Success with horses requires us to be ethical in our interactions. To use logical training based on the language of the horse, which is enjoyable, rewarding and fun. However without commitment and consistency all will be lost. When folk invest in learning and development of their horsemanship and are committed and consistent nothing will hold them back and progress will be made. What in practice often happens for many reasons is sessions with their horse get cancelled, other things in life get prioritised and what has been gained melts away. Or they chop from one path to another looking for that fix it method. Forgetting the progress they have previously made before they lacked consistent commitment to see it through.
The modern world is fast paced, throw away, gadget fix, and want it now. If what you truly want is a magical connection and bond with your horse you won’t find it in that thinking. You will find it in patience and dedication to the horse along with a commitment to quality consistent practice. People get 100% commitment from me when I work with them and their horse. I am more than willing to go the extra mile and not measure financial gain against the clock.
I have clients who don’t commit to me, for many reasons. It doesn’t change how I feel about what I offer. I always give people and horses I work with 100% commitment from me. The horse needs it, and the horse’s owner needs to learn commitment more than anything else I could teach them. So people who leave and take a different path and return they are always welcome.
If I could change the horse world for the better it would be for people to really understand their horse. To see the world as the horse sees it. Be committed to using consistent ethical horsemanship. Only using the qualities such as patience, kindness and love embedded into every interaction. With results gained through trust, bond and partnership.
So how many of us make a pledge to our horse to strive to better our best? How many of us are dedicated to our horse? Or are we dedicated to what we want from horse ownership? These can be very difficult and uncomfortable questions. We all own horses for very personal reasons and it doesn't make one reason right and another wrong. It is hard when your personal dream and the reality of what is in front of you are miles apart. This is when some serious soul searching has to be done. At times there will be ethical choices that require us to put our own wants, needs and desires to one side for what is best for our horse.
- A Horse with Medical Conditions. This can be very emotionally painful; especially when the horse in question was purchased with a dream and purpose in mind. Some of these horses have the truth of underlying conditions hidden. Here we have to decide are we committed to this horse? Or are we committed to our equine dream? It is expensive to fix a broken horse or cure medical conditions, often with no guarantee of success. Some horses cannot be mended. The bills can run into thousands very quickly. That road is an emotional roller-coaster. Even when you get the green light go from the vet, physio, etc....to start working on the road to rehab a horse it's never an easy road. There will be ups and downs and sometimes the going is so slow and with very little progress. Some horses are not just physically damaged they carry the emotional damage too. So for some horses it can take industrial amounts of unpacking to get the job done. Some of these horses never return to being ridden, some do. If these horses with physical and or emotional limitations can no longer match the original dreams and aspirations then ethically it is wrong to try to push the horse to bridge the gap. If we are committed to this horse we must grieve our dreams and aspirations and pack them away. We have to make the very best of what we can with this horse. If we are committed to our equine dream then we must be honest and ethical look for a new equine partner that can easily help us live this dream. It is then a question of what happens to the horse that cannot give you your dream. Ethically you should ensure this horse has a good quality of life. Either with you or if you decide to part with this horse some very difficult decisions need to be carefully considered. If you sell the horse on with full disclosure of all medical conditions it will not guarantee the new owner won’t either ignore them or sell the horse on with the truth hidden. And so the suffering cycle continues.
- Being Over Horsed. It is very common for people find themselves over horsed, if this is you are not alone. The result is dreams lay shattered at their feet. Here the person needs to be brutally honest and decide if they are committed to consistent horsemanship input from a professional to grow into their horse. Half measures of wishy washy stop start will do nothing for bridging the gap or building confidence. This is an opportunity for growth, learning and being a better horseman. Yes there will be set backs too and the relationship with your horsemanship practitioner really matters. As there will be times you feel like giving up, that is part of the course. This is when you must be honest and talk it through with your trainer. If someone is not committed to this journey or feels the gap is too big then for the sake of the horse it is best the person is 100% committed to finding a brilliant new home for their horse. This is not failing the horse, this is being honest, kind and caring.
- Being Under Horsed. Yes this can happen, some horses have limits physically and emotionally and if this doesn’t match your level of horsemanship it is very unfair and unethical to push a horse to bridge the gap. Here if we are committed to the horse we must notch back our aspirations and be very mindful not to ask too much. If we are committed to our dream maybe a new equine partner which is better matched is the way forward. Again we must ethically do what is right for the other horse.
- Building Confidence. If you suffer from a loss of confidence, fear, anxiety, the what ifs, negative inner dialogue, etc….it can seriously damage the relationship between you and your horse. It can stop you enjoying your horse or doing the things you once found easy. It will even stop you from giving it a try. Horses too suffer from fear, anxiety, stress and loss of confidence. Here the blame game adds to the problem; don’t blame yourself or your horse. The answer here is to be committed to consistently working on this. There are no short cuts, no magic bullet to banish anxiety, or quick fix to conquer confidence issues. What will get you there is a determination to better your best. If you are not committed to consistently working on this you will never live your dream.
Whatever the cause we will grieve the loss of the dream we started with, and that is part of the journey before we can see the new path open up before us. They say while you are looking at the door of what has passed, you will not see the door of the future.
Riding is often the main reason for horse ownership. However not all horses can be ridden, not all horses should be ridden. Some have complex emotional problems, some physical medical conditions and this brings with it so many things to consider. Riding for me must be permissive and enjoyable for any horse. This is what I teach folk, no matter the horse. So when a horse presents with issues it is essential to be extra mindful of permissive riding. If we ignore the boundaries of permission and step over that line we could be causing discomfort, pain or emotional distress. Horses will telegraph this out to us, firstly in gentle messages, if ignored the messages get louder and really serious behavioural issues surface. Sometimes when ignored the human gets hurt. (This is when I get the telephone call, sometimes as a last resort before the horse is put to sleep).
Remind yourself there are lots of things you can enjoy with your horse that have nothing to do with riding. That is a human agenda, not a horse agenda. They are not born with saddles and bridles. They don't care if we never ride them. There is plenty we can enjoy by stepping into the world of our horses agendas. Remind yourself too that horse ownership is also not about riding, you may have a horse that is rideable but you don’t want to ride. That is ok too. If horse ownership for you is about your heart to heart connection and emotional enjoyment from the relationship, friendship, bond and enjoying time together that is a very valid reason for horse ownership.
If you are struggling with your horse, it is so personal and only each of us can decide what feels right. This is why you must tune into intuition, it is your compass. (You can read for free my published articles on my resources section of the website). We are the guardians for our horses and sometimes we have to make hard choices and very difficult decisions. Commitment for the best for our equines is never an easy road. As it requires a willingness to give of ourselves, dedicate our time and energy to the horse. To believe in our horse, to not only make a promise but keep it with our horse and a firm commitment to make the right decision and take action in making that happen.
Above is our boy Kez. We purchased Kez as a riding horse. Sadly after purchase we discovered he has serious conditions which mean he cannot be ridden. I grieved badly the loss of my riding dreams and aspirations. These have been packed away. I am 100% committed to ensuring our boy Kez has the best quality of life possible. There are so many daily opportunities for myself and my husband to enjoy Kez.