Softness and Equine Mental Health
All the training in the world cannot produce softness in your partnership with your horse if you do not ride with softness in your heart, and he does not hold softness in his eye. This horse continues to amaze me each and every day with his utter commitment to doing his best, and pleasing those around him. I think it's something we could all strive a little more for. We're so terrified of giving an inch to our horses for fear that they might misbehave or be "disrespectful." But what I'm finding is that instead, horses start taking responsibility for their actions, and excel beyond where we could have ever taken them manually. The more you give your horse a place at the table in his own training, the farther he is likely to take you. Don't try to disguise dominance as partnership - at the end of the day your horse knows the difference.
I honestly think this is why so many hardcore show horses end up meeting an untimely end. There is a TON of research in people demonstrating that not being in a sound mental state can lead to physical problems - digestive issues, heart failure, neurological imbalance. It seems logical that this would be the case for us, but beyond extreme cases of stress we don't hold the same theory towards our horses. I've personally noticed that horses who start being trained in a more positive manner, and are offered the opportunity to express themselves, bloom in all aspects of life. Just some food for thought as we continue through the week.