The golden rule of good horsemanship is to never be in a hurry. Rushing makes room for errors, and errors make room for injury. Even if you are in a hurry, you have to pretend you aren’t. Horses experience energy and emotions more intensely than any human can imagine.
I was in a hurry this day, but I took several deep breaths to relax and keep from dumping my anxious energy onto the horses, who were tied to a stranger’s trailer while I swiftly groomed and tacked them. We were going on a group trail ride and waiting for one more person to arrive. Our hauler had a two-horse trailer and we had three horses to haul, so the back and forth added time we didn’t have to our day. The group left as the trailer pulled in with the third horse. While I stressed about the group’s departure without us, our two horses waited patiently by the trailer while the third horse was unloaded.
Having left only minutes behind the group, we caught up with them and enjoyed a lovely ride through bucolic countryside. My horse, Snowy, reveled in the creek crossings and wide-open meadows. His carefree happiness finally saturated my psyche enough that my stress from rushing was gone.
Some not-so-great things that happened before the ride:
-the third horse broke his bridle upon unloading from the trailer
-the third horse, upon breaking his bridle, was then loose
-my friend’s horse’s breastplate broke right as he mounted up
Some not-so-great things that happened after the ride:
-our hauler’s trailer was hit by another trailer driven by a woman who had been drinking–yes, she was drunk-driving WITH her horses in the trailer (our horses were not in our trailer THANK GOD)
-drunk woman then tried to blame the accident on us
The trail ride was great. The before and after not so much. But I learned a lot from Snowy and the other horses that day. Really there’s no point in getting stressed out. NONE. Herd leaves without you? All your friends leave you behind? Don’t worry, just enjoy the scenery while catching up. Bridle breaks? Don’t worry, just start eating grass. A drunk person hits your trailer with hers? It’s fine. Be thankful the accident harmed only the trailers and no horses or humans.
Horses are, indeed, sensitive to humans’ emotions and energy, but we’re also receptive to theirs whether we realize it or not. Snowy stayed calm amidst my own personal bubble of chaos that day, and you know what? Everything really was okay. Things really could have been much worse. Every moment I’m with Snowy, we’re having a conversation and exchange of energy. The exchange goes both ways. Horses may not speak to us in words, but they have endless silent ways of getting through to our hearts.