Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lesson: Never Fear

Lesson: Never fear anything; with time and training, you and your horse can accomplish everything.

I'm still learning this lesson, but I'm very confident that if you have a good horse and you've developed trust and mutual respect, there is nothing you can't do together.

Beautiful has grown up, and she's developed an inner strength, I guess it would be maturity, that you can see in her eyes and in her actions. This is definitely her year. Last year, she was not ready for saddle training--or at least I didn't feel she was ready. I thought she was too reactive. This year, there's a big difference. She stands her ground and she's more confident. Could I have rushed saddle-training last year? Sure. But I'm glad I didn't.

Which brings me to another aspect of fear--that sometimes it's a gift, if we learn to listen to it. So, I'm saying don't fear, but listen to your fear, and those two statements seem to contradict themselves, and maybe they do. Here's an example of what I mean:

When I boarded, my trainer and friend boarded her horses and the horses in training at the same place. In fact, some of our horses shared an end panel together. We'd see a lot of each other back then and I saw her train a lot of horses.

One day, I remarked about how gentle the whole process was. There was never any bucking. She was never in any dangerous situations that I saw. (She did occasionally send horses back to owners early in the training.) But of the horses she kept in training, which was most of them, there was never any bucking or wild, scary antics. It was really calm and peaceful. She'd be on their backs, stroking their necks, quiet. She did as much as they could handle and then called it a day.

When I commented about it, she said, "If I've done my groundwork right, there shouldn't be any bucking."

The horse had nothing to fear and she had nothing to fear...because she was laying the groundwork every step of the way.

There are things I don't do with my horse even if my friends are doing it. There are places I don't take them. I like to think of it more as a warning than fear. Maybe the warning is saying you haven't prepared your horse for this, or maybe it's saying you aren't prepared for this, but either way, I'm learning to listen to it. So, if I use "warning" instead of fear, I could say, Listen to your inner warnings and respect them, but if you've done your groundwork and you have a good horse (a good match for you) and a strong partnership based on respect and trust, you have nothing to fear.

Does this make sense?

****As for the case of the missing water, Laura was correct; we'd left the hose in the tank and it worked like a vacuum to suck the water back into the spigot and empty the entire thing. This left it bone-dry for the horses--teaching us the lesson: Never leave the hose in the water tank after it's done filling up.


  1. That makes perfect sense to me. I don't own my own horse (yet!) but I've had a lot of confidence issues recently so I'll definitely try listening to warnings instead of fear!


  2. Abbie--never be embarassed to listen to those warnings and respect them--if I had, I'd have saved a lot of my hard lessons. Plus, you really owe it to your horse (when you get one) as it's protector in life. When I first got my horse Cowboy, he had lots of confidence issues that played into my own confidence issues--so I spent about half a year riding close to home and in the arena and taking lots and lots of lessons. I didn't move to the next step until I felt ready. Today we go everywhere together. So, there's no hurry.

  3. I'm with you - I used to do all sorts of daredevil things, but I'm older now and a bit more cautious. I try to use good judgment and I don't want to overface a horse - that can do a lot of harm. I also try to be sure I ride with others who ride responsibly - no yahoos, please.

  4. I agree--all of my horse riding buddies are like me, and the ones who aren't, we part ways pretty quick. I'd say this is the good thing about getting older--wisdom.

  5. It sounds like it's really important to build respect and trust from the very first day you have a horse, in any small way. Like it's a cumulative process. By the time you're ready to take another step in the training, the trust issue is in place?

  6. Absolutely! And, if it breaks down somewhere, it's time to take a step back. The foundation is very important. Sometimes, you have to reassess what you're doing. Actually, I'm at that point now with an important aspect of Beautiful's training, but I want to work through it before I blog about it. Soon.

  7. Makes perfect sense to me. Trust is such an important part in the process.

    That thing with the hose, we learned the hardway too. It was years ago but I still remember actuallly being there next to the tank and hearing the water being sucked back. Because I was there, I didn't loose all the water in my tank but I still find myself thinking about that water from my stock tank going back into my well. It's a good thing I'd just cleaned my tank, don't you think??

  8. Well put. I got one of those warnings today. Every bone in my body was telling me not to lunge Gabbrielle, because she was too hyper and would get out of control. Sure enough, she slipped in the mud and flipped onto her side. She wasn't hurt, but I definitely saw it coming. So, we are working on keeping the speed down and lunging at a slow, consistent pace.

  9. Thank you. You typed up just exactly what I needed to hear today! :)

  10. RR--That's funny! I didn't actually get to hear it sucking back in (we didn't have a well back then.) My husband was the one who put 2 and 2 together. I don't know if I ever would have figured it out--I didn't think something like that could happen!!

  11. Nuzzling Muzzles--My horses were really hyper today, too. Is it something in the air? I had issues with Beautiful today...I had to take a couple steps back.

  12. Sally--It's funny--I blogged this yesterday when I didn't really need it, I was just referring to things in the past...then today my training went south, and I needed to hear it again. So, you and I must be experiencing the same thing today. Good luck.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.