Monday, April 19, 2010


The other day, Linda Parelli posted a blog entitled, "It's not about the..". My sense of what she has written is that in any given situation, no matter what the human has identified as a "goal" for the session, any need that arises in the horse takes precedence and must be addressed before moving on. This is the essence of good leadership with a horse.

Here is a direct quote from her blog,

"So here’s my advice: Put your horse’s needs FIRST. You put them before what YOU want to do or accomplish, but you start by asking your horse to do something because that is what leads to the conversation or recognizing that you have to attend to your horse’s need. Know also that those needs are usually of an emotional nature – fear, trust issues, boredom, etc."

Here is another important quote,

"So that’s how it comes back to you. It is YOU that will need to overcome your judgement about your horse’s action, your impatience, your direct line thinking and making your agenda more important than your horse’s needs. When you learn to do that consistently and without having to fight your own emotions, the changes in you will be felt by your horse… and you’ll make it up the next rung on the ladder of becoming the kind of leader your horse deserves. It will also increase your confidence because the more a horse trusts you, the more trustworthy he becomes too."

I agree with her 100%.

However.. What happens when the horse's needs continually derail the needs of the human partner?

I could tell you from my experiences with Smokey and Parlay, however Pat Parelli says it best!:

"I think there are two major reasons why most people quit riding and many get out of it altogether within 5 years.

1. The 6 F's: fear, frustration, feeling like a failure, lack of fun therefore lack of funds.

Running out of purpose and reason."

I like to propose that when a human is seeking partnership with a horse in order to meet some of their own needs (for fun, success, confidence, progress, etc.) and yet these needs are continually being overridden by the horses various needs -sometimes for years - then it is imperative for the human to seek an alternative way of having their own needs met!

If our needs as humans are not being met, in the long run, the human will be unable to continue to provide for the needs of the horse due to "The 6 F's." This puts the humans future as a horseman at risk.

Fortunately, we humans have options for meeting our needs. The first step is to identify what they are. For many of us, but certainly not all, riding is at the top of the list. Other needs could include "safety", "interaction", "affection", etc.

Once the humans needs have been identified, action can be taken to meet these needs such as:
  • acquiring an additional horse (buying, leasing, borrowing) either temporarily or permanently
  • finding a better-suited home for a horse that you already own
  • swapping a horse with someone more advanced than you
By finding alternate ways to honor and address our own human needs, we can ensure that we continue to be available to provide for future horses, and can often progress our existing horse-human relationships by being able to become less direct line in our thinking.

Our needs are important too! :-)

PS - I posted a comment on Linda Parelli's blog about this topic, and she responded. Click here to read it!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Amen! That was my issue with Cricket at the end of last summer. The frustration and lack of fun was making it hard to justify the funds. Thankfully we found a way through the rough spot and are doing well.

It's important to put the horse's needs before our needs. But that doesn't mean the horse's needs are more important than ours. And sometimes that means finding that horse a more suitable home. I'm impressed by people who can do that. I guess my stubborn streak matches the stripe on Cricket's back and we're just going to duke it out together :o)