An interview with a Pioneer in Touchy-Feely Horse Training

I found this on ridecamp (a forum sponsored by the AERC), in 2000. It was lifted from the message board, which lifted it from the USDF who got it from someone else. Which means I haven’t an earthly clue who to credit it to. I will type it in just as I got it from the net (back in 2000). It so very aptly describes the various scams that con artists, using  psychobabble and horses, use to separate people from their money. Monty Roberts, you know who you are.

Riding high on the success of such books as “You’re my Mare, not my Mother” and “Denial Ain’t What Keeps the Horseshoe On”, Pamela Wilsby-Higgins is holding clinics across the country to promote her latest book and infomercial “From a Whisper to a Scream: When Your Horse Can’t Hear You.”

The plucky blonde, so progressive in her methods of equine communication she’s called “The Woman who emails horses”, is the first woman to receive national attention in the growing field of touchy-feely horse training.Although successful, Pamela has been criticized for her unorthodox techniques and is the first to admit she’s not a traditional horse trainer.

“Training is such a worn out concept, even the word “train” is archaic. It comes from the Old French “trahiner”, “to drag”. And that’s just what training is, a big drag! What I’m interested in is communicating with problem horses, letting them know they are not alone. Since I, too, have issues with trust, and a history of abusive, dysfunctional relationships, I understand what they are going through. I can also relate to frustrated riders. As I wrote in “You’re my Mare, not my Mother”, at one point, a guilt tripping gelding shamed me into believing if I were a prettier, thinner, smarter person, I wouldn’t be having riding problems. My goal is to facilitate people away from the “Self-Centered Riding” made popular in the 1980s to a more “Co-Dependent” riding, where the horse and the rider work closely to deepen their relationship and become enmeshed in the riding experience.”

In defense of reports that her clinics are among the most expensive in this new industry, Pamela is unapologetic. “You get what you pay for. Horses are individuals and it takes time to discover what form of communication works best for them. Whispering to horses is fine, but some respond better to murmuring or babbling, while still others prefer mime or slide shows. I have found when working with a herd, semaphore is the most effective.”

Pamela further points out that not all bad horse behavior is the result of a negative breaking experience. “Horses are very sensitive and can have a variety of problems, both emotional and paranormal. They can suffer depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, even repressed memories. Most people are unaware of the large number of horses who are survivors of alien abduction. I have found that repressed memories of such abductions are the primary cause of trailering difficulties. There are also horses unfairly labeled “spooky”, when their behavior is actually an appropriate response to poltergeist activity.”

Pamela’s symposium covers a wide range of topics, such as “Re-Imprinting the Inner Foal; Excessive/Compulsive Dressage; Gymkhanta?; Andelusions of Grandeur; Bi-Polar Bending; ADD in Arabians; Fear of Flying Lead Changes; and Feeling Suicidal? Consider Eventing”.

When not on tour, Pamela offers weekend retreats at Passing Wind, her Malibu, California ranch, that focus on specific breeds and riding disciplines. She will also customize sessions to meet a client’s particular need and budget.

“Once we even re-birthed a Tennessee Walker to help her face her “water issues”. It was exhilarating and only 3 or 4 people were injured.” Pamela was unable to comment further on this event, as the matter is still in litigation.

Pamela began exploring her techniques under the tutelage of GoWaanPullMyFynger, the charismatic shaman of the Diamond-Phillips tribe and author of the ground breaking book, “Horse Buck Hard”. “The whole monosyllabism of Horse Buck Hard overwhelmed me with its Zen. I knew instantly that I had to study with him.”

GoWaanPullMyFynger introduced Pamela to his tribe’s ancient practices of Equine Aromatherapy, Prance-Channeling, Stall Feng Shui, and Public Relations and Marketing.

“GoWaan taught me so much. Not only did I learn how frequently riders with dysfunctional personal lives project unresolved emotional issues onto their horses, but the outrageous amounts of money they are willing to pay to be told it isn’t their fault.”

Pamela went on to become GoWaanPullMyFynger’s assistant when he toured to promote his calendar and video, “Buckskin, Beads, and Beefcake”. “It was a great gig,” she reflects, “but I knew it wouldn’t last, when I noticed most of the women attending his sold-out clinics didn’t have horses.”

She next traveled to the Australian Outback, where she studied with the acclaimed Snowy River Kanguru  Bruce Fosters, whose masterwork, “The Principles of Bonding: from Brumbies to the Boardroom” has become an integral part of the executive training programs of many multinational corporations. “Bruce is an incredible visionary. He was the first person to theorize that a rearing horse is really just asking for a hug!”

Since starting her own clinics, Pamela has emphasized the differences between her methods and those of her contemporaries, but she still admits to performing the crowd pleasing, ubiquitous ‘get-an-unstarted-horse-to-accept-a-saddle, bit, bridle and rider-without-breaking-its-spirit-in-under-an-hour’ demonstration.

“Of course, since I’m using the techniques I’ve developed, my version is different from what people have come to expect after seeing other clinicians. For example, I find using a pyramid-shaped pen, instead of a round pen, brings more energy to the session. I also use indirect lighting, scented candles, and soft music. I start by having a few glasses of wine with the horse, then begin to recount my earliest childhood memories of separation and abandonment, while lunging the horse at a trot. After several minutes of this, usually at the point in my litany of victimization where my abusive second husband leaves me for my farrier, the horse will begin to go through a visible change. While still at a trot, it will start shaking its head and trying to cover its ears. This is the moment I call “Throw Up”. The Throw Up is the point a horse reaches when it can’t stand listening to my problems any more and will do anything to get me to stop, including being saddled, bridled and ridden for the first time.  People think it’s magic, when they see how willing the horse becomes once I shut up and start saddling, but there’s nothing mysterious about it. I just have a very annoying voice and more issues than the TV Guide.”

Future goals for Pamela include developing a website, and a 900 number. “I envision a network where, for only 99 cents per minute, riders can speak to their own Psychic Tele-Trainer, that I’ve personally educated. I also plan to explore the financial aspects of communicating with other animal species. I’m willing to discourse with dogs or chat with cats. I’ll even vocalize with vermin if there’s money in it.”


About subodai213

Retired U.N.C.L.E agent. Living in Laurasia.
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