Lessons I have learned from a friendly chestnut horse in South Africa

During my travels and work, I’ve met, ridden and trained hundreds of horses around the world. In this blog series I will go through some of the most impactful experiences I’ve had and lessons I’ve learned from the horses I’ve had the pleasure of working with. In this blog I will tell you about Shukran, a fantastic horse I rode a lot in South Africa on safari, and who will always have a special place in my heart. He was the start of some of my most valued training methods.   

  1. Lessons I have learned from horses around the world
  2. Lessons I have learned from a little blue roan horse in South Africa
  3. Lessons I have learned from a Criollo horse for beginners in Mexico
  4. Lessons I have learned from an old grey thoroughbred in the mountains
  5. Lessons I have learned from a horse I didn’t like in Mozambique
Horse in South Africa
Shukran in 2017

Mutual respect goes a long way

Shukran wasn’t necessarily considered a very friendly horse around the stables actually. He had incredibly bad eyesight in one eye, and didn’t have the most fantastic life before coming to the stable where I met him. This made him occasionally unpredictable to some people, and slightly aggressive. He wasn’t a bad horse, I believe there is no such thing as a bad horse anyway. He was misunderstood and needed to be treated with the utmost respect. Shukran was a horse that, when approached the wrong way, could quickly kick out or bite. Every now and then, someone would try to slap him on the nose when he tried to bite, only to find out that that was one of the stupidest things they could possibly do. The trick with Shukran was to simply not provoke his aggressive behaviour, which wasn’t actually all that difficult. He was already around fifteen years old when I met him, so there was no point in correcting the behaviour he expressed, and most certainly no need to correct it by using force. Shukran taught me to get to know a horse to the point that they never display unpredictable behaviour anymore. He taught me that, if you know the horse well enough and listen carefully to what they have to say, all behaviour can be predicted. It’s one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned, and the basis of all horse training. A horse like Shukran doesn’t express unpredictable behaviour, he just responds to the things you do in a way he feels is appropriate. He ended up being one of my best buddies at the stable, and I could do everything I wanted with him. He always came up to me in the paddock, let me brush and touch him everywhere, and I could jump on him bareback or tack him up without him so much as looking grumpy. He’s a lovely horse that taught me a lot about how understanding horse behaviour can make you feel safe with any horse.  

Horse in South Africa

Helping your horse find peace of mind and relaxation

Shukran was a bit of a troubled horse, because of his past and his eyesight, but I also really believe he was a rig. His behaviour was extremely stallion-esque, and he never lost muscle mass, even when the rest of the herd did during long periods of rest. He badly needed to find relaxation in his body and mind, and I thankfully was able to help him with that. I won’t try to explain this to you, as I am incredibly bad at putting my training ways into words. However, years after meeting Shukran, I ended up finding a woman called Yvet Blokesch, on instagram. She has a course in which she manages to put her ideas and training methods into words, and it was as if everything fell into place. Yvet perfectly explains the things I was never able to explain in words, about how I did these things to help my horses find peace of mind and relaxation. Therefore, I won’t bore you by trying to explain it myself, but I do recommend having a look at Yvet’s instagram account
PS: It's funny that the two horses I worked with here, Shukran and Ancounting, also became best friends, just as Pigeon and Shadow did at the other farm. It seems to be a trend that every time I work a set of horses for a long time, they find comfort in each other and stick together. I'm just not sure why, or how this works!

Horses in South Africa
Shukran (left) and Ancounting
explore more

Inspiring destinations