Horses are absolutely hilarious. I love them. There is nothing more thrilling than getting on a horse and riding it until you feel like you and the horse are one. It’s an amazing thing than can only be fully known and understood with experience. There are so many things I have learned about myself and people around me through working with horses. Let me take a moment to share just a few.
Horses are big. They are tall, fast, and over a thousand pounds of muscle. Nonetheless horses are scared of you. Even the biggest, toughest horses have a sense of fear. I’ve seen horses get scared at the tiniest things, like the sight of a barrel or even the sound of a plastic bag. Why? Because it’s not normal, it’s different and sudden, and they don’t understand it.
How often are people the same way? When there is something new, different, or not normal in our lives, we start to get freaked out. We become fearful of our surroundings and it causes us to act out.
Another thing I love about horses is seeing a reflection of myself in every horse I work with. My favorite horse, Rio, is a very small sorrel colored horse who was a former racer. She loves to go fast and she also has a habit of trying to guess what you want her to do before you even tell her. Most of my time working with her is spent trying to get her to slow down and actually wait for my directions. I am so similar. Just like Rio, I am pretty small at only 5 feet tall. I also LOVE running and going fast. But mainly, I also make a lot of predictions. If you give me a job to do or if I have a goal in mind, I can assure you I will find a way to get it done as fast as possible while doing it to the best of my ability. This can be helpful in some circumstances, but I also need to learn how to slow down. Working with Rio gives me this constant reminder.
There is one final lesson that I’ve learned with all the horses I’ve worked with. It actually relates to a verse in the Bible that says “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:42)
Here’s the lesson: there are times when you are riding a horse and you get frustrated. You become overwhelmed and angry. You’re tired and your horse just won’t cooperate with you or seem to understand what you’re trying to get it to do. What I’ve learned in these moments is that I’M normally the one at fault. The horse may very well be acting out, but it’s MY responsibility to be in control and give it the right commands. I’ve learned that more often it’s me, not the horse. I need to look at myself before I look at the horse and see if there is anything I am doing wrong that would give the horse the wrong signals or cause it to act out. I need to get myself in check before I put the horse in check.
It’s the same way with people.