Two years ago I taught a Join-Up® course in Italy. We teach people to understand the horse better and how to build a good relationship with our favorite animal. At a fantastic location near Milan, we enjoyed the horses, the beautiful landscape and the perfect weather. It just couldn’t get any better!
Italians are always well dressed, so we got there in our beautiful T-shirts with the Join-Up® logo on them. The only thing that was a bit disappointing were the students. The group included seven men, all of whom were working in the thoroughbred breeding industry. Normally, the first section of theory is an immediate success. The participants become enthusiastic and get a feel for what we tell them, and they are really looking forward to the next two days.
It was different with this group, they said everything I said; “Won’t work with our horses… it is different with us… We tried, does not work…” In short, I had my work cut out for me. Desperately, I went to the owner of the facility, Renato. He is a very good horseman who also works with more challenging horses.
I asked Renato if he didn’t have a very difficult horse that nobody wanted to take out because it was not possible. And I was lucky. Five minutes later, he came to the round pen with a horse that actually was on its hind legs the entire way. Continually rearing and trying to pull away, he showed that he really was not interested in working together with us. Really an impressive horse. I secretly thought Renato made it look a bit harder than it was, but okay. I went to work, with the students standing on the sideline. And luckily the training caught on quickly. Within a few minutes, the horse understood that it was better to work together than to fight against us, and walked well with me, stopping when I wanted to, and backing up when I asked. Of course I couldn’t resist teasing the men. “Well, you see that we Dutch are much better with horses than you are!” A few were on the edges of their seats to respond, because they are proud Italians of course! I continued with my story; “You can see it, right? We are just better…” Two men wanted to protest that, but I said, “You want to know why we are so much better?” They nodded in agreement. “We have something you don’t have, we have coffee shops… Hey man, nice and relaxed… That’s the attitude, together with leadership that makes you work well with horses!” While the students’ were laughing out loud, one of them stood up, she turned out to be a professor at the University of Milan. Her response was absolutely fabulous; “Very fine, I see it. But then you have to change your logo into Joint-Up!”