What should I do with my Horse?
I get asked this question quite often. What should I do with my horse? If you think about a horse's life without humans, it appears rather boring. At least to us, it appears boring. These are both horses in the wild and in the pasture when we are not around. They graze, hang around at the water tank, graze again, sleep, play (especially if they're geldings), graze again. You can see the pattern here. The gait they are usually in is the walk.
Most of our work with horses is stepping stones. Often, we take one giant step instead of small steps towards a goal. I was in the arena the other night with my younger horse. I wanted to teach her to step up to the mounting block. I have many steps in place for this task. I brought her up to the mounting block and she did pretty well. I then proceeded to rock her back and forth and she wanted to step forward. My friend Debbie says "Ask one question at a time?" I realized I asked the question, "Can you step up to the mounting block?" Then I said "Can you stand here and rock back and forth?" She had not finished answering the first question and I was on to the second.
When I think about what to do with my horse each day, I like to go back to the last session. What did we do yesterday? Whatever we did yesterday, I will repeat today. Hopefully it is just a refresher, but by revisiting the task from the day before you can gage how much understanding your horse had of the task. Sometimes things don't go as well as we had hoped, but overnight the horse had time to absorb the info. They do the task like they've done it their whole life. Other times we may think it went well and the next day we realize maybe we did not present it as well as we thought. Maybe the horse performed the task, but didn't quite understand his role in it.
I realized at the mounting block, that I had to stop and let her adjust to just standing there. That was the question for the day. If this was a more seasoned horse, my plan may have been different. The next day I brought her in, repeated the task of standing at the mounting block. Bingo! She walked right up and stood there. Now I could ask the second question "Can you rock back and forth?"
Back to horses leading rather boring lives. Horses will repeat the same play over and over. They have no sense of time. We're usually the ones who get bored and feel like we have to be doing something to our horses. Read that again doing something to our horses.
Think about doing something with your horse. It sounds silly but I often go get my horse and ask "What are we going to do today?" "What can you teach me?" "What do you need from me?"
As silly as it sounds, it becomes a different focus for the day. Read your horse. Maybe they need to go back two days. Maybe they're ready to go ahead with two questions. Every horse is different and we have to find where they are at each day?
If you get stuck and don't know what to do with your horse. Go for a walk. Horses have a great sense of smell. Let them sniff all over. Hang out with them in the pasture. Bring the halter out but don't put it on them. Or bring them out of the pasture and just let them hand graze.
Horses don't see the sun rise and think what am I going to do today. Humans wake up and think what do I have to do today? Our lives are very different. If we take the time to slow down and really observe our horses, the question of what should I do with my horse will get easier and easier. Think about stepping stones. One small step at a time to reach big goals. And always put your relationship with your horse first. Instead of thinking what should I do with my horse, think what can I do to build my relationship with my horse. Often exercises that we do to obtain our goals are also building our relationship. It's not one or another.
Hanging out with my friends. You can't see in the photo, but another horse was my back rest.