• Erin Long

A Way Of Life

Softness is a way of living, not a training principle. When people limit their softness to an arena, they lose the most important aspect of it - a soft mind, and a soft heart. All the gentle pats and slow movements in the world won’t change a thing if your heart is hardened against openness and vulnerability.

When you live a life dedicated to softness, when you keep your eye on being kind and gentle towards others whenever you can, your horsemanship improves tenfold. The softness of your mind becomes habit. You are quicker to forgive your horse, and slower to raise your temper.

Over time, your horse ceases to fear you, and in turn begins opening his mind and body to you in a way no “natural” horsemanship can ever create. True softness is not backed by pain. Softness, in its purest sense, can only be backed by an unending sense of patience, calm, and forgiveness. Seek those moments where you can offer your horse a bit more patience. Where you can allow him to draw upon your calm. Those are the moments in which your relationship is developed.

Softness means accepting a TRUE partnership, in which both beings have a say, a voice, and both maintain their dignity through any interaction. Softness means being humble, patient, and calm in the face of difficulty.

The reward for your softness is a quieter, calmer, more communicative horse than you could have ever wished for, or hoped for, any other way. A horse who will lay his soul bare without hesitation because he trusts you to open your heart and accept it as it is. A head so soft because he trusts you to hold the reins with hands as delicate as if you were holding a baby bird. A horse so willing to go forward that the merest shift in your body produces a great bound of joyous energy. A horse so calm that a breath sinks his feet deep into the earth.

THAT is softness. And I strive for nothing less.

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