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Introducing Traveler, my
frumpy gorgeous 3/4 Arabian gelding:
Here are some lessons I’ve learned from him (and the many other horses I’ve worked with):
Horses do not think like humans. Horses have no sense of time. Sometimes you just gotta roll with that or else the horse gets frantic because you’re asking too much too fast. Linda Parelli calls it “direct-line thinking.”
2) Relaxation – physical and mental
Physical: if you don’t relax your joints, you bounce. Painfully.
Mental: you just have to accept that some days aren’t good. Maybe it’s windy, or the horse just isn’t thinking clearly. Or you aren’t communicating clearly. We all have those days, and it’s OK. Those are the moments that you have to decide which battles to fight and which ones to leave for another day. Those are the days that I’ve learned to say, “Well, at least we both got exercise.”
3) Creative Thinking (“How could I approach this differently to get the same result?”)
“Traveler, I know you’re busting through my outside aids while cantering on a circle right now. Let’s go work on some small circles at the walk as well as some sidepassing by the fence to get your mind off of this. Muahahaha…”
4) Balance – physical and mental
Physical: “My saddle is slipping!”
Mental: “I’ve made him work pretty hard on this new stuff. I’d better go back and end on some of our old lessons so we quit on a confident note.”
5) Reading Body Language
Horses display many of the same emotions that humans do: dominance, fear, distrust, willingness, hunger/food motivation (I’d say that counts as an emotion). The more you understand horses, the quicker you pick up on these intricacies and know what to do to balance them out, redirect them, or make use of them.
Sometimes you have to decrease the pressure.
Sometimes you have to realize that the horse isn’t ready for that level of performance yet.
Sometimes you have to just take a nice trail ride and chill out.
Sometimes you have to inspire confidence by rewarding the slightest try.
Know what? All of these lessons I have learned from God’s creation the horse are useful in daily life. Funny how that works.