On being a partner

One of my students recently audited a day of a Harry Whitney clinic. Harry is unique in the world of horsemanship clinicians in that the core message for every single rider is the same question, is your horse feeling OK inside? If you attend a clinic with Harry you will discover that your horse very much wants to be OK and can be OK when clarity is present. If you are lucky you will see Harry work with your horse (or even someone else’s) and you will see just how OK a horse can be when the human is able to step up and deliver clarity.

So, having had a chance to watch this process transpire for several horses at the clinic my student was struck by the effect a lack of clarity had on a horse. She even got a little verklempt about it when she thought about her relationship with her horse and how maybe she wasn’t the kind of partner her horse could look up to.

The first thing I want to say is that anyone who doesn’t get a little teary-eyed when reflecting on past “transgressions” just isn’t trying hard enough! I have huge respect for those who are willing to look at their relationship with their horse and have a revelation about what she needs to change in herself. Too often it is about the horse and how he needs to change. We should keep in mind at all times that the horse is a mirror and will accurately reflect what is being offered.

Having said that, we need to approach our horses with some confidence so after you have your good cry — move on!

You can’t step up and do what needs to be done while feeling sorry for yourself. You need to be open to the new ideas — and in a learning frame of mind — so you can incorporate those new ideas into your training relationship with your horse. Quite frequently those new ideas are not what you’d expect. Instead they will be one of those many ‘small things’ that I mentioned yesterday. Easily missed if you aren’t looking closely for them.