Maybe you can relate to this? You bought a new horse, so exciting! But after a while you notice that a lot of the things you used to do with your previous horse, you can’t do with your new horse (yet). You start to compare your new horse more and more to your previous horse. You start feeling like maybe your once-in-a-lifetime horse has come and gone already. And they don’t come around twice in one lifetime, do they? So now what? A few years ago, I was faced with the exact same situation. In this blog, I would like to share a few things that helped me in that time, and might help you too in a time of transition, which can be challenging enough in itself!
You are not alone. I struggled a lot with my own insecurities in that time of transitioning to a new horse. As a so-called ‘professional’ horsewoman I put a lot of pressure on myself. I should be able to do this, right? So why was it not working out? Of course it is so easy to say that these feelings of insecurity are not helping you, but it is still something I have to learn to work with on a daily basis. Don’t be too harsh on yourself, you are not alone. For more on why letting go of these emotions is so important, see point 4! 😉
Knowledge is power. Frustration begins where knowledge ends. So learn to look at your new horse, learn to understand its behaviour. Look for a trainer, course or instructor to help you with this. That way, both you and your new horse can grow together and build your own, unique relationship. And no, it will not be the same bond your shared with your old horse, but a completely new chapter!
‘Real change takes real time’. This is a great quote by renowned trainer Tik Maynard, who also explains that it may take up to a year to really build a solid and harmonious partnership. There simply is no replacement for miles in the saddle and the hours spend together with your horse.
Incongruence and authenticity. Continually comparing your new horse to your previous horse can become an issue. This is because horses react very strongly to incongruence versus authenticity, which means that a horse will notice immediately when your energy and the signals you send with your body don’t match up (incongruence). This is a very predatorial behaviour, and immediately puts your horse on edge. The solution for this is authenticity. You have to be able to feel free to be yourself around your new horse. Check whether you might be putting on a mask when you go to your new horse. Are you putting on a brave face, pretending you are more confident than you really feel?
This is the most important one! And finally, maybe the most important is to remember that it is OK if you have no ‘click’ with your new horse. I still sometimes notice a subtle taboo on selling a horse that we would do well to move beyond; that once you buy a horse it should be ‘forever’. But if there is no connection, just a lot of stress and tension, it is not only you who will suffer from it. It could lead to serious chronic stress in your horse. From a horse welfare point of view, maybe finding a more suitable home where the horse can feel more mentally relaxed might be a better way forward. In my work as a Horse&Behaviour trainer, I certainly see cases where continuing on and on when horse and owner are not right for each other is not necessarily in the horse’s best interest.
Do you know anyone that needs a little nudge in the back? Please feel free to share this blog, and let me know in the comments if you felt this was helpful for you!