I grew up, like many people I suspect, with a very romantic notion of horses. My dreams were filled with images of me galloping across the plains on my trusty stallion. The Lone Ranger was my hero.
As it turns out, I did not start working with horses until I had retired from my life career in the military. At that point, romance met reality and I learned that being with a horse is not like the movies. It is much more difficult and much more gratifying!
As I said in my introduction to these posts, we learn from our mistakes. I hope that you can learn from the first big mistake I made. That mistake, in fact, is what has motivated to share what I know about horses through the offerings described on this website.
There is an old adage in the horse world that goes something like this:
Question: What do you get when you put a green rider on a green horse?
Answer: Black and Blue
This little piece of wisdom was especially true in my case. Drawing on my experience watching the Lone Ranger, I went out and bought the first horse that came available, a 12 year old mare who had never been ridden and, as I now know, has a very nervous and sensitive disposition. When overwhelmed her “go-to” behaviour was full-on rodeo style broncing. She became overwhelmed when I put my seat in the saddle. This horse turned out to be my greatest teacher.
It is many years later and things are much better. She has taught me to learn and respect her limitations. More importantly she taught me to recognize and accept my limitations too. I learned from her that training the horse is not enough. The human handler needs to be trained too.
We now have a relationship where we are truly content in each others presence. She is fine to ride in the company of other horses or in a trusted space like an arena. She is also an amazing Equine Facilitated Mindfulness facilitator. Maybe someday our bond will deepen and we can do a solo trail ride. But I am not in a hurry. She will let me know when she is ready.
When I look back on those early days I realize that I am extremely fortunate I was not crippled or killed. Because I was a goal oriented, must make it happen person I was badly injured several times. Broken ribs, a hernia, a lower back injury that took two years to heal are examples of the pain that resulted from my inability to hear what that horse was telling me. This is not the way to learn about horses.
Since then I have gone on to start two young horses without incident.This is due, in large part, to my fortuitous discovery of the excellent video teachings of Jonathon Field and Warwick Schiller. I work every day with my horses to put theory into practice and to refine my ability to notice what the horse is telling me and to communicate back to them in a way they respect and understand. I am at a place where I am confident in my ability to communicate with, and gain the trust and respect, of most horses. I also know enough to know I stand to learn a lot more.
After I retired from the military, I spent five years working with a psychologist teaching mindfulness to veterans with PTSD. This was pre-horse, but bears mention because I truly believe that the practice of mindfulness prepared me to more readily understand horses. As a result, when I did get horses, I was able to recognize how mindful these animals are and how they can help us become more mindful and self-aware as well.
Although it was a romantic notion that led me to horses, I ended up finding a lot more than I expected. I have learned that horses are not just some mode of transportation that exist for my personal entertainment.They are living, breathing, emotionally intelligent beings that have the capacity to bring out the best in humanity – if humanity takes the time to understand and respect them.
I hope that through my offerings and through my writings, I can help you connect to horses on a path that is a little less rugged than the one I chose:)
Please look for my next post where I will introduce you to my horses:)
One response to “My Story”
It is wonderful to hear you share your learnings and experience with horses Brendon. Spending time with you and your herd will surely be a benefit to everyone who participates.