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 horsemanship, we know that since horses came into our lives, we have never been the same.

But why? How can working and interacting with another living being be so powerful? Many people insist that their lives have been utterly changed since starting their horsemanship journey. They become better with other people, they have happier families, and they know how to take things in stride.

However, horsemanship can become a tool for our egos. It’s so easy to want to show off that new pattern you’ve been practicing, or show your skeptical friends how you can ride 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 in the spotlight or in the director’s chair, but with horses I am constantly trying to calm my nerves. Through horses, I have gained confidence in myself as a leader, because the only way to convince your horse is to be convinced yourself. 

Horses have taught me to ditch the anger.

Believe it or not, I can become very hotheaded when I see injustice. Sometimes, 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.

Horses have shown me acceptance.

No one is more accepting than a horse. I have, on occasion, started weeping when I’m with my horse because of the overwhelming feeling I get when my horse chooses to follow me. 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 other people in our lives?

Horses keep me in the moment.

When working with horses, time seems to stop. In this moment of timelessness, 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.
This post was edited February 2018

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