Today I have chosen to share with you 5 ways of improving your relationship with your horse. It is my hope that this will be able to provide you some ideas or inspiration on your way to a fruitful friendship with your horse! This is the beginning of a personal journey that will bring you closer to your horse…
1. Stop holding grudges
As human beings we have a tendency of overthinking things and keeping them in mind for a very long time. Once little incident can interfere with your thoughts and mind for days and there are no limitations of how many stupid assumptions we can make from just a single sentence or act. Same things goes while being with our horses. Horses never hold grudges like we do. They experience something, respond to it and then go back to sleeping or grazing. No further thought, but straight back to the present moment. They can become mad at each other and seconds after they stand quietly side by side like best friends sleeping together. As human beings we should strive for this same way of living. By letting go of anger, frustration or sadness and instead go back to ‘grazing’ you will be able to be present and never overreact on your horse as a consequence of accumulation of feelings. It is alright to respond (just like horses do), but do not carry the experience or the bad moment with you for minutes, hours or days. Just let it go and stop overthinking it.
2. Spend time together
Another thing we humans are extremely good at is DOING stuff. We are good at getting all kinds of stuff done and fixed, but often it is a difficult task for us to just relax and enjoy ourselves or each other. Horses on the other hand spend a lot of time just hanging around. Eating a little, sleeping for a moment, rubbing each other and then start over again. By taking this into notice we can provide ourselves an opportunity of being with our horses without expectations or plans. Instead we can simply take part in their way of living and thereby let them know that being together does not have to involve ‘work’ or training. Ways to do this can be by hanging out in the pasture together, reading a book in the company of your horse in his pasture or stable, rubbing each other or maybe just you giving him a wellness by scratching in his favourite places. You do not have to be all over each other all the time, but simply being nearby will mean a great deal to your horse. As we ask them to take part in our world, we can also take part in theirs! Besides it is an amazing way to let go of the stress and pressure most of us experience all the time in our lives and it actually ends up becoming not only a gift for your horse, but also a gift for you.
3. Share your control
No healthy relationship or friendship can be based on the one part having complete control over the other and the same goes with our horses. Just imagine what it would be like to be in a relationship with a guy who never listened to you and never allowed you take make decisions or share your ideas? I think I would become rather depressed and not very happy in such a constellation in a very short time… Yet this is a very common way distributing control in a human-horse relationship. The human has free right of disposal over the control while the horse is simply asked to accept, follow and perform without having a say. Of course there are no rules without exceptions and the same goes for this one. There can be cases where you need to take control in the order of keeping things safe for yourself or others, but I do not see that as a reason to always keep things that way. Instead I suggest you to try to share some of your control with your horse. Ask him what he wants to do, which way he wants to go in the forest or anything else that will make him feel like his opinion actually means something to you and will be heard.
4. Be fair and understanding
I would almost say that it is self-evident that you always do your best to be fair and understanding in a friendship or relationship. There is no such thing as just ignoring if the other part is feeling bad or is in pain. Why should that be different just because it is a horse instead of a human being? I know many people believe that horses should just obey and if they don’t it is most likely because they do not want to perform the job they are asked to. I would say that I partly believe that to be true, but if the horse doesn’t want to perform the job shouldn’t we take that up for consideration instead of just making him? Isn’t it likely that there is a reasonable explanation – either that it makes him feel pain or that he simply does not likes it? How are we to determine what he should like to do and then just ignore every signal he shows when he doesn’t? I can understand that some becomes frustrated when they have ambitions to win competitions and such, but I guess you will have to make it up with yourself if it is worth it to push your horse through it all if he doesn’t likes it just to win a prize at the next show.
5. Do not demand, but ask
This one relates a lot to being fair and understanding because asking instead of demanding means that you will have to earn the willingness of your horse instead of simply making him do things. I can tell you that this exercise can be a lot harder than it sounds, but I promise you that the result will make you keep going even though you sometimes have to breathe twice and stop yourself in the act of taking control and force things through. Maybe you already work this way and then you should simply keep going, but for those who are not used to this approach it can be a hard job at the beginning. Mostly because a horse who has previously only been demanded (not asked) will find out that he suddenly have the possibility of saying ‘no thanks’ to whatever you suggest. Do not give up if this happens! As time goes by and you constantly remind yourself of staying calm and asking, your horse will figure out at some point that he can actively choose to TAKE PART in what you do, but also has the possibility of telling you when he is not in the mood. When he knows that he can say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ as he wishes the likelihood that he will participate grows each day. Suddenly you might even experience that he comes up with things by himself as he know dares to speak because he knows that you LISTEN!
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