Recently Arnold Chamove posted a review of my book “The Essence Of Good Horsemanship” on Amazon. Arnold is a world-renowned clinical psychologist with 5 degrees (including PhD and DSc) and over 130 peer reviewed publications. He ran a primate research centre in Scotland and worked in the UK and Africa and is now a consultant in New Zealand. The list of his achievements and credentials is very long.
So I was particularly honoured that Arnold wrote such an enthusiastic review of my book. He has kindly allowed me to copy it here.
“This book will surprise you. It looks at horse training from a new perspective, or one that appears quite different—focussing the reader to the “thoughts” of the animal.
Essence is a book for a person who wants a fundamental set of guidelines to help develop a responsive but effective relationship with a horse (a horse that changes daily). It is for a person who wants a horse that wants to please, wants a horse that is less like a quad bike and more like a willing partner, wants a horse that listens to the subtle cues of the rider.
Here is what Essence is not. Essence is not a like a recipe book which guides you step by step; it is not a feel-good book which is filled with stories of big powerful beautiful horses or unity with one’s horse that one can only hope for; not a jargon book which trots out the same sayings one has heard from and seen in riders who ride machine-like horses; not an intuitive book crammed with advice that sounds good, sounds as though it should be true, but advice which is counter to research and to critical analysis.
Ross Jacobs combines four attributes: he is a person with many years of relevant experience; has an analytical academic mind; writes in a clear organized style; and does not have a commercial nature. Even the style of the book is well set-out with short chapters focused on one idea, usually with a good (and often startling) example.
The most interesting, surprising, and effective idea in the book is that Ross Jacobs has taken the training focus of “influencing a horse’s behaviour” back one step, back to “reading and influencing a horse’s thoughts”. He might say, “Don’t focus on the feet but on the thoughts that move the feet”. When asked about a horses ears being flattened back, he says, “You don’t ride the ears”. While this idea of “attending to the horse’s thoughts” seems a bit ephemeral, the author shows how to do it, and, when I tried it, it works. Not only does it work, but it works more effectively than other methods I have tested; and the horse seems happier and less annoyed than when using other techniques.
Within the framework of the Horse’s Thoughts, he stresses (a) Focus of the Horse’s Thoughts, (b) Clarity of the Rider, and (c) Softness of the Horse.
As a teacher of Animal Behaviour at university and graduate level, the Essence of Good Horsemanship surprised me with ideas that I had not encountered before; it was a good surprise.
Essence is a new way of thinking about working with a horse, albeit within traditional ways of training. It takes training to a new level--a deeper, more fundamental level, and a level which allows one to be able to read and change your horse. “
Arnold Shirek Chamove BA, MA, MSc, MPhil, PhD, FIBiol, DSc
Palmerston North, NZ
Even people (and horses) who came to a recent clinic were too absorbed in “The Essence Of Good Horsemanship” to put it down long enough to watch the lessons.