"The main pitfall in training is to focus on the effects rather than searching for, and changing, the causes." — Etienne Beudant
How I Got Here
I was like every other young girl. I desperately wanted a pony and begged my parents until they finally gave in and allowed me to take my first riding lessons. It started off as a summer camp, but quickly that "summer experience" turned into three lessons a week at a local hunter/jumper barn and also dressage and jumper lessons with various trainers. But that just wasn't enough, I would take every opportunity to spend more time with a horse ... any horse... just as long as it had four legs and whinnied I would ride it, groom it, hand walk it, hold it for the vet, clean its tack, muck it's stall, you name it I would do it.
My favorite kind of horses were always the "troublesome" horses. If they bucked, reared, refused to be caught, bolted, bit, kicked, whatever... The more difficult a horse was the more I wanted to work with it. Even at summer camps I would beg to ride the hard horses. At first I thought this was because I enjoyed the
challenge, but now, nearly twenty years later, I realize what I really wanted was to help these horses. Underneath all the behavioral issues I knew there was a good horse, and I wanted to find it.
Unfortunately all my instructors during those early years were limited in their knowledge of equine behavior and equine anatomy, so they often misunderstood what their horses were trying to communicate and taught me the same. Often I was instructed to use more force to make the horse get over its issues and to obey. I was taught that horses act out on purpose to be mean, malicious or difficult. This may or may not sound familiar to a lot of people, but I bet you if you really start listening to other horse people and how they talk about, train or work with horses you'll find they believe the same.
Throughout the years I've owned and worked with many horses, each of them have left a permanent bookmark in my life story with an endless list of lessons they taught me. I deeply regret how I treated many horses in my younger years, but as much as I wish I could take it back, I wouldn't be here today without all of those experiences. Without my past I would not be here today, wanting to help people help their horses.
Where I Am Today
The horsewoman I am today looks very different from the young inexperienced rider I was in the beginning. Though it has been a very long road, with many ups and downs, I'm beyond grateful for everyone of those experiences that brought me here. As well as for my incredibly supportive family, husband, and children. Without them I couldn't be doing what I'm doing today.
These days I spend my time with my young family, building TWE, continuing my education on a daily basis, and clocking endless hours working hands on with these horses we love so much. My passion is to bring the world of positive consent based training to the equestrian community, to help people and horses all over the world have a better relationship. I do this through offering long distance and local coaching, board & training services, online membership groups, free content on social media, extensive resources through my blog and podcast, and more.
My current goals for my horsemanship journey are to continue with my education in a wide variety of areas. I'll be attending a course by Dr. Susan Friedman early in 2020, attending the 2020 Clicker Expo in Lexington, KY, and studying for my CHBC certification through the IAABC. I've also been learning from leading consent based/positive reinforcement trainer Peggy Hogan, as well as many other well known experienced trainers of all species.
My education has also been growing in the areas of movement science, rehabilitation, pain science, and educating human learners.
While training this way is fairly mainstream in a lot of areas of the animal training world, it's still in it's infancy in the horse community. Every day myself, and like minded trainers, are pioneering utilizing choice and control, positive reinforcement, behavioral science, the humane hierarchy, LIMA, and so much more with horses. My mission is to make this information accessible and achievable for the average horse owner out there through TWE.
The future holds many possibiliies for the growth of TWE and my vision for the equestrian community, including rehabilitation, training, and rescue centers. Plus online communities and extensive human training resources.
- Adele Shaw