Horsemanship Through Listening and Understanding Your Horse
My mare Pokey and I have a long history together. She was my first horse as a little girl and she has taught me so much. She has inspired me in so many ways. But about a week ago I found her schooling me hard. It was a very abrupt and not so subtle way of getting my attention. I thought some of you might relate to or find insight from my recent lesson from Pokey on learning to listen to your horse to improve your horsemanship.
Since last summer I have not been doing much at all with Pokey. She gets therapy sessions and turned out to pasture to play and graze but since she was not stable enough to ride with her current condition I had retired her, so to speak. For the most part she seemed to enjoy this, although I did want to start having regular sessions to keep her body strong and in shape. I kept putting it off and focusing on my other horses and everything appeared fine.
About a week ago, I trailered her with me and my gelding for a riding session. I let her turn around and walk out of the trailer because her hind legs can give her trouble, I even turn her loose in a pen so she could run around while I rode my other horse. But when I was done riding and I went in to catch her and load her up, she first went to spin away as if planning to kick me (she is not physically capable at this point, not that it made it anymore reassuring!) but then she doubled back and went to bite me on the shoulder. He ears were flat back and she did get my shirt. Needless to say I was not impressed with my twenty something, well trained mare behaving this way. My old ways of dealing with issues like this serviced and I thought, “Well I'll show you who's boss.”
Although that was far from what happened, as I struggled out to the arena things just got worse, and she was making me more frustrated by the second. The fact it was dark at that point didn't help either. I decided loading her up and “dealing” with it the next day was the best option. I surely couldn't let her think this was appropriate after all!
Being an introvert I pondered all night about what happened and what I would do the next day to resolve this issue. In my 4H years and the internships I had completed throughout high school, I was taught horse's like her needed round pen work or circled on a long line with possibly a stud chain for assistance and more control. After years of natural horsemanship studies, I no longer believed these methods to be enjoyable or necessary. So I decided to just take her out and see what she needed in the moment and what might arise in our session.
The next morning she eagerly greeted me at the gate and loaded with ease as usual. Once we arrived at the arena and I went to turn her around to unload she refused. She politely and slowly backed out of the trailer, the way she would have always done and she stood quietly as I groomed her before our session. As we headed out to the arena I was sure the attitude would arise but it never did and we had a great online session! It was during our session it occurred to me that what she wanted all along was a job, a purpose, and my time.
Knowing she is getting older and my time with her is never guaranteed, I cherish the fact she wants to be with me and each session is precious and holds a special place in my heart.
Horsemanship Story – Just Sharing From the Heart
I wanted to share this story today to inspire you to enjoy your horse. Some of the people I work with and do consultations for have lost the joy of their horses and can't remember why they still have them. This is so sad and it should never be this way.
Our focus is promoting your horse's over wellness… emotional and mental health play a huge part in that, and horsemanship and relationship issues can and will have an impact.
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