HI Spy: Lessons Learned

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Running Horses
When you decided to get involved in horses, you probably assumed you would learn how to ride and maybe a thing or two about equine care. It’s true that the horses can teach you as much as your human riding instructor, but they can teach you much more than just how to ride.

Horses teach patience. If you try to rush to the finish line of a training goal, you’ll likely find yourself having to redo it, and it will take twice as long the second time around. Horses teach us to be focused. If you let your mind wander while you’re working with horses, there is always one who will take advantage of your inattentiveness. They teach us compassion. Treat a horse with aggression and you’ll get an unpleasant experience every time you get in the saddle, but treat a horse with kindness, and eventually it will pay off.

This month, we want you to tell us the most important lesson you’ve learned from horses. Tell us about the one horse that brought you to a breakthrough in your riding or how your involvement with horses in general helped you learn a valuable life lesson. Click “Submit a Comment” below and share your story. Some of the answers may be selected for a future issue of Horse Illustrated.

One selected response may be selected by the editors to win a monthly prize! If you would like to be eligible for the prize, please include your email address in the comment form (email addresses are not publicly displayed.)

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70 COMMENTS

  1. My green-broke Quarter Horse Toby taught me how to be patient and understanding of everyone else’s needs. If you mess up in his training he has a way of showing it, telling you you rushed something, which usually means going back and redoing it. And understanding because he may be nervous about something I’m not, and i have to understand that not everyone feels the same way i do.

  2. Horses have taught me a lot! However mostly they have taught me that anything can happen at any moment! If somthing can go wrong horses will find it and it will go wrong. always be on your toes

  3. Horses have taught me to take things as a joke sometimes! If you have a minor fall off your horse, laugh it off. If your horse does something funny, laugh at him! You don’t always have to be strict with your horse. If you laugh things off, it makes an embarrasing moment a whole lot better.

  4. I rode a 4 year old ponys of america when I was still learning to ride. I was bucked off and I didn’t want to ride that horse anymore, but my trainer told me to get back on and show her who the boss is. I was in tears I was nervous, but I worked her a little longer. I learned that after a horse was bad you can’t just let him got, you have to show him that it was wrong and that you are the boss.

  5. The most important thing I’ve learned around horses is to have the ability to laugh at myself. I used to be so serious, but humility is a virtue when involving horses. Now I can laugh at myself, take some criticism and move on.

  6. Probably the most important thing horses have taught me is the ability to love. Before horses came into my life, I didn’t know what it was to truly love something. But ever since I’ve gotten my new horse, I’ve learned what it means to care about and share a bond with a living creature. Maybe that’s part of the reason why so many people love American Quarter Horses!

  7. The most important thing I’ve learned from horses is patience.99.9% of the time,if they do something wrong,there is a reason,and if you have patience,they will tell you what’s wrong in their own horsey way.

  8. Forgiveness. I fell off my horse numerous times and was scared to get back on. One time I was lying on the ground because I hurt everywhere! My horse came over and sniffed me. It made me smile and I hugged him. Another time was when we did a demo. We practiced for months ahead of time and he could probably do it with his eyes closed, but the crowd scared him so he didn’t do it right. I was a little bit sad and upset with him, but it was his first demo so we got over it quickly. Another lesson is to always get back on. I rode my horse bareback and bridle-less for the first time a while ago. He got scared, galloped and I fell off. I hurt my arm, back, and my bum, and got an assortment of bruises. I didn’t get back on and I really regret it to this day.

  9. The most important thing that my horses have taught me is patience. When I’m frustrated because they aren’t slowing down on the lunge, or refusing to cross a puddle, or jigging down the trail, I’ve learned to take a deep breathe and remind myself what happened the last time I lost my temper; it took longer to reach my goal the next time. Then I can calmly solve the problem. The patience that I’ve learned with my horses has also helped me in other areas of my life.

  10. I would have to say trust and bonding. A few years ago I started riding this horse name Felix at my riding barn. He is is(was) known to be on the spooky side and I have to say that I have ridden through many of his freak out moments. Over the next year or so I becan to notice a change in him. He was less spook prone (shall we say) and he responed better. We began to build a bond that grew. During this past year I became a helper at they barn where I ride and I got the opportunity to ride with another instructor. Though I still learn alot from my main instructor the other instructor I ride with has really helped me. She taught me things I didn’t even know were a problem with Felix (like why he would always hold his head up high). She’s been working with me and Felix to get him to relax and be more submissive and help me be a better rider. Through all of this I was able to really bond with Felix and him to me. I learned how to understand horses more on basic body language; how you can tell when there tensed and wanting to play or be in control, or when there relaxed and allowing you to be the leader. Through all of this I would have to say that Felix has helped me see and learn how to communicate to make me a better rider, and most importantly to understand how to successfully comunicate with him and all horses.

  11. The most important thing I have learned from horses is to forgive and forget. They don’t keep grudges and by doing that they normally all get along. Whenever I do that it builds my relationships with people. I’ve also learned to have patience and don’t get frustrated.

  12. I’ve learned to forgive and to allways work hard. My horse will go till he drops, just for me, and it has taught me many things.:)

  13. The most important thing that i have learned from horses was from my horse Blaze. He taught me to never give up on my dreams, to never quit trying no matter how hard it gets. That’s a lesson everyone learns at one point or another.

  14. I have learned to trust them and to love them. Without trust my horse won’t trust me and we aren’t a team any more.

  15. The most important thing that horses have taught me is to hop right back in the saddle if you fall. One time I didn’t get back on, and I lost all respect from my horse. Another time I fell, I got right back on, and everything was fine. This dosen’t just apply to horses, it also applies to your whole life. If you make a mistake, learn from it and try again. Horses can teach you a lot…you just have to learn to listen.

  16. The most important thing I’ve learned from horses is to never give up. It’s tough to stay tough when it gets tough, but it all pays off in the end.

  17. The most important thing that I have learned while riding horses is always expect the worse. So when something bad happens, you can say hey, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be!

  18. The most important thing i have learned from horses is to expect the unexpected. Whether its good or bad you have to respond correctly and be prepared for whats going to happen next. I still make this mistake frequently and I know that tons of other riders and horse owners have as well.

  19. The most I have learned form horses, is patience.
    I used to just want to learn quick and get done with things.But horses have taught me to take it one step at a time. Now, I am a better rider.

  20. I think the most important is humility. Its going out I public with a piece of hay in the hair, you smell like the barn, horse sneezes on you or must manure stains somewhere. You pick we have all had it happen.

  21. As a kid who was bullied all through school, I had zero self-confidence. My horse gave that to me. He taught me to believe in myself and I will love him forever for that!

  22. I have learned that you should never put a clean horse in a muddy field. It’s a lesson every horse person comes across, whether it is the day before a show or right after you give them a bath. Something about a muddy patch of ground draws every horses’ attention. 🙂

  23. I’ve learned not only patience but also perseverance. My horse has come a hugely long way with these two keys, and I’m not about to stop either.We all know that ” practice makes perfect,” and this is what I try to live by when working with my horse.

  24. I have a shirt that says it all “a horse doesn’t care what you know until it knows that you care” found this to be so true with my horses. I have had to be really patient with a couple of my horses and although they are mostly pasture ornaments they know they are safe and love, that no one is going to harm them while I am around.

  25. Horses have taught me that you can not accomplish a dream overnight but that by working hard and having perseverence you can do anything. I am working hard to compete in the equestrian olympics one day.

  26. my horse has taught me to be very patient an i have learned that it takes two. if you have patients then that horse will be more willing to work with you .they can tell when you are upset an they can tell when you are hurting in your hart. i have taught my horse to give me kiss’s when i am upset.she is the best thing that has ever been in my life.she is the first thing i see in the morning.

  27. “Know where you’re going and be all there.” For example: In training I need to know what kind of response I require of my horse and myself and not get distracted by other things. In riding I need to know where we are literally going and make sure I communicate that information clearly to my equine partner. In ownership, I need to be sure I understand where horse ownership may lead (i.e: what kind of lifestyle), and make sure I will be ok with where it may turn out. In short: just “know where you’re going and be all there.”

  28. My horse has taught me patience, dedication, determination and bravery. She has taught me to love unconditionally, through all her faults, and to forgive, for the mistakes she has made. And most importantly, I have learned how to get back up when I fall down 🙂

  29. My horse experiences have taught me that I dont have all the answers and I dont know everything. They have taught me how to be a more patient, caring person both in and out of the round pen.

  30. My horse Shawnee taught me that a kind word and a pat is much more effective in getting her to do what I want than harsh words and a yank.

  31. My horse has taught me many lessons, but the one that stands out the most is to never give up and always keep having faith no matter how bad things look. He has severe navicular disease, and has had many other complications resulting from his navicular. He is now pasture sound, but no matter how bad he was hurting, even when he couldn’t hardly move a step, he always kept his zest for life (and for food!)and always wanted to live. I’m so thankful he never gave up!

  32. My horse Katie has taught me that I don’t have all the answers and don’t know everything. She has taught me that getting frustrated gets me and her nowhere, as it makes her confused.

  33. Sometimes people refer to me as a “self-taught” rider. This is far from the truth. My horses taught me nearly everything I know about riding and so much more. I learned just by spending time around them in the pasture, watching the herd and studying the many temperaments and actions our herd made. I watched others ride. Finally, when I began to ride, I moved up from the oldest horse in our pasture, gradually, to the youngest of the colts. Horses have taught me cadence, rhythm, and how timing (in life) is everything. They have a great effect on me and, they calm me and bring me to a state of peace. I have found over the years that the most frustrating issues in my life can simply be curried away or pounded into the ground by four galloping hooves beneath me. Thank God for horses.

  34. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that you have to show a horse who is boss. Once you show them you will have the best relationship!

  35. One of my favorite lesson’s taught to me was that winning isn’t everything… All you have to do is give it your all, and at the end of the the victory in your heart is much more than a ribbon, trophy, or even money.

  36. The most important lesson I’ve learnt from my horse(a 5yr. old paint)has been about the simple things in life. Give love, recieve love back. Offer companionship, you’ll never be lonly.Patience has it’s rewards when given with a little treat.Keep the mind stimulated and feet moving and most importantly have a little fun in your life everyday.

  37. The most important thing I learned from horses is perseverance. You can’t fall off once or twice and then just give up.

  38. Horses have taught me to not give up. I’ve always heard that, even before I got involved with horses. But horses have really made me experience it. Working with horses and riding can be frustrating,and sometimes you want to give up. But if you keep working at it, the results will make you proud that you kept at it. Horses teach you to be patient, and keep working and you will be pleased in the end.

  39. My horse I ride, Chloe, taught me that if you give up, you will end up on the ground. Physically, and theoretically!

  40. Horses have taught me many things including patience, trust, and perseverance. They have also taught me to work hard, make goals, and have fun!

  41. In March of this year, I attempted suicide. Through therapy sessions, I realized that horses had kept me going through bullying and anxiety as a child, so I decided to re-enter the horse world. I have been working as a groom and riding again and it is more therapeutic for me than any of my therapy sessions or even my medication. Horses have taught me how to feel good again, even if it’s only for the few hours I get to spend with them. Horses are teaching me to live again and I think that is the best lesson I could ever learn.

  42. My horse I ride, Chloe, taught me that if you give up, you will end up on the ground. Physically, and theoretically!

  43. My horses have shown me that their only as smart as their rider, and you can’t get frustrated at them when they don’t do what you expected when its your own mistake.

  44. My horses have taught me that you will never fall off until you think you will. As long as you know nothing bad will happen, nothing bad will happen.

  45. Through riding I have learned to be patient.
    If you become or are patient you can achieve your dreams and goals. Sometimes it is better if you just hold off on that long wishlist and be thankful for what you have for it might just come to you if you wait.

  46. Through riding I have learned to be patient.
    If you become or are patient, you can achieve your dreams and goals.Sometimes it is better if you just hold off on that long wishlist and be thankful for what you have, for it might just come to you if you wait.

  47. Owning my mare has taught me to SLOW DOWN. Slow down in learning to ride, slow down in training, slow down in my life. Nothing good can happen if we rush.

  48. Working with horses has taught me to never ket go. Never let go of hope, always keep faith. Never let go of those you love, because if you do, you may never get them back. Never let go of you standards. Most importantly never let go of the reins. In taking the reins we take on a journey that is worthwhile.

  49. I began a renewed love affair with horses almost 3 years ago after a childhood of unrequited love. I had no experience with real horses; just toy horses, fence posts for riding, string on my handlebars for reins on my pretend horse, and an occasional pony ride. But an opportunity presented itself the night before my 59th birthday, and my passion was ignited. Now, at the age of 61, I own my first horse and ride every chance I get. The most important lesson I’ve learned from being around horses and now,having my own horse to love, work,and play with is that you are never too old to make a dream come true!

  50. I’ve learned the lesson of patience. When i started riding horses i was very impatient. But over time i learned to be patient and take my time especially when dealing with horses.

  51. What I’ve learned from horses are:
    1. Forgiveness
    2. Patience
    3. Love
    Horses are also VERY addicting!! You always fall in love with one in particular but they never cease to amaze me!

  52. I learned quickly that horses are a whole lot smarter than they look. I believe they are the smartest animal you can have. They always surprise me how talented they are at escape or getting into food.

  53. I learned quickly that horses are a whole lot smarter than they look. I believe they are the smartest animal you can have. They always surprise me how talented they are at escape or getting into food.

  54. With horses, I’ve learned to NEVER underestimate either yourself or your horse. The sky is the limit, and we should keep it in mind, whether we are questioning ourselves and our abilitys or anything else. Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars is what they say. Muster up the faith to get there!!!

  55. I’ve learned to be more willing. My 23 year old gelding jumped an 18inch crossrail all because he is willing enough to listen to his insane rider.

  56. My horse taught me trust and attention. I can’t count how many cows I’ve missed because I didn’t see what he was looking at.

  57. My horse has taught me how important sensitivity and trust are to being a good teammate. Horses make the best teammates because of how sensitive they are to what another is feeling and and how much they are willing to trust beyond anything. Horses can’t speak but they are very good at communication, we just have to be willing to learn how to listen and how to be worthy of trust.

  58. The biggest thing that I have learned with my experience with horses is that if there is no bond of trust and friendship between you and your equine partner then it is 10 times harder to try and achieve your dreams.

  59. I learned that horses are the best animals on Earth and that they should all be treated with outmost respect and care, and most importantly LOVE! That’s why, whenever I ride horses, I try to praise them as much as possible to show that I care about them.

  60. I’ve had many close calls with horses throughout the years. But with every experience, I’ve learned important life lessons. The best thing that horses have taught me is patience and acceptance. Every horse is unique and leanrs at a different pace. When teaching and working with horses you must be willing to give them your full heart and help them every step of the way. Horses cannot read minds, and neither can you. Learn to slow down with the heartbeat of your companion and accept him for who he is. Teach him about doing things together as a team and he’ll show you all the importance of life.

  61. my horse taught me that the harder you try the less likely they are to do it also to relax and not worry about what might happen or what happened not to get angery over what happened but forget it and focus on the present and last to mot get fustrated but to try again until you never get it wrong to persever

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