Working with horses can be so complicated
Working with horses doesn’t always go the way we expect. Sometimes, things happen that we don’t understand. Maybe good. Maybe bad. But they leave us scratching our heads and wondering “Why?”.
When you have something unexpected happen, you have two choices. You can fight it and try to force your plan on the powers that be. Or you can roll with it, hoping to understand it sometime in the future. Usually, if you want to work with your horse successfully, the second option works better.
I always used to go with the first option. I’d try and try and try, but that thing that I thought should work out ….. didn’t. Have you been there?
Lately, I’ve been trying to go more with the second option. That option says that I am not in control, not that I was anyway. But it also allows something better to happen. When I work with horses on their time frame, things go much more smoothly. They don’t feel rushed and I’m more likely to see the bigger picture instead of my narrow focus.
In the case of my horses, I really wanted to barrel race. At first, I rode whatever I had and tried to force my way into being a decent barrel racer. When I could, I bought horse after horse. For one reason or another, they wouldn’t be able to do what I wanted. Whether it was that they were burned out, or they were sore or we weren’t a good fit, it just wouldn’t work.
What I’ve learned
With my new approach, I haven’t been barrel racing. But I have been getting to know the horses that I have on a much deeper level. I’ve been given the gift of a new set of eyes and a new way of thinking.
Instead of forcing a certain training schedule on them or forcing them to do what I wanted, I’ve been paying attention to how they feel to me as I sit on them or as I am around them. Horses are so intelligent and forgiving, And when I find that magic point at which my horse and I connect, it’s amazing!
I may barrel race again at some point. I certainly would like that. But it’s become more about the enjoyment of my horse and me than about the competition.