Horses teach me how to see – Interview with Nahshon Cook

18.Mrz 2021 | English

Never heard of Nahshon Cook? Don’t worry. I felt the same way merely a few weeks ago. Until I heard a podcast interview with him and knew: I need to bring a little bit of this human into our German-speaking horse world. Cool enough, he was totally up for my interview. And my impression was confirmed: I have seldom met someone who can express the fine interplay between horse and human in such beautiful and wise words as Nahshon Cook can. Have fun! 

“What meets the eye is the last thing. Most people think it’s the first thing. But, what meets the eye is the last thing, for sure.

That said, I don’t like to make a practice of foreseeing the future too often. Instead, I just try to work with what is. I don’t really like to infer or speculate because I know enough to know what I don’t know, and there is still a lot that I don’t know. But, what I do know is that sometimes the lesson is in accepting that a horse is outside of my expectation of what I think he or she should be and that being enough.

For example: I have a horse, my young horse Remi, who is seven, who had really horrible trauma done to one of his ligaments in his back. He’s ridable, and I want to ride him, but he doesn’t want to be ridden and so I’m not going to. He’s cured. His body is good. But, mentally he’s not, and he may never be, and what do I do with that except understand that a healing can sometimes be very different than a cure.

So, the first part of it is just being open to whatever the answer may be outside of our desire of what we think it should be. The should is the expectation, and if we’re going in with an expectation, then we’re really not seeing with eyes that want to see what is to be seen.

And I hear what you’re saying, and I agree. I do know how to stay in that space. I live out of that space, and this is how: When I’m afraid, and doubts and negativity try to make me run away and hide from the world, I breathe as deeply as I’m able into my love for this life to be full of awareness and surrender so that I may have a clear enough mind to be present, a courageous enough heart to be vulnerable, and a simple enough faith to listen on purpose so that horses may continue to be my help along the way.

To keep it, you have to have the strength not to hold it, and allow it to come when you need it. If you’re always wanting what you had, you don’t get what you need. And each situation is so incredibly different because every horse guides us each in so many different ways.

Learning to trust this process is difficult. Most people want it so bad that they miss it. That’s where a lot of people have a lot of trouble: they want it so bad that they try too hard, instead of realizing that all they have to do is accept it. Help from horses isn’t something you go and get, it’s something you accept, and is only as real as we believe it to be.” 

– Nahshon Cook on his Facebook Page, March 7, 2021. 

If after reading this text you feel like Alexa Linton in her interview with Nahshon Cook in her Whole Horse Podcast (in which I also got to be a guest a while back) and Warwick Schiller in his Journey On Podcast and like me when I heard these interviews, your head is spinning a little bit now. You are fascinated, a little speechless and feel closer to a higher truth in a very pleasant way. 

Nahshon Cook is a horseman and poet from Colorado. His interview with Warwick Schiller recently brought him to new prominence: His texts, which he publishes mainly on Facebook, training reports and thoughts on life and the togetherness between horse and human, now reach and touch many people all over the world. 

To expose his work to an even broader audience, after I first heard of and from him in those podcasts, I wrote to him right away and asked for an interview. It is very lucky that he agreed right away – for me, but also for all of us. His answers not only help to better understand him, his view of life and his work, they also provide the same underlying tune of universal truths and a deep wisdom that touched me in the interviews. They get us from thinking to feeling – and that is exactly what so many of us need and where our horses can use us best.

How great would it be if we could take a lot more of this view of life and horses with us, when it became more normal for us to have our horses teach us how to feel and thus also a different view of life. In them we have such great teachers in our lives – and yet sometimes it helps to look through someone else’s eyes to see it. 

Ladies and gentleman, Nahshon Cook. 

Interview mit Nahshon Cook

Nahshon, what makes a great horse person? 

-For me, horsemanship means listening to horses, and working with them (as best we can) out of a space from which they feel safe enough to have a voice to teach us how they learn. 

Which do you think is the most common mistake that humans make with horses? 

-Not understanding that the energy of unconditional love creates trust. 

What is the first thing you do when you meet a new horse; given that you have the time and space to do your thing? 

-I offer them a treat, if I can. Food helps horses feel safe, and then I let them sniff me. After that, I ask them how I can help them.

What is it that fascinates you most about classical dressage and even the schools above the ground that you teach? 

-I fell in love with classical dressage after reading about how masters like Egon von Niendorff and Nuno Oliveria healed horses, whose bodies and minds were broken, with the movements and school figures. The ability to use classical dressage as a tool to heal horses is why I practice. For me, classical dressage is medicine. I’m not as good as they were, but I hope to be some day.

What is the most recent thing you learned (about horses or in general) that amazed you?

-That my practice and work with horses, and the love therein, would be so interesting to so many different types of people.

What do you do when you find yourself struggling (to be at your best) with a horse? 

-If they’re my personal horses, I won’t work them. I’ll hand walk them around the farm. If it’s a client’s horse, I do easy work. Maybe we’ll have an extra day of playing games, or a review of something super-easy for them… But, I won’t ride them. That said, and in all truth, I honestly don’t have many of those days. 

Also, my horses are on a pretty balanced training schedule. They do dressage from the ground twice a week, pedestal work once a week, we have a games day once a week, and they are ridden twice a week. So, there’s a lot of room in our schedule to relax, and decompress, have fun. The diversity helps all of us be at our best for each other. 

Which books do you recommend that may help horse people become better listeners and/or understanders of the horse?

-“Horse Brain Human Brain” By: Janet L. Jones is the most recent book that I’ve read and would suggest. I also enjoy Jutta Weimer’s book, “From Leading to Liberty” very much. 

Do you have a vision for the horse world? Is there anything that worries you?

-People treat their horses better when they have inner-peace. How we care for our horses is a reflection of hearts. I’d like to help more people find inner-peace. The practice of being open to there always being a better way is a wonderful tool to help us strive to be the best we can for our horses. 

“People treat their horses better when they have inner peace.”

I heard you say that you were led by a deep trust in life. How did you find that? 

-My mom taught me how to trust my heart. My heart taught me how to trust life. 

Do you have a personal practice of any kind, apart from your work with horses, that helps to Center you and “clear” your mind and heart? How do you relax? 

-Yes, I exercise a lot. I love to write. I love to read, and have super-nerdy conversations with my boyfriend. I like to hangout with me mom, and my siblings, and my nieces. I also enjoy just sitting in silence. It helps me feel safe, the way hugs from my great grandma made me feel safe when I was a little boy. 

Which would you say is the spiritual path that you are most drawn to?  

-That question made me think of this quote: ”Well, while I’m here I’ll do the work — and what’s the work? To ease the pain of living. Everything else, drunken dumbshow.” ― Allen Ginsberg.

I’d like to think that this is the spiritual path that I’m on.

Which convictions, behaviors or habits, that you have integrated within the last few years, have improved your life the most? 

-Well, to be quite honest, in the realm of my work, having my own space has been a wonderful thing. A horse’s opportunity to learn grows out of the care that they receive. I’m really happy that I have complete control over their routine, and that I can make life as positively predictable as possible for them. This has been key to the progress. 

Where and when do you feel most connected?

-When I am present. 

Who and what inspires you? 

-Beautiful art. Being with horses—they teach me how to see. 

What is your favorite word and why? 

-Love is my favorite word. Love is big. The world is small. 

What is your favorite view? 

-Onward and upward and ever-forward. 

Would you like to come to Germany again once it’s safe? 

-I’d love to come to Germany again. It’s really beautiful there.

Thank you very much for this Interview, Nahshon. I’m so looking forward to hearing more from you soon. 

If meanwhile you’d like to read more of and follow him, make sure you check out Nahshon Cooks Facebook Page.

Über die Autorin

Daniela Kämmerer

Daniela Kämmerer

Horsemanship Coach, Yogalehrerin, Autorin

Daniela möchte Menschen und Pferden helfen, sich wohler in ihrer Haut zu fühlen und aufzublühen. Nicht zuletzt, da sie nur so auch gut füreinander sein können – und für ihre sonstige Umwelt.