Horsemanship is a Journey… and it’s a journey unlike any other. It’s all about personal discovery, increased awareness, and self discipline.
When I say personal discovery, I’m talking about knowing what our limitations really are, instead of what we think they are. Fear – or compliance – or laziness – or social acceptance – or whatever else – keeps us in a sort of stagnant state within ourselves. So many folks think that they are capable of doing some things, but incapable of others, for whatever reason… until they find themselves in a spot where they need to move on, to change, to grow. They realize at this point that the limitations that they had were only self-imposed.
You really can do more than you think you can. You can accomplish amazing things. All you have to do is get out of your comfort zone. The horse will appreciate that for you.
Increased awareness is very important. Awareness of the horse and awareness of ourselves. Many riders ask things of their horses, and never really see when things are starting to shape up one way or another until it’s too late to make changes and adjustments. The rider is too focused on getting a thing done and they don’t realize that they are in their horse’s way, or that the horse was never even with them in the first place.
If a person could get themselves focused and in tune to what’s going on within the horse, then they could make all the little changes that are necessary to get their task accomplished, and it would seem easy. To the outside observer, everything would be smooth and seamless… to the aware rider, and to the horse, there would be many little adjustments going on to keep things balanced and on track.
Many people lack the self-discipline necessary to be really great with horses. What I’m talking about is ownership of everything that goes on. Everything that goes on with your horse, from the time that you head to get him from the pasture in the morning until the time when you release him to graze again after a day’s work, is your responsibility. You own it. If it goes well, if it goes poor… the good, the bad, and the ugly… it’s all yours. I tell riders in my classes, If your horse kicks another horse (in the class), it’s your fault for not recognizing that shaping up and getting your horse doing something different. If your horse gets kicked by another horse, it’s your fault for not recognizing that shaping up and getting your horse doing something different.
You own everything that happens when you are with your horse. You can’t blame somebody else or their horse for your frustrations. That other person usually has enough trouble handling their own problems… they don’t need you adding to their pile. Just deal with what you have on your plate.
Once we can get our awareness and discipline under control, and start to figure out just how much potential we truly have, the journey called Horsemanship becomes very rich and rewarding. Our only limitation is the edge of the horizon… and the farther we get toward that, the farther ahead of us it seems to go on.