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Experience is the Best Teacher
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Experience is the Best Teacher

"I am convinced that my horses are trying to show me something of value, to help me visualize a different perspective: to see better so I can be better...” from "Lead with Your Heart...Lessons from a Life with Horses” by Allan J. Hamilton

I had the honor of riding Princess Tara for the first time this past weekend. Her owner has a few horses and Tara hadn’t been ridden lately. She was acting a little antsy with me, as horses do when not worked on a regular basis. My friends Mary and Joan were ready to go on our Saturday trail ride as is our routine, and I needed a ride as much as Tara needed a rider, so we paired up. As we warmed up in the ring, she flexed nicely, transitioned well, and her brakes worked, so we started off.

She hadn’t been on the trail in six weeks, so once we got going, she kept me on my toes, quizzing me on everything I had learned the past few years from my previous horses, Professors Sportie and Peachie. Sportie tended to be antsy too, so I knew that I needed to have enough confidence for the both of us. I stretched myself out of my automatic fetal position, putting my shoulders back and chin up. Humming always relaxed both Sportie and me, so I tried it on Tara and her ears instantly flicked back to me instead of rotating wildly to the various sounds coming from every direction in the woods.

Now what, Tara? Paying attention to your herd as we pass by and acting like you need to join them? Peachie Girl taught me to turn the distracted horse’s head slightly in the opposite direction so your eye catches mine instead. A spook that drops your entire body down a half foot in height like a broken elevator? Peachie would sometimes do an entire body shake, like she had just come up from a roll, in the middle of the trail. She taught me right off the bat that if I didn’t relax deep into the saddle at all times, heels down, keeping a good grip on the reins, I would have flown off a long time ago.

Tara is a gorgeous redhead, and once she settled down, I could tell we were a good fit. She has turned what last weekend was the saddest place on earth, when I placed flowers on Sportie’s four-month-old grave and Peachie’s newly-dug one, back to the happiest place on earth once again. I am sure she will be a great teacher.

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