Horses are amazing creatures – nuanced, individual, personality plus, and, if we pay attention, full of a very innocent form of wisdom. When it comes to horses, most of us equestrians consider ourselves the “teachers” or the “trainers” – we’re the ones in charge, calling the shots and making all of the decisions. It easy to fall into the trap of believing that we are the only ones who can “teach” in the horse-human relationship, but in reality, our horses are trying to teach us things all the time.
Slow Down Please
We move too fast in this world. From our morning trip to Starbucks, choosing the drive-thru over actually parking our car and walking inside, to using every possible short-cut to whittle down our days into manageable pieces, we have become a society that moves at hyper speed. When it comes to horses, though, they prefer things happen slowly. If you run into the barn, grab a halter, slam open the stall door and pull your horse out before he’s even had a chance to “say hello”, he’s going to think that something is wrong. Our horses want us to slow down. How do they show us this? By reacting negatively to our quick and jerky movements. If we run around the barn like a chicken with our head cut off, chances are that our horse is going to be less than amused.
It’s Good to Connect
Another byproduct of our fact paced society in an increasing separation between actual physical “connection”. We send text messages and emails over phone calls because they are faster and require less commitment and time, we choose phone calls instead of in person visits because they don’t cut into our day nearly as much. We use drive-thrus so we don’t have to get out of our cars, and we order products online because it’s easier than going to the store.
When it comes to our horses, though, physical connection is key. Watch any herd of horses in a pasture, and you will see them constantly interacting on a physical level – swishing flies off of each other’s faces, scratching each other’s withers, galloping together, or just grazing in close proximity. If we learn anything from our horses, we need to learn that actual face-to-face, physical contact is truly good for the soul. Life may be fast-paced, and there may be a lot of shortcuts that we can take to avoid interacting with people, but it will do our hearts and minds good to take a little lesson from our equine friends and connect.
There’s No Reason to Hold a Grudge
We’ve all experience it… You go to the barn, or show up at a horse show, and your horse is just not acting like his normal self. He’s fidgety, difficult, spooky, and it seems that he has suddenly forgotten how to do a flying lead change even though you’ve been working on it for the last six months. You get angry, you have a “horsey-human” argument…you get out of the saddle upset and that’s how you leave the barn.
The next day you arrive with a preconceived notion; you’re still fuming over your horse’s behavior from the day before. How could he have done that to you at a horse show? How could he have completely embarrassed you in front of people you ride with? You walk into the barn and are greeted with a happy, bright eyed horse that nickers as your approach. Your horse isn’t angry about the day before. He’s not upset that you had a “disagreement”.
Truly, aside from horses who are abused and live in fear, most horses just don’t hold grudges – at least not for very long. As humans, we tend to hold onto things a little longer, and that negative energy just isn’t healthy. Instead of getting into the saddle and focusing on what went wrong the day before, focus on what is going right at that moment. This goes for life as well; if you’ve had an argument, don’t let that stick with you – deal with it and then let it go.
So, if we are open enough to listen, our horses have a lot to teach us, and not just about the horse-human relationship, about life as well!
Cover photo credit: Sharon Jantzen