Ten Values Horses Teach Us

1. Patience is a virtue - Horses do not experience time like we do. With our multi-tasking life, each second of our day is scheduled. When you approach horses with a rush-hour attitude, your goals are going to get stuck in traffic. The idea of impatience is an imbalance in their world and you may find yourself learning this lesson. 

2. Unconditional love - The herds of horses area actually made up of members who come together for a common goal - to live freely. The members may be related, but usually they are made up of adopted siblings, step-sisters and step-brothers, aunts, uncles and simply anyone who wishes to join. These blended families work together and take care of each other, no matter what.

3. Let it go - Conflict does not last long in the horse world compared to the human world. When they resolve something, they often move on from it quite quickly. Sometimes you will see horses in conflict one day act as best friends the next day. They have little time for emotional baggage.

4. Be clear - In order to train, horses need to have clear goals and directions. Often when something is not going well, clarifying what you are asking is the solution. Also, breaking challenges down into bite-sized pieces will build the whole puzzle more easily.

5. Positive encouragement goes farther than negative punishment - Horses have wonderful work ethic and are the most devoted partners IF they like what they are doing. Positive encouragement creates confidence, pride, and reassurance in what you are doing. Although discipline is important and reinforcement can be direct, negative punishment is usually not as effective as telling them when they did something right. 

6. Trust is earned - You can't learn to ride in your living room. You have to show up, rain or shine, snow or heat, wind or sun. The consistency in your actions is one of the most powerful training and gentling tools. When they learn through your consistency, trust is established. This is not done in minutes, but over weeks.

7. Do what you say and say what you do - The majority of horse communication is nonverbal. Horses use sixth sense to protect them from danger. This means if something does not feel right, it probably isn't. Humans often use a verbal language for communication, which may be vastly different from how they feel. Fake it until you make it, does not fly in the horse world. 

8. Pity is toxic - In order to cultivate a strong herd, every member must feel confident in themselves. Weakness, indecision, hesitancy, or not being certain are characteristics which, frankly, get you eaten in the wild. Self-confidence is the key to survival which means pity has no place in their world. Pity is different from compassion. Pity involves "taking over" for someone because they are too weak. Compassion is having understanding for a situation. 

9. All for one and one for all - There is no "I" in herd. Although leadership exists and this position is often sorted out, these positions are a huge responsibility. The herd needs every member for information, protection, alarms, watching the foals. Everyone benefits and is cared for.

10. Forgive - It is surprising how easily relationships can be mended when you apologize. Often, when I have learned from my mistakes and recognized ways I needed to change, I found my horse already forgave me and moved on from the situation. As long as I commit to learning from the mistake and growing in my character, they are immensely understanding and ready to be friends.

 

 

Our rescue horse, Shadrach, has taught us a lot about our own human behavior.

Our rescue horse, Shadrach, has taught us a lot about our own human behavior.