The Compassionate Equestrian may be viewed as Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” and “The Power of Now” meets Linda Kohanov’s “The Tao of Equus”. The original idea for the book came about as the result of several converging circumstances in the fall of 2012. One was Dr. Allen Schoen’s being recognized as the catalyst for several university students at the Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, CT, to have the University recognized as one of the first “Compassionate Universities” as defined by the Charter for Compassion.
At the time, professional hunter-jumper trainer Susan Gordon had been working a horse with behavioural issues she identified as pain related to excessive hard riding. The rider’s perception of the horse’s problem was quite different from what the actual cause of the behavioural issues were. In response to a scenario that has repeated too many times throughout her career, Susan decided to retire from teaching and approach the equestrian business from a different perspective. It was time for a new paradigm to emerge, making riders more aware of how their horse’s behaviour was frequently related to pain or discomfort which needed to be identified before proceeding further with riding and training.
As the Charter for Compassion reached a “viral” level thanks to TED Talks and social networking, it was clear this should become the basis from which equestrians view their horses. The question then became, what is the most compassionate question to ask about this horse? If we don’t start with the right question, according to Dr. Schoen, how will we arrive at the correct answer? We should always question first of all, if the horse’s behaviour is coming from pain, rather than just concluding “he’s a bad horse”.
The Compassionate Equestrian is composed of exclusive anecdotal stories and dialogues between the renowned holistic, integrative veterinarian, and professional trainer. Between the two authors is over 60 years of broad, combined experience in the horse industry.
The 25 Principles of Compassionate Equitation, around which the chapters are based, are also unique in the equestrian world as they provide a set of developmental guidelines encouraging a level of personal awareness that may be enacted not only throughout the reader’s engagement with horses, but extended to all humans and sentient beings they encounter.
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