In honor of the NFL being back in session, let’s take a horse’s-eye view at the book the New England Patriots' Tom Brady says “is kind of a mantra for my life.” Love him or hate him, Brady has chosen wisely with The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz. These agreements Ruiz encourages us to make in our daily lives can bring freedom to our stable lives also, and will make our horses happier ones.
1. Be impeccable with your word.
When I tell a co-stablehand that I will do her chores this weekend if she can do mine the next, I agree to show up and do them, on the exact date and time. If I’m deathly ill but can’t find a last-minute replacement, I bring my headcold along with me, and cough and sniffle while I muck and feed. Horses’ needs do not take a sick day.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
If Sportie steps on my foot, it’s because I got my foot in the way and not because he wants to hurt me. Sometimes he needs a few circles and some neighing before being convinced he doesn’t need to stay within sight of his friend Riley instead of going out on the trail with me. This says he loves Riley and spends a lot more pasture time with him than he does with me. It speaks to their friendship and I agree it says nothing about me.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
If Sportie is acting antsy, I agree to never assume that he is purposely defying me. Often there’s a deerfly buzzing directly under his eye that I can’t see from my saddle, or a black snake just out of sight on the trail that I can’t see but he can hear. There are so many legitimate reasons for him to stop listening to me as nature intrudes on our communication that he always forces me to be more aware of our surroundings, as I should be.
4. Always do your best.