I’ve worked with a lot of horse owners over the years in my bodywork business. Something I learned very quickly was that riding is the priority for only some of them. In reality, most people who own horses give less priority to saddling up than they do every day care, grooming, and horsemanship.
So why the focus on riding we see everywhere on social media?
There is nothing like the feeling of being on a horse, connected physically and mentally to make you feel alive. My husband is an extreme sports buff and loves the adrenaline rush of mountain biking, snowboarding and surfing. It might be an easy shift for him to love riding and the adrenaline he could get from the speed and the risk. And yet despite several attempts at riding on the trails and less, in the ring, it’s “not my thing”. Why?
Because for him, he has trouble connecting with the horse. He’ll ask for them to move over and the communication gets crossed and he ends up arguing with his mount then getting frustrated. For him, a bike, board or surfboard clearly understand the task and he finds it easier to just do what he wants.
Alternately, riding horses is a team effort. I think most can agree to that. In order to be a good teammate, you need to set your ego at the door and listen as much as ask. More, if you ask incorrectly, we have to take ownership that we as the rider are at fault.
If riding is the epitome of partnership, we cannot forget the small things that create that bond and improve our connection. Grooming time with no expectation. Seeking time together in the paddock and enjoying the feeling of the sun on your back and the wind blowing your hair together. Playing games.
If working with horses is a relationship, then it is one that must be nurtured. Riding is only one single, facet of that, not the entirety.
So take your horse for a walk in the woods today, on the ground. Play a game of chase with them or hide and go seek. Teach them a trick. Even better, sit and do nothing with them. They’ll appreciate it. More, you will too.