January 16, 2021, Volume 16, Issue 2

Emotions and horses

Taps and Maddie

All has been well at the ranch as we settle into the new year. We have been diligently practicing for the upcoming branding season. Everyday Shayne gives us new drills to get us handier with our ropes. Dally practice, dragging the roping sled, learning new shots, perfecting our swing and acting out real scenarios are just a few of our daily tasks. Along with roping practice, I’ve been learning some new things in horsemanship and I’ve gained a different feel throughout the week. Over the last month, I’ve developed a new outlook on how emotions play a part in riding. We are often told that we shouldn’t let our emotions get involved with horses. If we let our emotions get in the way, we can’t fully be there to support our equine partner. If you’re caught up in your own sadness, drama, fear, anger, or stress, the horse will feed off your energy and your attention won’t be dedicated to the horse. Or there’s the other extreme, to where horses become an escape of life’s problems. I was pretty good at blocking out all emotion while working with the horses. I focused on the mechanics and what I needed to do in the moment, the rest fell away. But I realized there was something missing. Mechanics can only take you so far, feel has to start taking over. Feel requires more connection with the horse on an emotional level. The best way for me to describe it, is that you almost have to give a little bit of yourself away so the horse can give you a piece of his soul in return.

Often times, there’s other things in life that take up our attention and we worry it will affect our riding. Perhaps

Hemi and Emily

your truck broke down, you lost someone you love, your little brother is getting on your nerves or you’re simply having an off day. All of these things we consider a factor in our focus while working with our horses. All these situations bring up emotions. But what I found this last month is it’s not about hiding our emotions or letting them consume us. Neither a mental breakdown nor blocking out the problem will help in the advancement of a horse’s education. Instead, I have let myself feel every emotion that runs through me in the moment and used it as horsemanship fuel. By feeling all the juju, I can better understand where a horse might be coming from on a soul level. By processing these feelings, I have been able to offer the horses something beyond the mechanics. I really felt the changes in my rides over the last week, especially with Tapadero, a favorite ranch horse of mine. I’ve noticed by offering this different feel, he has started to look to me as his safe place. I’m excited to see how this emotional experiment plays out. I know I’m only peeling back the next layer of the onion as Shayne likes to say.

We have been busily working on our projects along with riding. We had quite the wind storm earlier in the week with gusts up to 40 mph. I woke up in the wee hours on Wednesday morning to all kinds of sounds from the wind blowing things about. Luckily all of the ponies were just fine but the wind caused a few trees to fall and we lost power for a day. On the night we lost power, Emily and I decided to have a sleepover at the lodge where we had light and heat thanks to our generator. We each camped on a couch with a blanket and we discussed our rides of the day. We had many laughs as we shared our adventures. The next morning, Chris, Brenda and I got to work cleaning up the fallen trees. Chris and I spent our morning dragging trees behind Clifford (Chris’s truck), and repairing fences until the pastures were all set again. EmDog and I also had the chance to give the kitchen a redo. We moved all of Emily’s shelving and cabinetry around the give the kitchen a whole new feel. I have never seen a happier chef. 🙂

And so the journey continues……


Groundwork with Des