I recently when on a long drive hauling a horse for someone. On my drive I listened to the book “Falling Upward” by Father Richard Rohr. The book describes there being two halves of life: the first half we tend to live out of our false selves, trying to achieve, impress, and “get somewhere”. Then, the second half of life is more spent on valuing wisdom rather than stuff, a gentle rhythm of life rather than anxiously overachieving. As I listened to this book, I couldn’t help but see the similarities in horsemanship. Rohr discussed that much of what we learn in the first half of life we spend unlearning in the second half of life. This is also very true of horsemanship.
The average person who takes lessons will first learn stopping, steering, how to make the horse go. While this is helpful for learning “to do” something, it does not necessarily serve us well in connecting with our horses. When people are riding school horses, they are learning mechanically what to do, but often miss the beauty of what is happening in the relationship between horse and rider. This is usually the case until the rider comes to a point in their horsemanship when the skills they learned no longer serve them. A horse might start acting up, not want to get into a horse trailer, start stopping at jumps, you name the problem. When one rules out pain, the only conclusion you can come to is that the horse and human are having a miscommunication. This is when the human tends to go towards natural horsemanship and problem solving, often finding that they, in fact, are the problem. Skilled horsemen and horsewomen can fix these issues with the simplest change, often coming from both self awareness and knowledge of horse behavior.
Where do you find yourself in the journey of life? What feels satisfying right now? What tools (both in life and horsemanship) no longer serves you? What do you wish was different?