“Riding is not about “riding”. It is about everything that happens before we even get to the mounting block.”
A guest blog article by Horse Behavior Specialist Anita Kush
In my practice as a coach to horse owners and trainers, who seek a more mindful connection with their horse, I come across many, who have become caught up in a vicious cycle of unfulfilled expectations, shattered hopes and dreams, disillusionment, and more – albeit adjusted – expectations. The way out of this cycle is to start asking ourselves the right – and perhaps uncomfortable – questions:
When I arrive at the barn, what do I really see?
Is it what is before me? Or is it my vision of what I want to be or achieve? And is my horse – my colleague in this endeavor – a partner or a slave to my ambitions and desires?
Is my goal predicated on a picture in a magazine, a moment frozen in time, a video, an idea, a concept, a wish, a book telling us that – yes – I too can look like and be THIS…if only I will follow a certain method or buy a certain product or gadget…
What is meaningful horse work?
It is work that is considerate, fair, helpful, firm (when necessary) and facilitates long term understanding in relationship of the two parties involved.
What is the difference between “disobedience” and learning?
Is it possible that what we interpret as disrespect or unwillingness to perform certain tasks, may be in reality lack of understanding? The horse showing us what he knows and that he is unable – not unwilling – to fulfill the request? Or that perhaps our question isn’t clear. What is accomplished by demanding that certain things happen – even though it may be physically or emotionally impossible for the horse to comply?
What is the process of learning that we need to understand?
Making mistakes and struggling means: Your horse is trying to figure out a way to accomplish what you are asking. He is not avoiding the question!
“Remember, it is not about the task, it is about how we come to it. Is it with willing cooperation or grudging resentment? The choice is ours.” (Anita Kush)
Riding is not about “riding”. It is about everything that happens before we even get to the mounting block. Getting on is the culmination of the totality of the relationship between you and your horse. No gadget or video can give you the answer. There is no one size fits all method or equipment. See beyond mechanics and arm yourself with deeper knowledge.
The horse has all the answers! Look at the horse in front of you: He’ll always tell you the truth and live up to your expectations. Learn to expect what you want to see – a non-confrontational, cooperative and mindful interaction with your horse!