Life with horses isn’t a paint-by-numbers experience


When I was younger and was taking riding lessons I would practice what my trainer told me to do every chance I got because I wanted to perfect it. This was right after I had purchased Jazz, so we were both new to each other.

One day I was working on a lesson that I had been told to do by my trainer with the following instructions, “Put a pile of carrots in the center of the arena and keep your horse away from them so he knows who’s boss.”

I thought, “Ok, that’s easy.”

How wrong I was.

I did exactly as instructed and put a pile of carrots out in the center of the arena and then I let Jazz in.

But try as I might, I just couldn’t keep Jazz away from the pile and the more frustrated I got, the more playful he became and the more fun he seemed to be having.

Eventually I gave up and when I asked my trainer what I was doing wrong, he said I wasn’t being firm enough and told me to try again.

So back I went and tried again. I made myself bigger and louder and put as much energy into it as I could but always with the same result – Jazz would swoop in and help himself to a mouthful of carrots before I could catch up with him.

So I decided to do something that not enough people do when it comes to working with their horse… I started to think for myself.

I tried to figure out what was happening and why Jazz didn’t seem to be put off by what I was doing and then it dawned on me…

I realized that Jazz was a Cutting Horse and his favorite thing to play was cutting cows, or in this case, me!

He saw the exercise as just the best game ever and was having a ball cutting me away from the carrots so he could run in and grab a treat.

When I told my trainer what I’d discovered, he almost ignored it and said that I just had to be firmer and MAKE my horse listen to me. That I wasn’t being strong enough.

Well, that didn’t fit into my way of thinking and so from then on I began to think even more for myself and question even more what my ‘trainers’ were telling me to do.

And I recommend you do the same.

When something isn’t going the way you’re told it should, realize that life with horses isn’t a paint-by-numbers experience.

It’s a give and take and we should all take the time to look at both sides of the equine equation.

Why might your horse be doing something unusual or something other than expected?

What are you doing and how might that look to your horse?

It’s easy to forget that what we are talking about is a one to one relationship.

We don’t behave exactly the same way with all of our friends, do we? We relate to them differently depending on their character and we should approach our horses and training them in the same way.

Learn to trust your instincts, recognize that people and horses are different and always remember that what you have is a relationship not a dictatorship.

All of which ties up neatly into last week’s email on the subject of success with your horse, which you can read here:

I’ve had a number of emails and messages from people thanking me for setting their mind at ease.

For example, Lindy said this, “Thanks for the pep talk… I just have to remember to keep reminding myself why I don’t want to tell myself I’m not good enough to achieve my horsemanship and relationship dreams with my horses.”

Melanie said, “I completely agree with everything you have said. My constant battle is to stay positive and not look at others and think I can’t do that…”

I really feel for Melanie, Lindy and everyone who feels like this (maybe you?).

Please know though that you can get there if you are committed to doing so and have the determination and patience to keep going.

There is nothing that I can do that you can’t and I hope these posts help you along the way to believe in yourself and to keep going.

If you think I can help in any way, I encourage you to watch the free training class I’m currently running: The 4 Shifts To Achieve Both Connection and Cooperation with Your Horse

Click the link above to reserve your seat at a date and time to suit you and then you can watch the intro video where I explain what led me to totally rethink my approach to horses.



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