I am not certain how else one can truly understand any specific method if honest skeptisism and critical thinking is censored, (and not only knowing what one is for, but what one is against).
Again, AND is not a method. It is a philosophical idea and a study group.
Beyond that, critical thinking in the sense of analytical, thoughtful thinking is never censored here.
However, our critique is very specifically geared to be self-critiquing and self-analytical. AND is about personal journeys between people and their horses, not about methods or gurus or right/wrong.
It is about discovery and respect for the many paths that discovery can take. It is about the horse as teacher and final arbiter of what the wisest, most effective ways to interact with him/her is.
Looking at your website a little, it seems that you are very geared there to carve out a method and approach that is yours -- which is totally cool. However, that's not what AND is about. As you see when you read any of the thousands of pages here, there are many people and as many approaches. And we talk as honestly and carefully and supportively with each other about those approaches as we can.
What we do not invite is binary, absolute statements, like: "This is right. That is wrong." So, critical thinking in terms of being critical of what other people do or don't do with their horses is not welcome. And we have made a very specific decision to avoid a lot of conversation about people outside of AND and their methods, particularly if that conversation is negative. We have chosen not to be negative. We've chosen not to fight with people. Other people have attacked AND and its founders in the past -- we have found that the most effective technique to counter this is simply to choose not to be negative about what anyone else is doing. It's like dealing with a bully -- if you don't react, and you don't engage in the fight, sooner or later the bully loses interest.
We have worked extremely hard to keep a tone of kindness, fairness, openness, and non-judgement. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we seek to treat each other with the same kindness and respect that we treat our horses. When we make statements of opinion about approaches we take with our horses, we work very hard to own those thoughts as opinions. We spend a fair amount of time saying, "I think," or "I observe," or "I've experienced," or "I value."
If you are interested in sending people that you teach here, you are welcome to, of course. And if you don't feel like you have enough of a handle on what AND is and how it works to do so, that's completely fine, too. The AND community is more than happy to accept new participants in the conversation but at the same time is not concerned about generating new members. We find that people come to us and if both what we're talking about and how we talk about it connects for them, they stay. If it doesn't, they move on. Generally with no hard feelings on either side.
Ultimately, we are not here to debate. We are here to discuss, converse, and learn from one another.
Frankly, anyone can have all of the skepticism that they like -- and people here in all likelihood won't choose to engage with it. Why? Not because we're afraid to but because we don't feel like we have to prove anything to anyone. I know what I do with my horses and why and what I'm hoping to learn and achieve. I don't feel an ounce of need to convince anyone else that what I'm doing is right or legitimate or the only way -- I'm just interested in doing it. I am open to other ideas but I pick and choose which of them I want to explore. And I relish being able to talk through my goals, my failures, my delights, and my fears in a place that isn't about anyone pulling rank on anyone else. People share ideas, they don't tell each other what to do. They commiserate rather than judge. They celebrate, and if they are really not connecting with what someone else is writing about, they simply engage somewhere else in the conversation.
That is true for pretty much everyone here. If asked for an amplification of why they do something because people want to learn more about it, folks here are extremely generous with their time. If pushed to defend something that they do or don't do, they're generally not interested. Why bother? As someone who has obviously spent years in the horse world, you, I'm sure, know as well as anyone that if a horse person has decided (or been taught) that a particular technique, approach, or philosophy is the TRUTH with capital letters or complete BS, it's pretty hard to convince them otherwise. So, we just don't go there. It's not worth the effort.
This is not a hierarchical conversation where we're trying to get everyone to one way of dealing with horses, where we're trying to get everyone to learn in a particular way, where any one person (or group of people) holds more legitimacy than anyone else.
And we are here to share and learn, not argue. So, if you read things here that spike your curiosity as to why people have chosen to do something in a particular way, I think people will be more than willing to articulate as best they can why. However, if it feels like your reason for asking the question is to demand that they prove why their approach works or argue with it, they probably won't engage. We're all busy and we come here to be fed by one another, not to clash, not to justify ourselves, not to argue.
For me, personally, this is a HUGE part of why AND is important in my life. i can get conflict anywhere. Finding a group of people this diverse in experience, geography, language, and culture who all come together to support one another and our horses is a precious gift. This gift gets defended pretty fiercely because it is so rare.
So, ultimately, if you like what you're reading here, whether you choose to send your students here or not, great. (I personally think this is an extraordinary resource because of all of the sophisticated thought here, even though I don't do everything exactly the way everyone else does it here -- for me, it's akin to reading from the dressage masters, or anyone writing with insight about horses -- or even movement theory, psychology, etc. There are so many things to spark ideas and insights, even when we don't walk in full lock step with one another.) And if you're curious and want to learn more and/or share your thoughts about how you approach horses, you are completely welcome.
However, if you feel that this doesn't fit either your approach to horses or to teaching and want the group to justify its approach to you, or want to spend time talking about ideas/methods/people outside of AND, we will wish you well but we will also wish you onward.
I hope this makes sense.
All the best,