I have always had a fascination with horses. From a young age I tried to be near them. Unfortunately, my only possibility for contact with horses was through a local riding school. I was taught like most people are, that a horse is an instrument for riding. So, over the next few decades, I pursued horsemanship. I started to recognise the pathologies that seemed to inflict every single riding horse, so I gained qualifications in equine physiology and rehabilitation to help them. It wasn’t until I became a student of Alexander Nevzorov, a Russian horseman and humanitarian, that I realised that the only way to protect a horse from harm was to stop riding entirely and pursue a whole new way of interacting with them. Very quickly I understood how terribly underestimated the horse’s intellect is, and furthermore, how vulnerable to harm they are in domesticity. A horse has striking natural ability to think abstractly, to learn human language and to rationalise. My mission has evolved to raise awareness of the suffering horses endure from being ridden and to shine a light on the deeply emotional, intellectual, and thinking side of horses.
My work with horses does not involve conditioning. My horses are educated by insight learning whereby they solve problems using previous experience to work out a solution. This is quicker than trial and error because actions are planned and executed by the horse. To put it simply, my horses are taught how to learn. The education of my horses to read and use symbols to communicate is based on a strong relationship, hippological knowledge and Doing No Harm. For me, the horse’s health and wellbeing are the most important thing. My mentors are Alexander Nevzorov and Karl Krall, two people who have paved the way for horse reading. My horses live in a literary rich environment and are able to use written words to communicate with me. We also use buttons and physical postures (such as head nodding) to aid communication out of the classroom. My horses and I work with letter boards and are now starting work with a touchscreen which will fast track learning.
A horse has a striking intellect and ability to learn abstract ideas such as symbolic language. The education of a horse to use symbols to communicate with humans has been repeated several times in history. As people start to realise the intellectual potential of horses, questions regarding the ethics of using horses for riding will become more important. Sascha shares her knowledge of teaching horses how to learn reading, and other non-pathological interactions with horses through her Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/horserevolution