When I got my first horse (who, by the way, came to me appropriately named "Chance"), about six years ago, I started a riding journal. Each time I spent time with Chance, I would jot down a few comments about the experience. The deal was that I would write but not read my notes until at least a month had gone by. I figured this to be a good attempt at grabbing some perspective ... a good overview, rather than peering microscopically at what we were doing - or not.

In this three-ring notebook, there is a nice form I made up with weights and measures and, wow, did I really let him get fed 8 lbs of 12% pelleted feed?!! Oh, I was SUCH a novice! Not that I still don't consider myself one … it's just a little frightening to look back and see some of the things I was doing! Ya know?

I re-read these notes and cringe and laugh at the same time. So much anthropomorphizing! That is a tough topic to deal with because, as we all know, they DO have expressions and personalities. A key learning spurt came for me when I accepted the good advice, “Don't take it personally”. I've tried to apply that to the enjoyable and not-so-enjoyable happenings of this wanna-be partnership. Sure has helped.

Among other things, I see now worming is going a lot easier. I have a note in there about him being a week behind schedule. I laugh. I still worm regularly but I feel good when we are within the 7 to 10 day range. I no longer worry about every bump or cut. I've learned to look at the bigger picture rather than scrutinizing every movement. I read of my manic-depressive moods --- one day I am ecstatic, the next I am quivering with frustration. Okay, so some things never change.

A heartening note is that in the midst of my notations and pictures in this “baby book” of sorts, I had clipped out a quote from a magazine: “… although you can force your will on a horse, you can't force him to give you his mind.” At least I was on the right track.

As we bring this year to a close, I'm wondering: Where were you in your horsemanship education a year ago? This newsletter has, hopefully, been infused with good information and with encouragement and a sense of camaraderie in that, really, we are all in this together. We've all been there at one time or another and we're all still struggling, regardless of our years of experience. There are always NEW challenges and new horses and new things to learn and apply.

So, in the spirit of keeping our lives in some kind of balance, I wonder if you might take a minute to just review your own experiences and find your own … perspective.

  • Can you list three things you have learned over the past year?
  • Can you list three things that are happening between you and your horse that indicate a stronger relationship than you had this time last year?
  • What are two things that have changed in the way YOU interact with your horse?
  • What are two things you see in your horse that you didn't see a year ago?

Find any perspective in where you've been and where you are now?

Hang in there. No matter where you are in this learning process, hang in. ...