I have been trying to write something for weeks now. Perhaps a few lines on the “how to” of a shoulder-in, the suppleness needed for improving transitions, what to do with your body to be effective with the elusive “half halts”, the “how to” of developing connection and “putting the horse on the aids” but I think I will leave that to the experts.

There is a LOT of “how to” virtual lessons, encyclopedias of information posted in on-line blogs, newsletters and courses you can sign up for. I will leave the mechanics of riding to the technical masters.

Instead I will write about some creative, thoughtful and emotional dimensions of riding, not only for us, but also for the horses.

I was thinking today about the expectations we have about our horses and what we ostentatiously think they should do for us.

Why do we ride – really? I remember the first time I experienced the Canter. What an amazing feeling of motion and floating on a live being that was nothing like myself. From that moment, I wanted more, more of that feeling and communicating with this other soul so full of spirit and energy.

We have dreams and aspirations of all the things we want do with horses, but what do they want? What do they get from being in this relationship with us?

What is it that I expect of this little mare I ride who bit me on our first initiation day? The “Bite” was her way of finding out who I was and what kind personality I have. To her, it was a standard way of communication and her way of telling me who she was. While this is not my regular way of greeting and hand shaking, this kind of behavior was normal to her. She was establishing the pecking order between us.

So, what am I expecting from of my human/ horse relationship? I go to ride this little mare on My schedule – not hers. I put things on her – a saddle, bridle, protective wraps that she probably doesn’t like as much as I do. I expect her to accept all of these man-made things even before I get on to ride.

And then to sit atop and egotistically presume that she will willingly want to perform the exercises and movements I asked for last week. How audacious of me to assume that she wants anything to do with me at all.

Why would she do a circle, go over a jump or try to bend her body around my leg? Logically is makes no sense to her. The ONLY reason she will even try is because I reward her for doing it. I believe, all she is really wanting is to find comfort and feel safe in the herd.

I am suddenly humbled with the responsibility of making sure I am asking the correct things for this horse. I need to plan my rides for her benefit not mine.

My reasons for riding shift. My expectations transform from aspiring to ride and achieve lofty goals, to now fully satisfied to help this little horse find comfort in being ridden.

Oh pure joy when this little horse opens her trust of me, consciously changing from: “I don’t want to”, I don’t like this” or “I’m scared” to “Yes, I can try that”.

I am content!

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