I was excited recently to be introduced to horse trainer and horse whisperer, Melanie Brown, of Columbia Missouri. I know you'll love meeting her too! She kindly agreed to answer a few questions.
Q: What does it mean to be a "horse whisperer"?
MB: Horse whispering is a term given to ones who know horses well, with an understanding of horse psychology and the universal body language. When mastered, such communication between horse and human is almost imperceptible to a viewer, thus the term ‘horse whisperer’.
Q: Your job description says that you rehabilitate horses. What are some of the problems you see?
MB: Oh, my, I see many problems! Because traditional methods rely on dominance, intimidation or mechanical means to obtain compliance, many horse owners do not realize what true rapport with a horse can be like. Most folks just catch the horse any way they can, kick to go, pull to stop and if the horse complies they are happy.
Some of the most common problems I see are safety issues, the horse running into and over people, not responding appropriately to pressure (such as pulling back when tied and flipping over), not standing still when being mounted (many people get injured this way), or not loading in a trailer without duress (many horses and people have been injured or killed just trying to load the horse). All of these problems are correctable and the horse can become safe to be around.
Q: How do you help?
MB: I help by first teaching the horse some basic rules of respect and communication with humans, using the universal language: body language. Then I teach the owner about body language and the principles that are important to the horse. First teaching the horse speeds the process, for it is difficult for the owner to teach something one doesn’t yet know! The principles include horse psychology and what is important to each individual horse based upon its own unique Horsenality ™, a term coined by Linda Parelli. I have learned most of what I know from studying Pat and Linda Parelli’s Natural Horsemanship system.
Q: What have you learned from horses?
MB: I have learned a tremendous amount from horses...but if I were to sum it up in a short phrase...it would be “about spirit”. The spirit in all living creatures, including humans, is actually very similar. We all want to survive and seek comfort. We all have feelings, emotions and fears. Learning what is important to horses, how to build a rapport with each one based on Horsenality ™ is very similar to dealing with dogs, cats, or even humans. Spirit is the common thread among all living things.
Q: How did you come up with the name Snortin' Horse Farm?
MB: The name Snortin’ Horse Farm came to me because I wanted a name that would be memorable and capture the spirit of the horse. My Haflingers like to play, and they become very animated with head and knees high and blow out a big snort. Horses are so beautiful, especially when their play drive is up and their adrenaline flows! The snortin’ horse represents the equine spirit at its peak.
Q: What type of horses do you keep, personally?
MB: I have a Haflinger (Brandy), who is a small Austrian draft horse and 2 American Quarter Horses (Austin and Phia). Brandy is very special to me. I got her after I spent 10 years with a very excitable, under-trained thoroughbred (TB) before I knew about natural methods. I lost confidence with this TB, having been thrown from him more times than all other horses combined! Brandy returned my confidence. She and I learned natural methods together. She is a very smart and endearing horse with enough “go” to keep me interested, but not athletic enough to scare me. Now I can ride my very athletic Appendix QH with confidence, though he came to me with several challenging problems including bucking.
Thank you Melanie for sharing so many wonderful thoughts about horses, and your talented work with these amazing animals.
You can connect with Melanie at her websites, Natural Horse Training at Snortin' Horse Farm
Snortin' Horse Studio (Horse paintings, prints, and drawings)
Bio: Horses and art both came into Melanie’s life at an early age. She started riding neighbors’ ponies. Then convinced her parents to buy her a horse. As a child, she learned to ride by the school of ‘hard knocks’ and was a very natural rider. As a young adult she started taking dressage and jumping lessons though and over time she became less and less natural. It seemed like the more lessons she took the more horse problems started showing up. Then one day she heard Linda Parelli talking at a Horse Exposition. Linda’s story sounded so similar to her own that Melanie decided she would try the Parelli method to see if it would return her to a more natural state with the horses. She is now an advocate of this method and helps others with their horses using the knowledge and expertise she has developed using Parelli Natural Horse•Man•Ship which combines love, language, leadership, and lightness in equal doses.