This I Believe

Josephine - Charlotte, North Carolina
Entered on October 27, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I Believe Horses Bring Out the Best in People

I believe horses have the ability to reveal hidden talents in some indiduals. It’s more than just their dramatic beauty or their endearing patience. It is the mirror they hold up to us two-leggers, and let us see who we are from a completely new perspective.

Horses I’ve worked with in the past seem to have unveiled my inner leadership, making me more compassionate and wise as a whole.

Horses force me to take charge. They are herd animals looking towards a leader for guidance and assurance at all times. This appeals to me because I get to be nurturing, yet demanding. It is key to remember that horses are “fight or flight” animals. When a horse perceives a threat, she will either run away or turn aggressive. This is the biggest mistake of amateur horsemen; they are told to “show the horse who is the boss,” interpreting it as “intimidate your mount into submission.”This approach goes against the very nature of horses, so how can it not end in tears? One should work with the horse, never against her.

My riding instructor once rescued two mares named ‘River’ and ‘Moon-shadow’ that had been brutally beaten by their former owner. They had yet to experience a positive interaction with a human “herd-leader.” River showed me how crucial it was to act calm and confident, never threatening. I had to monitor my body-language, especially releasing all tension. I couldn’t show any signs of uneasiness; she’d interpret it as me alerting her to some hidden danger, or worse, that I was about to hurt her out of wrath. Any hint of anger or fear would send her bolting away or even out from under me, resulting in long chases and desperate coaxing and pleading to recapture her and make amends.

For Moon-shadow, I had to be completely unafraid. The instant she felt I was unequal to the task of herd-leader, she would mutiny. Her favorite methods of rebellion included brushing me against fence posts and barn walls, bucking sprees, and/or attempting to bite chunks out of me. She was very intelligent, so I had to become skilled at anticipating her next move, and then confidently counter it with a well placed command. I learned to speak firmly and stand my ground in times where she’d test me. Once I established that I had no intention of relinquishing my authority, she could easily jump five-foot fences and dazzle show-ring judges.

Interacting with horses, especially the difficult ones, has helped me attain a sure manner that extends beyond calming a frightened or aggressive equine. I find that it has given me more patience, confidence, wisdom, and courage that I can employ to my horse-free hours as well. I will hopefully continue spending quality time at the stables, because I believe horses could help me discover more hidden talents that I would otherwise never have known existed.