Simin Nadjafi – A Little Whisper
Here we talk to Spanish horse whisperer Simin Nadjafi as we learn more about her incredible talent to communicate with horses. By understanding the desires of the horse, based on psychology of the animal, Simin is able to communicate in a way that she is able to earn the trust and respect of the horse.
When did you discover your love for horses and how did this develop into the way you communicate with them today
In my very early childhood, which wasn’t very easy, they were my safety-zone – today I am theirs.
Our perception is different before we start to think in words. It is much wider. When we start to speak we start to limit our perception to what we can express in words, everything beyond or beside then doesn’t exist anymore in our consciousness. But this place beyond words, which we knew when we were little kids, is actually the place where our intuition lives and also our ability to communicate with animals. Therefor I like to call it ‘energetic communication’. I believe that everybody is born with this capability. Re-learning it can be very healing for adults and sometimes very scary too because the horse always acts as a mirror to our soul, reflecting back to us our own state of being, emotionally, physically and spiritually. But to those who are not afraid of looking in that mirror the realm of animal communication is open.
Below Simin Nadjafi joins San Miguel in their search for a different kind of rich, a richness in experience of life…
What would you say is the most profound lesson horses have helped you learn about yourself?
Horses have taught me to trust my intuition, and to be me, my authentic self.
They’ve helped me to learn not to be afraid of my emotions. That my strength as my weakness are parts of myself and that I can heal everything.
They’ve taught me instant forgiveness.
And that joy and fun are so important in life and we all learn much better and faster if we have fun.
They’ve taught me that knowledge and techniques are important tools but the most important thing in life as in the training is Love and compassion.
They’ve taught me to be clear, fair and humble.
“And over all they’ve taught me patience, lots of patience” Simin Nadjafi
How close do you live to the ocean and how does it play a part in the horses training
The beaches and the great weather conditions we have nearly the whole year are a gift and a great advantage for the horse training. We have different beaches to our disposition, some are good for walking exercises and to custom the horses to the sea, the surge, waves and the moving ground under their hooves.
Others are good for the swim-training.
And all of them are great locations for photo and film productions.
To some we ride to others we take the horse taxi, a small truck for 3 horses.
The horses love the beaches and the seawater has a strong healing power.
We are now also offering Equine Hydrotherapy in the Atlantic Ocean for the fitness as for the rehabilitation of injuries and diseases (with vet. Assistance).
(for more information about the equine hydrotherapy please have a look on my website: http://www.domanatural.net/hydrotherapy.html , or contact me: email@example.com).
How do horses come to end up in your care/at your training facility?
They are sent by their owners for different reasons.
Most of my clients come from the north (U.K., Swiss, Germany, etc.), they want their horses to be trained with respect and confidence and free of violence.
I get young horses who come for the basic classical training and to learn ground manners and others who come for special skills of equestrian art at liberty and / or in the saddle (or bareback).
Sometimes the owners have bought them in Spain or Portugal and want me to (re-) train them before they take them home; others send their horses because they are moving to Spain, or they have holiday homes here and want me to take care of their animals, keep them fit and teach them a thing or two while they are away.
Sometimes people come for training or personalized coaching together with their horses.
The so called ‘problem-horses’ or horses with ‘vices’ I only take if the owner takes part otherwise it doesn’t makes sense.
Right now for example I have a rescued horse in training (a high skilled Lusitano, a great horse). His owner is Swiss, she saved him because she saw the fire to live in his eyes even knowing that he won’t be the right horse for her. She wants me to train him until the right person shows up and buys him.
You are able to use your methods in training horses for productions, how did you get started? Where you approached?
Since I started to work as a professional trainer I wanted to work for productions. I love the challenge to find a way to explain the horse the special skill they want him to do and then make it something he is proud of to do.
When I visited Monty Roberts, Flag Is Up Farm in California I also went to see the movie trainers who prepared the horses for ‘Zorro’ to have some exchange about the training.
A bit later I got approached to perform myself and to cast and prepare horses and riders.
Like everything it started with a dream and then taking the right actions to make it become reality.
The horses love the attention they get and perform proudly for the cameras. Productions are as much fun as they are stress and exhausting for all of us.
Is there one horse that has stood out to you during your journey so far? One that you have experienced the most from?
Yes, definitely! My Lusitano stallion Volapie. He is an amazing performer and like most great artists he is highly sensitive and a bit of a sissy. He used to have a very strong flight instinct and would panic at the minimum of pressure or just didn’t understand what he was asked for. He presented me the problems of at least 30 different horses and he is the greatest teacher I ever had – regarding horse training as lections of life and about myself.
How different are the horses personalities, could you group them into particular categories or are they each very different?
Same as people. Every horse is unique and has his special personality, qualities, capacities, likes and dislikes. But sure you can put them into ‘groups’ like we do with people too. I agree with the specification Carolyn Resnick made in her book ‘Naked Liberty’ she categorized three groups of 1. Leaders; 2. Dominant and 3. Submissive Horses. I’d like to explain that a bit more but I think it would blow up the frame of this interview.
Anyhow, I have seen horses change a lot in their personality due to an important change in their circumstances (training, environment, feed, teeth or osteopathic treatments) and I believe that it is very important not to stigmatize a horse (nor a person) and rather find them the circumstances in which they are happy and can develop their full potential.
How do you find horses learn best?
Through positive reinforcement. Let them know when they are doing good. Ask little and reward a lot.
Allow them to make mistakes (and allow it to yourself too)
Respect their personality and their natural behavior and use it to your advantage in the training. A lazy horse for example has its best impulsion when he is going in the direction of a door or stable and a horse with strong temperament will easier understand when he looks in the opposite direction, away from the door.
When we understand the horse, generally and individually we get plenty of ideas how to make the training interesting and joyful for them.
Variety is great for the motivation – boredom is a killer.
All animals naturally learn through play and they love it. I believe play is the best way for teaching special tricks.
The saying you can’t teach an old horse new tricks, do you think this is true and if not are they easier or harder to connect with?
I can’t answer that in general. First, from which age on you name a horse to be old? I’ve seen 25 year old horses with a very young spirit and young ones that seemed to be really old. There are horses who love to learn tricks and others who are not interested in it at all. It is a question of personality and experience. Those ones who are not interested at all are often ‘human made’, they’ve lost their curiosity and their motivation because of their experience with people.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give to an equestrian who’s having difficulties with bonding with a horse?
If he / she has the problem with only one specific horse, I’d recommend to get professional help or join a horsemanship training together (with the horse).
And if this is a general problem with horses, I’d advice her or him to first become quiet and learn to observe and to listen. Then take a look inside and take care of your own personal development (maybe join a horse assisted coaching or do some yoga and / or meditation) and when you become more confident with the idea and practice of self-reflection and consciousness then learn about natural horsemanship and join a course.
And for those who don’t want to look at themselves I’d recommend to chose a different sport or passion.
Simin Nadjafi is included by San Miguel as part of its search for the San Miguel Rich List, a list of 20 ‘life-rich’ individuals from across the globe who have unique, compelling, aspirational human stories. To find out more about the campaign, and discover other life-rich individuals, visit www.sanmiguel.co.uk/richlist