Winterizing Your Chicken Coop
December 30, 2015
Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs)
January 20, 2016

Life Lessons From A Horse

A new year brings new opportunity and resolutions. But before everyone gets caught up in what is yet to come I encourage you to remember the lessons learned from this past year and the years before.

I have been fortunate in my life to have a many great mentors, teachers, and leaders in the community. But as I sit here and think about the life lessons and learning experiences of the greatest importance to me I find that more times than not it is animals that make the best teachers. I do not remember the speech from my high graduation, nor the dire warnings from my driving school instructor, or the majority lectures of my college professors. But I will never ever forget the first time I was bit by a dog, thrown by a horse, or found myself between a cow and her calf.

Animals make the best teachers because their punishment is swift and exacting; but their forgiveness even swifter and more absolute than that of a person. They do not make excuses for people nor coddle them; Pat Parelli, a well-respected horse trainer puts it this way, “If your horse says no, you asked the wrong question or you asked the question wrong.” And if you continue to make the same mistake around an animal it will continue to exact the same punishment; although very few people make the same mistake around an animal twice, as Benjamin Franklin puts it, “Those things that hurt, instruct”.

I’d like to share a few of the lessons taught to me by horses that have left the deepest and most lasting impression on me (pun intended); and I think you’ll find they apply to much more than riding a horse. And perhaps, just maybe, you’ll want to go into your new year with them in mind.

  1. Keep your eyes up; where you look is where you end up: The fastest way to meet the ground is to look at it and the fastest way to reach a goal is to never take your eye off of it.
  2. Just because you can jump a fence going south doesn’t mean you can jump it going north: Overconfidence is a bane; stay humble and keep working hard.
  3. Challenging horses are the best teachers: If every ride was perfect and every horse well behaved you would never become a better rider. Embrace the challenges; they are helping you to grow.
  4. Cowboy up: It happens. People fall off horses. It is not the falling off that matters it is the manner and attitude in which you get back on.
  5. You are never too good to wear a helmet: Always wear a helmet; life happens too fast for you to think you can predict everything. A safety net is a must.
  6. It’s not about the ribbons: Winning a ribbon is not the goal. It is understanding and appreciating progress. Knowing how far you’ve come from where you started and being content with that knowledge is the true mark of a winner.
  7. Respect should be mutual: It needs to work in both directions; you respect the horse, the horse respects you, and no one gets hurt.