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Blaze Your Own Trail

By Carole Herder

When I first got involved with horses I didn’t know much. I took on the perspectives of those around me without question. It didn’t take too long before I knew that ‘the way’ was not my way and didn’t align with my core beliefs. Have you been in a situation where you’re wondering just what you’re doing there? You realize that you’re practicing what everyone else is practicing and that’s not really you? Be wary and question. There is an agenda in the horse industry on the whole as well as within different barns. You may be led to get involved with the dominant approach of a particular barn or trainer. There’s comfort in numbers. You’ll be encouraged to start doing what they’re doing, get the trailer and equipment, go down the road, pay various registration fees, use certain feed, etc. Suddenly you realize this isn’t who you are or the vision you had before you got your first horse, yet you’re all caught up in it.

This part of the industry is based on that approach as some barn owners and trainers make their money by promoting a particular methodology. It supports a cash machine. It may be fine for you to find yourself in the show ring, but some people really just want to trail ride. I see this frequently with kids. They will be stressed with the most miserable expressions on their faces because of tension and pressure to perform. All they get is ‘try harder’ messages from their parents and trainers. This was supposed to be fun, yet the kids are not enjoying themselves. How can you be happy with that pressure? Being with your horse in today’s day and age should be about joy and pleasure, not as much work and transportation. If you’re following a path laid out by your trainer or barn that isn’t enjoyable, then pause long enough to determine if that is really how you want to work with your horse.

Friends, family and local experts will always offer advice. In fact, I’m offering advice here. But I also am challenging you to think for yourself. Don’t accept practices because they’ve always been that way. Be willing to question practices and trust your intuition to know what is good for your horse and in line with your beliefs, i.e. not nailing metal shoes on his feet. Don’t get stuck in what others are telling you. Your responsibility is to take care of your horse, not follow someone else’s protocol. We have horses to bring pleasure to our lives so how you work with them should be joyful. Joy has a frequency that resonates throughout your life, your family, and your very being. Your horse will feel it too. Pat Parelli says, “Smile with all four cheeks” when you ride your horse.

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