Tag Archives: horses

Talking about horses again

So where I ride, there’s this one horse I want to talk about a bit. His name is Stitch. Stitch is fairly old, fairly creaky and stiff, and does not have a huge amount of energy. He won’t win any races or fly over jumps, and when riding him you can’t push him too far because he just only has so much in him.

And it’s SO WEIRD to write about him that way. Because at my barn, that’s just not how we talk about horses. We don’t bother to spend time talking a lot about what a horse can’t do, because we understand that every horse has something that they *can* do, and that’s what we focus on.

Overall, we do not rely on horses in our society the way we did in the past. We don’t really need horses for our everyday lives. Yet even so, there are still a solid number of tasks out there for horses to do. There are pulling horses, jumping horses, running horses, barrel racing horses, therapy horses, dressage horses, and probably more. Many of those jobs cannot overlap, so a horse that is very good at one job would be terrible at another. We, as horse people, understand that it would be absurd to choose one arbitrary standard by which to judge all horses, so we don’t do that. We don’t even talk about how we should not judge horses that way, because it is a non-issue for us.

So at my barn, when we talk about Stitch, we talk about his strengths. And yes, he does have them. We’ll talk about how he’s sweet and kind and gentle. We’ll praise him for never losing control and being disinclined to spook. We put beginners and brand new riders on him, because he is a wonderful lesson horse, taking things slow and gentle for people who are first learning. He’ll carry disabled riders in his role as a therapy horse. He is very very good at those things.

It just makes practical sense to find each horse’s strength and focus their job around that. To do anything else just be, well, ridiculous.

So why is it so hard for us to do that with people?

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Lessons from riding

Relatively early in my blog I wrote a post about ways horseback riding was helping me. I was feeling a need to put everything in concrete, quantifiable terms and I wanted to relate everything I wrote about back to Asperger’s in some way. Since then my thinking has evolved and broadened, and so has my blog. So I figured I’d throw together a brief list of more general lessons I’ve gotten from my horseback riding. (To be fair, I’ve gotten similar lessons from my time spent rock climbing, and from crafting. I imagine anything you do to really challenge yourself would apply)

When you mess up, you get to learn.

When you mess up, you get to practice correcting.

Really, messing up is just a great way to learn new skills in general.

Sometimes things are scary. They just might also be awesome.

Getting it right doesn’t matter nearly as much as continuing to work and try.

You’ll pretty much never get it right on the first try. Keep at it.

Improvement is incremental. Be patient.

The pace you learn at is the pace you learn at. Don’t compare yourself to others – just keep on working and learning and doing the best you can.

If you’re not messing up, you aren’t pushing yourself forward (or more succinctly: fall trying).

Get back on the horse. Always get back on the horse.

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