Home > Trip > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2013 > Daily Dispatch #95

April 5, 2013: Our Horses, Our Teachers

I wish I could lay claim to this title, but I can’t. It is a title of a book by Alois Podhajsky, who was once the director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. He used it describe what he believed to be the “ideal” in horse-rider relations. I read this book as a child. I need to read it again.

Think about it – this sort of attitude on the part of the horse owner/trainer/rider/caretaker brings out the same sort of attitude on the part of the horse. Horses really enjoy teaching us. We figure something out, and they are happy. For example, the attuned student hears the snort, which takes the form of a display of affection.

Raudi and Tinni passing the ghosts

Yesterday I spent a better portion of my day (and it was the “better” portion) thinking about this, and finally I realized that this is fundamental to my philosophy of horse training. Treat horses with respect, and like they know something, and they will respond in kind. I just put that in bold because it’s maybe the most astute statement I’ll ever make. Maybe it occurred to me because it was something that I think most TTeam advocates would agree with. (An aside – I finally did get TTeam status. I’m pleased. This makes me feel like I might know something. Was I deserving of this? I’m not sure. I had to do my case studies at the distance. I would have done better if there were other practitioners close by.)

Anyhow, I got Raudi out. “We” took Signy and Hrimm for a walk around the lop. Raudi would not trot, I admit, I nagged her some about this. Then I decided that I’d wait for a surge of energy, and then encourage it. We came to softer, firmer and less icy ground, and indeed, she did trot. Could it be that the harder, icy ground has not been to her liking? Had she considered it to be unsafe?

We also came upon (I nearly wrote “encountered”) a neighbor flying a kite. I nicely asked her to reel it in while we passed. She then took it in hand. Raudi saw the kite, raised her head high, and swiveled her ears back and forth. Signy held still, waiting to see what would happen next. Hrimmi ran ahead, over to the kite carrier, and nosed the kite. Raudi then walked up to kite and when I said touch, touched it. We then thanked the kite owner for her time. I walked on a bit, and Raudi stopped. I looked back and saw Hrimmi following the kite carrier. Raudi, I think, was waiting for her.

All this (and other telling incidents) have me wondering. Perhaps Raudi isn’t the ditz that I’ve considered her to be; but rather, she is a very, very smart horse. I, as her student, should be in awe of her.

I’m quick to sing Signy and Tinni’s praises, by calling them my number one riding horse. In this respect, they are very good teachers. But the truth be known, my best teacher is Raudi.

One thing (of many) that I’m now focusing on is breath. For example, I now take three deep breaths before making decisions when things aren’t going the way I want them to go. It’s difficult because I just want to get on with whatever it is I’m doing. This is because I’ve been lead to believe that I’m at the top of the food chain and therefore call the shots. However, I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’m a part of an interconnected web, that is one in which I am connected to the other creatures on the planet.

The term teacher is actually very hierarchical in nature, implying that one or the other of the pair is in charge. Hmm. I’d also like to think that I’ve also taught Raudi and the others a few things. We don’t have a word in our language for those involved in collaboratively-related synergistic learning. And I can’t think of one. Too bad. I’m going to have to give this matter more thought. Right now, the one that best fits what I’m getting at is co-learner. Time now, to giddy up.

Next: 96. 4/6/13: Horses and Owners as Co-Learners