The Cup Philosophy

How much can you learn about horses? When do you stop learning? At what point are you considered the expert…the teacher…the master?

“I’ve been in the business for xx years”

“I’ve had horses all my life…”

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To count how many times I hear this in the horse world blows my mind.  This is often continued into a sometimes wordy and highly opinionated nugget of “knowledge.”  The preconceived ideas people get can seriously hinder forward growth.

When I was growing up Pluto was a planet, birds were birds (not reptiles), Y2K was a concern, and the food pyramid existed…Lightning doesn’t strike the same places twice, a penny dropped from the empire state building will kill you, and gum sat in your stomach forever.

Today these things have changed because the world is constantly evolving and learning. We are still discovering new things.

What does your 50 years with horses do for me if you haven’t continued learning?

More importantly what does 50 years do for you if you haven’t learned anything new?

What is does is show a pompous close minded fool. In the 50 years of your expertise, many “facts” of horses and horsemanship has changed and it’s important to keep an open mind.

As with anything in life, really.

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I know this as the “empty cup” philosophy. Wherever I go I bring an “empty cup” that is ready to be filled with new knowledge and insight. How can you continue to learn if it’s already full? If you have 50 years worth of freshly filled cups it’s much more valuable than one stale 50 year old cup.

You are like this cup; you are full of ideas.  You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can’t put anything in.  Before I can teach you, you’ll have to empty your cup

-Zen Master Ryutan

So whether you are new to horses or you’re a seasoned equestrian, bring an empty cup.

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Over the years many things have changed in horse-care.

Deworming is one major change that has really progressed in the last 20 years.  Some farms still deworm monthly, some quarterly, some even 2 or 3 times per year.  Until the 1940s deworming was only performed when the horse was ill with parasites.

Hoofcare has come a long way in the years.  We are now seeing glue on shoes, boots, and personalized hoofcare.

Diagnostics have improved.  Through XRays, ultrasound, bonescans, etc we have better options to help pinpoint the cause of our horse’s ailments.

We now have more medications and vaccinations to help keep our horses healthy.

To see in more detail how things have changed over the years, visit

TheHorse.com – 100 Years of Horse Health Care


In the future articles I will be taking things back to the basics to Equine 101.  From horse behavior and anatomy to halters.

Additionally, some farm environments aren’t always the most conducive for newcomer horse-people; It can often be daunting to ask “beginner” questions among some of the snooty equestrians out there.  I’ve never understood why so many equestrians frown upon any questions and that’s why I’m here.  If you’re new to the horse-world WELCOME! Please allow me to help you by submit any questions that you might have and I will do my best to answer them for you.  To help serve you best, please be as descriptive as possible.

Some examples of what I’ve heard in the past:

What’s that thing on it’s head?

Why do you horses do [insert behavior]?

What treats can I feed?

How should I behave at the farm?

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