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Seven Things True Horsemen do Differently

We’ve all seen them. They are the ones who know a horse in the distance and immediately know it’s different. These trainers are the ones who communicate effortlessly, almost telepathically and execute flawless maneuvers.

They have never-ending patience and always make thoughtful decisions. They’re the ones who see a spark in a foal’s eye and know there is something special inside. They are true horsemen.

True horsemen seem to rise above the rest of us with their keen sense of intuition, humility and ability to transcend what the human eye can see.

We can learn so many valuable lessons from these types of equestrians and apply them in our routines, habits and even personal lives. And, although we could never begin to cover them all, here are seven things real horsemen do differently.

Put the Horse First

A true horseman loves and respects the horse above all things. They put the needs and well-being of the horse first and tailor a program to match the horse’s abilities and talents. These riders are creative in their training methods, and they are deliberate in inspiring their horse to be better. They expect excellence, but not perfection, and never weaken a horse’s spirit or personality. They have straightforward, honest and tough conversations with owners and riders about a horse’s ability or physical health. Most importantly, they never compromise a horse’s dignity for success.

Understand the Horse

They don’t just observe or listen to the horse; they feel the horse. True horsemen can feel if a horse is nervous or tense as soon as they throw a leg over it. These riders can also feel if a horse is dropping their shoulder or not driving from behind. Successful trainers know when to push harder or soften their approach. They think like a horse and know how to respond in a way that a horse will understand.

Look at a Horse and See Things Others Can’t

They notice a wrinkle in the muzzle or the way a tail is swishing and immediately know if a horse is not feeling its best. These equestrians can also see a brand new foal jogging in the field and know it can be something great. A true horseman looks beyond the exterior of the horse and can see what is inside. Real horsemen look at each horse as an individual and tailor their approach to the horse’s capability and learning style. It is almost as if they become part of the horse themselves.

Focus on the Positives and Downplay the Negatives

A true horseman focuses more on the things they can control and less on the things they can’t. They enhance the natural talent in a horse and channel it in a positive manner so the horse can perform to the highest level of its ability. Talented trainers don’t dwell on or overthink negative attributes, but create pathways for the horse to overcome obstacles. By doing so, they set the horse up to be successful.

Have Impeccable Timing

Feel and timing are essential to creating trust in training. They are consistent with their cues, rewards and corrections and time them perfectly. Successful trainers are very sensitive to what they are doing and when they are doing it. They make sound decisions when training and never let their ego or own pride get in the way of progress.

Know their Own Limits

A true horseman has a special connection with their horses that you can almost see. They understand the horse’s mental and physical ability and know how much a horse can handle. These trainers know their horse’s limits, and they know when to stop pushing. They have empathy for their partner and never use force or over-train. They respect the horse as a highly trained, competitive athlete and understand that even the horses with the most heart and try, can reach a breaking point.

Never Stop Learning

True horsemen are never too proud to ask for help. They acknowledge their weaknesses and draw guidance from fellow equestrians. They look internally at themselves to see what they can improve on and make changes in their abilities to be better. These riders are always learning and are always hungry to be better partners with their horse.

Seem Better…because they are Better

These riders are better at listening and feeling what their horse is telling them. They do everything with a purpose and treat every interaction with their horse as a teachable one. They don’t just train horses; they develop them into highly accomplished, beautiful beings who want to work hard for them. True horsemen do all things for the love of the horse.

Portions of this article originally published April 2018.

About the Author:  Julie Hoefling was born and raised in Akron, Michigan, but now resides in Cave Creek, Arizona with her husband, Jerry. She works at Central Garden & Pet (Equine Division – Farnam) as a Brand Manager over grooming and deworming. Julie shows Bringin Booty Back In the Ranch Riding and L1 Amateur All-Around events under the guidance of Ryan and Andrea Kail.