The simple act of placing a halter on your horse and leading it may be taking you both closer to or further away from partnership. Do you know where you are taking the two of you?
Placing a halter on a horse’s head and leading a horse is such a simple thing that we often do every day. But it is perhaps a little like chess; it appears simple, but is an art form in disguise. To do it well takes time and effort, focus and good attitude. From us, not the horse. It is perhaps one of the most neglected parts of horsemanship. I regularly see it done poorly, rarely is it done beautifully. The majority of us are leading our horses away from partnership, rather than towards it.
That word partnership. What does that mean? Just doing it together? Or doing it as partners, like in a dance? Where both you and the horse want to be there, doing precisely that together in that moment of time, and feeling some small joy glowing within you in the process. Imagine getting some small joy together just by using a halter and lead rope. Imagine your horse wanting to do that dance with you, rather than submitting to it, or putting up with it, or resisting it, or not understanding it. Imagine it being a dance rather than something that gets you from A to B, is a drag, or a fight, or which simply has no connection in it. Something which leaves you and the horse both yearning for a connection you know is there but somehow are missing.
So, how do you go about putting a halter on a horse? Is it a play between you of communication both spoken and non-verbal, of desire to be together, to go do something together, of affection and loving respect? If it isn’t, wow, you are really missing out! You and your horse both could be getting so much more out of this simple thing.
And then the process of walking with your horse is another bucketful of opportunities for play and dance together. Oh, hang on, you say you don’t walk with your horse? What do you do then? Are you one who walks off and expects a horse to follow, and maybe gets a wee bit annoyed if it doesn’t? Ah, one of those “the horse must do what I tell it, when I tell it, and it must always be paying attention to me”. Wow, your life and the life of your horse could be so much more joyful! For why on earth would we be a parade colonel when we can dance and play with fun and love?
Your horse knows how to dance, or it once did. You could help it to learn that dancing is not just allowed, it is encouraged. And you could learn that too. Because what do you want to lead your horse and you to? Parade commands, or a loving and joyful dance?