Quiet Riding

Equestrian Book Reviews

Book Review

It's Not About the Horse

Charley, the horse.

“I'm not a horse whisperer.” states Wyatt Web author of It's Not About the Horse. The extended title, It's About Overcoming Fear and Self–Doubt, gives a better indication of the real topic of this book.

Wyatt Webb is a therapist. He is the founder and leader of Equine Experience at Miraval Life in Balance resort located in Tucson, Arizona. The fact he uses horses in his therapeutic process must be why bookstores put his book (written with the help of Cindy Pearlman) in their horse section rather than the self–help section where it belongs. A horse lover is probably more likely to pick up a book with a horse on the cover than is someone seeking to deal with problems in his life.

Wyatt tells the story of how he got the title for his book. During a year he spent trying to learn what excited him the most, Wyatt started training with a Lithuanian dressage master by the name of Jonas Irbinskas. On the first day of training, Jonas assigned Wyatt a huge Irish thoroughbred to ride.

Wyatt remembers:

The horse was all over the place—his nostrils were flaring, and he was snorting and moving sideways, tossing his head wildly.

When Wyatt complained to his teacher about the horse's behavior, Jonas answered, “It's not about the horse!”

Jonas then mounted the horse who appeared immediately to relax. As Wyatt relates it:

Jonas then put the horse through every possible move he could make athletically, and the horse actually looked happy while he was responding to his rider's every request.

Wyatt has come to believe that horses respond to the basic qualities—the basic energy—of the rider or handler:

I came to discover that the horse would always cooperate with whatever the humans asked them to do if, and only if, the human could and would give clear energetic direction to the horse.

This response doesn't depend on a particular horse:

Whichever horse you choose will serve as a mirror to your energy system—what you think, what you feel, and every move your body does or doesn't make.

In Wyatt's therapy, connecting with the horse can be the first step in learning how to connect with fellow humans. He contends that we treat horses as we've been conditioned and taught to treat people. As he puts it: “…I truly believe that the powerful combination of horse and human is an avenue to awareness.”

He goes on to say:

When we work with horses, they help reflect the area of our lives that block us or bring us into conflict with ourselves and others.

The process can be summarize in this way:

Horses are a simple, honest gauge of our energy and will reflect it right back to us. Through working with horses, we can learn to tune in to what our true thoughts and feelings are and how that dictates our behavior.

Many people have come to know both the physical and emotional therapeutic value of horses. Wyatt Webb's book helps clarify aspects of the emotional aspects of this relationship.

While essentially a self–help book, It's Not About the Horse can be of value to a rider or horse handler who is willing to listen to what the horse has to tell him. It can also be helpful to a riding instructor in evaluating and advising his students.

Buy It's Not About the Horse