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Parenting and training horses: More alike than you would think.

They both teach you more about yourself than you probably want to know. Both children and horse’s have the ability to bring out the utmost best in someone and also the downright worst. You find happiness and sadness. You find peace, and sometimes, even anger. They both possess the ability to make you feel like you are on cloud nine and also that your world is crumbling in around you.

You find out about how you control your moods, emotions and thoughts. With both kids and equines, you realize quickly if you have a short fuse or if you are a push over (at least I hope that you realize this in a short time frame). With your children, do you find yourself yelling at them often? Would they say that you go from, “zero to hero” frequently? Maybe you are the opposite. Do you have to ask your kids to do something ten times before they think about doing it?

I can ask you those same exact questions about yourself in regards to you working with your horse. While working with your horse, are you too quick to discipline or discipline too harshly for a mistake on the horse’s part? On the other hand, maybe you allow your horse to get away with many little “things” until those things build and become something large that could have been prevented. How about whether you are a micro-manager or if you allow them the freedom to make the wrong choice? Both humans and horses force us to look at how we think and act.

In order to parent well and train horses well, you need to forget about YOUR wants and needs. This is DIFFICULT! You need to forget about the emotional baggage that you have carried with you through life....and you need to leave it outside the house and outside the arena. Or maybe it’s the baggage that you have acquired in the past with a specific horse. The only thing that matters in parenting is the child themselves and the only thing that bears weight in working with a horse is the horse. The child's wants, needs and emotions are priority. How the child perceives you and his life is what is important. Along with the horse's wants, needs and emotions being forefront. Too often, Scott and I run across this problem with horses and their owners as well as with students and their parents. Horse owners want their horse to perform well in a specific discipline but the horse does not have the correct mind or sometimes physical ability. Parents want their child to perform at a certain level, ride a specific discipline or compete at a specific level but the child has other wants or needs.

Every single horse is different and embodies individuality. This is the same for every child. Training techniques and methods that work well for one horse, may fail miserably with another. While children are learning, some may soar as visual learners while others may struggle learning new material visually. Some horses are stubborn and will require you to change your, “ask” frequently, while others are more reactive or sensitive. We have found this to be eye-opening truth with even our two boys. They are so incredibly different in how they learn, how they respond to certain situations, etc.

While working with horses and their humans, Scott and I will often relate them to children or youth. Be sure that during your next training session with your horse, that you pay close attention to how the horse is perceiving you and know that they are responding according to YOU. YOU are there to guide them to the correct choices. Remember that when parenting your child, you need to do the exact same…you need to see yourself from above and make sure that you are setting the example of an appropriate leader and being a source of guidance.

My own boys and horses have taught me so much about myself that I am grateful (I think) every day. They have taught me to feel when my anxiety is creeping up and how to prevent myself from, “falling down the rabbit hole,” as Scott calls it. They both have taught me to be selfless. That I CANNOT put myself first. Both have taught me that it is okay to walk away and think, versus bearing down for a fight or blowing up. My humans and horses have shown me more forms of love than I could have ever imagined. I would like to think that both have played an enormous role in helping to shape me.

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