Have you ever had an AMAZING teacher? A teacher that encouraged you, helped you, and challenged you to become your best? Whether it was a school teacher or an instructor in sports, a teacher can often be extremely influential in helping you reach your goals and truly become a better person. I am so grateful to have had a few of those incredible teachers in my life. One of those continues to be an integral part of my life. Who you might ask? Well… one of the best teachers I have ever had is my horse. That might sound silly, but it is 100% true. Horses can be incredible teachers…if you are willing to learn from them. The horses I have ridden have taught me so much and definitely have helped me to develop into the rider and person I am today. Today I want to share with you 3 ways that horses can help in shaping you as well as a rider and person.
Horses can teach you to be:
1. More Compassionate
Horses are able to teach you to become a better rider, but they can also teach you to become a better person in life. My horse has helped me to become more compassionate. Something I have learned about horses is that they are non-judgemental. I guess it has rubbed off as I find myself more aware of when I am judgemental and catching myself. When a person makes a concerted effort to be non-judgemental, they will naturally become more compassionate. My riding lesson instructor/mentor and his wife are the founders of a Horse Reading Literacy Program where children read to horses. It has been shown that children open up and are more willing to read to the horses because of how non-judgemental the horses truly are. Throughout their program there have been children who have not been able to read coming into the program and by the end they have learned how to read simply because of that willingness to be vulnerable. It is truly amazing how horses can begin to change you from the inside out.
2. Patient… Progress Takes Time
The second thing I have learned is that progress takes time. Often the goals that I set in horse riding aren’t achieved instantly. Sometimes I make mistakes and find myself right back to the beginning again. My horse has taught me that on some days my ride might be amazing and then the next day it might feel like I haven’t even made any progress. Sometimes as riders, we can focus too much on the progress and perfection, but fail to recognize that learning includes mistakes, setbacks, and progress. This lesson translates to every area of life and has helped me put things in perspective each and every day.
3. Aware of My Own Flaws and Weaknesses
Lastly, my horse teaches me to recognize my own flaws and weaknesses. Now, this might sound bad, but it really is a good thing. Horses help me to recognize my mistakes as a horse rider. In one of my riding lessons, when I was riding my horse, Sky, I was holding the reins too tightly. Now my trainer is teaching me that when I ride Sky I should ride with the loosest rein possible. Sky has taught me that when I hold her too tight and don’t release, she doesn’t respond to what I am asking her. Her nose will be out of collection and she will start to speed up. I have learned to continue to watch my rein pressure and make sure to release or she will not respond.
Horses have not only taught me to recognize my own flaws in riding, but also as a person. Horses can always tell if we are angry, anxious, or depressed and they will respond to that. If at all I am feeling anxious or frustrated during my ride, my horse will respond to that and it might turn into a tough ride. Horses help us recognize and face our emotions and that is why there are so many people who spend time with horses if they have PTSD or any emotional challenges. I like to say that my horse is my therapist. If there is anything that I am worried about, I know that my horse will always have my back.
Horses are incredible teachers… do you agree? They have taught me so much in my riding, but more so, and have helped develop and shape my character. What has your horse taught you? I love to hear and read stories about how horses are changing lives. It is truly inspiring! Before you go, I read an awesome article that explained why we learn so much from our horses. As said by the Listening Horse Ranch:
“Horses will tell us when we are sending conflicting messages, when we are not being completely honest with our self and when we are not at peace with something. Somehow this kind of honesty is so much easier to take from soft gentle beings like our horses, who accept us with unconditional regard, than it can be to accept this feedback from a boss or co-worker, friend or spouse!”
Trust your horse today and you might start to learn new things about yourself. Until next time… don’t forget to hug your horse!