To say that RJ Sadowski is a horse trainer diminishes what he truly is. RJ is a Horseman – a definite difference.
Before meeting RJ, I had been involved with different horse trainers, from the “cowboy ride ’em hard and put ’em away dirty” type to the more popular natural horsemanship trainers of the present day.
The traditional trainer got the work done, but did not have a partnership with the horse. There was no mutual respect or trust. Rather, the horse cooperated out of fear as he was made to do the handler’s bidding. The natural horsemanship training method is kinder, more respectful and is on the right track of gaining the horse’s trust than the traditional method. However, something is still missing.
RJ interacts with the horse using horse psychology. He thinks and acts like a horse. Probably the most important idea RJ teaches his students is to have empathy; learn to understand what the horse feels. He teaches a different way to be with a horse by building a relationship based on communication, respect and trust so the horse will choose to be with you above anything else in his environment.
The first time my horse and I met RJ, he evaluated my horse’s equineality. RJ’s idea of equinality is to recognize the behavior being presented in the moment and to apply an effective strategy based on that behavior and then . . . . in an instant, the horse behavior presented changes and another strategy is needed. Contrary to what many humans believe, horses are not all the same. They have different “makeups”. Through horse psychology, RJ is able to determine what type of makeup a horse is. He then interacts with the horse meeting the horse’s individual needs.
RJ has taught me how to be with my horse in the safest way possible. Not only am I learning how to help my horse (and myself) feel more confident, we are having fun doing it. I am learning through my body energy and language to communicate with him on a deeper level than I knew was possible.
RJ has helped and continues to help me tremendously. It is fascinating to watch what he can do with my horse. It is awesome when the same thing works for me. What I have learned from RJ, I will be able to be this way with any horse.
Not only is RJ a wonderful horse communicator, he teaches the human in an easy way to understand, he arrives on time for a scheduled Session as well as promptly returns e-mails.
My horse and I thank you, RJ, for the privilege of being your students.
“RJ, great session. Blackie’s session was so revealing, he’s like a hermit crab coming out of his shell! I’m so jazzed about the work you did, we did, with Blackie today, what an amazing transformation in him!”
“RJ’s (Bob) work ethic and commitment to horsemanship are commendable in a day and age when everyone has somewhere to go and something to do, but somehow magically wants a perfect horse. RJ understands the dynamics in training; that is, that it takes two: horse and rider.”
“I’ve seen a lot of people working with their horses. RJ ‘gets it’ to a degree most people there wish they did, including me! It’s not just that he got a response from them; it was the quality of the response and the willingness of the horses to work with him that truly impressed me…about 100 people spread over 3+ years…RJ stands out from them. He stands out as one of the most competent, considerate, capable, intelligent people I met…It’s not just what he ‘accomplished’ with his horses. It is the way he did it. He tempered his goals with understanding (of) what his horses could do and would do and working it out with their abilities foremost in mind. While he liked the ‘challenge’ of working with a green or difficult horse, it was not an ego thing for him. He’s in it for the horse. You want people like him in your program!”
RJ is the most kind and gentle horseman that I have even met. Every one of his ideas and teachings, I agree with and admire. RJ is also a humble, passionate teacher with no ego. He has it all.
Now, if we could only get all the horse people to understand what they can accomplish with their horses, the horse world would be a better place. RJ can give you those tools so you too may have a fabulous relationship with you horse. We all love our horses, don’t we want them to be happy, confident fun and safe to be around. I am so happy to have met RJ; he will be a friend and teacher of mine for a long time. My Haflingers are happy RJ came into our lives also. Francine B., Pennsylvania
All of my life, I’ve wanted a relationship with my horses that is based on communication and understanding rather than that of owner and owned. The past 15 years, I have had four to five different trainers, mainly dressage, in search of something “more.” Through all of this training, my ½ Arabian ½ Andalusian mare became more and more confused. Our relationship kept deteriorating until it came to the point where it was even unsafe to ride her- she would buck in confusion and rebellion in order to try to unseat me. Thanks to my horses’ trimmer, I was introduced to RJ 2 years ago. In him, I finally found the training that I had been seeking my whole life- and, it works! I now have the relationship with my mare that I’ve always wanted- one based on communication, respect, and understanding. I ride her with a halter and can canter again without the bucking and rebellion. I am grateful every day of my life for RJ and his training methods. I’m also so happy for my mare, who no longer needs to be confused, but is being trained with clear-cut, fair methods. I am also very grateful that my young QH mare will never have to go through what my older mare did. My QH is now being trained with the foundation that will allow me to have a relationship with her that is conducive to joy and to riding with confidence- in each other. I trust my horses and they trust me now to a degree I never had before but always wanted. Thank you RJ for allowing all of us the deep relationship we are continuously building! Jolene, Southampton, MA
Peace Haven Farm has positively changed my life forever. RJ has changed my outlook on horses, and has given me greater understanding of how humans affect horses lives, (sometimes in a not very good or positive way, be it intentionally or unintentionally). He has been able to explain in depth why some of the things we may have been doing with our horses is not the best for the horse. He has spent a lifetime working to gain a better understanding of horses, their language and their actions. He has the rare capability of teaching what he has learned to those people who are interested in listening and learning. He has a great capacity for understanding, empathy and respect for the horse and the student. He is able to adapt to the individual capabilities of the human and then find a way to shape that person’s interactions with a horse so that the human learns what is needed to communicate effectively with the horse and the horse feels comfortable and receptive to the requests of the human.
I was very privileged to be an observer at a house call RJ made to a stallion that had known only one handler. The stallion had become rebellious, rearing frequently and generally not accepting of human interaction with anyone other than the one handler. I watched in amazement as, in less than 2 hours, RJ had the stallion, who had departed from his stall by rearing as high as he could go and walked on his hind legs down most of the length of the aisle, was now walking calmly beside Bob on a loose lead. There were no violent acts on RJ’s part. There was a silent communication of requests for the horse to move away in a respectful non aggressive manner. To see the two of them, man and horse, walking quietly together changed my thought process about “bad” horses. It made me realize that perhaps these horses are misbehaving because they do not understand what their humans are trying to force them to do or that they are reacting to what their humans are doing to them. RJ showed me what can be done to help even a horse that seems to be completely unmanageable. Thus began my desire to learn to truly “be with” a horse.
The ironic part in my story is that I do not currently own a horse, but had a horse for several years in the past. After having the experiences above I felt it essential that I learn what a horse needs from a human before I acquire the horse. I am fortunate beyond words that RJ is working to teach me. He has an extraordinary gift as a teacher of both horses and humans. I hope that more horse owners choose to learn from this great resource of a man that embodies what all horse owners should hope to be. And to think that we have this resource right here in New England. I am very blessed indeed to have found Peace Haven Farm. RuthAnn, MA
“I have made a commitment to the philosophy and principles of natural horsemanship and want to apply those ideas every time I interact with my horse. After only one session with RJ, I was able to relate to my horse in a deeper way. RJ’s observations about how my energy was affecting my horse’s frame of mind were eye-opening, to say the least. Even though I thought I had developed my communication with my horse in an extremely positive way, I was surprised to see that I was missing some very important messages my horse was trying to send me.
Naturally, this was affecting my relationship with my horse both on the ground and in the saddle. RJ was able to show me, in a very short time, specific changes I could make that made a significant difference.
I have had the good fortune to be able to have RJ come to our barn on a regular basis to help me increase my confidence and reach my goals with my horse. Each time our session comes to a close, I feel like I have moved forward and have specific strategies that I can practice. RJ’s positive attitude toward the rider and true concern for the horse’s needs have provided my horse and me with the structure and feedback I feel we need to continue to grow.” Pat, CT
I have known RJ for 2 years now and have observed the remarkable relationships he has with each horse he comes in contact with. His calm demeanor and quiet, patient approach is a wonder to watch. He is a true professional in every meaning of the word. Listening, observing and participating in his clinics, seminars and lesson programs have opened my mind and my heart in such a way that is likened to finding the key to a locked door-one that has been locked for a long time! I have learned to listen and to start to trust my instincts, finally. He never tires of making sure that one understands how a technique is applied and always ends his sessions on a positive note, with homework for both owner and horse. It’s all very exciting, motivating and encouraging and I hope to reach my goal one day of owning a horse that has been trained and fine tuned by RJ. Missy, MA
“RJ’s style is unique. Working with horse and human, he empowers us to teach our horses. He stresses the importance of seeing/feeling what our horses experience when we send them the wrong signal, react too quickly/slowly, or completely miss an offer they have made to us. He uses well thought out exercises to lead his students through this profoundly revealing process. RJ shows us how to read our horses’ body language and change our own to more closely match theirs, which increases their trust in us and ultimately leads us to his holy grail of HORSEMINDSHIP. His patience vs pressure approach has revealed to me a deeper connection with my horse than I ever could have imagined.” ~ Erin, MA
I started horseback riding in my late 50’s as a form of sightseeing in the Southwest. Riding lessons followed and eventually an almost bomb proof 19 year old Tennessee Walker. Jake and I rode just about anywhere-he was calm, footsure and reliable. At 28,Jake developed a frozen stifle (knee) that was not fixable, and he could no longer be ridden safely.
Jake’s successor is Lady, a Rocky Mountain mare. At purchase, she was quiet, tractable and younger than what I was looking for(age 5). After minor veterinarial care and a better diet, she gained 80+ pounds and is now a very alert, quick to react horse. Trail riding with Lady became too adventurous for my riding skills. I could not rely on her to respond to my signals and I knew she was taking her cues from the other horses on the trail ride. We were not on the same page and I didn’t know what to do about it. I seriously considered selling her and finding another horse of advanced age.
A friend from the local riding club encouraged me to attend a winter weekend clinic with RJ (Bob) Sadowski to see if the horsemanship concepts he presented could help me with Lady. That weekend we started with temperament assessment and Pre-Ride Checklist and observed the newly arrived mustangs for their temperament cues.
And so began this fascinating, satisfying, ongoing journey of one older woman and her young mare.
Over the last two years, I have worked with RJ intermittently in both clinic and solo sessions. I find that private lessons work best for Lady and me at this time. RJ’s approach is behavioral and structured. He always has a clear “lesson plan” and has been incredibly supportive when either owner or horse has a “meltdown”.
Let me tell you what has happened so far. First, I’ve had to master the concept of “intentionality”- conveying to my horse, what I plan to do and what I want her to do. Second, I have had to become aware of “horse time”. physically slowing myself down to be compatible with her learning speed. Third through thirty is the growing awareness of my horse’s temperament and how to use it or not get in it’s way so that we can continue the learning process of becoming both a trusted rider and a trusted horse.
Warning: If you are considering working with RJ Sadowski and his Horsemindship program, it will irreversibly change your perception of your horse and of your role as your horse’s leader. You can never go back.
Lisa, MA – February 2010
Despite having worked over the years with many clinicians, participated in numerous clinics, and read and watched countless instructions on how to be a good horseman, I still felt I was not providing the leadership my horses were looking for.
Yet in the spring of 2009 everything changed. I met RJ.
RJ does not show his skills, he shares his skills. He does not train me, he teaches me.
He does not disregard what I know…he acknowledges what I know and helps me to build on it.
I have never been more present, and with that connected, with my horses than I am today.
I am thrilled to know there is so much more to learn, yet I am grateful for having found the path that creates the partnership with my horses I sought for so long.
RJ’s patient and kind approach with human and horse sets an example for any teacher. Nicole, MA
It has been truly awesome to find a teacher and mentor who is also a real horseman. RJ puts safety first. He is professional, patient and kind.
RJ has been the missing link of consistent support in the keys to my success! He has helped me identify the holes in my horse’s foundation and address them. He continues to challenge me to progress to higher levels of understanding and proficiency in my skills, both on the ground and in the saddle. As a result my relationship with my horse is growing and changing all the time.
I hope to trail ride and also drive my horse in a cart or sleigh, in the future, and now these goals all feel attainable. I am living my dream with my horse…. AC, Massachusetts
I watched RJ work with a rescue horse that had a problem with rearing………..a beautiful paint horse. RJ really is amazing. He’s so patient and calm and knowledgeable. Paula gave me some business cards. I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest RJ to anyone who was in need of a good trainer. Darlene, Massachusetts
RJ, As we get to the end of our first summer of riding, we want to thank you for bringing so much peace and joy into our lives. After researching some of the options in the Berkshires, we chose you as our teacher because we felt that you would teach us more than just how to sit on a horse an ride. As adult learners we were nervous and more than a little scared. We started out wanting to know enough to be safe and good partners for our trail horses on our fall trip to Arizona but our goals are much broader now. Our lessons with you and Red Cloud, Chico, Whisper and Ahliver have been a revelation and a joy. We feel that we have been given a gateway to part of our world and the wonderful creatures in it that we would never have found on our own. You have also been so generous in providing us with time to explore that gift. You put safety first and never rush us and yet, we keep moving along. Each lesson brings us new information, another part of the puzzle, and each lesson is thoughtfully planned to fit our needs and abilities. It is also fun to learn something as a couple and you handle this part of the equation as gently and skillfully as you handle all the rest. Each week, we eagerly anticipate our time with you and the horses. Peace Haven Farm is well named in every respect. It is a magical place for horses and for people. Gratefully, Lisa and Bill
What will one experience at Peace Haven Horsemanship and Riding School? I think after five years, I can finally answer that question. One will not only learn about horses; they will know horses: their nature and nurture. You can learn techniques for riding and ground work. You can learn herdsmanship and horsemanship. More than anything, you can find strength and skill in yourself by taking advantage of Sessions with resident master teacher, RJ Sadowski. I have done group Sessions, Day Camps and Private Instruction. All are well planned (thanks to Events Coordinator, Paula Harrison) and safety oriented with enough of a stretch to inspire learning and true, caring support for humans and horses. I have learned so much more than I ever anticipated when I started my journey at age 54. Peace Haven is well named in every respect. LB, MA
So much has been said in the testimonials on this web page about RJ’s skills, that I would like to describe some specific highlights for myself—after saying that I have found his teachings to be everything and more that has been described by others. I have been riding for over 30 years, and have had lessons from numerous trainers. Yet I first went to RJ for help with my anxious, spooky horse, and soon found that his problems included me!
RJ was able to diagnose our issues even as early as my riding over to the schooling area for my first session. One look at us, and RJ already had begun to see where my horse Spring and I were not effective together. In addition, RJ is excellent about asking the rider what his or her goals are. He helps us with our needs, as we describe our aims and problems. Our sessions have been taught with courtesy, good humor, and respect. My fears arising from earlier injuries on horseback have been considered carefully, and our sessions have had a balance of encouragement, praise, straightforward correction as needed, and very clear instruction. So many times have trainers told me to “do this” without telling me how to “do this.” In contrast, RJ demonstrates on horseback himself, describes in understandable terms the skills he is teaching, and assures that we don’t move on to the next issue until we’ve got this one down clearly.
As a psychiatric nurse, I have found RJ’s thorough knowledge of the neuroscience and psychology of the horse, as it interacts with that of the human, to be an especially valuable aspect of his sessions with Spring and I. RJ’s coaching and insights about how the horse mind and the human mind impact each other make it much clearer to me why we are learning to do what we do. It’s been so informative to be taught how principles of learning and conditioning interact between humans and equines.
Last but not least, I must say how much more useful it has been to have some of my instruction from RJ done while riding in the open. Although it of course has been necessary for us to work on skills in the schooling ring before venturing forth, RJ has provided Spring and I with coaching out on the trails, where the real challenges lie. And I must add that this has included the highly effective instruction provided by RJ’s wonder horse, Star, Ph.D. Whether RJ is ponying Spring, or is riding alongside me on the trail, he and Star have taught both my horse and me with on-the-spot feedback and coaching right when I needed it: immediately when issues arise that need correction and practice of newly learned skills.
I cannot say enough how valuable RJ’s instruction has been, and I would recommend his instruction to anyone with a need and a desire to learn how to be a more effective and safe partner with his or her horse. Linda LeMar-Bering, Ohio
It has been a pleasure to have been a student of RJ, who is a gifted, spiritual and passionate teacher of the horse and human. He is infinitely patient and able to quickly read what my horse and I both need in the moment. He is flexible in terms of how and where to set up a situation which allows my horse and me to exhibit a problem issue so it can be addressed effectively. He easily translates problems into where the “hole” is in the horse’s foundation, and addresses that first. He provides a good balance of discussion about whether a problem and solution are physical, emotional or spiritual (or a combination thereof) for both me and my horse. RJ’s energy is low key and honest, immediately perceived by both horse and human as reasonable and inviting, never threatening. He truly cares not just about the horse, but the student, as well. As a student of natural horsemanship for twenty years, I have taken clinics and classes from many of the best teachers, RJ has a rightful place amongst them. Donna G.
I started with horses at age 50, went to seminars and read books before purchasing the first horse I looked at. He was a 7 year old TWH who failed at the “big lick” circuit and suffered abuse. I worked with 3 different trainers and because this was a bright willing horse things worked out well- 27 and retired now. Subsequently I had a hip replacement; husband had a fall and broke his clavicle. I had to purchase a new horse and we needed to make a difficult horse safer to ride.
This is where RJ comes into the picture. A chance meeting at a State Park in Florida was the best thing that ever happened to us. RJ is the most intuitive horse person I have ever encountered. Once he figures out what is bothering the horse or where the lack of communication is occurring things move along quickly from that point. The transformation and change in the horse’s attitude, sometimes in just a few minutes, is remarkable. When you hand the lead line to RJ it seems like the horse drops his head, relaxes and is asking “OK, what do you want me to do?”
RJ’s skill with horses is exceptional but his background as a teacher facilitates transferring the lessons to the human. In my opinion this is the hardest part as we do not learn as quickly as the horse!
We left our horses with RJ for the past two summers and took several sessions to learn how to improve our communication and continue the horse’s training. Our ability to recognize issues as they arise has significantly improved. There is more to learn, but you will not get the same results from watching a video as you will with hands on experience. We may not do everything perfectly but RJ is always willing to answer our long– distance questions.
We did hand RJ a difficult horse (Buster) who with RJ’s patience, communication and expertise is now on the right path. He also gave my fearful horse courage like the lion in the Wizard of OZ. The last two trail rides were wonderful with quiet willing horses!
RJ is a committed generous person who cares about the well- being of the horse and rider. It is a blessing to see that horsemanship is becoming more gentle and humane through the dedication and efforts of individuals like RJ Sadowski.
We have to mention that Paula is awesome and keeps RJ on track!
George, Pat, Jody, Jennifer
Winter Garden, FL