Horsemanship is leadership. This simple phrase sums up all of my experience connecting with tens of thousands of horses I have never been with before and creating a willing partnership in minutes. When asked by someone if they could learn what I do to connect with horses quickly, I respond with these questions. How is your connection and relationship with your parents, siblings, spouse, or guy behind the counter at the convenience store? Invariably the person responds with, “Not so good.” I then suggest they start the journey of relationships and connection with their own species first.
This subject follows “The Ten Irrefutable Laws Of Horsemanship.” It will empower you in a life with horses, become a better horseman improving every day, and make you a better human with your relationships with other people in your life.
Let’s make an example. Pretend you own a boarding barn, and most days, you want to spend your entire time out in the barn no matter what weather is coming from the sky. But eventually, there is an irritating boarder where you want to hide in the house to avoid them. If you have ever experienced this feeling, I want you to apply that exact feeling to the horse that sees you come into the barn. If the horse doesn’t like you or what you do to them, the reaction from the horse will also be to hide. Maybe this won’t happen at first because you believe that food equals love, and they come to you for the food. But when asked to work, the horse says goodbye.
Most professional trainers and horsemanship instructors try to CHANGE THE HORSE or teach the students to change the horse, but this approach will never work, as seen with the barn owner in the above example. So instead, the barn owner tries to change the irritating boarder with written signs or confrontation. Eventually, the boarder leaves or is asked to leave. The same is true in a marriage when one spouse tries to change the other.
The key to horsemanship is to change yourself. Learning leadership is a job made only for you and your self-improvement. I often joke that a full-length mirror is the only gimmick I would sell to a person wanting to become a better horseman. When having trouble, stand in front of it and figure out what is wrong with you.
In the boarding example above, what if the irritating boarder went to the barn owner and said they would change themselves and try to become a better person. You can agree that this might take some time, but at some point, the barn owner would no longer be afraid to come out of the house when the once irritating boarder arrived on the farm. This same experience will happen over time as the horse recognizes the change in you. They will want to follow you because you have become a leader.
I have more to say about this, but now you know the core of horsemanship. It is leadership, and it comes from changing YOU and not the horse. No gimmicks are needed.