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Let Horses Be Horses

Horses are reactive by design. Your horse is not throwing a tantrum. She not trying to make you look bad. He is not lazy. They don't have the development in their brains for that function. It doesn't take much effort to step out of your human mindset and experience to realize that there is nothing to benefit from "throwing a tantrum" or being "lazy" for a horse as a prey animal. That type of thinking is anthropomorphic and sometimes even anthropocentric and does not serve horses, it only serves as an excuse for the bruised egos of humans who cannot control their emotions. "Lazy" horses are usually shut down and afraid, in pain, or unmotivated. "Tantrums" are an expression of fear, confusion, pain, or a combination thereof.

Stop making excuses and start taking responsibility for what you bring to the relationship.

I encourage you to really start considering the way you talk about your horse. If you only think of your horse as a "lazy a**hole", it will show in the way you treat him and your expectation of what he is capable of. Whether positive or negative, your beliefs and thoughts about your horse create biases in you that an animal created for connection will pick up on. In the bible, Paul urges us to "take captive every thought" (Rom. 12:21). You are responsible for what you think and you have a choice on what thoughts you hold onto and act on. God instructs us in Philippians 4:8 "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Can you imagine how different your relationship with your horse would be if you only thought of him as noble, pure, lovely and admirable? Once you can step outside of yourself and start taking an active role in the wellbeing of your horse, and really being present, you will start to have willing communication and a true partnership. Listen with the intent to understand. Communicate with compassion. Give your horse the benefit of the doubt. If you are going to make an assumption about your horse, try assuming that she's trying her best to understand you and is confused or in pain, not bad, dumb or a "witch". I saw the following quote on another post (I wish I had saved the writer's name to give appropriate credit!) and felt it tied into this beautifully:

You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society that you grew up in. Let that sink in for a moment. YOU, alone, are responsible for becoming more ethical than the very environment you grew up in, in all areas of your life. Kindness breeds kindness, ethical actions and treatment of our horses breeds the same as well. That means taking the time to learn more about the sport you love, and the various facets of equine care that mean the difference between a happy, comfortable life or one of pain, learned helplessness and misery.

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