Be A Champion For Your Horse
To really be your horse’s best friend you must be willing to be their champion. You must be willing to fight for them, to put their needs ahead of your own desires and to be uncomfortable, if that’s what it takes to watch out for them. In the domesticated world we take the responsibility of survival out of their control and we take on much of it. They rely on us for water, shelter, food, the ability to have companionship and for safety. We get to decide who handles them, who trims their feet and what vet treats them. It is therefore our responsibility to ensure they are physically, emotionally and mentally cared for.
Furthermore to truly care for these incredible animals we must step out of our human agenda and look through their perspective. Horses don’t care who the cheapest or trendiest farrier is. They care about being treated fairly and having a good trim or shoeing job. They care that they know what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Horses all have individual personalities and it’s important for them to be treated as such.
Over the years I have heard so many people say to me, after their horse has had a bad experience at the hands of humans, I knew it didn’t feel right but I didn’t know what to say or I was scared to say something. When something doesn’t feel right that is the time to be a champion for your horse. That is when you must put aside your own discomfort and speak up. Even better before you enter into a relationship with a trainer, farrier, groom or barn help be clear on how you expect your horse to be treated. And then be accountable.
By accountable I mean set your horse up to succeed. My mare Isabella was a highly sensitive mare that had almost no handling until she was two and a half. She got tense when someone raised their voice at her, never mind raising a hand. I was always very clear to all that were handling her that she was not to be treated roughly or with anger. At the same time I was clear on what her behaviour needed to be to keep the other person safe. When I wanted her to have a positive experience with the farrier I was clear with the farrier of my expectations from her and from Isabella. I worked on picking up Isabella’s feet prior to the visit. I chose for the first appointment to be in an area where she was most likely to relax and where she could still see her pasture mate. When she moved or pulled her leg away I made the appropriate corrections to teach her what behaviour was acceptable and what was not. But I did so in a way that was safe for the farrier, safe for Isabella and safe for me. Being a champion for Isabella was not about what was easiest or most comfortable for me. It was about how to help her stay safe and happy in the domesticated world, no matter who was handling her.
So as you enjoy your horse on these spring days please remember to look at life from their perspective and be a champion for their success!