Five Life Lessons a Young Horse Can Teach You
Young horse, old horse, sweet horse, bold horse…oh what each one can teach you. Out of all the different life-stages, young and inexperienced horses may sometimes be the best partners and teachers. With a green horse, you’re able to add your personal touch. You get to teach that horse whatever you want, however you want. You get to watch that horse grow and mature.
Young horses are not your babysitter. They’re not going to save you and put in that extra short stride in front of a trail pole or build up enough speed before a lead change without you telling them. You have to show the horse how to do their job because no one else will. There are so many things a young horse can teach you that can be applied, both in and out of the show pen.
Here are five skills a young horse can teach you.
You absolutely must have patience to work with young horses. You are not going to make a half-ton animal with the intelligence of a toddler do precisely what you’re thinking. If you think you can, the only place you’ll be riding is to the emergency room.
To be patient, you have to be willing to compromise. It’s not about teaching your horse something new every ride and expecting it to be perfect. Sometimes, you’ll have to settle for an attempt made by your horse to do what was asked of them. Mistakes are going to happen, and it’s okay.
Say you went into a horsemanship class and had the best ride of your life on your green horse, but you still placed badly. There is absolutely no reason to hang your head in disappointment because if that judge were to see where you were standing with this horse a year or even a month ago, you’d be bringing home that blue ribbon. Being happy with your horse’s progress means more than any prize. If you’re never satisfied with what your horse has done and their improvements, you won’t be able to grow anymore because you’ll be nit-picking at imperfections.
You cannot transform an unfinished horse into a world champion overnight. It’s going to take months of hard, tireless work to get your horse where you want it to be. Consistency and repetition are two crucial pieces of building a better horse. Horses can’t practice something once and remember it forever.
To teach a horse to do something, you must keep repeating the maneuver until the horse gets it right, and then stop. For every one thing done right, there are maybe hundreds of failed attempts. You have to be entirely dedicated to training your young horse, or you will never progress. You can’t halfway train a horse, the same way you can’t halfway paint the Mona Lisa.
Working with a young horse comes with guaranteed problems. There will be fights and times where you feel mad enough to post a “for sale” ad. When you feel about ready to give up, try something else. Give you and your horse a mental break and come at the problem from a different angle. This will make you a stronger and smarter rider. Always try to end the ride on a good note. Working around problems to ultimately eliminate them will make you tenacious.
You’re not going to win everything, especially just starting with a green horse. Each accomplishment and win should mean something. Every time you get in the show pen is an opportunity to show off the progress that you and your horse have made. Working with a young horse makes winning so much more rewarding. After putting so much time and effort into your horse, you’ll stop worrying about the small inconveniences that used to bother you.
Training a young horse is confusing, complicated, sometimes frustrating, but in the end, it’s worth it because you are going to have a great finished product. People are often scared off from the idea of purchasing a green horse, but don’t let other opinions displace yours.
There are limitless skills you can learn from a young horse. Horses will never stop teaching as long as you never stop listening. Listen and learn from your horse. Every time you swing your leg over that horse is a new opportunity for progress.