If we can learn anything from horses, it is that many concepts hold true as clearly in life as they do in the world of horses.
If you listen carefully, you can find answers to your questions from every interaction with the horses.
These little tidbits can help you along your path, reminding you of important insights we learn from horses that can serve to guide you as you live life and develop, learn and grow. Here are just five:
5. Keep Finding Your "Edge"
In riding, you are always evaluating where you are with your horse. You try to ask your horse to bend a little deeper, step a little stronger, swing a little bouncier. You work on aiding a little softer, sitting a little deeper, developing a more consistent contact. Whenever you have achieved a level of mastery in a skill, you assess where you're at and look for the next step. Riding is an act of constant learning, improving and discovery.
The concept of finding your "edge" is about knowing where you are at the moment, and pushing yourself that one bit further toward either a new level of understanding/ability, or toward an entirely new skill.
Day-to-day life can be that way too.
Socrates was the first to identify the paradox of learning: The more you know, the more you realize you know nothing.
There are so many levels of understanding in any one thing. Just as you can learn a riding skill deeper, stronger, looser or better, so can you develop your skills and understanding in all aspects of life. So get out there, learn, do, and keep on finding your edge! Becoming a lifelong learner is not just a nice-sounding cliché - it is a way of life!
4. It's All About Finding the Right Balance
Gravity sucks the same way for everyone!
Learning to find a useful, correct balance in horseback riding takes time and perseverance. However, once you have achieved even a basic level of balance, things flow more smoothly, riding becomes easier, and your horse becomes happier!
Similarly, when you can find balance in your life - the balance between work, play, studying, and doing something for your self, things somehow seem to go smoother, easier, and you might even find yourself becoming happier!
3. Find Your Happy Place!
Help a horse find his happy place, and he will be enthusiastic, cooperative and confident in his work. He will be loose, forward-thinking and perky-eared.
Find your happy place in life, and you will be the same! 🙂
2. Never Get Bored
From the outside, it looks like the horse and rider are going round and round and round in circles. From the inside, you are so focused on the process of developing so many things WHILE you go around those circles, that you never have a chance to get bored! The same goes for the horse - keep the training varied and comfortable, and the horse will rarely sour from the work. Anything that feels good, whether on circles or on a trail, can be enjoyable for the horse and keep him mentally coming back for more.
Finding the things you love to do in life will leave you satisfied and content. Finding a sense of purpose and reaching for that ultimate goal will make a mystery out of the mundane, keeping things fresh and challenging for years to come.
1.Learn to Listen
Anyone who has spent time with horses could agree that listening is key - no, CRITICAL - to experiencing the best our equines have to give. Regardless of whether you are riding or on the ground, there is a constant communication occurring between you and your horse. Even if you don't know it, or can't interpret the communication, it is happening and your horse is picking up signals from your (in)actions. As you develop your horse "speak", you will realize how much you can read from your horse's behaviour and subtle communications.
The same goes with life. If you can listen carefully enough, you can "hear" so many critical messages that are sent your way daily! More importantly, the concept of listening to our fellow humans, from a personal level to a global level, is critical to the development of humankind. Communication is key in all aspects - from making friends as children, to learning skills at school, to maintaining personal relationships, to holding jobs and securing business deals - life is communication. And the most critical step in communicating is listening.
What life lessons have you learned from your horses? Let us know in the comments below.
Finally! The Ultimate Rider-Centered Program!
Ready for something completely different? If you liked what you read here, you might be interested in the new Horse Listening Practice Sessions.
This is NOT a program where you watch other people's riding lessons. Start working with your horse from Day 1.
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More articles you might enjoy:
Rarely Considered, Often Neglected: Lunging to Develop the Riding Seat: Developing a well-balanced and independent riding seat is the task of a lifetime.
Interpreting the Half-Halt: This topic is a tricky one but here is a shot at it.
Do A “Forward” Back-Up! Tricks to developing an easy and rhythmical back-up.
Top 10 Ways to Reward Your Horse: A happy horse is a willing partner, and many horses will give everything they have if they feel your acknowledgement and generosity of spirit.