Over the many years I have been riding and showing horses, there have been quite a few lessons learned from the horses themselves. They are the best teachers as their way of thinking often challenges our own. These things stick with us from that day forward, when others rattle around in our brain waiting for the day when something finally 'Clicks' and suddenly it all makes perfect sense. Some horses have a lot to teach us, where others might let us 'coast thru life' and cover our asses for us time and again, making us look better than maybe we really are.
My first horse Tai taught me that when I think I'm a badass, maybe I'm not such a badass after all. I had been riding every and any horse I could, barrel racing, team roping, trail riding, etc. and even showing. I had never come off a horse unexpectedly and I had luckily, never been thrown. That horse unseated me no matter what kind of tack he was wearing. Thankfully I never got seriously hurt. I also learned with him that there's always the time to just get off the horse. My safety would override staying on him when he was being a total dick or when things were about to get all kinds of stupid ugly.
My mare the Mighty Mo, taught me that horses can be trained to blanket themselves. All you had to do to put her blanket on, was hold it up by the back and she would put her head down, looking for the neck hole to stick her nose thru. Hold it up, she stepped forward and then just pull the blanket back over her body. All of my horses after her- I have taught them this same "Life Skill". Kat practically Runs into his and then stands rock still while I fasten the straps. No more unbuckling the fronts for me.
Tess taught me a LOT of things. One being that the mere fact we climb onto their backs, means that we trust them. If we didn't, we wouldn't ride them. This mare also taught me how to Be trustworthy. At least in Her eyes. ANY amount of contact meant that her back would hollow out and her neck would grow to the length rivaling that of a giraffe as it seemed to end up in my lap. I trusted her enough to ride her, She had to learn to trust me that I wasn't going to get in her face with contact. When the giraffe neck thing happened, I had ZERO (0) control, or at least it felt I did. Which leads to another thing....
It may Feel to us as a rider, that things are going all sorts of ways south, when others see something different. I'm sure we've all been there. We feel like it is a great ride and get the gate in a class, or we feel our ride is going to shit and we end up getting pinned well in the ribbons. Our horse feels like they spooked and jumped ten feet and a day- sideways and everyone who seen it, tells us later there was one or two small steps but that was it.
My wamblood mare Aruba, when starting out on a lunge line would only walk. She made a lap or two at the walk and slowly loosened things up, easing into a trot and eventually a lope or canter. It was so different than having a horse shoot to the end of the line, ripping my shoulders out of the sockets, bolting and tearing around like a jackass. My horses now start out walking on the lunge line, and when I get on them we walk some more. It has become an ingrained habit for them that even if they are on high alert, they know we will just keep walking around and loosening up. I need time to do that too once I get on, because this getting older thing sucks.
Kat has taught me a number of things over the years. That they know us sometimes better than we know ourselves, they can push our buttons better, longer and in ways we never thought of and that they are there for us when others aren't. The other night when I was sick and couldn't make it to the barn to feed, the girl who feeds for me told me that he looked at her like he was asking where I was? I've had him longer than any other horse. He should know me by now...
My TB mare has taught me that we can sometimes be pleasantly surprised when we go on instinct and trust our gut. She has also taught me patience and that sometimes we just wait it out and things get better with time. There have also been reminders of how we tend to expect the worst at the slightest bit of swelling or lameness.
There have been several horses that have taught me, there is and can be, more than one horse we have "That kind" of connection with. To date there have been roughly 8 in my life so far. Tess was one of them that was completely opposite of anything I liked in a horse, which means that sometimes we shouldn't judge the book by the cover? Lol
The thing is, that while I have learned many things from the horses over the years, there is infinitely more to learn. I'm looking forward to the lessons.