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  • Elaine Sanders

The Missing Link

To me, owning a horse is an honour and a privilege. I feel blessed to have horses in my life. But owning a horse isn’t hard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy; there’s lots of work involved in taking care of a horse. But owning a horse is simple. Food: check. Water: check. Space: check. Take care of those three things and the chances are good that your horse is going to survive.

I think in the horse industry, we see this a lot. Horses are treated a bit better than quads and motorbikes. They’re taken out of the garage, paraded around, polished up a bit, then put back in the garage. Food: check. Water: check. Space: check. Yep, those horses are alive and healthy, but they are certainly not reaching their potential.

There is more to this than just keeping your horse alive, isn’t there? There’s got to be a missing link, right? Yes, there is. This is where horsemanship comes in.

Think of horsemanship as the heart of owning a horse. If food, water, and space is the head; horsemanship is the heart.

Now, when I talk about horsemanship here, I’m not talking about what whip you use, what kind of halter, what method you follow, if you get your horse to run in circles, or if straight lines are better. That’s not what I’m referring to. All that is the outer game of being with horses. Horsemanship is the inner game of being with horses.

True horsemanship is a bit more complicated than just owning a horse. You can’t just own a horse, keep him alive, then expect high performance, obedience, and relationship with him. It just doesn’t work that way. But with true horsemanship, the relationship, the obedience, and the performance just take care of themselves.

So what’s involved in this horsemanship? What are the first steps?

We’ll cover that in a second, but first let’s take a little side road.

This concept isn’t so different than other areas of life, is it?

Having kids is not the same thing as being a parent. Keeping your kids alive isn’t enough. Food, water, and school aren’t enough to create the mature, loving, successful human being that you want your kids to be. There’s a missing link.

Having a partner is not the same thing as being in relationship. You can’t just live together, eat at the same table, and watch the same tv shows and expect the depth, trust, and love that you so crave. There’s a missing link.

Having a job is not the same thing as doing meaningful work. You can’t expect to put in your time, punch the clock, do your tasks, and still feel a sense of pride, purpose, and enthusiasm. There’s a missing link.

So what is the missing link?

Here are 3 things to convert your “ho-hum” to “heck yes”, whether you are in the pasture, at home, or at work.

  1. Be the best version of yourself. Regulate your emotions, control your impulses, choose the high road, participate in what I call ruthless self-development. If your horse pushes your buttons and you feel impatient, be the best version of yourself and practice that patience. Constantly strive to be the best you can be. Not better than others, but your best.

  2. Bring out the best in others. Whether that’s your horse, your child, your spouse, or workplace, seek to enhance the good. Choose to be kind instead of right. Don’t judge, criticize, or complain. Draw out the best in others with endless support, encouragement and love.

  3. Live with heart. Avoid the attitude of good enough, what’s in it for me, or because I said so. Put your heart into everything you do. Listen from the heart, speak from the heart. Be light-hearted, whole-hearted, and kind-hearted. Bring the love to every situation you enter.

Sounds simple. It is. But it’s not easy. But trust me when I say that it’s worth it. When you are the best version of yourself with your horse, the relationship, the obedience and the performance sky-rocket. Because the horse wants to be with you and to perform for you.

Horsemanship is the inner game of developing yourself and developing the horse. It’s about drawing out your personality and the horse’s personality. It’s about growing your character and the horse’s character. Horsemanship is about relationship. Horse-(wo)man-ship. It is the process where you and your horse become the best versions of yourselves.

Think about the other areas of your life. What would they be like if you followed these three tips to applying the missing link? How might your parenting be different? How might your relationship grow? How might your place of work benefit?

You’ve had the missing link all along. It’s been beating in your chest this whole time.

With heart,

Elaine

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