I first met Harry in 1996 and have been an enthusiastic student and supporter of his work ever since. Harry has had a huge influence on my own thinking and approach to working with horses. He has taught me the importance of the concept that a horse’s feelings influence his thinking and what he is thinking is the main determinate in how he progresses.
Harry’s keen eye and sense of what most suits a horse’s needs at any one moment never ceases to impress me. But even more than that he has a knack for helping ordinary horse owners find those skills within themselves. He has the compassion for a horse that all great horse people need, and the compassion for the student that all great teachers need. - Ross Jacobs, Australia
Since 2002, I have traveled seven times from my home in England, especially to ride in Harry’s clinics in Arizona. This is because I have been unable to find in England the quality of Horsemanship that Harry has to offer. Each time that I return, I begin to see a whole new layer of awareness and understanding about the horse’s perspective. While being around Harry, the learning truly never ends, and his patience, awareness and laughter create an ideal learning environment for his students. I have experienced that many teachers teach “their” way of doing something, but Harry teaches us how to find our own way. Harry is committed to enabling us to discover how we can help our horses to feel better about their work, no matter what we are asking of them. This is in regard to whatever background or riding discipline we come from.
I can’t thank Harry enough for the awareness, experiences and knowledge that I have brought back from his clinics and have put into my work training horses in England. – Anna Bonnage, England
When I first met Harry Whitney in 1999, I was in awe of the relationship he had with his own horse. He and his horse looked like one. He was very humble in his teachings and authentic in his word. I knew he was someone I wanted to learn from. He has not only helped me deepen my relationship with my own horses, but has taught me how to be a better person, a better student and a better teacher in this horsemanship journey. I’ve watched Harry work with a broad spectrum of horses and students--from the upper levels of dressage to the brand new beginner just trying to sort it all out--and have seen remarkable changes in both. I’ve seen a lot of clinicians in my lifetime and feel that Harry is one of a kind when it comes to bringing a deeper meaning into our horsemanship. He helps students find their own way, while keeping the best interest of the horse in mind. I’ve never met anyone who can get into a horse’s mind, body and spirit like Harry does, and be able to present this knowledge in a way that builds confidence in his students. He is a master of his art. – Shea Stewart, Texas
I’ve been attending Harry Whitney clinics in Minnesota for the past eight years. Each year Harry has inspired me (about horses and life) in ways that are simple, yet complex, and with an understanding that follows me for the entire year. The summer of 2010 was especially marvelous, as Harry helped me with the first rides on my good black mare. Nothing is more sensational that those first rides, and to have the help, guidance and support of Harry (et al) made it the most memorable clinic ever (so far!). The moon was full every night, the fireflies lit the fields with glitter, there was a torrential storm that blew down my panels, but my mare never left. Tom Moates offered a poetic touch and Harry was in fine form. Really, every clinic has been terrific and Harry has been a solid and honest teacher, always speaking for the horse, and always full of hope that his work will make life better for the horses. Thanks to Harry and our clinic host, Suzy, for all their hard work! – Miriam Tell, Minnesota
Seeing Harry in Arizona has certain advantages. So, why travel some distance to see Harry there? One is that the weather is a lot better than most of the rest of the country at the time of year he’s there. Clinics are not happening in much of the country because of that, so stretching the clinic season by going south is one big thing. The landscape and ranch setting at Harry’s place is absolutely incredible. If that wasn’t enough, it borders a zillion acres of open BLM land to ride around on (literally…out his gate and you’re there)—it’s awesome desert with those classic saguaro cacti. There are RV hookups for folks’ trailers, so that’s an option many might enjoy. – Tom Moates, Virginia
How can I begin to explain the growth I experienced as a horseman the two weeks I had the opportunity to spend with you on your ranch in AZ?
In my 25+ years of attending horsemanship clinics I have never experienced a clinician who was as dedicated to helping us aspiring horsemen find the value in making sure the horse feels good and owns their part in our equine partnership. In the past it was never been emphasised how the horse feels in the inside how this effects everything we ask them to do. As you tell us repeatedly (and it seems like you so patiently keep repeating the same thing over and over in different words and situations, helping us to understand), “you can’t see it till you see it and then wonder how you didn’t see it.” I am amazed with the softness and peace my mules are finding when I put my attention on this component that was missing. As you repeatedly stated “Shame on us for not believing in them” and their ability to have this softness, willingly without being forced or cornered into submission. I would have told you that I offered them a choice in the past but the big piece I was missing was that they only took it because it was the lesser of choice and that they didn’t feel better inside afterwards. More like it had been done/forced upon them. And that thought thing – wow – after the Cashmere clinic and AZ, I see the value in having their thoughts and focus with me. You make it look so easy and effortless and the horses focus on you and find that peace with you. I am struggling with this and imagine it will be a work in progress. Oh my, the three donkeys I am playing with right now really challenge me here!
Now that I am home and trying to modify and change how I present my thoughts and requests to the mules, I am still struggling to “get it right for them” (old habits are hard to break). But as you said “it is easier to change a habit than to change a belief”, so there is hope! I find myself thinking “I wish Harry was here to help me analyse this” but since that isn’t an option I have to settle for “What would Harry do?”
I have never met a horseman who so willingly gives of himself to others. I felt that you were always available to question and explain your thoughts and ideas. And everytime I was struggling during clinic hours or after there you were to help and explain.
Speaking of the “cup of worry”, that was another huge breakthrough for me. Understanding how important it is to address this feeling and how with Blackie as a prime example, if I don’t “address the little things they become big things.” I believe that is another of the critical things I came home with.
I could ramble on more but I will end this with a final thank you from me and my mules for the huge leap you have helped me make on my journey to be the best horseman I can be. Never mind the things that carry on to my personal life that are one and the same.
Thank you for giving of yourself to help all of us students on our journey to be there for our equines in a way we only dreamed of.
I am looking forward to my next opportunity to learn your wisdom and your lessons to increase my clarity.
What stood out for me at Harry's clinic? The usual stood out, as it always does when I get a chance to go see Harry. How it isn't about Harry; it's about the horse. It is getting right to the meat of the matter; forget about the horse's history, where he came from, what he's used for. Get to the horse's mind, his heart, his understanding of how life should be. Set it up for him, and help him find the path of least resistance; don't force it on him. Help him find his way back to how it can be a good thing for him, that he now has a job to do and it doesn't have to be hard and it might even be fun. Help the horse use his own mind, his own 'thought' to work through an issue, being fair to him by understanding that, first of all, he's a horse. Look from his point of view. Then be consistent and persistent, soft yet firm in your requests of him.
Did anything really impress me? Harry. Harry's kindness to the riders, the auditors who show up, the hosts of the venue, and his great sense of humor and marvelous laugh. His willingness to listen and his willingness to help you understand how to best help your horse. HIs regard for the horse as a fellow creature of the earth, deserving of decent treatment and kindness, but asking it back from the horse too, without a trace of meanness or sourness of attitude or sense of entitlement to the horse's servitude. He understands the horse, what the horse would be given a chance to follow his own instincts, what the horse can give back to a human when the request is offered to him fairly, how honest the horse is in all he does. And Harry understands what a marvelous, forgiving, kind animal the horse is. Yeah; once again, Harry is what really impressed me at a Harry Whitney Horsemanship Clinic.
Dear Harry Whitney,
My name is Victoria Loeffler. I participated in one of your clinics here in California. I am the one with the Fell pony, Minnie. I truly enjoyed the time I had with you. I was able to learn more about the connection and feel one should have with their horse. I want to thank you for the help you have provided to Minnie and me.
In Pony Club we are taught to just ride the horse rather than to develop a relationship with it. We do not learn much about horsemanship or groundwork. It is all just about making your horse do this or that, and not letting your horse think and make the choice itself. I felt the Pony Club riding was not the type of riding I want. Then my mom learned about you through other riders and friends. She could not wait until she could sign both of us up for one of your clinics. At first I was a little apprehensive, but once I was there I knew this was the right place to be. I learned so much in just two days, but not enough. My mom and I would love to attend your clinic next year in Arizona with Minnie, so we can learn even more. Now I feel like I have a great relationship with Minnie. I have also been sharing my great experience with other riders, so they can have the same experience.
Thank you for helping my mother and me figure out how to connect with the horse. I also want to thank you for coming out to California and helping us and so many other people. I cannot wait until we can come see you out in Arizona.
March 14, 2013
I want to thank you so very much for all that you gave to the clinic time last week. The generosity of your wisdom and of your spirit made learning both fun and fluid – not just techniques and facts, but rather some simple yet profound threads that we can both trust and follow as we continue our horsemanship adventures at home. I feel I have come back with both a deepened sensibility and desire for the clarity and the integrity that your example invited and inspired. Sharing the week with the Wyoming women whose friendships I cherish was of course a special joy. Their encouragement and confidence is contagious!
It has been a privilege and joy to meet you. Again, thank-you most sincerely.
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