For twenty years I trained horses the way I’d been taught by my mentors. The same way they’d been taught by there’s. So that means the training techniques I was using were at least 50 years old. In some ways that’s a good thing, a great thing actually. There were no silly fads or gadgets, just good honest horsemanship. But, the longer I did this the more I realized that I could be doing more. Connecting more with the horses, not just going through the motions of training and that connection was almost more important than the training I was doing.
Then something happened…I changed. Instead of looking at my horses as trained or not trained. Broke or not broke. Soft or not soft. I started looking at them as developed or not developed. In pain or not in pain. Happy or unhappy. Comfortable or uncomfortable. I started looking at their whole body from the inside out. These little shifts changed everything. Let’s be honest, if a horse’s body is not developed how can they be expected to perform at a high level? If they are in pain it is completely unfair to expect them to do so.
My horse’s bodies started to completely change. They blossomed. They WANTED to ride! They wanted to come out and engage and connect. Even when I put them away after a ride they’d come back up to the gate wanting more. Their movement and range of motion increased and they began to feel more alive. I know that sounds crazy but I really feel like a lot of horses you see are shut down. Both mentally and physically.
I used walk down a barn aisle and see a horse standing there staring at the wall and think that’s just the way they were. Now if I see that I know they are shut down and may also be in pain. Those are the horses I love helping. I love seeing them come back to life. Watching their personalities come out. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences for me. I only wish I had this lightbulb moment sooner. There are so many horses from my past that I just thought were naughty or quirky or even crazy…now I know different. I can’t go back and help them so I use them as inspiration to help the new horses and horse people who come into my life instead. There’s no greater feeling than watching a horse completely turn around and blossom. With horses, we’re always learning and that’s the beauty of this amazing sport and these amazing animals.
Don’t forget to be a student of the horse. Let them teach you. Stop trying to force things and just listen….they will tell you what they need. Listen with your hands, your legs, your seat, but most of all feel with your heart. Share this on Facebook if you agree!
PS: Please consider joining our Adult Horse Club – It’s like 4h but online and for adults! https://www.thehorseaholic.com/horse-club