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About Cynthia Royal

and the evolution of Beyond Horsemanship

An Ever Evolving Journey

Since early childhood, finding a way to connect with horses in a pure and authentic, mutually enjoyable way has been California native Cynthia Royal’s vision and passion.  But it wasn’t until a lifetime of experience studying and working with countless horses that she found the answer she'd been looking for  – that horses will only offer their full trust, enthusiasm and cooperation in the absence of fear, pain, pressure and other stress.  And so, her focus on pleasure-based positive training was born.


“Creating the relationship we dream of with a horse is not
so different from starting one with a person you'd like to eventually be your Best Forever Friend”, says Cynthia, who's numerous animal friends are living proof she’s found the magic formula.  “It can’t be demanded or forced through control or threats, punishment or penalty", she ads, evidenced by the fact that almost everyone still has problems with their horse, despite the many, readily available clinics, books and video training programs available around the world.  The reality is, control, domination and punishment-based programs - hallmarked by the use of escalating psychological and/or physical pressure to move, chase and/or drive the horse - actually prevent the trusting, willing relationship we so seek.  This is because these techniques work by causing the horse to have unpleasant emotions, causing him or her concern, if not outright fear, that the threat of correction or punishment is around every corner - something you wouldn't want your BFF to feel.  In essence, these coercion-based techniques can result in only 1 of 3 outcomes for the horse, as they either:

  • become shut down (also called 'learned helplessness'), which while giving the illusion of willing cooperation, the horse has emotionally checked out as a means to endure whatever painful or stressful treatment is being experienced.  Horses who will do their 'job' but seem like an empty shell, unwilling to seek you out for the joy of connecting are examples of this condition, which Cynthia has observed in countless horses being used for both pleasure and sport - including most horses being used by top 'clinicians' in their exibitions,
  • or he/she becomes resistant to you (the 'defensive' flight response) trying at all costs to avoid you and the situation you've placed the horse in.  Difficulty being caught, bucking, shying, bolting and most kicks are examples of this condition, or
  • or he/she becomes resentful of you (the 'offensive' fight response) ready to respond with a host of dangerous, aggressive behaviors.  Biting, charging, striking and outright attacks on people are examples of this condition.

Instead, Cynthia stresses, "the magical relationship everyone seeks with their horse can only be built on sharing mutually enjoyable experiences together that motivate the horse through pleasure rather than pain or fear.  The result is an organically achieved trust, a desire by the horse to be with you and an unleashing of the horse’s intelligence and curiosity - all through the absence of doubt, pain or fear. 

Beyond Horsemanship is built on 3 simple truths Cynthia believes break through to any horse, no matter the trauma or training:

  • all initial work is done with the horse in complete freedom, called ‘at Liberty’,
  • a special signal is used that creates a common language, plus establishes instant rapport and understanding by the horse, and
  • the horse is immediately rewarded for his/her efforts with something pleasurable, such as food, scratching or play.