Some days you know everything, then the next day you are greatly humbled…
Sandy was the coolest girl at camp. By the third day of sleep-away camp outside Knoxville, TN, I knew I needed to befriend this girl. She was smart, interesting, AND she knew everything about horses. How could I become her new best friend?
Summer camp was my first real experience with horses, and I was instantly hooked. From that day forth I started sporting dirt under my nails and the faintest smell of hay and sweet feed in my hair. My coat pockets had Mrs. Pastures Cookie crumbs in the bottoms, and I'd hoard peppermints like a sugar addict.
One evening Sandy whipped out an encyclopedia of horses. She flipped to the page that showed the differences between male and female horses and said, “So, remember - a female horse is a mare, a male horse is a stallion, and a male horse who’s been ‘neutered,' is called a gelding. Can you tell me which is which?”
Here was my chance.
“This horse is a gelding, and that one is a mare,” I enthusiastically pointed so she wouldn't know that deep down, I had no idea.
Sandy and I sat there in silence. An awkward pause ensued, and she slowly shook her head,
Darnit. That’s the moment I realized this horse stuff is hard. I wanted to believe I was right because, in that instant, I knew that I wanted to master this mysteriously wonderful world of riding horses. But I had no freaking clue that the mastery I thought I wanted would never come.
Fast forward to where I am now.… I’ve come a long way and learned a ton. I mastered the difference between mare, gelding, and stallion, thankfully, yet some days I feel like that's about all I know.
One day, I'll ride the pants off of a spicy thoroughbred and feel on top of the world. Then the next day I hop on a 'made' warmblood who’s supposed to tote you around, but somehow I have managed to piss that warmblood off royally and I can’t figure out why. The horse is rooting, not going at the pace I want, and all of a sudden everything I learned up until this point feels moot.
After I found myself humbled time and time again, I learned to trust the easy, continuous flow of momentum and started really listening to the horse:
- Asking the horse things through the silence of our equilibrium.
- Channeling my energy into a meditative state.
- Being patient, and treating the horse with respect.
Once I found myself relaxed, enjoying the moment, and feeling the horse's hooves grazing the ground beneath me, I realized that all things can be answered if you just listen.
After you accept that you do not know everything and will never know everything, your mind expands into a world you never thought possible. All of a sudden your communication between you and the horse becomes clear as day.
The truth is, there are many, MANY ways to do the right thing with your horse. Each horse is different. If we maintain an open mind, listen to what different trainers have to say, and genuinely LISTEN to the horse we are riding, we will learn more than we could ever imagine.
Let yourself be humbled, and grow as a result.