Being around horses for a very long time, I found that a lot of stuff is “one size fits all:” saddles were saddles, training was training, take it or leave it. Some trainers insisted you should never let your horse touch you, every independent action taken by a horse was to be punished immediately, a horse was basically a tool. You could quickly get bored with horses and spend lots of money fast.
Then I ran across this lady named Susan Johnston, a level 3 Parelli instructor, who took it even farther. What a wonderful, patient person she was with my crazy horse, Ted, and me. I could not walk down the road without him biting me and me slugging him. He was the farm animal and I was the owner. We were going to see who was who. So he would bite me and I would slug him and he would bite me harder. I was angry, and he was having a great time playing with me.
Susan just laughed at us and started to teach me, not him, what was going on for real. He already knew what was going on, he had this nice human to piss off and entertain him. And in the horse world, he was teaching me what he wanted from me. Being 1,200 pounds, proud clipped and still very much a stallion, he was used to getting his way.
He was known by many in the area as a bucking horse, one that “had to be beaten to get him to do anything.” I didn’t know that and my wife Susan didn’t know that, and she could ride anything and had since she was a child. Well Ted injured her very badly and I was going to make a couch out of him. So we were kind of hoping Susan J. could help us, and she did.
I learned natural horsemanship and Ted learned “natural human-ship.” Once I could read, write and speak horse, a new understanding opened for us. With Susan J’s help, there began an ever-growing attachment for us, with lots of work and communication. Horse ownership could never become boring or stagnant again.
Soon he was telling me where he itched, and we would do mutual grooming. Yes, they really do know how to groom you without biting your skin off. He could tell me when he was tired and ask if I would walk instead of ride. He would listen intently for commands and do the very best he could to do them. People that were afraid to be around him were surprised when I was working at liberty with him and he was responsive.
I found that some of the products horses needed didn’t exist, or were too small, too big or cheaply made. Now having the relationship with Ted, I could test them and get real time feedback in horse. If they are too tight or bothersome, they’re just not what a horse likes. On the human side I found the same thing.
Hay bags that didn’t fit a hay bale. Hay hook leathers that were too small or rotted off the hooks. Horse leads that were too thick or burned the hand on the slightest pull and would not break until it was too late, flipping the horse over or cutting into his neck and face.
The company I founded, Teddy’s Twisted Products, is for people that believe “this is my horse. There are many like him but this one is mine.”