What We Have to Offer

When I only rode one or two horses regularly, it was easy for me to blame the horse for whatever pitfalls we came across.  I could label them easily : bracey, quick, resistant, whatever.

Now I ride quite a few more than that regularly, and I sometimes have days where every horse experiences the same problems.  Eight horses in a row are rushy, or eight in a row won’t bend to the right, or eight in a row feel crooked.  It’s much harder to blame eight horses for the same problem one after the other, and there comes a time when I have to look at myself and say, what on earth am I doing to cause every horse I come across to have that problem?
Conversely, when I am having a good day, all my horses feel great.

phantom-loves-mirror

I just love my reflection!

I know it’s cliché to say the horse is a reflection of it’s rider, but it’s so true.  They don’t just reflect our skill level, timing, and riding ability, but also what’s inside of us at each moment.  Riders who hold their breath or have tightness, weakness, or crookedness in their own bodies find themselves riding tight, resistant horses who hold their breath.  I can’t tell you how many horses I’ve ridden who rushed and I thought I was working on teaching them to slow down, until I realized I was tight in my lower back and wasn’t releasing it.  Not to say that no horse I ride now rushes, but discovering this helped quite a bit.

People who display poor emotional control, are quick to get upset and then over-coddle later, or who are weak willed and nervous often produce very unstable horses.  People who are not assertive, or who are overly agressive or dominant also produce either fearful or confrontational horses.  People who like to fight teach their horses to look for a fight.  It’s not the horse’s way to fight unless he has no other option.

The hardest part for riders to learn and for teachers to teach is emotional control and mental balance on the human’s part.  Horses always reflect our pitfalls here, and it’s so important to learn to be the best person we can, not just for our horses, but for ourselves.  Then our 4 legged reflections can show us something pleasing.

What do you have to offer a horse?

Calmness?

Meaningful work that stimulates body and mind?

Balance, mental and physical?

A healthy herd dynamic?

Comfort?

Good care, quality feed, and space to roam?

Attention to the details of his physical being, and his needs?

Love and scratches just aren’t enough to create the well balanced horse.  In fact, an over abundance of just these two things has created some of the most unbalanced horses I know.
Consider your horse, his positive attributes and the ones that aren’t so nice, or make him hard to handle or ride.  Which of these can you take responsibility for?
It doesn’t matter what trainer ruined him, what farrier was too rough, where he came from, the problems are now all yours.  Blaming people and things of the past is no longer productive.

So what do you have to offer?  And more importantly, what will you do to create the things mentioned above that every horse craves and deserves?  Constant self improvement and improved awareness is essential for the horseman or woman who strives to provide these.  Learning to see cause and effect – what is it you do that creates certain responses in your horses?  Which are you interested in building on, and which are you willing to let go of to create better results?

The horse is your mirror,
It will never flatter you,
It reflects your temperament,
It also reflects your mood swings.
To be angry with your horse,
Is to be angry with yourself.

3 thoughts on “What We Have to Offer

  1. Amy,
    Another good read. Your articles always make me think about what I am becoming with the horses I work with! Thanks.

    Also not everyone can afford lessons or clinics but even riding with a friend can help point out things you might be doing that you didn’t even realize. I was leaning on a young horse to encourage I guess. So wrong and didn’t even realize I was doing it until it was pointed out! Putting myself off balance as well as the horse. 😦 Anyway thanks for another good article! Janelle

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    • Lessons and clinics can be out of reach financially sometimes. I don’t get to take lessons as often as I’d like for the same reasons, but I find it really helpful to have a friend videotape me riding or take photos. Those can be very revealing but you can learn a lot in watching those! As always, listening to the horse is the. It’s important, but while we’re learning we do t always know what to listen for. Little by little our eyes can be opened and you see clearly what is going on. Learning is a beautiful thing!

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  2. Well written article Amy. Your use of the language and punctuation and your willingness to write may suggest additional equine avenues to pursue. Save your material for a future book possibly.

    I learned the lesson of focused intent today. By focusing on my intended direction of travel, my seat and leg aids could more rapidly sense when Cutty went ‘outside of the frame’. Previously, I’d let the confrontation become personal and my gaze fell upon my horse. Now I think I have an inkling of the meaning of forward intention. I had to be assertive but managed to lead the horse in my preferred direction of travel.

    Whew! It’s been a hellof a day!

    Sent from my quiet room.

    >

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