Why Do You Ride
Do you ride because you love horses? I think this will be the most common answer. We put blood, sweat and tears into these crazy prey animas to build the best partnership we can.
If you love your horse, do you do all that is in your power for him? Of course we feed them, groom them, exercise them, but I think it is up to all of us to acknowledge that we have more power to be good to our animals than we care to use.
Of course there are always excuses. "Oh well he was bad". "I want to win a competition". "He has to earn his keep". At the end of the day, though, those things stem from our own ego. We all strive for perfection and success, and we all define those things differently. For some, success is a horse who will happily walk miles under saddle no matter the terrain. For others, it may be a shiny belt buckle earned in some arena. But those things cause me to hesitate.
When we begin defining our success with our horses by how well we complete some goal we've created - especially those of the show pen - we distance ourselves from our animals and indulge our egos. We hear more and more of the excuses I list above to protect our egos from facing the reality - we are not being as kind as we could be. Hitting, kicking and yanking are so common in the show pen that an entire society has become desensitized to it, because doing those things in order to win fuels our ego. The next time you ride, I would encourage you to do something that sounds very simple, yet is often extremely difficult for us to accomplish. I ask you to ask two questions of yourself, and honestly answer them. First, are you being as kind as you could be to your partner? Second, if you are not - why? Do not delude yourself with empty excuses - for it is only you and your horse who are judging these responses. If you are satisfied with that answer, so be it. But for myself, at least, I know allowing my ego to shape who I am as a horseman, rather than being humble in the face of these great animals that lend us their bodies and souls, is simply not good enough.