"One hand on his shoulder" - a review

Presented with a narration from the horse’s perspective it is somewhat difficult to categorize this unique production. Part education, part musing, part art but mostly all inspiring.

Jean Luc Cornille has spent most of the last few decades dedicating himself to a better understanding of how the horse functions – both physically and mentally. This video is the culmination and blending of both of these aspects. Working with his long-time equine companion Lafayette II (sadly no longer with us) Mr. Cornille takes us on a journey of discovery.

Lafayette was a high-level event horse. While playing in his pasture he hit a stone and fractured his coffin bone. And in that instant his jumping career ended and the horse’s recovery process begins. Forced into confinement, which he spends in a preeminently placed box stall labeled “Information” (a bit of humor that we find subtly intertwined throughout the story) Mr. Cornille was thusly compelled to assist this grand horse with his rehab in the best way possible. Well versed in the schooling of horses in-hand that was deemed the best course with which to begin.

Starting with elementary movements, such as simple turns, for first one minute, then two and then increasing the time and difficulty of the movements Mr. Cornille begins to notice how little shifts of his own body creates the same in the horse. As the horse heals the experiment continues and what is discovered is that the horse does not only follow the man but also instructs.

Many horse people will admit that horses have indeed taught them many things. What Mr. Cornille discovered moves our understanding beyond that – through his work with Lafayette (and subsequently more horses to follow) he discovered that horses possess an intelligence with which they had not yet been credited. Not mere instinct and more than just one horse intimately knowing one man Lafayette solved difficulties with creativity that he then shared with Mr. Cornille.

As an example working the canter in-hand. Once the horse was ready to do such collected work a cue from the ground was necessary to impart the wish for the canter depart. A tap on the shoulder with the whip made sense to the man but quite obviously disturbed the horse. While reconfiguring a different approach Mr. Cornille turned his left hand up and with that Lafayette cantered. A fluke – perhaps – but since the horse then chose it for his aid for canter depart, not just once but for each time afterward, it can only be concluded that it was indeed an instruction from horse to man.

We are taken through the discovery process from the beginning and it is a journey you will want to take again and again, I have had this video in my possession for less than a week and have watched it a half dozen times – each time I find more to inspire me.

Despite its serious implications the video is presented in a very light-hearted manner. Once you have watched this amazing interaction between man and horse I think you will find it quite difficult to think of the horse as anything other than a highly intelligent animal with a wry sense of humor and heart that never stops giving. And I think once you discover the intelligence and wisdom of Jean Luc Cornille he will also inspire you to learn and discover all that your horse has to give.

I have received no compensation for this review.

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