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Joy In the Journey: Exploring the Horsemanship Adventure

When I was a kid, I used to get excited every time I saw a horse in a field, saw a horse trailer on the road, saw someone riding as we drove past them, saw the police horses on the beach, just any time a saw a horse.  Now that I’m an adult, well it honestly hasn’t changed; I still look at every horse trailer to see if there’s a horse in it.  Even though I have my own farm and horses are a daily part of my life and my career, I still have that sense of wonder and awe every time I encounter their presence in my life.

It wasn’t until I was in the fifth grade that I actually started to have regular lessons and had that ability to have horses in my life on a weekly basis.  I was beyond thrilled to go to the stable and have my lesson.  I learned skills, I progressed, I began to lease and show and establish goals.

I still loved my horse time…but the moments of frustration and my “human-ness” sometimes interfered with the process.  Things didn’t always go according to plan, my horse didn’t always behave the way I hoped or wanted; it wasn’t the Black Stallion running to Alec on the beach with music playing in the background.  I wanted the vision and the reality sometimes led to impatience, disappointment, and a lack of grace and understanding on my part. 

Fast forward to now; I am teaching others and STILL in the process of refining my own horsemanship.  One of the things I find myself telling students (and reminding myself) is that you need to “enjoy the process”.  Horsemanship is a journey that doesn’t really have an end because there is always something more to learn.  There are plenty of stops along the journey to enjoy achievements and special moments but they are just temporary places to relish before moving on.  There is so much JOY in the journey if I can appreciate all the opportunities to grow, learn, puzzle solve, gain new understanding, and expand my horsemanship circle.

Each new horse brings its own personality and uniqueness to teach me things I didn’t know before.  Things I thought I had “nailed down” suddenly open to whole new layers of realizing I “didn’t know what I didn’t know” and the journey takes a new turn.  I have the choice to get bogged down in the “are we ever going to get there” mentality or find the delight in observing my horse’s interactions, being fascinated about the changes I need to make in me, and seeing where curiosity can lead us. 

The paradox is that the more I take time to find the joy in the journey, the more quickly I seem to accomplish those goals and the greater understanding for both the horse and myself.  Frustration, irritation, impatience, and the like really have no benefit either for me or for my horse.  There are always the days where the negatives creep in and I fail to recognize them right away; they are a learning experience of a sort, I could put them the file of “what not to do”.  If I really want the positive progression I seek with my horse, however, I am going to be searching for the joy in the journey with an attitude of expectation, humility, and openness to the possibilities that show up.

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