The Kindest Thing You Can Do
How many of you have been riding your horse down a trail or in the arena when suddenly you discover that your horse is going a different direction than you are? Without much warning, you found yourself giving a piece of real estate closer scrutiny — and, if not too badly damaged, discovering various interesting things in that scrutinizing.
Will James — “Drifting Cowboy”
Believe me. I have seen such wrecks happen on horses of all temperaments and stages of being “broke.” The one that is always the biggest surprise is when it happens with the “gentle” horse or the one that is “well broke” and “great out on the trail.”
After dusting themselves off, most riders wonder, “What made my horse do that?” Others just give their horse a good tongue lashing for being “such a bad boy” or “naughty girl.” Then, on they go, getting right back on, forgetting quickly about the incident until it occurs again.
From my experience, the vast majority of riders never give much thought as to why these wrecks occur. Well, let me fill in the blanks here.
It is the horse’s divine right in a fallen world to protect and preserve itself. Moreover, when they become part of our lives, we are the one who have the responsibility to do the protecting. If we fall short in this regard, well, then….don’t be too surprised.
The reason that your horse shies, bolts, or dances sideways for no apparent reason is because he is packing trouble. Now a mad momma bear or a horse eating chipmunk in the trail can certainly be more of a reason, but still, he is worried. Unbeknownst to most folks a horse can be in a complete runaway mentality even at the walk because he is worried – only the bit restraining him physically keeps him from taking off.
Will James — “Cow Country”
Like it or not, when the horse packs trouble, his emotional bank account can go bankrupt quickly. Unlike us humans, an emotionally bankrupt horse cannot hire a psychiatrist to help him cope and, being an animal endowed with highly protective instincts, he will take matters into his own hands, leaving you to get closely acquainted once again with the wonders of dirt and grass.
Folks, there is a very good way to help your horse. To alleviate the trouble our horses carry, we need to teach him or her how to let go of a thought.
No amount of “training” or “desensitizing” will ever alleviate the worry that your horse carries nor will it create an animal that might be able to “think” its way out of a predicament. However, if we teach our horses, hopefully from the earliest contact with us, to let go of a thought and take up another, we begin to establish a “search and think” process that can allow him to make better choices – ones that will serve our frail interests much better.
So how do we do this? How do we get our horses to let go of a thought?
Well, I ain’t telling any top-secret stuff. (Just kidding.)
In my next post, I promise to put into writing some of the tangible ways that I help a horse to learn how to let go of a thought and take up another. (Hint: I do this mostly by feel – but it is something you can learn.)
Now, what does teaching your horse to “let go of a thought” have to do with kindness? Simply this. The very best kindness that we can offer the horse is to help him feel good inside.
As humans, we have the faculties to let go of what is troubling us and think a different thought, if we so choose. However, from my years of observing horses, I do not believe they have that same ability without some direct intervention from us.
The important thing to realize here is that teaching a horse to “let go” of a thought and getting the horse to “let go” of trouble are directly related.
Again, more to come.
Will James–“Drifting Cowboy”
Blessings and Happy Trails,
Ok when do we get the next installment??? Dolly did this exact thing this evening when I was riding her in the arena…I did not fall off but was grabbin’ leather, got her feet moving and rode on some more but her “tension” was wired in, so I got off and did some ground lunging at the end of the indoor arenas open end door where all the ‘boogy men” were and when she had her attention directed to the opening I would pull the rope to make her look inside and flick the flag at her rear end to make her move out….now it is your turn Charley to tell me what I did wrong or could of been done a better way for her…Sassy ole’ cowgirl Carol <);}
I would like to subscribe to your blog.
Thank You Charley! Looking forward to the next post.
Can’t wait to read what you have to say about helping a horse let go of a thought, and to feel better inside himself. … this has been my mission for some time now, ever since I encountered Harry Whitney’s horsemanship. Makes perfect sense to me and don’t understand why more folks aren’t talking about and learning this aspect of horsemanship as it seems to be the most critical foundation to buld with one’s horse…. for him to let go of his thought and to know that you, his person, is the place to find peace and comfort.