We all lead busy lives!
In our busyness, what do we bring to the table when we are with our horse. I have talked in the past about goals. Goals are great! Goals motivate us. Accomplishing a goal gives us a feeling of success, a job well done. This is an amazing feeling because we know the work that went into reaching the goal.
How do our horses feel about our goals? I think this depends on what we do to accomplish our goal. If we take the time, to consider their feelings, thoughts and frustrations, I believe the end goal will be more joyful for both the rider and horse.
I recently had a couple of experiences that allowed me to stop and think about my approach with the horse. I was helping my friend trailer load her two year old horse. This was not the horses first time in the trailer. She had two friends waiting in the trailer for her. I asked her to come in the trailer and she started to sniff around. I allowed her to do so and after a few moments my reaction was to apply some pressure to her. I used to apply pressure to the head, but no longer do this because of the affect it has on the poll. I was going to start tapping her by the girth area to encourage her to step in the trailer. Then I stopped myself. I gave her a little more time and than she decided to step in on her own.
Think about the difference this will make in the future. She decided on her own to go in the trailer. If I would have encouraged her, maybe she would have stepped right in. But maybe she would have felt pushed and stepped out. Taking a moment allowed her to explore her environment on her terms. I didn't have anywhere else to go that day. Why are we always in such a rush!
I finished working with my Arab, Tinsel, one afternoon. As I brought her outside, she asked to eat grass. I immediately thought no, I have to put you out so I can go do something else. Again I stopped myself and allowed her to eat. What was I in such a rush to go and do that I couldn't allow her to eat for a few minutes? She ate and I enjoyed the moment.
I have one more experience to share. I brought Tinsel into the arena. This day was different. I had absolutely no agenda. When I went out to feed that morning, I wasn't even planning on bringing her in. One of my boarders was in the arena with her horse. I allowed Tinsel to explore the arena on her terms. We had a pile of loose hay in the arena sitting on a tarp. Tinsel was quite unsure about this area. After allowing her to smell it, walk away from it, and incorporating some horse speak, Tinsel became quite comfortable with the area. You could see the change in her face and body. It felt like she was saying "thank you, for allowing me instead of asking me".
Why am I bringing up these three different scenarios in relation to our busy lives. The first is that we usually have an agenda when we are with our horses. Again goals are great! Asking our horses to do certain tasks are fine, but make sure you also take time to allow them to explore on there terms.
Second give your horse time to be comfortable with certain things that can be stressful. Things like trailer loading. If give them time to process, it is going to but much less stressful for them. I want my horse to want to do things for me. Not feel like they have to do things for me.
Thirdly, spend time just being with your horse. Hang out in the pasture with them, let them graze after riding, or bring them in and just groom them. I truly believe that they like just hanging out with us as much as we like hanging out with them.
Life is busy! For most of us, that isn't going to change. I challenge you to see where you are rushing this week. When you feel like you are rushing, stop and breath. See where you are able to give your horse a little more time to understand a task. Find places where you can pause and enjoy the moment. I promise you will get something out of it and so will your horse.