses the existing infrastructure of restaurants in our communities to feed those who couldn’t otherwise afford to eat.  We start by diverting food that is currently wasted and make it available as nourishing meals.  We reimburse the restaurants for each meal served through our fundraising efforts. 

Why is an organization focused on providing sanctuary for horses now supporting a program to feed humans? 

It’s a simple practice.  The more people are cared for, the less they have to worry about basics like feeding themselves, the more they have the opportunity to be concerned with subjects such as the ethical treatment of animals and the preservation of our environment.  Kindness is like a seed, if you plant it and nurture it, it grows.  When it grows it benefits everybody; humans, animals, and the earth. 

Visit our Gratitude Bowls fundraising campaign today!:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/569464/wdgi/6497066

Stormy May along with Sierra Roots are providing an action nearly everyone can take today to lead towards this world where everyone is cared for through human kindness.  Even something as simple as sharing this message is an action that changes the world.

Never underestimate the power of goodness within you.  This power of goodness can change or heal the lives of others around you.  – Anthony Douglas Williams – Inside the Divine Pattern

Testimonials

I was speechless! I cried for the longest time. Sometimes it’s hard to look at what you’re doing with your horses and be totally honest. It’s a journey of a lifetime. It challenges us to be better people. Horses keep us honest when we listen.

I’ve followed the work of several of the featured horse people in your video and it was wonderful to see them speak in this venue. I wanted to send a copy to every horse person I know. I long for them to “see”.   Could they “see”?

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend” Henri L. Bergson.

You are truly a blessing and I can’t thank you enough for producing such a beautiful piece of work. Thank you for your sacrifice to make this wonderful film. I believe that your impact on the horse world will be monumental.

Well done!

Courtney

Facebook