As a new year begins, we reflect upon our recent experiences with a deep sense of gratitude. In a world that can feel increasingly hectic, horses keep us grounded. They help us to stay present in both our bodies and minds. They reward a relaxed, friendly, steady attitude, and are excellent at reminding us not to take things too seriously, especially ourselves.
Each horse that we welcome in for training has something unique to teach us. We adopted out 14 equines this year, and with 6 currently here in training the lessons keep on coming. It has been a time of continued learning, experimenting and working to think outside the box. Young, curious, quick-minded horses like Apollo and Amir encouraged us to get creative in the arena with targets, obstacles, and strategically placed rest breaks to keep them mentally engaged. This focus on the mental aspect also came into play for herd bound or less motivated horses, like Donny or Blue. Older horses who didn’t seem happy when asked for certain movements reminded us to step back, and immediately consider the possibility of physical issues. If a horse understands what you ask for and can do it, they most often will. Shadow, Winter, and Feight were all able to find non-riding homes where their strengths will be fully appreciated.
Horses who came to us with strongly established patterns of movement encouraged us to study up on correct biomechanics, and to then create exercises which encourage new and softer ways of going. Bear, Roady, Rex, and Honey all reminded us to break movements down into small steps, which could then be built upon to create softer, more relaxed gaits. And sometimes, the lesson is simply to keep trying and not give up. Horses that have severe trauma can take a long time to come around, and often it’s just about showing up each day with patience and an open mind. Very fearful horses like Tripp and Mary are great examples of this, with Mary’s remarkable turn around reminding us that with time and consistency, amazing change is possible.
We’re learning to always ask ourselves where the horse’s mind is at, and to consider the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of a situation. Every equine has their own distinct personality, and it’s up to us to pay close attention and adjust our approach accordingly. Every day we are reminded that showing up with a relaxed, thoughtful, consistent and kind mindset works wonders, both in our little barn bubble and out in the wider world. Animals can bring out the best in us, and we are endlessly grateful for every horse who helps us learn, and grow, and become better people.
Wishing everyone a peaceful, happy New Year with plenty of time spent at the barn, in gratitude to horses.