The Ask-Observe-Think-Decide Model to Create Your Ideal Relationship with Your Horse


I’ve been trying to exercise more for my health and I have been enjoying going for walks out in nature. It’s so peaceful.

While I was on vacation I would walk every day along the beach. I would even go to different beaches for a variety of scenery. It was great to be able to look at the ocean waves rolling in while on my morning walks. It was very calming and therapeutic.

Plus, I‘m a people watcher and while walking I also observed something interesting with the other people on the walking trails with me. At least it was interesting to me. I’ll let you decide for yourself as maybe you’ve noticed the same thing.

At each beach I went to, while walking along the trails or sidewalks, I started to notice a different “type” of person at each beach.

The small sandy beaches seemed to have more people that were going at a slower pace, watching the ocean waves, taking deep breaths, and had a more peaceful look about them. Let’s call them “Type C”.

The larger beaches with the sidewalks made of concrete seemed to have more people that were walking really fast, intermittently adding squats, swinging their arms, stopping only for quick water breaks, staring at their vitals on their smart watch, and listening to something with their earphones in. Let’s call them “Type A”, for obvious reasons.

The people walking at the smaller beaches were much more connected to the world around them, noticing everything about their environment, their bodies, and even the people around them as they would always nod and smile or even say good morning when I passed them.

However, the people at the larger beaches were completed disconnected with the rest of the world. They were so focused on their agenda that they didn’t even look up to see the beautiful ocean and sometimes not even to see the person in front of them. I can’t tell you how many times I had to quickly move out of the way of someone racing past me at a jog or a fast walk, not paying any attention to what was in front of them. Of course, with the earphones in they couldn’t hear anything either, including the beautiful sounds of the ocean and the birds.

There was also an in-between group of people at both types of beaches as well. These people would walk at a medium pace to get their heart rate up and take a break for some Tai Chi or stretches on the beach. These people were interested in getting physical exercise, a good sweat, and some relaxation of the mind by also stopping to “smell the ocean” so to speak. Let’s call them “Type B”.

My mind’s agenda was to get exercise and be closer to “Type A”. But in actuality, when I got out there I was actually “Type C”. After watching all these people, I had to really question myself. Why was I here? What was the purpose? What benefits did I want to accomplish? What did I really want? Hmmmm.

I thought I was exercising in order to get into better shape. But when I thought about it…what I was really doing wasn’t actually what I thought I was doing. Walking at a slow pace and enjoying the lovely scenery and breathing deeply and relaxing wasn’t actually “exercising”, it was “relaxing”. My mind thought one thing but my body was doing something else.

I wonder how many times we do that? Think one thing but do another without knowing it. That’s a subject for another blog.

The more questions I asked myself the more I realized that what I “needed” was to relax. My mind and my body knew it needed to get healthier. However, my mind thought it would get there through exercise because that’s what I have always heard people say, “if you want to get in shape – exercise”. However, my body knew better.

It knew what I really needed to get healthier right now. It was naturally lowering my heart rate, lowering my blood pressure by having me breathing deeply to clear out and oxygenate my lungs, walking at a slow pace to relax but still getting all the muscles moving, and getting my mind to re-focus on the beauty and tranquility of the nature surrounding me.

Those were the benefits my body needed and the results that I really wanted. I wanted a feeling of peace and contentment. I wanted to feel happy. I’m glad my body took over and did what it really needed instead of listening to my mind’s agenda. Because after every day that I walked; I felt happy, calm, serene, and peaceful. I felt healthier.

Sometimes we just do things out of habit or just because “it’s what so and so told me to do”, without putting too much real thought or effort into why we are doing it or if we need to do it.

California seaside

I’ve seen people do the same thing with their horses. I know I did when I was younger, until I started to ask myself all those deeper W questions – where, why, what, who, and when?

How about you?

Have you ever asked yourself about why you’re doing what you’re doing with your horses?

What about how your horse feels about it?

Well, here is a little outline that I started using with myself and now with my students. It’s a great reminder that helps you evaluate where you are with your horses, shows you where you want to be, and then helps you organize how you want to get there. Maybe it can help you too.

Lesson: How to Create your Ideal Relationship with your horse

Ask yourself these questions –

  1. Why do I have a horse?
  2. What do I want from my horse?
  3. What do I want to accomplish with my horse?
  4. What makes me happy?
  5. What makes my horse happy?

After you have answered these questions and you have a bit more clarity on why you have a horse and what your expectations are… Observe your horse.

Just pull up a chair away from your horse and watch his natural behaviors in the pasture with the other horses, or alone.

  1. What is my horse’s favorite food or treat?
  2. Where is my horse’s favorite spot to hang out in the pasture?
  3. If he’s in a herd, where does he fit in the hierarchy?
  4. Who are my horse’s best friends?
  5. What type of personality does my horse have?
  6. What does my horse think of me?

Then Think about what you and your horse need in the present moment in time. Don’t think about what happened in the past or what you may need in the future, but think about right here and now. Today only.

  1. Do we need to develop more trust between us?
  2. Do I have the connection and bond that I really want?
  3. Do we need to exercise more to get in better shape before going for a ride?
  4. Do we need to train more before going into our next show?
  5. Do I want to work on my own confidence and horsemanship skills more?
  6. Is my horse focused on me when we’re together or something else?

Then Decide how to proceed for the best results.

  1. Can I do this by myself?
  2. Do I need to get help from a trainer?
  3. Can I get the information I need from a few of my barn buddies or a book?
  4. Is this something I know and have done a million times?
  5. Do I have the ability and confidence that I need to do what I want with my horse?
  6. Do I know where I want to go from here?

Once you have answered all these, listened, observed, and thought deeply about what you and your horse truly want in and for your partnership, then don’t let anything stop you. Go for it!

Prioritize your dreams with your horse as number 1 and go work on them. It will not only make your heart sing, but it will also make your horse extremely happy.

Your horse’s world will open up to a beautiful new partnership and a developing herd family full of love and happiness. It is a blessing and a gift that I have found with my horses and I wish it more than anything else for everyone and their horses as well…

I’d love to hear how you get on with this so do let me know in the Comments below!



Please Share

  • I was comenting but something happened lost text but all you have said is all good as i observe people as well and i also see many things. And i would like to say with the hoses ive had they were my world and when they passed i was so sad they were my best friends i could tell them everything and cry into their mane when hurt i feel there was alot of trust and now without them my life seems empty hope that i will be able to have another horse so I thank you for the time you spend with sharing all you have and rreading what is sent best wishes to you

  • Really interesting and thought provoking and helpful. I try to do the things you suggest, my horse and I have only been together for 6 months, but our relationship is improving all the time especially on the ground where she shows a lot of trust, but occasionally loses confidence when I am riding her, when this happens I go back to basics on the ground, this seems to work well. She is very green as was broken late, she is 7 yrs.

    • That’s great. Sounds like you’re on the right track with your horse and it will all work out. 🙂

  • Hey Teddie. I am following your herd bound book working on some of the exercises you included for mild herd bound issues. It is working well. I really want to work on this so we can more adventures in our local area. I realised Sahara was shying a lot as she was anxious so have slowed right down. My favourite rides/hanging out with Sahara are when we float to QE 2 park beach. She does tend to be more of a follower. I love your blogs and my goal is have some personal coaching with you when I have saved the money for it. That will be awesome. In fact, there is a story I haven’t told you. The Saturday you sent out your blog about trailer loading was a sad one for me as I had sold my float and someone was coming to pick it up that day. Due to the cost of rising petrol/diesel, food, etc, we were going to have to sell our suv, which meant I couldn’t keep my float. With selling the float, I realised we could keep the Kia as some of the float sale money could go towards the upkeep of the Kia. (My husband had a buyer for the Kia so I had to pursuade him to keep it. A week after my float was sold, the lady who bought it (a local lady) said to me she decided to sell it as she really needed a double after all (mine is a mare and foal float so is a little smaller). Well, the short version is a friend of mine bought it for me as a gift. How amazing is that? Hallelujah.

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