Last Friday (5-24-13) our Feature Friday story was "David Lichman's-Benifit Tour-Horses Helping Humans." A North American tour to benefit equine-assisted programs and youth organizations coast to coast. ... Today I'd like to share a story I wrote a story about David's journey to become the Master Trainer/Teacher he is today that first appeared in the April 2012 issue of HoofBeats magazine.
David's commitment to helping horses and people is wonderful and powerful ... I think you'll enjoy the story of his journey.
"David Lichman – The Journey Continues"
"There's a reason certain horses come into your life. And you might just continue to get the same kind of horse until you learn the lesson they were meant to teach you." About 20 years ago David Lichman was working with a stallion and making no progress. He was so frustrated he was ready to give up and send the stallion home. He called a friend, a spiritual healer and trainer, for advice. She told him, "You can send the horse home; but you'll get another just like him, and you'll keep getting horses like this until you learn how to help them." It was at that moment, David realized that learning to help horses teaches us something valuable about improving ourselves.
|David and Scotty|
David did not grow up with horses. He grew up in a suburb of Boston. But he always had an unexplainable tug on his heart drawing him to horses. As a youth, whenever the family would attend fairs, carnivals or the circus, he could always be found with the horses. He still has, and treasures, all the horse books his Aunt bought him in his childhood. One special book had plans for converting a two-car garage into accommodations for one horse and one car. In junior high school he found a boarding stable he could ride his bike to and work in exchange for lessons. David would spend all day there on weekends just to be around horses and horse people. He tried, without success, to convince his father into making the conversion to their garage and buying his first lesson horse, Rex.
The Lipizzaner Stallions from Vienna came to The Boston Garden when David was about 13. "Something about those horses just thrilled me, and I never got over it," David said. Later, in college, he was delighted to discover he could take horseback riding and he signed on. But, unable to have a horse of his own, he never found the inner fulfillment he so desired.
It wasn't until he was in his second career that he would begin to chart a life filled with horses. As a young man, David played music for a living, and his music took him to California where circumstances led him to change his career and his life. He went back to college where he earned a degree in software engineering. He also met the wonderful woman who would become his wife. Both Nancy and he had a strong love of horses. They married in 1983 and purchased their first horse.
Soon they had two horses, gaited horses. "It was that time in our lives when we were just starting out with horses. And starting out with gaited horses, we were showered with advice. Some good. Some not so good," David laughed. "Somehow we managed to ride them and go to horse shows. We even won a few." Together they sifted through the readily available advice and through trial and error, mostly error, they began to understand horses.
In 1985, at the California state fair, David attended the Cavalcade of Horses colt starting. For 18 days in a row he watched Ray Hunt work with a different green, unstarted horse in the blistering afternoon heat. As he watched Ray, he saw a kind of communication and cooperation he'd not yet experienced. "I'd been fooling with horses for a couple of years by then, but when I watched Ray, my jaw dropped. I'll never forget. It was my miracle moment," David said. He took what he saw there and began to try to emulate Ray with his own horses. "Some things worked, but mostly what I learned from Ray was how much I didn't know," David said.
The next year at the Cavalcade colt-starting exhibition, David discovered Pat Parelli. Again, for 18 days he watched Pat start 18 colts in the oppressive California afternoon heat, and he knew he could learn much more from Pat. David signed up for Pat Parelli's mailing list and even ordered videos. David tested his own resourcefulness though. Instead of buying some of the Parelli products, he made his own. "I wasn't gonna pay what they wanted for his special 12-foot rope, so I made my own. But it more resembled an anchor chain than a rope!" David laughed.
The Parelli ranch at the time was in Clements, California, less than an hour from David and Nancy's home. One day in the Parelli mailings was an invitation to come ride with Pat for a week. The cost, $400. "I laughed and said no way I'm gonna drive an hour and pay $400 to ride with Pat Parelli." That was a decision he later regretted, but for the next seven years David continued to study the Parelli way, buying videos, going to free events and the rendezvous at the Parelli ranch, and improving his horse communication skills. During this time David began to take on horses to train and even do exhibitions.
The tug in his heart to help others understand continued to move him forward. But he knew he needed more. He knew the horses were telling him he could do more. Where would he find the answers? He knew he must continue on this journey to find a way to help people understand their horses and experience the great relationship he was discovering with his own horses.
|Scotty, Thirteen, Julio and David|
The methods and lessons he'd learned from the Parelli system made so much sense to him and the horses and students he'd been working with, that David's heart told him he must pursue becoming a Parelli instructor. One of the first requirements was to send a video for evaluation. David chose a video of an exhibition he'd just done at the California state fair in the same arena where he'd first seen Pat. It was even the same announcer! Later, Pat would tell David that when he watched the video, the sound of that announcer's voice gave him chills as he recalled those 18 colt-starts in the smothering afternoon heat. Another requirement was to ride with Pat. "I learned more riding with Pat for those two weeks than I'd learned in seven years trying to do it on my own," David laughed.
Watching Ray Hunt was the shining moment that first showed David it was not only possible, but imperative to listen to and understand a horse's heart, fears and needs. It was Pat Parelli who gave David something he could hold onto. "If you slow down and listen to the horses, they will tell you everything you need to know about them. And yourself." David said.
In 1994 David became a certified Parelli instructor. Today he is one of Pat's top rated instructors with a 5-star rating. His travels take him across the world putting on clinics teaching Pat's ways and helping people to understand their horses. He has met countless, wonderful people and thousands of horses of all breeds and disciplines. He also has a program called "Long Distance Coaching," where students can send him videos for evaluation and instruction. To learn more about this and other programs visit his website http://www.davidlichman.com/home.php
In the course of David's journey there have been many horses that have spoken to him."They've helped me to not only grow myself, but they've helped me learn how to help others, too." His journey has taken him places where he's witnessed the healing power of the horse, mentally and physically. David's mission now is to help people understand and feel the power of the horse's spirit, so their lives can be enriched. He feels the horses are working through him to help their owners understand. David says, "When you feel down, horses can make you smile. Even when frustrated, if you have love in your heart, you have to smile because you'll see the love in your horse."
|Smiles all around|
The world is a better place for the journey David Lichman has taken, and we thank his Aunt Ruth for buying young David his first horse books. His journey continues, and he invites you to join him.
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry
Feature Friday "David Lichman's-Benifit Tour-Horses Helping Humans." http://dutchhenry.blogspot.com/2013/05/feature-friday-david-lichmans-benefit.html
HoofBeats magazine- http://www.hoofbeatsonline.com/