Horse Whispering Real Or Not! | LA POLO x Andrew Froggatt
Horse whispering has been questioned for quite some time now, and so LA POLO talks to the expert himself.
The technique of horse whispering has been critically questioned and doubted. They have been claimed as being just a fancy name and as nothing as a magic or power that people otherwise believe it to be. People have also quested it for being real. And so, LA POLO got in a conversation with one of the experts himself. We bring to you one of the famous horse whisperer- Andrew Froggatt. Let’s read along and find out.
LA POLO: “If Andrew can’t fix it, nobody can.” This statement is an accomplishment in itself, and it does not come only out of work; it requires an equal amount of passion and determination. How did it all happen to you?
ANDREW FROGGATT: Re-the quote, “if Andrew cannot fix it nobody can”. This came about as when I started out, I become a last resort for people if nothing else worked with there horses. People usually try and do as much as they can themselves , before they look to spend money but often in doing that the problem just gets worse. Then they try people , who still cannot get the horse right and eventually they would come to me. Horses that were totally written off as nutcases or mad by other trainers , I would turn them around and send them out again as winners. Often by the time I got the horses there had been three to four people who had all had a go at fixing them, and had used some pretty cruel methods along the way. I have a saying where knowledge ends, violence starts and that is very true for animals I am afraid. People get frustrated and do not know what to do so they start getting tougher and tougher with horses. Often when the horses arrived at my place, they would be saying, at last someone that understands me and I can trust.
LA POLO: What exactly is horse whispering to the world vs how you will explain it to them?
ANDREW FROGGATT: Horse whispering as you say is a mystery for people and they love the term, but do not really have an idea what is involved. I myself say there is no real such thing as whispering to them, someone that can read and understand what the horses are saying to us through their body language and how they react to the things we do.This can help me to understand what has happened to them and what approach I take.Ie a big pushy horse that is like a split brat,I would take a firmer approach with strong boundaries for our safety etc first.With an abused horse that was scared, I would take a much more sensitive approach and really look to build the relationship, trust and its confidence again.
LA POLO: Horse Whispering has always been a mystery for people. How does it actually work?
ANDREW FROGGATT: Horse whispering works, through having a real understanding of what horses are saying to us all the time through their actions and body language.For example,a horse with its head held high,is telling us it is really tense.On the other hand a really low head carriage is telling us its relaxed.When the horse licks its lips, it is softening or starting to understand what we are asking of it.So all these little things help me to gain a picture of what is going on with the horse.My approach is to build a long lasting relationship based on trust, respect,understanding and I work quite extensively with their attitudes.I also use a lot of praise in terms of getting them on my side, having them like me and want to please me.I also use a lot of reverse psychology in my training of them, which means,i’ let them try there idea, make that hard and suggest my idea to be the easy option.I also work hard to create a great environment for the horses, to keep them happy and bring out the best in them.
LA POLO: What does it mean to you to be a horse whisperer?
ANDREW FROGGATT: It is something I do not think too much about really, being a horse whisperer, I have been working this way now for 26 years.I have huge self belief and confidence in my ability to turn any horse around and bring out the very best in them.The things I most enjoy, are those real problem horses that others have given up on.I love building a relationship with them, turning them around, getting them happy again and bringing out the very best in them.As my business has evolved, I have looked at how best to use my skills to help both horses and people.I now work extensively with troubled kids using horses for their personal development and run leadership courses for big companies and professional sports people using horses as a teaching tool.
LA POLO: How does horse whispering help the horses calm down? What is it that a horse whisperer actually whispers?
ANDREW FROGGATT: Horse whispering works in many different ways and each trainer will take bits that they like and mould it into their own way or system of doing things with horses.In my approach,i first work with horses on the ground to build a relationship with them, set up trust and respect along with getting them really light/soft to handle and responsive.But we can have a great relationship with a horse, just like we can with people but that can change under pressure.So then I do other things on the ground to get all the tension,anxiousness and worry out of the horse and I always say that I think they almost thank me for this.Imagine if we could do that with people.Each horse is different and will need a different approach.Some are lacking in confidence so I will really focus on that with one, or another might be a real time bomb ready to explode so I might focus, on really releasing all that baggage so it is safer to be around.I am a bit of a perfectionist,so I make sure every little thing is perfect on the ground first and then do the same with them under saddle.
LA POLO: Horse Whispering looks closer to understanding equine psychology. This would have eventually made you closer to them like no other thing. How would you imagine yourself without them?
ANDREW FROGGATT: Yes through working with horses, it does make you very close to them.I always say that 90 percent of horse people or owners, never really connect on a deeper level with their horses,I call it getting in the zone, where you can look them in the eye and they know you are different from others and really understand them.Horses have been such a huge part of my life now, I couldn't really, or have not imagined life without them.I do know when I go on holiday I get quite itchy and keen to return and be around them after a couple of weeks away.
LA POLO: Horse Whispering sounds magic to people, and many of them have claimed that ‘there is no such thing and magical power like horse whispering’, how would you justify or clear the thoughts about this?
ANDREW FROGGATT: ‘There is no real thing such as whispering to horses’,I work with a lot of wild horses who are really scared of people and the only way to get them over that is building there trust and spending time with them, until they become more comfortable with us around them.Very much like people, we do not feel comfortable around another person until we have spent time with them. So it is a combination of a lot of different things that make someone really good with horses. I cannot walk up to a wild horse and tell it everything is ok, because it is so scared of humans for a start and their first thought is about survival. Horse whispering is really a marketing term for someone that is very good with horses and works with them in a kind way.
LA POLO: Does a universal horse whispering technique works with all sorts of horses, no matter what sport or field they are in? Or every horse needs special care and special understanding?
ANDREW FROGGATT: Every horse needs to be treated as an individual first, just like people as we are all so different.How we can get the best out of something/horse or human will be totally different to the next one as they will all have different issues.But in saying that I do treat every horse the same in respect of all, no matter what they do, from polo to racing or jumping run through all my initial processes before they would go on to specialise in a certain field. I see myself as a mental coach to the horse so no matter what particular field the horses work in,i can get it in the best mental place it can be for competition.
LA POLO: How about you share some really special moments of your career?
ANDREW FROGGATT: In the leadership and personal development work I do using the horses as a teaching tool, I am really enjoying working with most of New Zealand's top sports coaches and teams.I have been working now for 11 years with high performance sport NZ and all our National sports coaches from the All Blacks Coach in Rugby to the New Zealand Cricket coach to name a few.I love my sport so really enjoy hearing all the behind the scenes stories, what these teams do to perform at their very best.I feel very lucky, that through my ability with horses and being able to teach that, in a really easy to understand format,that all the very best sports teams are coming to myself and the horses for their personal development training.
LA POLO: Is there any story that changed your outlook towards horse whispering?
ANDREW FROGGATT: There was a racehorse I got sent a few years back called Jungle talk.He was a barrier rouge in the respect that he would not enter the starting gates to be able to go to the races.He was very fast and had been easily beating his fellow horses in training gallops but any time the trainer tried to put him into the gates, he would panic ,rear up and open the gates and gallop loose around the tack.So the trainer had a very fast horse that was worth nothing.He sent him to me and I put him in the paddock, got him really happy again and kept his fitness up in the mornings.Then in the afternoons I would work with him in the starting gates.I spent 45 hours in the gates to get him to the point where he was really happy, had lost all his fear and was really confident.I then took to to the trials, where he loaded beautifully, jumped out of the gates first and won easily by 5 lengths.Well ten minutes after that trial the owner got offered $200,000 for the horse.Not bad for a horse that was worth nothing 5 weeks earlier.So that really changed my thinking in terms of the work I do for owners, can make them a lot of money.