R.E.S.P.E.C.T…find out what it means to me…?!

‘Respect’ is a bit of a buzz word in the equestrian and horsemanship industry, and in my opinion, it’s a word that is often misconstrued, and can mean very different things depending on which trainer you talk to. 

The dictionary definition is; 1. ‘a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements’    *or*   2. due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others’ 

For me, number 2 is the most integral when communicating with other living beings, horse, human, or otherwise.  

Often, you will hear some trainers, talking about ‘getting a horses respect’.  

There are a few trainers across the globe who may mean it in a potentially unpleasant way, some who mean it in the way I’m talking about in this blog, and others who don’t quite communicate how they mean it. 

For instance, I recently saw a video on a social media platform that got my goat a little, showing ‘Signs Your Horse is Disrespecting You’, detailing things such as a horse throwing his head up when being haltered, or showing distaste at having a girth tightened. Many of the things listed in that video were signs that the horse may actually be in some discomfort, and/or adequate communications lines were not present, and not, in fact, ‘disrespect’ from the horse. 

Horses are wonderful, amazing creatures, capable of learning and achieving incredible things, and ultimately, unless there is something very neurologically or hormonally wrong (or they’ve had a terrible human experience at some point in their lives) they are not out to get us, they are not looking to ‘disrespect’ us, they are simply responding to their environment, the communication they are receiving, and whether or not their needs are being met. 

For me, all relationships, across all species, should be based on MUTUAL respect and understanding, with a dash of empathy thrown in the mix also. Gaining respect through dominance, does not result in a solid foundation with horse or human, and can result in mistrust, stress, anxiety, ‘shutting down’ and inconsistent results.  

So, what about – rather than focusing on gaining a horse’s respect, we worked on establishing clear, consistent communication, and look instead, to gain their TRUST, and their FOCUS. 

What about – in moments of so-called ‘disrespectful’ behavior, we looked at the bigger picture, and asked WHY it was happening? Pain? Discomfort? Lack of understanding? Basic Needs not being met? Feeding routine?   

Often, there is a reason for the behavior, and it is up to us humans, to respect our horses enough, to look into why, and how, we can help them. 

Approaching your relationship with your horse in this manner, will result in deeper understanding, better communication, connection, and happiness and relaxation for all involved., with zero drama. 

Sounds like the perfect relationship to me…! 

What does respect mean to you? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Over and Out!

How are you showing up for your horse..?

As horse people and animal lovers, we inevitably look upon our horses as our friends and family. We give them hugs, tell them our problems, and if they’re lucky (or very unlucky in Snoox’s case) we might even sing to them too!

We can also, through no fault or thought of our own, show them sides of us we’d rather we didn’t.

Lucky for us, horses are forgiving creatures, and will do what we ask, more often than not, however we ask it, despite us not necessarily being ‘our best selves’, time after time.

What do I mean by this?

Well, I could mean afew things, but ultimately, when we show up and work our horses, and we’re tired, stressed, dehydrated, hormonal, emotional, or just had a really rough day, we cannot possibly give our horses the best versions of ourselves, and therefore we cannot expect our horses to give us ‘their best selves’ back!

Of course, I am not suggesting we should discredit how we feel, and I am not suggesting on days where we don’t feel great, that we should avoid our four-legged pals completely, because as I, and the rest of you reading this will know, horses have an incredible way of healing us and making us feel better (aside from the fact that not seeing them for two days because you’re pooped is impractical for many!) and also, exercise can make us feel great too!

What I AM suggesting however, is that we NOTICE how we are showing up to our horses on any given day, and we tailor our sessions to co-inside with that.

Sometimes, a simple fix will suffice before we get to work, for instance, have your basic needs been met that day? Are you hydrated? Fed? Rested? (More info on this in my free course) (shameless plug…!) Do you need to call a friend to talk over something that happened in the day to ground yourself or help your mind unwind? Do you need to have a quick dance/karaoke party in your car to your favorite ABBA song (no? just me?!) to unwind, dispel some cortisol and get some endorphins flowing?

Other times, when an easy fix isn’t available, it’s important to have an open mind, and be flexible in your working routine, so you and your horse can have an easier session with low expectations, including lots of downtime, where you can both just relax and enjoy each other’s company. For instance, for me, if its ‘that time of the month’ and I know I’m going to be hormonal, I know that I won’t have the patience or mental clarity that I normally do, so I’ll ensure our sessions are short and not taxing on either of us.

Now, for those of you concerned that your horse HAS to be worked because they are in some kind of fitness or weight loss program, fear not! There are plenty of ways to exercise your horse, without making your tired/harassed/’just not feeling it’ self’s bucket overflow. A nice easy walk, in hand, or ridden out and about in the countryside is a lovely way for both of you to get some exercise AND relax. You could go through some ground work basics, tackle some poles or obstacles in hand to engage your horses mind and body…the possibilities are endless if you open your mind to them.

The main thing, is that you NOTICE how you’re feeling, and you address it, for your own mental and physical health, and your horses. We are SOOOO conditioned into ‘just getting on with it’ which I know I bring up a lot, but it is because it is an ongoing theme that we need to quash, as a community.

‘Just getting on with it’ causes more harm to us and our horses in the long run, and stopping, noticing, and responding accordingly to our feelings and needs, AND our horses, is so incredibly valuable to us as humans, and to horses as our partners.

The Journey to Idyllwild, Part 1.

I thought it might be an idea for those who don’t know me, to revisit an article (a rather long one at that) that I wrote a few years ago for Equine Distance Learning, about my travels the last few years, which led me to finally settling back in the UK and starting Idyllwild Horsemanship.
I’ll be posting snippets from the article once a month, in between my usual whimsical blogs about present times! I hope you enjoy, we could all do with a little escapism to non COVID times I think, so grab a cup of tea and get your time travelling hat on, here goes!

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January, Winter Blues, and COVID.

It’s that time of year again. I swear January is the looooooongest month of the year, EVERY year. It’s the month when ‘new year, new me’ pledges are born, only to fizzle out a few weeks in, and the month when some (crazy in my opinion) people even say goodbye to alcohol for a month. It’s also generally a miserable month weather wise, short, gloomy days with long dark nights, and notoriously not the most fruitful financially, unless you sell face masks and hand sanitiser. And then of course, lest we forget, this year, as well as all of the above, in the UK we are living with yet another full lockdown, constant news stories of doom and gloom, and worries for ourselves and our families health, and finances, as the black cloud of COVID-19 *still* looms oppressively above us. 

  So where is the silver lining? Well, I’m the first to admit here, that I have continually struggled to find it so far this year. I suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder most winters, and January this year has not been the easiest to drag myself back into the realm of positivity. Luckily however, I HAVE managed to stay mostly in the light, and I thought in this blog, seen as though none of us are going anywhere fast at the minute, I would share with you some things that have helped me find silver linings, and keep pursuing goals for the rest of the year.

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Appreciation over Expectation

‘Turn your expectations into appreciation, and your whole world changes in an instant’ 

Tony Robbins

  Hello All, and Welcome to blog number two! I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas, and have made it safely and cheerfully into 2021…the year we have all been waiting for! (or let’s face it, any year that’s not 2020 will do juuust fine).

 As I write this, I’m sipping the last of my crimbo supply of mulled wine, watching Mavis sleep after a long wintery walk, and contemplating the year ahead, hoping and praying that things will get better for everyone in the next 12 months. 

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