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The Soul of a Horse by Joe Camp
The Soul of a Horse by Joe Camp

The Soul of a Horse by Joe Camp

In “Book Review: The Soul of a Horse,”Scott Holleran writes:
One of the best aspects of the Benji pictures, including the one that didn’t do as well, Benji Off the Leash, is Joe Camp’s strong sense of what forms the bond between man and pet and his soul-searching book about horses builds on that bond. As Camp turns inward in this meandering journal of an amateur horseman discovering and coming to terms with how one ought to treat a horse, he yields page after page of original and thoughtful insights about properly tending to this beautiful animal of prey. From feeding, riding and communicating to blankets, horseshoes, and ropes tied to posts, his hard-won lessons on the ranch, coupled with Kathleen’s slightly different approach, is another volume in the growing literature of books that argue for an organic, or “natural”, treatment of the horse. … “Leadership makes a difference,” Camp writes. “Even with borrowed horses. Or rented trail horses, who carry folks around every day of their lives. You never know when it will come in handy for the horse to think of you as a leader. And it’s so much nicer to know that you’re off on a ride with a friend. A partner who trusts you. Not some vacant-eyed mechanical device manufactured just to carry you around. The rub, of course, is that leadership isn’t easy or free. With horses or in life. It’s earned. But it does make a difference, and is worth every ounce of the effort.” © Copyright 2011 Scott Holleran. All rights reserved.


  1. Anonymous

    The Soul of a Horse by Joe Camp

    I was beginning to understand that, in fact, we must find a way to be a horse. We shouldn’t even try to relate horse behavior and communication to human equivalents. Or even doggie equivalents. Horses are not humans. And they aren’t dogs. If you treat a Horse like a poppy, you will never be his leader. I’m not saying you shouldn’t give your horse a hug or a rub. But a dog will do virtually anything for a hug. A horse will do virtually nothing for a hug. But he will do virtually anything for his respected leader. And he will continually test that leader to see if he or she is still worthy of the title. I learned all this, and began to understand how to be a horse. I had finally found where I was to begin. I was ecstatic.              

  2. Anonymous

     “The Soul of a Horse” by Joe Camp
    Simply understanding what reward is to a horse made so much difference in the way I approached the task of training.
    Reward for a horse, I finally discovered, true reward, comes from release of pressure.
    And with that reward comes learning. Communication. Understanding.
    It’s as simple as that.
    Release of the pressure.
    Most trail horses know so much more than those who ride them, it’s difficult to do too much wrong. They won’t let you. They are turning, going, and stopping before you think about it so you don’t have to jerk on their mouth or kick them in the side.
    The years have taught them.
    But for the horse owner, there is only one place to begin.
    At the beginning.
    Stand in the horse’s hooves. Study His history. Understand why he is the way he is, and why he acts the way he does.
    He’s a prey animal.
    You mean like a rabbit??
    Pretty much, yeah.
    But he weighs eleven hundred pounds!!
    Discover what makes him feel safe. What keeps him healthy.
    What he wants in a leader. 
    And why??                

  3. Anonymous

    I am also fascinated by Monty Roberts world famous Mustang “Shy Boy” that came in from the wild!!
    Title: I’m Shy Boy: Here’s My Story…
    Thanks for recommending the next book; Horse, Follow Closely.

  4. Agreed! As put in The Soul of a Horse and in Horse, Follow Closely, a horse is a horse. A is A. It has identity, and its identity determines its action and behavior. Not everyone gets that. They treat a horse as a dog, a human, a machine, a piece of furniture or trash. But that is not the horse’s identity — hence those people are out of touch with reality. And some people treat a horse as an extension of their will, which it is not; or as a slave: as a thing that should automatically and instantaneously fulfill the person’s every whim and want. Those people are subjectivist and emotionalist.

    But those people all do damage to themselves and the horse.

    What’s more, while the horse has identity, it is the individual that is fundamentally real, not the group. Horses are herd animals, yes, but the herd is made up of individuals with each its own unique identity, “personality,” and existence. We need to focus on each individual horse, and not treat it as an abstract “horse.” This makes us focus more on reality, too, instead of expecting a horse to fit “the horse type” — i.e., our preconceptions or hasty generalizations about horses.

    And with that, on our part, goes asking and answering questions (i.e., rational thinking) as you do. Ask “why?” and “how?” Amen. Look for cause and effect relationships. Amen.

    Yes, agreed, horses need “release of pressure” (a way of putting it I’ll have to think more about! thanks!). They evolved to be and roam free. They need free movement, not only or always constrained movement.

    Thanks for the recommendation of I’m Shy Boy: Here’s My Story. I’ll have to order it.

  5. Anonymous

     “The Soul of a Horse” by Joe Camp
    Discovering the mysteries of the horse is a never ending journey, but the rewards are an elixir. The soul prospers from sharing. Caring, relaxing and fulfilling. Nothing can make you feel better than doing something good for another being. Not cars. Not houses. Not face lifts. Not blue ribbons or trophies. And there is nothing more important in life than love. Not money. Not status. Not winning.

    Give the choice of choice. To your horse, or your employee, or your friend, or your loved ones. Care enough to want them healthy and happy. It will come back a hundredfold.

    And always question everything. Be your own expert. Gather information and make decisions based upon knowledge and wisdom, not here say, know that if something doesn’t seem logical, it probably isn’t. If it doesn’t make sense, it probably not right.

    There are many who teach relationship, riding, and training with principles of natural horsemanship. Others support benefits of good barefoot with the wild horse trim. Still others write that your horse should eat from the ground and live without clothes and covering. Go barefoot versus shoes.  I was dumbfounded. It never once occurred to me that a horse was designed to stand on his own four feet, without man made shoes. When the shoe falls off, the circulation returns and suddenly the horse can feel again.

    Few have put it all together into a single philosophy, a unified voice, a complete lifestyle change for the domesticated horse. When I gave Cash the Choice of Choice and he Chose ME, he left me with NO ALTERNATIVE. No longer could it be what I wanted, but rather what he needed. What fifty- five million years of genetics demanded for his long, healthy, and happy life.

    I’m still astonished when I think of where Kathleen and I began such a short time a go, and where most horse owners still are today, training with dominance and cruelty, cooping up their horses in small spaces, weakening their natural immune system, feeding them unnaturally, creating unhealthy hooves and bodies with metal shoes. Those people maybe out of touch with reality and (treat a horse as an extension of their will, which is not; or as a slave; as a thing that should automatically and instantaneously fulfill the person’s every WHIM and WANT;  those people are barbaric and definitely do not have a tendency to regard things Emotionally or even Subjectively, without emotions we become devoid of feelings… Without subjectivity, we would only be physical objects devoid of activity, Subjectivity reaches its highest form in humans who think, plan, remember, feel, dream, imagine, anticipate, symbolize, decide, understand, learn, and initiate action).

    Yes, but, there are those who care about having a relationship with their horse, they want to get to know the horse, and who will, when confronted, continue to care about the health, happiness and need of their horse. 

    I hope this book will be a crack in the armor, a small breeze if not the strong winds of change, a resource for what needs to be done.

    And a longer, happier, healthier life for all horses.

     It would be awesome to get some training from GaWaNi PonyBoy! Maybe someday…hopefully soon. Thanks! 🙂          


  6. I’m reading the book (The Soul of a Horse) and enjoying it — except when, sitting out by the apartment-complex pool getting a tan (on my legs! my upper body is tanned nicely from horseback riding!), some stories bring tears to my eyes. Pathetic. I’m on p. 145 now.

    If you get training from PonyBoy, tell me how it to goes, please!! I’d love to be able to afford to talk to him some day, but the day is not yet here. Be nice to visit with Mr. Camp some day, too. : ) Nice to know there are other people in the world who do and believe, in regard to horses, as I do!!

    Oh, some other books I’d recommend are:
    1. The Nature of Horses by Stephen Budiansky
    (See also his The Character of Cats and The Truth About Dogs.)

    Mr. Budiansky looks at animals from a scientific and evolutionary perspective — as well as from the perspective of a dog, cat, and horse owner and animal lover. Fascinating books. I have read only part of the dog book, but have read through the cat and horse books. Highly recommended. I love how he talks about the cat’s behavior being determined, in part, by its hunting and sexual strategies — which issues determine the behavior of many animals. Interesting, too, how cats are like their wild counterparts, while dogs aren’t, and that, while cats might look differently, they have the same genetic variation (2 to 3%) that is found among cats in the wild — i.e., “domestic” cats are not really different from each other as breeds of dogs are, and cats and wild cats are basically the same. In regard to horses, I enjoyed reading about the analysis of their movement in terms of physics: there are basically two forms of motion: walking and jumping; and, in some forms of locomotion, you can regard the horse leg as an inverted pendulum. There is also interesting discussion of color vision in the books.

    2. Feed Your Horse Like a Horse by Dr. Juliet M. Getty

    I have not read all of this book, but I like it so far!! Dr. Getty follows, as far as she knows and has integrated them (and as far as man has figured things out so far!!) the principles of evolutionary medicine and evolutionary science. Great book on horse nutrition!! She talks about treating certain conditions, what effects minerals and nutrients have, etc. Great book on nutrition!

    In light of treating a horse like a horse — what about treating yourself as a human, a homo sapiens sapiens? What about your evolution? In that light, I’d recommend also:

    3. The Barefoot Book by Dr. Daniel Howell

    4. The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf

    5. The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain

    And check out the Health, Nutrition & Exercise posts and links in my blog!

  7. Oh — what I would like to see is a movie about GaWaNi PonyBoy made by Joe Camp!! Now that would be something!! What a perfect collaboration!! A movie made by someone who knows and loves horses, about someone who knows and loves horses. Hard to find another team who could do that!!

  8. Anonymous

    It’s always fun to read out doors next to water…and sun is great! Glad to see you enjoying Your summer!

    I think pg. 145 is in chapter 10, “Survival”, page numbers are different in iBooks, kindle or nook. I get iBooks so I can travel easy. Have read both Paleo books by Rob Wolf & Art Devany, some of Loren Cordain, and of course, Truth about Dogs…:)

    I just ordered The Character of the Cats and The Nature of horses, on Amazon.

    I am confused about your Cat’s comment “strategies” just don’t get it, but anyway I have respect for everyone’s identity and their sexual orientation; it’s okay! It is the soul, and good friendship that counts…maybe I’ll relate to it when I read the book!
    Joe Camp and Monty Roberts are great. It’s hard to choose…but, something about PoneyBoy…is real and fascinating!!
    Thanks for introducing him to me!

  9. Anonymous

    I studied going barefoot over three years ago, specially, On the beach! That is why I’ve VFF’s.

    I’ve read “The Barefoot Princess” by Christina Dodd. Watch out! Lol

    I read all your posts in your blog; will be able to read it, even when thousands of miles away… thanks to technology!

    I love your selection of songs and piano. And the new picture!! 🙂

  10. Good books. You will enjoy them. Confused about the comment? Well, it will be clarified in the books. Yes, PonyBoy is fascinating — agreed; I think I like him best. I have not read “The Barefoot Princess,” and not sure if I have heard of it. Yes, technology is amazing. Glad you like the art, and thanks regarding the new picture!

  11. Anonymous

    How come all the Paleo diet books say different things?? For instance, Art De Vaney’s plan is different than Loren Cordain and even Robb Wolf?
    Which to follow…i.e., one says eat baken & cheese and the other says “do not eat them”…confused!!
    I got “The Paleo Diet Cookbook by Loren Cordain”, I like it a lot!

  12. Anonymous

    Got the books…read it, lol “strategies”, sorry for misunderstanding to begin with…I was confused and worried because of what I read on line at the time…it had something like male cats go after a male…whatever… Lol, got me thinking…I was kind of sad!!

    I understand NOW! Yes I do and agree!

    But, I wish, you could understand, also!! “Life is all about timing……


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