I'm a big believer that horses, or any animal, can teach us so much about life.
They give us the tools to be able to succeed in our crazy world. They get it. They don't need a degree, they don't listen to talk shows or sit down with a psychologist. They are able to show and teach us about the basic qualities we should already know and they say it all without words.
What makes the horse such a great teacher is the special bond that we have with them. No other animal is able to work and communicate with us like they can. There's a connection, an understanding and a respect that is so special. It's through this connection that we are able to learn from them. Riding is so much more than getting your leg in the right position or jumping that 3,4 or 5 foot oxer.
So here's a little series that I'll be posting here about some of the life skills horses have taught me.
To kick it off, I thought I'd start with the one that's impacted me the most recently.
As a child, trusting people and animals was never an issue. I could walk under a horse's belly and through his legs at the age of three and have the trust and confidence that I would not get hurt by this huge creature. I could let go of the reins, drop my stirrups and close my eyes while approaching a 4 jump gymnastic and trust that the horse would make it through without hesitation.
As I got older, and life got harder, I started to lose that trust. That innocent, blind trust seemed to disappear all of a sudden. I couldn't trust a horse to get me over a simple crossrail. I couldn't trust the people around me. I always assumed the worst. I analysed what was said and became paranoid of what they might be saying behind my back. My thought process was that if I couldn't trust, then I needed more control. I could only trust myself. That resulted in me trying to micromanage the horse more and more with every ride. It resulted in shutting myself out from the people around me. Because hurting myself seemed easier to deal with than trusting and opening up to someone just to be hurt again.
Well, this lead to a depressive state. I had created a lonely world for myself where I lost the need to care. My drive and determination was gone. My childlike love for horses had vanished. I didn't value anything of mine anymore, but I kept up this persona of being put together and focused in front of my family and coworkers. Partly because I believed the saying fake it until you make it and also because I believed that my struggle wasn't worth anyone else's time.
This went on for more years than it should have. It has only been these last two or three months that it has finally clicked. I need to let go and learn to trust again. To remember to breathe and relax. If you've been following the blog for a while, then you know that this has been a recurring topic for almost a year now. It's something that my mind knew I had to do. The problem lied with my heart, body and soul following through with this decision.
It was a horse that made that breakthrough for me a few months ago. It was a large, non speaking chestnut gelding that taught me to start to trust again. That I can lengthen my reins a little bit and loosen my grip. That I can approach a jump with the confidence that we'll both make it to the other side. That I can breathe with every step around the arena.
Sure, there are times when I revert to my old ways and I still struggle with trusting other people, but it's all a step in the right direction.
It was a horse that broke through this huge wall that I had built. It wasn't a self-help book, or a inspirational quote, or some guy on tv, but an animal. And for that, I am truly grateful.
So if you're struggling right now and you feel alone, remember that animals will always be your friend. They're the best secret keepers. They don't care about all of the stuff you're going through. They just see your soul. And if you stay quiet and listen, you'll find that they have a lot to say and it will help you through this crazy journey we call life.
I hope you didn't mind me sharing a personal post with you. If you can relate or would like to share a moment when a horse (or any animal) taught you something, write it in the comments below.
Until next time, happy riding!