Riding high on the success of such books as "You're My Mare Not My Mother" and "Denial Ain't What Keeps The Horseshoe On," Pamela Wilsby-Higgins is holding clinics across the country to promote her latest book and infomercials "From A Whisper To A Scream: When Your Horse Can't Hear You." The plucky blonde, so progressive in her methods of equine communication she's called "The Woman Who E-Mails to Horses," is the first woman to receive national attention in the growing field of touchy-feely horse training.
Although successful, Pamela has been criticized for her unorthodox techniques and is the first to admit she's not a traditional horse trainer. "Training is such a worn out concept, even the word 'train' is archaic, it comes from the Old French trahiner, to drag. And that's just what training is, a BIG DRAG!"
"What I'm interested in is communicating with problem horses, letting them know they're not alone. Since I too have issues with trust and a history of abusive, dysfunctional relationships, I understand what they're going through. I can also relate to frustrated riders. As I wrote in 'You're My Mare Not My Mother,' at one point a guilt-tripping gelding shamed me into believing if I were a prettier, thinner, smarter person I wouldn't be having riding problems. "My goal is to facilitate people away from the 'Self-Centered' riding made popular in the 1980s to a more 'Co-Dependant' riding where the horse and rider work closely to deepen their relationship and become enmeshed in the riding experience."
In defence of reports that her clinics are among the most expensive in this new industry, Pamela is unapologetic. "You get what you pay for. Horses are individuals and it takes time to discover what form of communication works best for them. Whispering to horses is fine, but some respond better to murmuring or babbling, while still others prefer mime or slide shows. I have found when working with a herd, semaphore is the most effective."
Pamela further points out that not all bad horse behaviour is the result of a negative breaking experience. "Horses are very sensitive and can have a variety of problems, both emotional and paranormal. They can suffer from depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, even repressed memories. Most people are unaware of the large number of horses who are survivors of alien abduction. I have found that repressed memories of such abductions are the primary cause of trailering difficulties. There are also horses unfairly labelled 'spooky,' when their behaviour is actually an appropriate response to poltergeist activity."
Pamela's symposiums cover a wide range of topics, such as: Re-imprinting the Inner Foal, Obsessive/Compulsive Dressage, Gymkhanta, Andelusions of Grandeur, Bi-Polar Bending, A.D.D. in Arabians, Fear of Flying Lead Changes, and Feeling Suicidal? Consider Eventing.
When not on tour, Pamela offers weekend retreats at Passing Wind, her Malibu, California Ranch, that focus on specific breeds and riding disciplines. She will also customize sessions to meet a client's particular needs and budget. "Once we even re-birthed a Tennessee Walker to help her face her 'Water issues.' It was exhilarating and only 3 or 4 people were injured." Pamela was unable to comment further on this event as the matter is still in litigation.
Pamela began developing her techniques under the tutelage of GoWaan PoOLmiFynGer, the charismatic shaman of the Diamond-Phillips tribe and author of the ground breaking book, "Horse Buck Hard." "The whole monosyllabism of Horse Buck Hard overwhelmed me with its Zen. I knew instantly I had to study with him." GoWaan PoOLmiFynGer introduced Pamela to his tribe's ancient practices of Equine-Aromatherapy, Prance-Channeling, Stall Feng Shui, Public Relations and Marketing. "GoWaan taught me so much. Not only did I learn how frequently riders with dysfunctional personal lives project unresolved emotional issues onto their horses, but the outrageous amounts of money they are willing to pay to be told it isn't their fault."
Pamela went on to become GoWaan PoOLmiFynGer's assistant when he toured to promote his calendar and video, Buckskin, Beads and Beefcake. "It was a great gig," she reflects, "but I knew it wouldn't last, when I noticed most of the women attending his sold-out clinics didn't have horses."
She next travelled to the Australian outback, where she studied with acclaimed Snowy River Kanguru Bruce Fosters, whose masterwork, "The Principles Of Bonding From Brumbies to The Boardroom," has become an integral part of the executive training programs of many multinational corporations. "Bruce is an incredible visionary. He was the first person to theorize that a rearing horse is really just asking for a hug!"
Since starting her own clinics, Pamela has emphasized the differences between her methods and those of her contemporaries, but she does admit to performing the crowd pleasing, ubiquitous get-an-un-started-horse-to-accept-a saddle, bit, bridle and rider-without-breaking-its-spirit-in-under-an hour demonstration. "Of course, since I'm using the techniques I've developed, my version is different from what people have come to expect after seeing other clinicians. For example, I find using a pyramid-shaped pen, instead of a round pen, brings more energy to the session. I also use indirect lighting, scented candles and soft music. I start by having a few glasses of wine with the horse, then begin to recount my earliest childhood memories of separation and abandonment, while lunging the horse at a trot. After several minutes of this, usually at the point in my litany of victimization where my abusive second husband leaves me for my farrier, the horse will begin to go through a visible change. While still at a trot, it will start shaking its head and trying to cover its ears. This is the moment I call 'The Throw Up.' The Throw Up is the point a horses reaches when it can't stand listening to my problems any more and will do anything to get me to stop, including being saddled, bridled and ridden for the first time. "People think it's magic when they see how willing the horse becomes once I shut up and start saddling, but there's nothing mysterious about it. I just have a very annoying voice and more issues than T.V. Guide."
Future goals for Pamela include developing a web site, and a 900 number. "I envision a network where for only 99 cents per minute, riders can speak to their own Psychic Tele-Trainer, that I've personally educated. I also plan to explore the financial aspects of communicating with other animal species. I'm willing to discourse with dogs or chat with cats. I'll even vocalize with vermin, if there's money in it."