It has taken me twenty-seven years to learn that owning horses and riding horses are two completely different hobbies. Read that again and let it sink in…
In my youth I rode just about daily; sunrise to sunset. I used to think if I owned horses I should be riding every minute of every day, and when I was younger that was feasible. As I’ve gotten older, married, and raising young children, I’m lucky if I can sneak a ride in here and there. I enjoy riding to no end, and feel at peace with myself and the world when I’m on horseback, but there is also a lost art in doing simply nothing with your horse.
I have an unbreakable bond with my two mares; I’ve had them both for many years and they have been with me through the different phases I’ve experienced so far in my life.
To truly achieve ultimate horsemanship you must be comfortable in doing nothing with your horse.
If you sit out with your horse and observe, you will learn far more about them than any expert could tell you. You will learn their personality, how they play with others in their herd, their likes, and dislikes, and how they react to a possible threat in the distance. Whether that threat is another animal approaching or a dancing plastic bag that already ate a horse earlier that morning. These are all things that once you learn about your horse, will make your riding time more pleasurable.
Here are some ideas:
- In Arizona, our summers can get terribly hot which makes riding unfavorable to both horse and human. Instead of drenching your saddle pad and blanket in sweat with a long ride try putting a halter on her, finding a shade tree (if you have any), and just sit with her. She will enjoy your presents, soft hands, soothing voice, and you two will begin to connect on another frequency.
- Since it’s June in Arizona grab the garden hose! If your horse loves the water there’s nothing wrong with both of you cooling off together. Anybody whose bathed a horse knows more often than not you get wetter than the horse. So who’s up for a little summertime fun?
- If you have multiple horses I suggest grabbing a lawn chair, going out to the corral, and simply observing them. At first, they will stare, but if you bring a book or something to preoccupy yourself with they will continue on as if no one is around. This is a great technique if you have acquired a new horse to the herd or if you are having problems in the saddle. In doing this exercise you will see the pecking order and horseplay of your herd or you might see an injury in your horse which you didn’t notice before, in turn leading to problems during your rides.
- Offer a midday snack. Pull her off pasture, get a scoop of grain in your black rubber bucket, and let her snack for a few minutes while you groom/ work on your braiding skills or simply stand with her. Enjoy a comfortable silence with her. Just as that is important in human to human relationships, it is also important in human to horse relationships.
I have maintained my relationships with my mares by doing these exercises when riding isn’t always possible. It also makes the time I do spend in the saddle seem not so far apart. If you have any other ideas on things to do to cultivate a relationship with your horses other than riding, let me know! I’d love to hear some feedback!
Emily Griffin is a mama to two stunning daughters, a wife to her hunky husband, and an Arizona native. She resides in a very small town in Southeastern, Arizona. Her days consists of homeschooling, horses, and balancing the fine line between motherhood and insanity. She definitely appreciate the outdoors, the smell of wet dirt, and the lovely sunsets the Arizona deserts have to offer. Her life is chaotic between the girls, one kitty, two dogs, and four horses but She wouldn’t have it any other way!