If we say that horsemanship is just a sport or a hobby, we wouldn’t be telling the truth.
For those of us who are passionate about it, we know that since horses came into our lives, we have never been the same. But why is that? How come working and interacting with another being is so powerful?Many people insist that their lives have been utterly changed since starting a horsemanship journey based on relationship and mutual communication. They become better with people; they have happier families; they know how to take things in stride.
However, horse owners who view horses as vehicles to the blue ribbon often end up more stressed, inconsiderate, and snobby than people who don’t own horses. This is a sad representation of equestrians. People like this often try to surround themselves with as many like-minded people as possible – people who do the same discipline as them, have the same goals, etc. – because they need competition to hold their egos up.
Horses, like anything, can become a tool for our egos. It’s so easy to want to show off that new liberty routine you’ve been practicing or show your skeptical friends how you can jump on bareback and bridleless. But here’s the thing: if you let them, horses will change you. Your ego will be come a non-issue. Your desire for peer affirmation will leave you the moment your horse decides to join you.
Horses have given me confidence.
I was (and still am) a very cautious person. No one would guess when I’m on stage or in a learning setting, but with horses, I am constantly trying to calm my nerves. Through horses, I have gained much confidence in myself as a leader. Because the only way to convince your horse is to be convinced yourself,
I had to learn to convince myself of my own plans and then carry them out with bravery.
Horses have taught me to ditch the anger.
Believe it or not, I can become very hotheaded when I see or feel injustice. I often think of how many people feel victimized by their horses, and respond in anger. The problem is, horses don’t respond positively to anger. To them, we become hungry predators when we get angry. So a big learning curve was when I could set my boundaries without getting mad. Amazingly, my horses respond to the same cues better when I’m calm and focused on communicating, than when I’m mad and justice oriented.
Horses have shown me acceptance.
No one is more accepting than a horse. I have, on occasion, sat out in the pasture weeping because of how unworthy I feel of my horse’s devotion and respect. There was a day, near the end of my time with Epic,,when I went out to the wide open field and we played together at liberty. The way he took my leadership on his own accord, offering what he had with abandoned servitude, took my breath away. It was like he was saying: “You are enough. Jeannine, you are enough.” When a horse says that, don’t you wonder why we can’t say it to the people in our lives?
Horses keep me in the moment.
When working with horses, time seems to stop. It is in this moment of timelessness that we begin to make a difference. Horses live in the moment – they aren’t thinking about what they should be doing, or what happened before, or what others are thinking. They are only concerned with what they’re being told right now. It’s a gift that horses have to give us – that gift of clear thinking and communication in a single moment of time.
Take advantage of those moments. Enjoy them. They’re all you have.