When it comes to owning horses, it is completely natural to have our “bad” days. Whether its an unsuccessful ride, an uncooperative horse or you’re simply just not feeling those horsey vibes- its to be expected and its ok! But what happens when it goes beyond a single bad ride and your “bad” day becomes a bad week? What do you do when the doubt starts to creep in and change the way you both view yourself and your horse? Can you really just “keep calm and carry on”? Well, in all honestly, that’s completely down to you!
What works for one may not necessarily work for another and its frustrating trying to figure out what works for you, but its honestly so rewarding when you do! Horses play a huge part in character building; they teach you to be kind, patient and accepting, they teach you to be responsible and committed and they teach you to be bold, brave and confident. But they can also turn you into an emotional wreck! Having confidence around horses is crucial. They are extremely intelligent animals and will pick up on your emotions and will react in a way that reflects your general attitude. So remember that fall you had it last weeks’ lesson? Well, so does they! If you go in doubting yourself your horse will also go in feeling unsure and this is where it will start to go wrong…
The phrase “Action and Consequence” springs to mind. You tense up, he tenses up. If your mind is else where, I can guarantee his will be as well. So, take a deep breath and relax. Don’t let one unfortunate event dictate how you form a relationship with your horse. Treat each day as a fresh start, your horse doesn’t care whether you have a perfect seat, he doesn’t care if you can’t see the right stride. All he’s bothered about is getting a carrot at the end! The best advice I can give is to just go for it, be brave be confident and have faith in yourself. We all started somewhere and we all have our imperfections. Give it time and give it all you’ve got and you can’t really go wrong with that.
Spending quality time with your horse is essential when it comes to forming a relationship with them. Take time out of your day to groom your horse, grooming is a great way to engage your horse in an activity where you don’t require anything from them; this enables them to relax and be calm around you. Reading is also a great way to bond with your horse. Now I don’t mean teaching your horse to read, I can imagine that would be quite a challenge! By reading I mean pitch up a stool in your stable or field and read a few pages of a book or magazine aloud. This allows your horse to become familiar with the sound of your voice and again by you not asking anything of him, it will help your horse to associate the sound of your voice with a pleasant experience and with any luck, if you do get yourself into a sticky situation whilst out riding, you should be able to talk your horse down and bring a certain level of calm over him.
Bonding with your horse is hard. And that’s the honest truth. Its very rare that you will strike up a glowing relationship with your horse on the first ride, things like that take time and effort from both parties. The more you put in, the more you will eventually get out of it. A great bond isn’t being able to stand on your horses back or teaching your horse numerous tricks- if you have/can do those things then that’s great but that isn’t the be all and end all of a good bond!
You also cannot force a bond, sometimes like with people, you just don’t click and trying to force a relationship will only just frustrate the pair of you, often making the situation worse. Its important to be able to know when you aren’t able click with a horse. When that time comes you have to be able to take a step back and re-evaluate your current situation, there is absolutely no point in putting your all into something that doesn’t want to give back, every horse has their human and I know its hard having to accept that you aren’t theirs, but I’ve been there, I’ve done it and I’ve overcome it. Giving up something you love is hard, but having all your hard work chucked back in your face is even harder.
If you do find yourself in a position where you are considering parting ways with your mount, you mustn’t let it define the rest of your life around horses. You haven’t failed your horse or yourself, it doesn’t make you a bad horsewoman and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the end for your horsey career! So please, please, please remember that being afraid is completely normal and the sooner you are able to accept that, the sooner you can start to overcome it. We’ve all been there and we have all hit our low points, the best thing you can do is dust yourself off, take a deep breath and try again because “one of the hardest things in life is deciding whether you should give up or try harder!”
But whatever you chose to do, have fun with it! After all, that’s what having horses is all about!