Equine Centred – Relational Horsemanship Philosophy

The IFEEL Method does not endorse or teach any one style of horsemanship.  As with other areas of human endeavour, there is a multigenerational lineage of esteemed horsemen and horsewomen in various fields of horse activity who are regarded as the ‘forebears’ of today’s best relational practices. The common denominator is that all put the welfare of the horses at the forefront and origin of the relationship between the horse and the human, and that all their methods are based on this fundamental principle. This is known as an ‘equine centred’ approach as first coined by Jenny Eichner in 2017.

Models used to assess the suitability of equines, and equine welfare include the 5 Freedoms, Quality of Life (Green & Mellor 2011) and the SAFE Professionals Code of Care for Equines. This is to ensure that all horses, clients and facilitators psychological and physical wellbeing is at all times safely managed.

The horse in its natural state has survived for close to 55 million years without human support. By studying the lifestyle and environment of the few remaining free roaming horses and applying it in the domestic setting we stand to influence profoundly the future of the horse/human relationship.

We invite you to look into the eyes of these horses and see what a free, spiritually connected, emotionally fit horse looks like. We may then have the rare opportunity to glimpse the true essence of these majestic beings.

IFEEL upholds high standards of horse welfare and well-being as defined by SAFE Professionals ethics and codes of conduct.

IFEEL Method for Horses and Herds

Instead of thinking what can the horse do for us, we might better wonder what we can do that is in service to the spirit of the horse, in this way we may learn how to be humane – Sun

Herds have complex social structures and, like us, horses need their community in order to learn from each other and to feel safe. In the wild the horse is born into this structure and each has a place within it, confirmed with every movement of the herd.

Horses are innately very curious and benefit from a stimulating and enriched environment, both socially and in terms of the land they inhabit. When observing domesticated horses living as a herd and roaming freely on tracked pastures or woodland walkways you can see more clearly aspects of the original ‘blueprint’ of wild horses, and their natural affiliative horse-herd behaviours.

Horses roam in groups, often in single file. The leaders in front choose where to go (often the mares, but sometimes the curious and bolder youngsters), when to go and which way to go according to the needs of the individual and of the herd in the moment. The last horse at the back is often a mature stallion or gelding, moving the stragglers on whilst keeping a calm, mindful awareness ready for potential danger signals.  All horses have a role and purpose within a well-established herd, all with nuanced characteristics with individual habits and tendencies. The important leadership and followership dynamics are in constant play, whether to seek water, food shelter initiating play, or exercising discipline and boundary dominance to ‘check out’ complex interchange of feelings of safety, breeding, and feed rights, from moment to moment.  The herd model also promotes behaviours that allow horses to mature, develop their confidence by naturally activating emotional agility and thus nurturing mentally balanced horses. Young horses learn best to be a horse, from being with other youngsters within a herd with mature emotionally fit horse.

The relationships and social, affiliative interactions between herd members, establish and maintain social bonds that evolve in fluid rhythms, dramatically reducing squabbles and injury. The herd’s interactions naturally cause the horses to move around the land, keeping them physically active. Horses can always move onwards, away from each other on a looped track, instead of being caught in a corner of a field, again, reducing potential conflict.

Horses living more in accordance with the ‘blueprint’ of the wild horse model promotes their health and vitality. Veterinary studies show that a horse’s digestion and cardiac systems only function properly when they are moving constantly.

The wild horse travels on average about 20 miles a day. This movement naturally trims the hooves and stimulates more growth. The hooves absorb the concussion and weight of the horse through a subtle flexing motion which aides circulation to the lower limbs. This gentle flexing conditions the hooves and binds the cells. This is a perfect self-maintaining design that has been successful for 55 million years.

Since their domestication around six thousand years ago the horse has had to adapt to many manmade conveniences, most notably stables so they were easier to quickly access for use.  This, and factors of centuries of use for war and industry, the practice of horse shoes came about to literally stop their feet from falling apart.

By returning domesticated horses to a more natural lifestyle where they can move freely over varied terrain and self-select natural grasses, flowers and herb and hedgerow forage foods the hooves may simultaneously improve so that it may not be necessary for a horse to be shod in contemporary 21st century equine pursuits.

The horse in its natural state has survived for close to 55 million years without human support. By studying the lifestyle and environment of the few remaining free roaming horses and applying it in the domestic setting we stand to learn and influence profoundly the future of the horse/human relationship.

We invite you to look into the eyes of these horses and see what a free, spiritually connected, emotionally fit horse looks like. We may then have the rare opportunity to glimpse the true essence of these majestic beings.

Biodynamic Land and Equine Management

The horse is an ancient creature of a very ancient land. Biodynamic land management practices are attuned to the natural wild ways of nature’s rhythms and seasons.  Unnecessary toxicity in processed horse feeds, synthetic medicines, horse care products and accessories are deemed to be harmful to horses, the earth and ultimately to us. Biodynamics are self-sustaining organic practices using homeopathic potency and herbal preparations along with natural grasses, flower and herbal lays relevant to the needs of the land and the animals living on it. Biodynamic land management ideally produces all the resources needed to feed the human communities and animals in sustainable, ecological ways.

Introduction of vibrational medicines such as homeopathy, acupuncture and subtle energy body release treatments often work very well alongside allopathic veterinary practices. Practices such as zoo pharmacology where horses are free to self-select a range of safe herbs is proving an efficient, effective and non-invasive form of natural treatment.

Natural Hoof Care

The horse is an ancient creature. Since their domestication around six thousand years ago the horse has had to adapt to many man made conveniences, including stables and as a direct result: horse shoes.

The wild horse travels on average about 20 miles a day. This movement naturally trims the hooves and stimulates more growth. The hooves absorb the concussion and weight of the horse through a subtle flexing motion which aides circulation to the lower limbs. This gentle flexing conditions the hooves and binds the cells. This is a perfect self-maintaining design that has been successful for 55 million years!

Horse shoes came about with the practice of stabling horses. Unable to cover the desired amount of ground for natural wear the hooves grow long and loose their tough outer calloused layer. Combine this with unnatural foods and the hooves can literally fall apart.

By returning domesticated horses to a more natural lifestyle where they can move freely over varied terrain and eat natural foods the hooves simultaneously improve.

Complementary Medicine Working Alongside Veterinary Science

Unnecessary toxicity in feeds, synthetic medicines, horse care products and accessories are deemed to be harmful to horses, the earth and ultimately to us. We use vibrational medicines such as homeopathy and subtle energy body release treatments to work alongside allopathic veterinary practices. We recommend that horses are free to self select a range of safe herbs which is an efficient, effective and non invasive form of treatment.