Lately, I have been asked the question: “Do you really reward your horse all the time?”
It might sound like the answer is obvious, but I think it is a beautiful question. Indeed it is the core of horsemanship that is at stake and everybody should ask it.
Relationship with horses should imply heart and soul.
Clinic 2012, Buck Brannaman
I took note of this quote by Buck Brannaman because more than all the technical tips he gave us during the clinic, I was struck by the truth of these words. I can simply not consider spending time with a horse without being entirely dedicated to it. That does not mean purchasing the Flicka toolbox, braiding the mane and feeding it sweets. That means being here for your horse, considering its needs, preserving its peace of mind and physical integrity of course. But that’s not enough.
The feeling has actually to do with the tenderness we feel for our beloved ones (parents, children, family and friends). If we own horses, ride them or simply spend time with them, it is because we like that feeling of being close to them. Those who expect only prices, fame and success from their horses miss the best part of this relationship.
Most of us are afraid to express love toward horses, we refuse to our equine partners what we grant to dogs or cats. How many times did you see a rider tapping manly his or her horse’s neck when he or she is happy? Why does not this rider resolve to show his or her affection? Petting a horse, caressing it to make it feel good, to let it understand how happy we are should be a natural reaction.
For those who think more practically, just consider the fact that a horse’s skin is very sensitive. The whole body is covered with tiny nerves and muscles, so they can feel a fly landing on their hair. On the other hand, a gentle rubbing is the equivalent of the gesture a mare gives to her foal…
Of course, you should avoid this kind of gesture if your horse did something wrong, then you should offer some difficult exercise, something that is not comfortable. But for all the rest, the real question is: “Why the heck would you prevent your horse and yourself to enjoy such pleasant moments?”