Why would we want to teach a horse to let go of a thought and take another?
Well, for one, how about if he had the thought to buck us off? Would be good to change that one! Or leave the barn or his friends and go where we would like? Those thoughts all center around us and our comfort zone but how about the horse that sees, hears, smell, or just perceives that something could be a threat to his well being?
Those are his thoughts that directly deal with his comfort zone. For me, they come first on the list to help him feel untroubled. These things are all important even if our only desire is to just have a nice horse to ride. If we desire to go on to more specialized disciplines the thought becomes very important. Why? Because, his thoughts affect his balance particularly when we are aboard.
As we try to teach our horses different things, the degree to which they are able to let go of the thoughts that are not with us is directly proportional to what they take away from the experience with us. This is evident by the fact that so many riders feel the need to do so much repetition — when the reality of the situation is simply that the horse has his thoughts elsewhere and cannot take in what we are trying to present.
In our riding, if the horse has a thought contrary to ours or out there somewhere away from being present with us, it will set up an imbalance in his movement. He may have his feet right but his mind may not be with us and that will create an imbalance in the movement causing more mental disturbance in him. From there, the cycle can escalate to scary places.
Horses are not unlike humans in the realm of their thought life. Much has been researched and proven that the thought life in the human is directly related to good health. The Lord Jesus himself knew that from the beginning and encouraged us with the statement; “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let if be afraid.” Also, we are also exhorted from His Word to think or meditate on whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, also anything of virtue or anything praiseworthy — think on it.
The horse, however, cannot choose to think on all these things as in the manner in which we process thoughts but he can choose one thing or another to act upon. If he thinks that something is threatening his well being, he will act accordingly to save himself. The lack of peace and contentment in the horse also can cause many health problems.
This is where we come in. To teach him that he can let go of a thought and take another under our direction. Where his thoughts can run from simply wanting to get a drink of water to being fearful of losing his life, he can be taught to let go of his thought and take up another. That is where the true trust comes into being if we are faithful to help him let go and find that peaceful place.
I find another fascinating statement from the Word of God that is so appropriate to our relationship with our horses. It reads “You (God) will keep him (man) in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.” If our mind cannot be inclined towards the proper thoughts, we will not have peace. If our horse cannot be taught to let go of troubling thoughts, neither can they live in harmony with us. The peaceful contented person is one who has learned to monitor their thought life. The peaceful contented horse around the human is one that has been taught to let go of a thought and be present with their rider.
Blessings and Happy Trails,