“Where is your horse at?” What a confusingly, profound, little statement.
I can remember when I first heard Ray ask that question to us all, no one in particular. Strangely, I had a deep sense that he was talking about something other than my horse’s physical place on the planet. As I continued to follow him and attempt to understand what he was teaching my understanding came to understand that he was talking about where the horse was mentally—in other words, where were the horse’s thoughts.
It is a fairly well established fact that where the horse’s mind goes the feet try to take the body there. More specifically the hindquarters will try to take the body where the mind is going. When we start to understand that dynamic it becomes easier to accomplish what we feel we want to do with our horses.
On a plane a bit deeper, as I have worked with this over the years I have come to believe the “at” has a deeper meaning also. Mostly, how does the horse feel deep down inside. Peace vs trouble. Willingness vs apprehension. Good movement vs poor. Good attitude vs ill. Relaxed vs uptight. Alert vs asleep. Mentally present vs checked out. All of these things and more are direct correlations of body/mind and mind/body in the horse.
Personally, I add obedience to this, largely because of my background where the horse had the dignity of a job to do that might require his obedience regardless of his feelings. There are two other reasons why I still look for obedience . One, if we put the horse on an equal plane with the human we have knowingly or unknowingly created an unbalanced natural order of things that create enormous difficulties for the horse living with the human. The other, to prepare him for life apart from me. I do not know what fate awaits so if my horses have been well trained and disciplined they have a better chance of adjusting to a life other than what I offer. That is why I continuously strive to keep my horse free of trouble that he may be as harmoniously obedient as possible and a pleasure to work with. To walk that path can be fraught with trials, troubles, and anxieties, because each horse is so different. On the positive rewarding side, that path has times of deep gratitude, satisfaction, and enjoyment when you see a horse and rider operating in a willing partnership.
This leads me to a question. Where are you “at?” And for us humans this can so spill over into every relationship we are involved in, horses, people, and most importantly, The Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessings and Happy Trails,