It got me thinking about how invaluable the things I've learned from working with horses truly are. It takes a unique mind to truly connect with horses, and sometimes you might not figure out that your mind is unique until it's brought out by a horse.
I've learned to release. When someone does something for me, I give instant gratification. I've learned to communicate my appreciation by actually feeling it, and it's a wonderful feeling. Since a horse can read you inside and out, they can tell when you're irritated or if you're thinking "Whatever, that's good enough." A horse doesn't want to shorthand you. When a horse understands why and how, it will give you 100%, every time. So, when you learn to communicate, you've learned to get the response you want, which leaves you satisfied and grateful.
Which brings me to the next thing I've learned: Communication. When you've got a thousand pound animal following you around, you need to know how to express what you want. Horses are constantly judging you and testing you, whether you realize it or not. Everything about you radiates in a bubble of energy around you, and the horse can see it crystal clear. I've learned to be self-conscious - but not in a way where I care what others think about me as much as I care about how I make others feel. I'm conscious of my actions and how they affect others, and the impression I make based on those affects. If you make a single bad move with a horse, you could ruin your entire relationship.
I am more respectful. When my horse tells me he's done, we're done. This is his life that I am essentially controlling. "Always a willing servant, but never a slave." This is like a dance - one must lead, but it takes the both of us working together and enjoying what we do to accomplish what we want.
I think most importantly, horses have taught me to listen. When I ride or work with my horse, I make sure that the horse is telling me what we're doing is working. I never want to frustrate my horse. Sure, what we're doing may be hard, but if he doesn't understand what's going on and is getting downright upset, it's time to adjust and find an alternate route to meet our goal. This isn't just about what we as horsepeople want, it's what's best for our horses, both mentally and physically. That's when our horses perform to their utmost ability. That's when they move properly and give us something of incalculable value: their trust.
Being around horses these past six years has made me more mature. I pay attention to details and really read the animal, or person, I'm interacting with. Patience, communication, understanding, trust (and trustworthiness), respect, leadership, devotion, and so much more. Horses have made me a better person.
What have horses done for you?