Quality Time

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If you’re like most people, the pace of your life just keeps getting more hectic. Even the things you want to do, like to do and that are supposed to be fun are done on a tight schedule, or when push comes to shove, might not get done at all.

When time with your horse is short, you probably, understandably, try to spend most of that in the saddle. Have you ever found yourself so rushed that you whipped through saddling (or had some else do it for you), hopped on, had your lesson or schooling, quickly tore off the tack and sped away without even once looking your horse in the eye' Are you so focused on your own riding or getting a desired response from your horse that you’re throwing messages at the horse but not listening to his responses' Do you know your horse’s eating habits, how he acts in the field or paddock on his free time, what his likes and dislikes are' Do you even really know your horse'

If you’re guilty of treating your horse more like your car than a living creature, we understand. But, it might be a good idea to restructure your priorities a bit. On a purely practical level, getting to know your horse’s personality, attitudes and normal behavior will put you in a much better position to pick up problems before they become major. A horse that usually stands with his head hanging over his door, interested in the world, that you find one day with his head in the corner and barely reacting to the stall door being opened is not acting normally. He may be incubating a virus, have a stomachache or be sore somewhere. A horse that doesn’t respond to your cues like he should isn’t necessarily being difficult (although horses are entitled to their off days too!). Something may be wrong. Take the time to be observant and listen to your horse.

On another level, if your time with your horse is focused only on riding, you’re missing a lot of the joys of having a horse. Take your horse out to graze on the lead, just the two of you, away from other people or horses. You’ll be amazed at how interested he is in the world around him, how little things catch his attention, how often he sniffs deeply, flicks his ears, or focuses keenly on something. If he trusts you, you may find him pressing up against your body for reassurance if he’s worried.

Talk to him, touch him, watch how he reacts. You’ll find out how sensitive and responsive horses really are. They’re also great listeners and wonderful to hug. Sitting quietly, listening to a horse peacefully munch his hay, is the best tranquilizer in the world. Take the time to fall in love with your horse. It’s a relationship you’ll never regret.