David Lichman knew he had a passion for horses at a young age after seeing “The Lone Ranger” on television. As a fan of the masked hero, Lichman had the whole Ranger set including the shiny gun and the black mask.But Lichman was missing one thing: a big white horse named Silver.
Sticking to pony rides and trail rides as he grew up, it wasn’t until Lichman was 33 that his dream of completing his Lone Ranger set came true.
“Which is a mere 30 years ago,” Lichman said about the day he finally owned a horse.
Now, Lichman owns three, and during his visit to Washington State University, he isn’t leaving the horses at his California home.
Lichman is a licensed five-star Parelli Natural Horsemanship Instructor, which basically means the “sportsmanship” of a horse can be taught naturally, Lichman said, through communication, understanding and psychology, versus fear, mechanics and intimidation.
And the sportsmanship that Lichman’s horses achieve isn’t just a walk around a dirt track.
By using hand signals, he can direct Julio, Scotty and Thirteen to circle, rear up on two legs, sit up, spin, lie down, jump, stand on platforms and fetch objects. Lichman can call Scotty and Thirteen, asking them to enter the arena by themselves. Lichman can hop onto Julio’s back and ride without saddle and reins.
All of these tricks are done without lines, which means the horses are “at liberty” to improvise their own stunts.
“With any animal training system, the number one difficulty is motivation,” Lichman said. “Motivation can be applied to getting them to doing what you need. It can also applied to overcoming anxiety. It can be applied to anti-aggression training. They have to be motivated to not bite you.”
Julio was 10 when Lichman acquired him and has overcome some of these issues through the years.
“He has a lot of baggage and he has come a huge, long way, but he still can be challenged by the environment,” Lichman said. “If something frightens him, he still understands that I’m not gonna hurt him, but he’s still a bit worried about everybody else. That’s the biggest challenge for us.”
And Julio, now 19, is Lichman’s most physically talented horse, despite being a bit older.
“I have Scotty, who is a joker. He’s a clown. He’s also very willing to participate,” Lichman said.
And Thirteen, is the superstar horse, Lichman said.
“He does everything,” he said.
Put them together, Lichman said, and they make his act unique.
“People aren’t used to seeing horses at liberty in the first place, so the fact that there are three synchronized, that’s the biggest thing,” he said.
Lichman and the horses are doing a nationwide tour for the first time. While Lichman is used to speaking at clinics and giving lessons, Julio, Scotty and Thirteen usually stay home and are only featured on videos. This tour allows Lichman and local charities to raise money for programs, such as WSU’s Palouse Area Therapeutic Horsemanship program.
Half of ticket sales for the 7 p.m. Friday event will go to PATH to help cover operating costs.
“PATH provides therapeutic horse riding lessons for children and adults with physical, cognitive, mental or emotional disabilities,” said Sue Jacobson, the PATH program coordinator and instructor.
Jacobson, who met Lichman at a horsemanship clinic, said this event will have an impact on people who have worked with horses, as they see his relationship and communication with his horses.
“Quite honestly, until several years ago, I knew dogs were capable of that,” said Jacobson, who has owned a horse since she was 14, “but … I didn’t realize the extent of communication.”
Tickets for the Paradise Stable event can be purchased at davidlichman.com/tour_tickets.php. Advanced tickets are $15, while children under 13 are free. Adult tickets are $20 at the door.
Treffry can be contacted at (208) 883-4640 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at: @LindseyTreffry.
->if you go:
WHAT: “An Evening with Horses at Liberty” benefit by horsemanship instructor David Lichman
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Paradise Stable, 1086 Paradise Ridge Road, Moscow
COST: $15 advanced, $20 at the door, free for children under 13