How well do you know your horse?

Have you ever wondered what your horse was thinking? Whether he or she likes their job. I often catch myself mocking him in a funny voice when he does something interesting. I honestly really hope I'm not the only one. I’d like to think that I understand my horse at least a little bit. I try my hardest to be aware of what he likes and what he doesn’t and to put his interests first. 

For example, just about every time I put the halter on my horse to bring him out of his stall, he’ll look at his water bucket and kind of hesitate to move forward. I could just ignore the action and insist he come with me until he listens. But instead I dip my fingers in his water and splash it around a bit. Sort of like a little message to say “Hey, if you want a drink for the road I won’t stop you.” He then almost always proceeds to chug his whole water bucket.

I think that our horses give us clues in a way through their body language. I try my hardest to be aware and listen to him. I believe that it is an important job as both equestrians and caretakers of a living being that we are aware.

He also seems to know what I’m thinking at times. Most notably when I’m stressed, nervous, or excited. My horse, Ebanisto, Is a fairly energetic horse. Not disobedient but energetic. He feeds off my energy a lot. I notice it most when I'm riding him. He will start to jig or become tense. I have been told to work on and become aware of my breathing. I often forget to breathe when I'm riding. When I really focus on my breathing he seems to relax under me, which leads me to believe that I am the cause of his anxiety. I am almost always the problem, which is something that I have learned to accept. If he does a movement wrong or something doesn’t go as planned. It’s most likely my fault. I probably just didn’t ask him correctly or I confused him. 

Recently I’ve come to realize how well I know my horse. When I first started riding him he was young and that was new to me. I had little to no experience riding young horses. Riding a young horse takes a ton of patience. That’s not to say that riding any other horse doesn’t. At that point he was still learning and I was learning from him. I was so worried that I would screw up his development. I was more of a passenger than a rider. As he developed in his training and I grew as a rider, I became more comfortable. I felt as though I could help my trainer in the training process more than I’d been able to in the very beginning. I recently had the opportunity to start riding him on my own at times, a concept that would have, and honestly did, scare me at first. I’ve since come to realize how well I actually know him. I just had to believe in myself. I found myself actually able to correct him at times and make adjustments, something that I wasn’t able to do at the beginning of our partnership years ago. 

I believe that everything in riding takes time, commitment and patience. But there is something incredibly special about taking the time to form a connection with a horse and feeling as though you have accomplished that. This brings me back to where I started: how well do you know your horse? I think that we can only begin to understand our horses if we take the time to get to know them. 


Written by - Carly Costello

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