I thought I would start a section about my thoughts on horsemanship and my journey of growth with my horse. So let’s start at the beginning, I have loved cowboys since I was a little child. Every year I wanted to dress up as one for Halloween, it got so consistent that my dad started to suggest that there were other options. After a few years he convinced me that a different costume would be a good idea.
After going through school and living on my own I started feeling as though I wanted to pursue living out on a ranch and learning more about horses. Plus this meant I could be a “real” cowboy! Not growing up with horses or on a ranch, the thought of buying a horse seemed a little daunting but I was passionate about my dreams. So with the help of a great friend who has owned horses for years, I went searching for a first horse. After just a little bit of searching we found a good match and went to pick him up. His name was Badger a palomino quarter horse, 10 years old and had a sweet disposition.
I changed his name to Biscuit because Badger didn’t seem to fit him. There were a lot of things I learned in those first few weeks, just like anything new there is a steep learning curve at first. One of my favorite memories was getting hay in my car and putting it in the trunk because I didn’t have a truck or any other means to get it to the pasture. I don’t suggest this unless it’s necessary, Biscuit seemed to like eating out of the trunk though.
After getting him settled, I started getting to work trying to learn all I could. You see, I was way behind in the knowledge I felt I needed to own a horse. With a lot of help from my friend and a lot of research I started to get a feel for what my new life had become and I loved it! I embraced the change so much and my childhood dream was shining through, that I changed how I dressed and carried myself. It was almost a complete 180. Some of my close friends today still talk about how funny it was for them to see the change in me. I joke and say that this is the real me, I was just conditioned to hide it for a few years until I could “justify” the truth.
Okay so now you have some of the backstory of my transition to cowboyhood. Let’s talk more about horsemanship which is really what I want to have this section on the site about. I have got to tell you, felt very lost at first. I had only ridden trail horses that will walk in a a line, “head to butt”, for a living. I was not very experienced even in that. So to say I was a little overwhelmed is an understatement. I was determined though.
I started researching horsemanship techniques and theories as much as I could. After a while my friend suggested I watch the documentary “Buck” for leisure. She said that it was very good and interesting. So I watched it and I was hooked! I had no idea that working with a horse could be so fluid and connected. I felt like all of the research I had been doing was now done, at least the part in trying to figure out what I wanted to try to learn and do. I had found what I feel is true horsemanship.
At this time I am far far far from being a horseman, but I know what I am working towards. I have studied a lot of what Buck Brannaman has put out and try to implement it with my horse. I have noticed a big change in me as I go about trying to be better and I feel I am becoming a better person because of it.
One of the books that I have studied since starting this journey is “Think Harmony with Horses” by Ray Hunt, who in my book is one of the greatest horsemen. In this book he speaks of paying attention to the horse, trying to approach the situation from where he is at instead of disregarding what the horse is thinking or feeling. To me this made perfect sense, our horses are not thoughtless lifeless things. As you work on trying to understand your horse’s thoughts and feelings it becomes easier to communicate effectively.
I took to heart this principle so much that I gave a “TED talk” about horsemanship at work. This is something that the company that I work for used to do. We would take the time out of our busy days once every so often to allow one of the other employees to talk about something they are passionate about. The one instruction was that it needed to be relatable in some way so that everyone would be able to grow in their career. So I talked a lot about communication and relationships. This correlated in a way that helped the team learn that you need to try to understand the other person’s point of view if you want to communicate well.
To me horsemanship is relatable to most aspects of our lives, and as we learn to be better people through horsemanship or strengthening our relationships with others; we help make the world a better place for everyone we are around.
I’m currently starting to read “True Horsemanship Through Feel” by Bill Dorrence who in my opinion is another one of the greats. He seemed to understand some things that most people never even seem to know exists. One of the first things he mentioned in his book is this “What a fella needs to be aware of is that horsemanship through feel is handed down from one friend to another. It isn’t for sale, no, it isn’t for sale. And I’d rather think that a fella, before he gets too far along on the training end of things where horses are concerned, should know about this on the start.”
So this is my journey to share with you, I want to help others understand what it’s like to go through this journey of getting a horse starting with nothing and coming out where everything is at least okay. I hope to be able to share more with you as time goes on and that you find some of it to be helpful at some point. In my opinion life will be what you put into it.
I love the famous saying by Muhammad Ali “I’m a show you, how great I am!”, not for the cockyness but for the faith in himself. The knowledge that he knew he would be great because he wouldn’t allow himself to take a back seat in life. This is how I want to be remembered and how I want to know myself. If possible in a more humble way though.
Still to this day I love cowboys, I think there is a beauty in being able to “unplug” and take some time to not be so A.D.D. about life and needing “rewards” right now. This is part of the reason of this site and the journey to owning a ranch. I love hearing little kids poke their mom in the grocery store and say “look, look mom. It’s a cowboy!” when they see me walk by, but my goal in life is to one day be called a horseman by those who truly understand horsemanship, what that really is and what it takes. Those are some of my thoughts on horsemanship.