This is my horse, Little D.
I’ve owned D for a couple of years now, and he is the horse who taught me how to ride. He took care of me, never bucked bolted or reared, got along great in groups…but somehow D and I didn’t really connect.
I even once said to a friend, that if D was my boyfriend, I would dump him. We just didn’t understand each other. That has changed now that we “get” each other but it was a long road to get there. Here are some of the life lessons I learned from my horse.
D isn’t friendly. Not to say he is unfriendly, because he isn’t at all, but calling him tolerant would be a more accurate description. For a long time this bothered me. What girl doesn’t want a horse that comes running to the gate when he sees you? Gosh, I’d settle for even lifting his head! But that’s just not D. He’s independent and quite stubborn. (Sound like anyone else you know, Mom?) The more I tried to make him enjoy spending time with me, the less he did. Then I just gave up trying to make him like me, I couldn’t do it anymore. And you know what? After a while he’d nudge my elbow gently once in a while, or slowly meander over to the gate when I was around…It wasn’t the overt excitement I was looking for, but it was his quiet way of showing affection.
Lesson Learned: Accept people for who they are. The harder you try to change them the more they resist. Once you accept them for who they are you’ll find your relationship flourishes!
D is a really solid horse, who doesn’t get frightened by much. But one time, as we rode down a quiet side road to get to our usual trails, we were passed by a truck pulling a hay wagon loaded 2 high with large round bales of hay. As the towering load passed, D lost it! He jumped up, did a 360 and was in the bushes before I even had time to say whoa. I was new to riding at this time, so it really scared me. From then on, every time something large came our way I’d tense up and think oh my goodness here we go again, and almost every time, D jumped, did a dance or spun around. Friends we rode with would want to take the road to get places and I wouldn’t go because I “knew” my horse would flip. They’d go on amazing adventures and I was stuck at the barn because I didn’t think my horse could do it. Then, this past December I participated in a riding clinic, on a different horse who was extremely talented and athletic, but didn’t like other horses being close. Which was a problem when there were 12 other horses in the arena. The clinician said “Don’t think about what you think she’s going to do. Look where you want to go, and go there.” And to my disbelief, after a time or two of loping around with 12 other horses, her ears came back up she stopped tossing her head and concentrated on her work. We did great!
A few days later, I was moving my horse (D) from where he was kept over the summer, back home. This ride required me to do 2 things that I thought would terrify my horse, ride alone (for a kilometer or two) and ride down a busy road. But I thought of that clinician’s words, pointed my horse where I wanted him to go, and went there. We made it the whole 2 Km’s by ourselves with no problem, and road down the side of a busy road with cars and trucks driving by, and you know what? When I stopped thinking D was going to freak out and just concentrated on what I wanted to happen, he was amazing! He didn’t even bat an eyelash! Not one toe out of line.
Lesson Learned: Don’t let one bad experience ruin your goals. Horses, as life, are like a reflection of your thoughts. If you’re constantly anticipating the worst, that’s what you’ll get! But when you let go of past experiences and look forward towards your goal, you will get there.
Another thing this particular event taught me was trust. D is a good horse, who has never done anything bad to make me think he would put me in danger. Being scared doesn’t count as being bad, it’s absolutely ok to be scared (of giant towers of hay passing in close proximity) but he let it go, it was me that held on to that fear and caused him to think there was something to be scared of all the other times. Now that I’ve let go of that fear, and given him my trust, he trusts me in turn and we are able to do things we would have never done before!
I’ve learned a lot about myself through our partnership. Horses have an amazing way doing that, teaching us things about life, about ourselves.
Do you have a horse, or have you been around a horse (or other animal?) that taught you any special life lessons?
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