It’s January 4th and my mailbox is overflowing with emails about creating New Years Resolutions, Visions for your Horse and Planning for Equestrians. Fact is, most horse people don’t know what they want, let alone knowing what their horse really wants. How to figure out what you really want and stick with it so that you can say in December 2023: “This is what I created in January and here are my results.”
- Pick a goal that makes your heart sing
- Connect it to your values
- Include your horse’s wants and needs
Does it makes your heart sing?
If you think about your goal, do you really wish that you’ve already accomplished it? Can you really see yourself doing it? Can you feel how it feels?
Don’t worry about that you don’t know yet all the steps in order to accomplish it. That’s what you’ll figure out in the next 12 months. Once you’ve determined a clear goal, you can take the next step.
Your Equestrian Values
When you connect your goals to your equestrian values, you’ll align your dreams with your goals.
If it’s important to you that your horse enjoys riding as much as you do, you’ll have find a way to know for sure how your horse feels about your time together. If he doesn’t like it, you can find ways to help him change his mind.
You can do that by accommodating his wants and needs, based on his natural behaviour. When people change from coercive methods to offering choices in training, listening to what their horses are communicating and using positive reinforcement to strengthen their 2-way communication and trust, horses start to enjoy their training/riding more.
If your horse still hates to be ridden, would you be able to give up your dream of riding? Can you find a way to change your dream into spending time together in a way you both enjoy? If riding is more important than (the value of) honoring your horse’s feelings you don’t have to worry about how you can make it more fun for your horse.
To me riding has no value and isn’t an addition to my life if the horse I’m riding dislikes to be ridden. Therefore many horses won’t make it to my ‘riding horse list’, but the ones that do… oh my! They are fabulous to ride! They love it! You can feel it! You feel how it feels to be in harmony with your horse. Even if that would be just one ride a year, I would choose it over weekly rides on horses that ‘sit their time out’ under saddle. How about you?
Do you know what your equestrian values are?
Being unaware of your equestrian values can get in the way of accomplishing your dream results! When I was still following a well known horse guru, I finally got the results I was always dreaming about… My horse was listening to me. I taught him so many new behaviours. I felt safe and in control, but…it just didn’t feel good…
Why did I stick with Natural Horsemanship for so long? Well, the negative reinforcement training (coercing my horse), was actually very much positive reinforcement for me: I got the results I was dreaming about! What was missing? The part in which my horse loved our time togethers as much as I did. My training results felt colourless as long as my horse didn’t have fun. That’s when I started to let go of negative reinforcement training and fully emerged myself into positive reinforcement.
What does your horse want, in 2023?
This is very much intertwined with your equestrian values, when you’re the person that really loves horses and want what’s good for them. If you would accomplish your dream goal and you hurt your horse in the process, would it still be your goal? Of course not!
Becoming aware of what your horse wants, is therefor a very important part of making your 2023 vision! Build your dreams and goals around his natural behaviour so that you will be happy, because you know your horse is happy!
For instance, I believe that horses in general love to trail ride, because they are natural nomads. Their nature is to spent time in nature and being with the herd (hack out with friends).
If your horse doesn’t love it, because he’s herd bound, how can you help him overcome his (innate) fear of being alone and vulnerable? How can you show your horse you will be his guardian that he can trust to keep him safe? How can you help him more confident without his equine friends, so that he’s love going out with you. That’s how you can help your horse start loving your trail rides, so you can be independent of your barn friends’ schedules to ride.
If your dream is not natural to your horse’s behaviour, ask yourself how you can make it a better fit.
Riding in an arena might not be part of his natural desire or behaviour, but learning is. Exercising is. Spending time with an individual he loves, is. Having choices and feeling in control is natural to horses.
Implementing these important things for your horse into your arena time, will help your horse enjoy your time together more. He will start looking forward to it. Change your horse’s aversive triggers in the arena into appetitive ones. That’s a hot topic for many clicker trainers and our main focus in our clicker community.
Now you can create a vision for you and your horse for 2023 that’s based on your dreams, and your values in a way that respects your horse and let your horse shine.
If you want a little support, join my free class “Creating your Equestrian Vision Board for 2023”. Register with the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIufuyhpj0vHtCgsrAOSh9EcImibPG_Tw0t
Need help clicker training your horse?
Are you a compassionate horse owner who wants to build a strong friendship with your horse? Would you like to understand your horse better and help your horse to understand YOU better? Get access to many online clicker training courses and a fabulous, supportive R+ community in our HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy. Check out the link!
Not sure? Start with a free clicker training assessment to get taste of what it feels like to work with me. When you have a specific struggle that you want to overcome, don’t hesitate to contact me. In this assessment you’ll discover what’s holding you back from accomplishing the things you want with your horse. After our conversation you’ll know exactly what to do, in order to move forward towards your goals.
Happy Horse training!
Sandra Poppema, B.Sc., founder of HippoLogic & HippoLogic Clicker Training Academy
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