So many times horse owners have told me:
- “My horse has taught me so much”
- “I learn from my horse every day”
- “My horse is my teacher”
- “We’ve learned so much together and are still learning”
These are beautiful sentiments. I love to see that not only can horses learn from us, but that we can learn from them as well.
Do you fall in this category? What has your horse taught you?
Each horse that I have been blessed to own, and other horses I was lucky enough to train, have taught me a lesson or two. Some lessons were harder to learn and some of them I had to be taught a few times. But the horses who taught me these lessons were always patient and kind.
As a teacher myself, I strive to follow the high standards that I’ve seen in my own past teachers. I’ve learned what to do and what not to do based on my own experience.
I’ve had teachers that were forceful and strict that taught with a heavy hand and used punishment as a motivator. Since I did not respond well to this kind of motivation, I learned that this was not what I wanted to pass on to my own students.
And I definitely was not going to use this type of motivation on my horses. I wasn’t even comfortable watching past teachers use this kind of technique. But it did teach me something.
That this was a “what not to do” learning technique.
I’ve also had amazing teachers that motivated with praise and reward. These teachers were kind and gentle. Their way of teaching showed me that they truly cared about me and my progress. Not to mention the horses that were in their care.
I responded extremely well to this kind of motivation and have incorporated this into my own teaching. This was a “what to do” learning technique.
Looking back on all my years with horses, I can actually say that I NEVER had a horse teach me a lesson harshly or through punishment. Interesting! It must be a human trait to punish.
Don’t get me wrong, I have had horses get upset with me that I wasn’t listening to them or that I wasn’t learning the lesson correctly. But they still never tried to punish me or hurt me as a result of my not understanding. They were always fair and compassionate.
Thankfully, when a horse would get frustrated or upset with me I learned very quickly to stop, think, and redo. It’s become a kind of mantra when I’m working with or even playing with my horses.
It works every time! Stop, Think, and Redo.
When my horse gets upset, shows frustration, shakes his head, switches his tail, or just looks at me like I’m an idiot, I Stop. You know that look.
That’s when I realize something’s not right and I need to stop whatever I’m doing before I frustrate my horse even further. Because it’s always the person’s fault in my eyes.
Then I Think…
- What did I do to make my horse react in this manner?
- What was my horse trying to tell me?
- What didn’t my horse like?
- What lesson am I supposed to learn?
Then I Redo. Whatever I was trying to do with my horse, I try it again but in a different way. If that doesn’t work, I stop, think, and redo again. Then again and again until I get it right. Normally it only takes me about 2-3 tries to get it right.
And let me tell you, my horse lets me know when I get it right too. There is a definite difference between the frustration I see when I’m not listening to the appreciation I receive when I get it right. My horse’s version of a reward. And it works for me.
Their way of teaching is patient, gentle, and kind even when they are frustrated with me. And their way of rewarding me is through kindness – hugs, kisses, whinnies, and playfulness. It is very obvious. And it’s the same with every horse I’ve worked with.
As a teacher, I believe my goals should be to equip people with the knowledge and skills they need so they can get along without me. So they can solve their own problems with their horses when they come up in the future. No matter what issues come up.
I believe that teachers should be able to teach in a gentle, kind, and compassionate manner that promotes self-worth and a sense of accomplishment in their students. They should empower their students with confidence and self-esteem.
I truly enjoy helping my students to discover their dreams, get them to believe in them, and navigate them towards achieving them. What is life without dreams? Every dream is achievable if done with the right teacher.
That is another reason it is so important to choose the right horse for you and what you want to accomplish when looking for a new horse. I usually tell people looking for a new horse to allow the horse to choose them. They usually know better as they can see right through us, heart-to-heart, from the beginning.
Passion and compassion are great motivators for you and your horse.
What do you sing about? What makes you happy? What about your horse? Happiness and success are byproducts of achieving your dreams. It works the same with horses.
As a teacher, we usually start with a plan, plot a course – where do they need to go? What do they need to do? What does their heart desire the most? How can I help them reach their dreams?
Teachers help recognize the blind spots in others, gently identifies them, and helps people overcome them. I see this all the time when watching people work with their horses.
But it is often the horse that I see teaching the human. It’s beautiful to see the love, the connection, the commitment, and the compassion these horses have for their humans.
People have to grow into their goals and take one step at a time. So remember my Mantra- Stop, Think, and Redo. Use it whenever you feel something isn’t quite right when working with your horse.
Other things to know as a teacher and a student of the horse:
- Everyone faces problems
- Successful people face more problems than unsuccessful people
- Money doesn’t solve problems
- Problems provide an opportunity for growth
- Enjoy the process!
Life with horses is always changing and growing organically. Allow it to. Go with the flow and enjoy your time with your horse. The magic you two can create together and the things you can learn together as a team are unimaginable.
And if and when you need help, get the right teacher who believes in you and helps you achieve your dreams.
Until next week, Happy Horses!