Written by Eclectic Horseman
1. How did you get involved with horses?
Horses were in my blood. As I have been told, I cannot remember back that far, I wanted to ride when I was just 3 or 4 years old and pestered my parents so they got me riding lessons when I was 4 years old. And I have never been without them. As far back as I can remember, I planned to be an equine vet; back then I was going to be the first woman equine vet because I had never met one. I thought there were none.
2. What one word describes your ideal horse-human relationship?
3. Who is your favorite horse of all time? Why?
Stroller, silver medallist in 1962 Olympics, in the jumpers. He was 14.2 hands high.
4. Do you see yourself as part of a larger community of horse people, and if so, how do you fit into that community?
I definitely feel I am part of the horse community that is interested in approaching horse care from a more natural or holistic standpoint. I see myself as an educator and teacher.
5. What equine-related product could you not live without?
My Lauriche custom-fitted saddle makes my life wonderful when I am sitting on top of my horse.
6. What are your current professional goals?
I feel lucky in that I think I am living my professional goal of being the best veterinarian that I can be. In my case this means working with holistic medicine and taking the time to figure out how to treat some of our more problematic diseases and conditions. Where my life will take me from here, I am not sure, but I feel I am headed down the right path.
7. What do you get out of working with horses? What do you give?
Horses teach me, give me enjoyment and positive energy. I admire them for what they are capable of. In return, I give them freedom from pain and understanding.
8. What is the most important character trait for a great horseman to possess? Why?
Patience. Horses have a mind of their own and people have ideas about what we want horses to do. However, we are not always able to communicate what we want our horse to do, and the horse does not always understand our thoughts or is not in the mood to cooperate. I have bad days sometimes, and if someone were on my back, I would have few comments to make. And I do not always understand what my fellow human wants me to do (ever have one of those days at work or in a relationship?).So, to be a great horseman, you must realize that if you do not get the results you want, you have to put your brain to work to figure out how. And give the horse a break; horses will willingly do what we ask when they do not hurt and we ask clearly.
9. What horseman living or deceased would you most like to study with? Why?
Bettina Drummond. Ever since I met Bettina, I have felt she has a special connection and knowledge that few
people have. She combines an extensive knowledge of biomechanics and movement with an ability to teach the horse to move accurately. Very few people actually understand the correct movement and even fewer can obtain it. One of these days, I will find enough time to ride and study with her.
10. What is your most memorable horse related moment?
This is a hard question to answer, as horses provide me with memorable moments regularly. Perhaps one of my most memorable moments was when I had a client tell me she had stopped a lesson because she suspected her horse’s resistance might be coming from pain. Previously she had been a tough German-style trainer who did not put up with horses resisting, and always made them work anyway. To see her soften and realize that her horse was only trying to tell her something moved me in a special way.
Joyce Harman, DVM MRCVS practices holistic veterinary medicine in Flint Hill, Virginia. She uses acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, and nutrition as well as some herbal remedies to help horses realize their potential, whether they are backyard pleasure horses, trail horses or high-level event horses. She rides when she can find the time, and intends to try most every sport that is fun for her 6-year-old Connamara/Thoroughbred mare. She lives with her many horses, dogs and cats. She has recently begun raising Scottish Highland cattle and currently has about 700 lbs. of beef in the deep freeze. Her book on saddle fitting will be out soon, in two volumes, with the English one first. This book will explain the ins and outs of proper saddle fit and explain its huge importance. For more information you can visit her web site at www.harmanyequine.com
This article originally appeared in Eclectic Horseman Issue No.4