Michael Peace - the Think Equus Approach

Approach – Theories

Michael’s Philosophy is unique because of his 50/50 Theory


The best horsemanship Ive seen is a 50/50 partnership and this is what we must strive for in every moment we work with our horses. In a partnership each party does his or her bit for the benefit of the whole and the balance in the relationship is the responsibility of each party. You help each other out whenever necessary because you recognize the value of each other’s input.

In a genuine partnership, each party commits to this balance, and there is no resentment or exploitation between the two parties. It is a relationship founded on respect and responsibility and each party must work to make the adjustments necessary to keep the partnership in balance at all times. As long as both parties are happy with the deal they get overall, the partnership will be productive and develop.

Horses have evolved to live in groups, and find it impossible to survive outside on their own. They are very sociable animals and put a large amount of emphasis on creating effective interactions with other members of their group. They know and respect the position of others and know that he who upsets the balance jeopardises the stability and must be addressed instantly by all members.

For us the big advantage of this is that horses  understand the concept of co-operation perfectly before we even begin work with them. It isn’t something they need to learn from us, but rather something we need to understand and learn from them. We have to learn how to live and work with horses the way they live with each other.  Those of us that master this concept become exceptional horse-people.

This 50/50 theory proposes that you work at such a level of communication that you never get into battles or confrontations with your horse. It’s a working relationship where you both understand the importance of maintaining the balance and therefore make tiny adjustments, second by second to maintain equilibrium and keep the partnership alive.

The key to this is using just as little as you need. No more and no less.

Think of a man balancing a stick on the end of his finger.  If he’s skilled at it it will look like he’s doing nothing when in fact he’s making lots of tiny adjustments all of the time. The unskilled man will be more obvious and erratic using much more movement and energy.

The 50/50 is the ideal situation but in reality it is very rarely realized between horse and human and this maybe because of the differences between us. However if we want to be true horsemen and women we should continue to strive for this ideal and get as close as possible to it as we can in our lifetime.

The Middle Ground Theory

I firmly believes that there is not a bad horse born. There may be bad horses about but they certainly didn’t start like that. Some are easier to get on with than others but all have some softness in them that can be developed if we know how to do it. The ‘middle ground theory’ helps people understand how to work with horses a little better.

Michael Peace - the Think Equus Middle Ground Approach
‘All horses have an area of tolerance in which you can work with a certain amount of inconsistency and get away with it without causing problems to you or to him. Provided you work within this area of tolerance (or ‘middle ground’ as i like to call it), you can be too hard sometimes and the horse won’t resent you and  too soft at other times and the horse won’t exploit you. In other words, the relationship can go slightly out of balance without you doing any permanent damage.

If however you work outside the limits of the middle ground and for example are really too hard sometimes or really too easy at others, you will begin to damage the relationship. The ‘middle ground’ will erode and cause the horse to become less and less generous.  In this case the middle ground will eventually become a fine line at which point the horse will give you very little room for manoeuvre in future encounters. This is when a horse is considered a problem horse and requires skilled, delicate and precise handling/riding to restore the middle ground.

Michael has not met a horse that he could not help by widening the fine line to give the owner or rider room to work again. He can achieve this with most horses on a home visit. Although, more extreme or established ridden issues, may need to come to stay with Michael for consolidated training.


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