What makes a responsible pet/horse owner? We recently adopted a dog with some issues and we are currently going through the trials of figuring out how to understand and work with him so that he can be a happy, comfortable part of our family. Well, one of his issues is escaping. Frantic, we were searching for him last night in the dark calling for him. Yes we found him, but, I had posted a message on our neighborhood app seeking help. I was told if I was a “responsible dog owner I would not be in this situation”. This got me to thinking… what makes a responsible owner? Here are my thoughts on the subject!
First, loving your horses or pets in general is a great start! Having horses is a huge responsibility and you must have the love and passion for them. Why? Because getting up an extra hour early to go feed them, bust the ice in the troughs and sludge through the mud to take care of them requires love! Trust me, labor is a major part of owning horses!!!! Fixing fences, doctoring wounds, cleaning up messes, taking care of tack, and all of the other things required to barrel race or just own horses requires the labor of love!
Next is determination. You have to have a mindset to get it done. Whatever it is. To ride, to accomplish your goals, to not getting run over at the gate…. you have to have determination! Trust me! When you have a 1300# Animal that is hungry and charging you for dinner, you MUST be determined not to let him/her get the best of you! To reach the maximum speed and have the finesse in your turns, you have to be determined to practice and figure out how to get there! It’s a long road full of bumps and bruises but you can do it! If you want too that is!
We can’t forget compassion. After all, you can’t have determination without having compassion! You don’t want to bully a horse. You want to seek understanding and figure out WHY they are reacting and how to work with that reaction to get a different reaction. They cannot talk but they CAN communicate. You have to have a heart and compassion to communicate with your horse! This takes time. This is not an overnight ordeal. You have to take the time to spend with your companion and figure out what makes him/her tick. Sometimes, just watching them interact with their pasture mates can show you a lot! Watching them eat can tell you if they have discomfort. Feeling them when you ask for a gait and feeling that it was different from one direction to the other can tell you where to look. It’s not about dominating your horse. It’s about taking the time to learn their individual personalities and what makes them tick.
Confidence is something, as a coach, we preach. But it’s not just self confidence. It’s confidence in your horse. It’s confidence in your training. It’s confidence that the 1300# animal that you love, will work WITH YOU and you can work with him/her. It is the most amazing thing to see… when a rider gains confidence! It’s like watching a flower bloom! It is also one of the hardest things to achieve! Letting your horse run in the alley and having the confidence in him to turn the barrel is so hard. Fear grips all of us! Finding out that you CAN trust your partner is the goal. Finding ways to achieve that single thing takes all of the above!
I started this post with the story about my rescue dog. Why? Because like a lot of horse owners, we don’t know their past. We don’t know what their previous owner did or didn’t do to handle their behavior. We don’t know if they were loved or abused. All we can do is watch them and learn what makes them tick. It takes time. It takes compassion. It takes determination. It takes confidence. All we can do is love him and pray that we can figure him out while providing him with a good home, good food, and a warm bed. So for now, we shall work with him to figure out why he jumped the fence last night and make adjustments! I hope this provided some food for thought! ❤️