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"Is This Worth It?"

I was recently talking with a gentleman who had done a mustang challenge. During the obstacle/trail portion, he said he could feel his mare start to get tight and worried. He asked himself, "Is this Worth it?" The answer to his questions was no.


Isn't this a great question??


I thought about this a lot after our encounter. There is a common theme in horse training. We ask a horse to do something. We believe that if they don't complete the task, they have won. Horses don't think this way. How many times have you asked your horse to do something, struggled to finish the task, got it done, but didn't have a good feeling afterwards.


"Was it worth it?"


I believe the reason we don't have a feeling of accomplishment is because we know we didn't go about it the right way. We know we pushed a horse into doing something they didn't understand or were afraid of. We weren't having fun and neither were they.


We went to Mexico for our honeymoon. We did a snorkeling tour. On one of the stops, you could jump off a 30 foot cliff into the water. I don't swim. I go up to my neck and not an inch past. I have no shame in wearing a life jacket kayaking in a six foot lake. When you jumped off of this cliff, you had to take off your life jacket. You can see where this would cause me great stress.


I stood at the top of that cliff with ten-year-olds happily jumping off. People were saying "Jump!" The guide was saying "You'll be fine." Nothing in me felt fine. I finally jumped. It wasn't fun. I was glad I did it, but I would never do it again. My husband jumped many times. He had a great time.


When I was younger, I would ask a horse to do something and I was willing to stay there until it did the task. One famous horseman used to say, "I've never seen it take longer than two days." If I started a task like trailer loading, I made sure I had the entire day open. I used a lot pressure and release back then.


I had success with getting the horse to do the task or go into the trailer, but "Was it worth it?"


Now I have started to think about how the horse feels about things. Last year, I slowed way down with my Arab. Every time I would bring her in the indoor, she would fly through the arena door. I could make her go in, but if I gave her the choice, would she go in? It took about two weeks and I would observe her.


We would walk up to the indoor and the moment she thought about stopping, I'd allow it. I then observed her. When she would let out a breath, uncrinkle a nostril, blink, or lower her head a millimeter, I would bring her back out to her pasture. After two weeks, I could feel a difference in her. I brought her up to the indoor and I knew she would walk right in.



She walked right in, head down perfectly calm. Taking time, reading the horse allowed this transformation. I went into the house with a great sense of accomplishment.


Two weeks of standing outside the indoor, waiting for a change, waiting for a breath.


"Is this Worth It?"


In this case, absolutely yes!! When things get hard, take a moment to ask yourself this question. Make sure your answer is yes.



Carrie is located in Oconto, WI. She is certified in Equine Massage Therapy, Myofascial Release, and Magnawave. Carrie and her husband, Steve operate Breezy Acres Equine Services, LLC where they offer training, boarding, lessons, and workshops.

For more info about any services, contact us at 920-604-3045 or email: breezyacres09@gmail.com



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