Thou Shalt Not…

Some topics are ‘dangerous’ to talk about on the internet when it comes to training horses.


Topics like:

  • treats
  • bits
  • dominance
  • the use of pressure
  • reinforcement techniques
  • motivational strategies
  • anthropomorphisms

And emotions are running even more high when it comes to hoof trimming!

The debates can turn heated and sometimes downright disrespectful.

You can compare it with the food industry – which also has ‘dangerous’ topics.

For example, whoever says:

  • That sugar isn’t poison…
  • That the gluten-hype is misleading people…
  • That artificial sweeteners are okay…
  • That trans fats are not that bad…

they have to pay for it on social media!


The internet trolls with a low level of consciousness will come and get you!

Because thou shalt not eat sugar!

Thou shalt not drink soda!

Thou shalt not eat junk food!

Thou shall not feed the trolls! 

Because although vegans love animals, some easily hate people or look down on you if you eat meat!

Remember, under stress, people drop down easily to a low “blue” or “red” level of consciousness.

And then they might push their way of eating onto you like it’s a religion.

They will push ‘their’ commandmends as the absolute truth.

Now all the same tendencies not only apply to the food and fitness industry, but also to the horse training and hoof trimming business.

For example, although clicker trainers love horses, some easily hate conventional riders or look down on you if you use a whip.

But to keep things neutral and to explain things, let’s stick to the food industry for a little longer (and don’t worry, I’ll get back to the horse industry later in this article). 


In the food world, there’s a storm of diet hypes.

And this leads to the creation of mini-cults of people who live & die by their dietary beliefs.

They live on a ‘blue’ level of consciousness and have their own guru and their own bible.

So when it comes to food “religions” there’s Paleo, Keto, Detox, Plant-Based, Raw Food, South Beach, IIFYM, Low Carb, Low Fat, Calorie Counting, and so on.


And every style has it’s own strong beliefs, rules, and absolute truths.

For example, that only natural, organic food is good and healthy.

Or that honey is better than refined sugar.

And everything that deviates from this belief is “punished”.

If you say that Mac Donalds is not that unhealthy you are cursed.

And there are sacret books (The Plant Paradox, The Alkaline Diet, Superfoods).

The prophets (Jamie Oliver, Dr. Gundry, David Wolfe).

The devil (carbs, sugar, processed foods, E-numbers, gluten, lectins, milk).

The sin (secretly eating a bar of chocolate).

Predestination (are we destined for eating grain?)

And they’re even drunk with religion (orthorexia nervosa, which is eating so healthy that you become sick).

Plus, you can immediately go online to join a community of faithful and like-minded people with accompanying rituals, and become a fundamentalistic follower.

Extremists & Extremes

The fitness and food industry can be quite polarizing.

You’re either:

  • Healthy or unhealthy.
  • Right or wrong.
  • Good or bad.
  • Praised or damned.

It’s the narrow-minded, all-or-nothing approach that lives on the ‘blue’ level of consciousness.

Besides this, nutrition has become so personal, that people feel attacked for what they do and do not eat.

People get up in arms over the “best” foods for staying healthy.

Or if eating meat is bad for you.

Or if carbs make you fat.

Or whether or not calories count.

And they use social media as a megaphone to protest vigurously and to defend their beliefs.

Where discussions can turn quickly impolite, and even insulting and rude.

And a sort of the same thing happens in the horse industry.

When it comes to the use of treats, whips, bits, spurs, reinforcement techniques, biomechanics, or anthropomorphisms, these topics bring riders out of the woodwork to defend their positions.

It leads to “whip” bashing, “bit” demonizing, “motivation quadrant” controversy, and so on.

And thanks to the internet, anyone kan become an authority and a celebrity.

So there are a lot of  “experts” who lecture with great self-confidence about the danger of using a certain way of hoof trimming.

Or of a certain type of cavesson.

Or a certain type of training.

And they even take it a step further:

Thou Shalt Not…

Thou shalt not use a chained cavesson.

Thou shalt not use pressure.

Thou shalt not use treats.

Thou shalt not combine +R with -R.

Thou shalt not use a whip.

Thou shalt not talk in terms of dominance.

Thou shalt not use the word alpha.

Thou shalt not fall for fallacies.

Thou shalt not twist the truth.

But they forget that…

Reality is not so Black and White


Therefore, people have been successful:

  • With nearly every horse training style out there.
  • With nearly every hoof trimming style out there.
  • With nearly every eating style out there.
  • With nearly every fitness style out there.

And the successful ones all share this characteristic:

They spend so much time improving themselves that they have no time left to criticize others.

Besides, this, the one common belief among each diet, workout, style, and method is:

The end goal of helping people and horses live longer, healthier, and happier lives!

So they agree on the Bigger Picture.

  • Lift weights, eat well and sleep… they’re the things all fitness fundamentalists agree on.
  • Avoid processed foods and drink water… they’re the things food fanatics assent with another.
  • Love your horse and strive for harmony… they’re the things pony preachers agree on.

However, it seems that the bigger the horse, food, and fitness industry gets, the more controversy we see regarding almost every topic and every tiny little detail under the sun!

Disagreements Are In The Details

Some of the most basic questions any beginner in horsetraining will ask, are:

  • Is doing groundwork with a line better than with a rope?
  • Should I train 3 or 4 times a week?
  • Should I use a chained cavesson or a soft padded one?
  • Which exercise is best for stretching muscles?
  • What’s the best routine for building muscle?
  • What is the best diet to lose fat?
  • How should I exercise to avoid injury?

Yet, it seems like no two trainers will give the same answer!

When we look at the wide variety of training programs, exercise selection, training frequency, and equipement recommendations from various top classical riding masters over the years:


Do they all agree?


Do they recommend all the same things?


Do they all train the same way?

Don’t think so.

But it’s not the Bigger Picture they disagree on.

It’s the details they disagree on:

The trivial things such as choice of clothes, choice of cavesson, choice of saddles, way to hold the reins.

Which stands to reason, since those trivial things only makes a small difference, and most of that is individual anyway:

  • What’s right for one person is not always right for another.
  • What’s right for one horse is not always right for another.
  • One person’s favorite is another person’s dislike.

So the disagreements are in the details.

But the one common belief among each method is the end goal of helping horses live longer, happier, healthier lives.

And they all agree that results take a balanced training routine.

And they all preach that it’s best to chase one rabbit at a time. 

And that results take consistent work, practicing a few times a week.

Choose What Suits You Best In The Long Run!

Choose the method you enjoy most!

And that you can stick to in the long run!

So your horse can live longer, healthier and happier!

Choose the one that suits you and your horse best!

And that fits the direction you wish to take on your horsemanship journey.

It’s the same with food:

  • Do you follow the vegan lifestyle?
  • Are you a low-carb fan?
  • Do you think Paleo is the path to health and happiness?
  • Or something else that works for you?

Super cool that you found a way of eating that you can stick with and be happy about!!

After all, that is the key to long-term success:

  • Finding a lifestyle that is sustainable!

The best diet, the best training method, the best whatever is the one you can stick to for the rest of your life.

And whatever it is:

It doesn’t matter!

Because ALL that matters is you do what works best for you and your horse!

Just keep chasing your chosen rabbit!

And in the end, your health and happiness is the priority.

And your horse’s health and happiness is the priority.

Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!

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