The Women's Journal

What Horses Do?

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Dean Roles_3 editedBy Dean Roles

Horses have always been there for humans, pulling our plows, carrying men into war, or hauling groceries home from the country store. We (for the most part) have grown beyond our need of horses performing these chores for us. Remarkably, horses seem to have evolved to these changing needs of man kind. I have noticed over the last twenty years that horses have moved their services from the physical realm into the mental.

The horse herd social structure dictates that survival depends greatly upon the decisions the herd leader makes. Evaluation of the leader is just a simple matter of survival (Good Leader = High Survival Rate). This evaluation usually occurs frequently and usually involves a spacial invasion into the leaders domain to evaluate their response. If the leadership is under contention this can be quite violent, and if leadership is well established the physical representations are very subtle. This process of evaluating is what seems to have evolved towards their human counter-parts. Finding any weakness that may lead to disaster, a horse will resist you until it believes you deserve to lead. If you intend to be the one that is picking the speed and direction while you and your horse are dancing, you will have to assume the leadership role in the relationship.

Assuming the leadership role requires that you learn a cross species language. Learn the biomechanics of that language, then thru patience learn to speak. At first you just hardly manage a coherent grunt or two, then a simple sentence and maybe a paragraph. Then before you know it, you have answered every question on your leadership exam perfectly. Once you achieved this ability to communicate in a healthy prosperous way, you can write the most beautiful story with a happy ending.


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I met Dean Roles during the summer of 2010. Since then, my life and my horse’s life have changed in a positive direction. I am no longer afraid to ride my once anxious, nervous, confused Tennessee Walker named Tony. Building a close and solid relationship of trust and understanding with your horse is Dean’s foremost goal. He asked me at our first meeting what I wanted to achieve with my horse. My reply was that I wanted a safe and more relaxed horse to ride. Thus began our first month of training. When I brought Tony to Dean’s facility, I thought Tony had good ground manners. Boy was I in for a surprise. Dean informed me that Tony was the leader and I clearly was not. Dean worked with Tony for the first couple of weeks while I observed his techniques with both groundwork and riding skills.

I didn’t miss a day of training…..five days a week. Then it was time for me to get up in the saddle. I was a nervous wreck with lost confidence and I am sure Tony knew it. Dean certainly did. But we worked through my fears with baby steps. By the end of the next two weeks, I had regained my confidence and could not wait to get Tony back home and ride him in the ring. What a different horse in just four weeks…..much calmer, less anxiety, and overall just a happier horse. Winter came and went, as did summer whereby I was unable to ride due to a back injury (non-horse related).  However, this past August, Dean came to our farm and my training resumed through the end of October. His techniques and ability to finesse a horse with what appears to be little effort is nothing less than amazing. I cannot describe how happy I am that I chose Dean Roles to be my trainer. He is a confident leader in the horse arena and is teaching me to be a confident leader with Tony. If Dean were to ask you what are the two most important things you are in charge of with your horse, you would quickly reply “speed and direction.” Once you have control of those two key elements you will be on your way to a happy and safe riding experience. Thank you, Dean, for everything you have taught me and for everything you will continue to teach me.  ~ Pam Nebel, Harrington

Centaur Training, LLC

A full-service boarding/training facility.

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22000 Heritage Farm Rd.
Bridgeville, DE 19933
[email protected]