We have been teaching courses in the Netherlands for many years. The first course dates from May 2005. In almost all courses something special happens, but the most memorable moment of that first course came a week after. The first group of students consisted of a mix of interested beginners and more professionally trained people. Fortunately, my English colleague Ian Vandenberghe was there with me, because I was still quite anxious.
The following week I received a call from a Belgian lady who had heard from a student that I might be able to help with the problem she had with her horse. She had bought a Fjord horse six months earlier. A very good pony, called Viking, who fully lived up to her expectations. But the last two months, Viking had become unmanageable. She could no longer take him for walks, because he would buck or bolt. And standing still for a massage, which the owner liked to do, was also out of the question. I was a bit confused, so I asked some questions; “What exactly are you looking for?” I asked her. “Well, I want Viking to walk with me obediently when I go for a walk and if I want to give him a massage on Sunday, I want him to stand still.” No matter how I asked, I didn’t get any other response. Until suddenly a light bulb came on. ‘Wait a second. So what you are saying is that when you go to him on a Sunday you want him to be a good boy and stand still if you are giving him his Shiatsu massage?” – “That’s exactly right!” she said enthusiastically. “But what does the horse do on the other days of the week?” – “Well, nothing.” – “Nothing? But he gets out, right?” – “No, he is just in his stable…”
After taking a breath, I started to tell the owner that the fact that Viking was in his stable all week without being turned out or ridden was the cause of his behaviour. You couldn’t blame him! Unfortunately, the first answer I got was; “Yes, but I just don’t have time, so there is no other way.” I really had to spend half an hour trying to convince her that it is actually animal cruelty, leaving a horse in the stable all week without any free movement. She couldn’t believe the poor animal was behaving badly because of this. After half an hour, we made an agreement that she would turn Viking out every day for a week to see if this affected his behaviour.
After a week she called. She was very happy… Viking walked calmly with her again and stood still for his Shiatsu massage! If only he could frolic for a while every day and stand in the field! If only everything was so easy to solve…