In my travels to develop my Horsemanship, I have noticed a common theme in what I call levels of understanding. The best hands I know place an extreme importance on being able to see what a horse is going to do before he actually does it. This is a skill that has to be developed, contrary to the fact that when you don’t have it, it seems that those that do, were born with it. They talk fluently about what they believe that they are seeing in their Horses. I’m here to tell you that no one is born with this skill. Human beings are very adaptable and when we decide that we are going to do or learn something, it will manifest in some form at a later time. Those that get better do so because they choose to; it is just that simple.
I can remember a day in 1982. I had just tied a 3 year old mare to a fence post. I was fresh out of college and most of my experience at this time was with cows and calves. I had been around Horses for several years but they had not yet become the life study that they are now. The pen that I tied this filly to had a few loose geldings in it. I really never gave those geldings a second thought. Like usual life lessons start out from innocence combined with ignorance and I was full of both!
When those geldings saw this filly they became interested in her and started walking towards her. I still paid them no attention but when they got about 10 feet away from her, the gentleman who owned them told me that I had better go rescue my mare because she was getting ready to get the tar kicked out of her. I didn’t know what he was talking about so I probably didn’t put as much urgency into my rescue as I should have and sure enough when they got close to her the dog-gone-est kicking match took place that I had ever seen! By the way cattle don’t do stuff like that.
Anyway, I was pretty amazed that this old Horseman knew long before those horses got close what was going to take place. The only difference between he and I was a huge gap of understanding. He had developed the skill of reading horses and I got one of my first lessons on it! I really believe that all of us only ever have but one problem and that would be a lack of understanding. The best part about that is that if you can stay out of the blame game and look inside yourself to find the courage and determination to search for answers to your problems that there is absolutely nothing that you can’t do. Look at the Wright Brothers or Edison or Carl Benz who invented the first car. Now in no way am I thinking that you can fix everything by simply learning to read your horse but I will say that 99 percent of the problems that you encounter with them can be understood and addressed to you and your Horse’s benefit!
Your continual development of your ability to accurately read your horse comes with numerous benefits, you will stay safer and at the same time experience more pleasure in your time that you devote to your horse. The fact that you will be seeing things sooner in the near future and you will be continually developing a more accurate picture of just how your horse is perceiving you and his environment will give you more empathy for the animal and your relationship will improve with every opportunity you have to be together.
I bet you will like it best when you feel like that you are understood and accepted, too. Your horse is just like you in that regard, so give him more opportunity to be understood and he will respect and honor you for your efforts!