* This article is a featured interview on The Dressage Radio Show! Click here if you want to listen to my commentary about many of the points made in the article below.*
At first, horse riding is just like any other skill you want to learn. You put effort in and eventually become more effective as time goes on.
At some point, things begin to change. Somehow, without you necessarily knowing about it, the seemingly sport specific skills the horses have taught you take on more meaning. "Horsey" skills become relevant in your daily activities, even when the circumstances have nothing at all to do with horses.
While we develop as riders, we also grow as human beings. Not only do we grow in terms of physical ability, but perhaps even more so, we grow in character.
Situations that used to affect us one way no longer bother us in the same manner, not because the circumstances themselves are any different, but more due to how we have learned to deal with them.
Then we realize that the true teachers are the horses themselves. All we have to do is learn to listen.
Horse riding becomes life when...
1. The patience you develop working with your horse becomes the patience you use with your friends and colleagues.
2. The body language you use to communicate with the horses becomes your source of confidence in group activities.
3. The coordination you learn on the back of the horse keeps you safe from unexpected physical mishaps.
4. Heavy lifting/pulling/pushing/hoof cleaning develops your strength enough to allow you to fluidly function during physically taxing circumstances.
5. Facing your fears while on another's four legs teaches you how to have courage in the face of life's many difficulties.
6.You learn to temper your (often over-scheduled) daily routines by slowing down to meet the simplicity of horse life.
7. The leadership skills your horse teaches you carries into your work and relationship interactions.
8. The self-confidence you develop from knowing you can influence a powerful animal seeps into every interaction you have with people.
9. You learn from horses that it's okay for things to get worse, because after things get worse, they always get better.
10. You discover that taking shortcuts might not be to your benefit in the long run; some things have to take the time they need to take.
11. When certain maneuvers get a little difficult (like riding through a corner), all you need is a little extra impulsion to smooth things out.
12. Sometimes, you just have to let go (especially when the horse bucks and bucks)!
13. In general, riding (life) isn't about brute strength - it's about gentle technique and strategy.
14. There is no such thing as a day off - you begin to value the rewards that hard work reaps.
15. The work has to get done whether you feel up to it or not - invariably, you learn to prioritize responsibilities and get it all done.
16. You understand completely how asking nicely is always better than demanding.
17. There is no such thing as instant gratification. There is only hard work and step-by-step development.
18. You seek perfection, but realize that you can rarely reach it!
19. The path is more important than the end result.
20. Although we all have our own "conformation faults" that might work against us, we can overcome almost anything with skill, time and effort.
There must be so many other examples of how horses sneak their ways into our daily lives. Feel free to keep adding to my list (in the comment section below).
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