Horses are the most amazing and generous creatures. For thousands of years they have carried us, our stuff and our dreams with heart and courage.
In return we owe it to them to notice when they are struggling. Be it with a physical demand, a mental stretch or a safety issue we haven’t noticed.
Horses speak a silent body language that is universal across species and when we listen through observation rather than thoughts we can tune in and recognize warning signals that something somewhere isn’t on point.
Having ideas off riding off into the sunset is all well and wonderful (and very much encouraged) however this pre-flight relationship is of significant value.
How good is your relationship with your horse? Do they trust you? Do you trust them? Are they calm in your presence, and are you calm in theirs?
Once you leave the gate and head off down the road the answers to these questions will come into sharp focus.
This is your starting point. Before you go anywhere spend time establishing some kind of understanding of each other. No expectations, no agendas and very few thoughts. Observe them through your senses and ask yourself if they are comfortable, where would they rather be? If its there with you then you are onto a winner and ready to go exploring. But as much as possible maintain a sense of observation / awareness / connection. Its the only way they can give you an early warning that something is wrong.
The costs of ignoring, intentionally or not them can be high.
Common escalations can present as:
- Saddle sores
- Sprained and sore muscles
- Bruised feet
- Panic attacks (often perceived as undesirable behavior / naughtiness)
- Running away (bolting)
- Eviction of rider (bucking / rearing / trying to get you off)
These can all be avoided by staying observant and basing your expectations on your achievements.
Many small victories will build you both up, so recognize them. Give and receive reward wherever it is due and you will soon be heading out of that gate with confidence in each other and a sense of “whats next!” 🙂