10 Life Lessons I Have Learned From Horses

It was a beautiful day at Freedom Woods. In general, unless I am horse showing I spend on average 7 days a week there. Every day I am happy to come to work, because I am passionate about what I do. Sure, sometimes it can be tiring, but then I remember that I could be in an office doing paperwork day in and day out, and then I remember that I am one of the luckiest people in the world. I am fortunate to say, that I love my job and am always working on learning more about every aspect of my chosen career. 

My students and my horses are my life. There is nothing like the moment when your student canters for the first time or wins their first big class at a show. It fills you with this overwhelming feeling of pride that you helped them achieve their goals. You can reflect on those moments of hardship where their goals seemed so far away and realize what your student, their horse, and you, as their trainer have accomplished. 

I was thinking today, if I had not chosen being a trainer and running a barn as my profession, what could I say to my father to justify all the time and capital he put in to me to make this my career? I truly believe that being raised around horses has taught me most of what I know today. 

Here are just 10 things I have learned from horses... 

  1. Confidence - To be able to manage, manipulate, and train and animal of that size and ability
  2. Responsibility - To come out and care for that horse day in and day out and when you are sick or lazy, you cant just decide not to come in. They depend on you. 
  3. The value of hard work - Sometimes it takes weeks or even months to perfect one thing about your riding. You may spend hours and hours thinking you will never get it. But you keep training and pushing and when you hit a break through it all pays off. 
  4. Nothing works ALL the time - I feel like this is really a life lesson. You grow up as a kid thinking if you say please or are really nice that you can basically get most of what you want. Riding a horse is so much about balance and feel, you can't just ask for the same thing one way all the time. 
  5. Patience - You have to be patient when working with an over-sized animal with a small brain. Every new transition takes time, first your horse needs to understand what you expect, then they need to be agreeable to it. And if you jump the gun and get aggressive or upset, they react. 
  6. To be aware - When working on the ground or on the horse, even if I happen to know that horse well there are always exterior factors that play into it. For example, something may happen that spooks the horse and overtime you start to develop a feel for it coming and how to react tactfully.  
  7. To control my emotions - For every action I make, my horse has a reaction. It only takes getting harsh on a sensitive horse a few times to realize it does not work.  
  8. Bravery - The first time I cantered up to that 4'6" fence, I thought to myself, "AHHHHHH!" But I had to remain in rhythm, stay calm, and use what I had learned to get my horse and myself over the fence smoothly. 
  9. To be humble - Just last winter, I was riding a horse who was rehabbing back to work. We were just trotting around and that horse ducked and spun on me so fast, I fell right off. With horses, no matter how much you know, or how often you have ridden every now again you still take the plunge.  
  10. To be driven - Talent only takes you so far. To learn how to ride a horse, and I mean really ride a horse, it takes hours and hours, and years and years. I am still learning everyday. I can't sit on the sidelines and expect to learn more about my sport. I have to do it, read about it, and practice it. I will never know everything about riding and horses, but I want to know as much as possible. 

I cannot think of any one thing that could replace the amount of knowledge I have gained from having horses.