Saturday 12 July 2014

Lessons From the Horse World

Since getting my horse a little more than four years ago, I've had a number of people with more experience (I will be the first to admit that I am not terribly experienced) give me advice about horses.

And, in the end, every single one of them has turned out to be completely full of (excuse me, I had to) horse shit.

The people I bought her from were neglectful and often downright abusive when they actually interacted with their horses. Which was rare.

My former farrier kicked and frightened my horse to the point that she would hardly let me handle her feet/legs.

A sometimes-coworker talked about all his horse training experience. He and I helped another coworker move his daughter's horses. Every time he tried to load one in a trailer, there was rearing and all sorts of fireworks. I finally took one of the horses to a quieter area and just hung out with her until she was relaxed. She didn't magically hop into the trailer, I'm not claiming a mystical connection or anything...but she didn't rear once and she did load for me. I have loaded exactly one other horse in my life, so I really had no idea what I was doing.

All of those people made me feel shitty and insecure about what I knew and felt about horses...and then proved to me, repeatedly, that they were talking out their asses. As soon as they got frustrated, they got violent. They proved, over and over, that all of their skill with horses came down to force.

I'm not saying I don't get frustrated with my horse sometimes (and LOL does she get frustrated with me when I'm not communicating clearly, poor girl!), but I know myself well enough to know when it's time to walk away and take a break. I usually end up laughing at myself.

All of the most genuine horse people I've met don't ever say what excellent horse people they are. (This post is not me claiming to be one! I am very new and I have a lot to learn. I'm just lucky enough to have an amazingly patient and understanding horse to learn from. She makes me look good, trust me!) They might mention things they've accomplished in the horse world, but they have never outright told me they're more experienced, intentionally made me feel shitty or insecure, or talked down to me. Yes, they've offered suggestions or different approaches. They've been firm (with me and my horse) when they have to, but they have done it gently and respectfully.

And this is something I really want to carry over into the rest of my life. I want to remember that if someone claims over and over to be Captain Amazing at something, and they make me feel bad about my own lack of experience or skill...chances are they're full of shit. It's just sitting there, waiting to emerge (ew).

I tend to be very hard on myself, and other people (and at least one horse) always have more confidence in my abilities than I do, even when I've proven to myself over and over that I am capable. Slowly, I'm learning that the people (and horses) who believe in me are right, and the people who make me doubt myself are wrong.

Also, of the three people I mentioned, my horse met two of them. And she made it plain she didn't like either of them, and I wish I'd listened to her sooner.

For reading this whole post you get a picture of my baby as a baby. I believe this was taken the day she was born (August 30th, 2009)

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