Kai Mattern Interview

He doesn’t use bridles, or mounts, neither has he used the force to train the horses. Kai Mattern works with them with the door of the race course open, so that the animal is who decides willingly if he wants to stay with him and continue learning. His method is an example of the link and solid team which can be created if there exist what he calls “a good leader of the herd”. Kai Mattern offers workshops with horses in freedom to companies to learn about the good leadership and work in team.

-So many years living with horses, what have you learned?
-They make me think a lot: about the life, about ourselves, about how we live in a system which punish when you make a mistake. Nobody awards you when you do it well. I never think that the horse has the blame when the work goes wrong, but I haven’t expressed well and I should make an effort to catch his attention and try to be interesting for him. También me enseñan sobre paciencia. Necesitas mucha paciencia para enseñar. I show to the horse that I’m willing to invest all the time he needs to follow me. I have also learned about the balance between giving and receiving.
-It sounds therapeutic.
-Yes. For example, we work conflictive children at school as their behaviour is very similar to the some horses of the herd in freedom. There are conflictive horses in the herd and any horse wants to be with them. They are usually the dominant and aggressive ones, but at the end they are very important for the dynamic of the herd. They keep other horses ready to respond and change the dynamics of the herd according to if they win or lose the fights. We teach these children the herds and how to treat this kind of horses, how to ask their space to be respected. At the end, they win conscious and self-esteem.
-Very educative.
-The present educative system is very por. The whole system according to the marks is an absolute pressure for the child. The children should study with the doors of the classroom open. So in this way, the teacher would make an effort to win the child’s interest. I teach to my horses with the fence open, without bridles, or whips, or ropes, and finally I have to make an effort every day so that they stay with me. This obliges me to keep improving and evolving.
-How do you catch the interest of the horse?
-Being a good leader. The good leader is the one who knows how to motivate to motivate people to become part of their team. The good leader doesn’t oblige, it is followed because he is the best at making decisions.
-And what about a bad leader?
-The bad leader is the dominant horse, the conflictive, the stallion horse, which is usually aggressive, removes a lot the herds, but they also protect them. Sometimes we think that the dominant one is the leader, but it is wrong. The leader is usually an experimented mare who knows how to lead the herd. The others trust on her, they believe in her. The stallion horse closes the herd but if he doesn’t stop being conflictive, the mares will leave.
-It is a pretty ‘human’ leadership…
-Yes. In the society it happens the same. You meet with people with whom you feel good and you trust in a natural way but they are not aggressive or dogmatic people. Many people are wrong with the concept of leader. The leader has clear ideas but he is flexible.
-It sounds a good learning for the leaders.
-If you work in freedom, without ropes, without fences, you learn how to lead with the will of the horse. If the horse doesn’t want to follow you, he will leave. You have to learn how to motivate to learn, to stay with you. If you don’t inspire trust, he will leave, if you pressed him too much, he will also leave. At the time you remove the head stall to a horse, you find the true reality: the horse chooses if he wants to follow you or not.
– How is it created the link?
-A horse never sees us like family, although we would like it. We are with them but then we go home and go back the following day. What we do is to create a link is to try to that the 50% of our time with it be simply staying with it, to accompany it, to share territory. So in this way the horse starts to know you and you gain its confidence. After that you must claim but also you must give. We give a lot and sometimes we forget about it; you should never get into discussion with the horse.
-They seem to the rules that there are in a company.
-Yes, people have to be comfortable to want to do things, they have to want to be part of something from the bottom of the heart, not as an obligation, and they have to have a community sense.
-What about Oli, the horse of his eyes?
-He taught me all I know about horses, and all about me; he taught me I had much to learn. Oli was a difficult horse; I have a brutal panic when I met him. He filed his teeth; he was upset with the whole things. I suppose that he wasn’t happy. Before buying him, Oli went from hand to hand, he had many owners. I created my relation with him little by little. The most beautiful thing of the horses is that you can make many mistakes because, although they never forget, they forgive almost everything. They are magnificent.
-Imagine that you are feeling sad when choosing to a conventional horse training…
-I think that we don’t have to criticise other trainings. It doesn’t worth to be against the whole world, make wars, but to try to subtly influence with all your knowledge and with a positive attitude. This isn’t a chess game, but it a crossword to be solved together.
– What is the most beautiful thing you have learned?
– Through a horse, sometimes, I’m capable of knowing enough the owner. It is a little hobby that I have started to develop with the pass of the time. The horse is a mirror of you. If you help a person to understand his horse and mend a determine thing, you are helping the person indirectly.