Lessons from Facebook

I think Mark Z. and his crew have created a new algorithm for Facebook – a teaching algorithm.  That is certainly how it felt this past week.  It started with the news about horse sports getting worse than ever.  Dressage, the sport I loved, is turning into “Saddle Seat meets Western Pleasure” – hollow backs, flashy legs … and bring on the bling!  Then there is the news that the top riders are tired of being told that their performances don’t match the FEI rules (never mind they’re receiving ridiculously high scores), so instead of fixing the riding they’re calling for changing the rules to fit the riding!  Facebook also made a huge point that the sport I started in, Eventing, is killing horses at an alarming rate (one is sad, one a week is tragic!).  But then there was this …

“Ask yourself am I just working with behaviour or am I trying to build a relationship?” – Ben Hart, Hart’s Horsemanship

Thank you, I needed that reminder!  I have goals for myself and my horses, but at the core it’s all about the relationship.  The more the news of the sport world disturbs me, the less my goals will aim at competition.  But whatever we end up accomplishing, it’s the relationship and the journey that is important.

But Facebook wasn’t done with my lessons.  I followed another post on a journey that took me to this.

What I love about this is that the mare has the freedom to just leave.  This is not a round pen that keeps her trapped, it is a very large arena with many options for escaping the handler’s influence.  Yet, the mare stays and seems to enjoy herself.  They have found that magic connection.

Another video of the pair shows the results of this relationship, once under saddle.

This is clearly a schooling session, so some moments are better than others.  What I love is just how quiet the whole thing is.  The reins are soft in a way you never see in upper level competition.  But the true proof of what she has accomplished is in the moments that she releases the reins – look closely at the muscles in the mare’s neck.  That lovely, arcing band that goes down the middle of her neck is complete proof that the work is correct – and something virtually unseen in the top level horses, these days!  They are living examples of just what I want to achieve with my equine partners.

So, Facebook (with a little help from your pal YouTube), I have learned my lesson.  I could sum it up myself, but I don’t think I could do a better job than another post from Ben this week.

“Take the pressure of[sic] and enjoy the bloody journey, cut yourself and the horse some slack, you had a horse to enjoy and have fun so enjoy and have some fun.” – Ben Hart, Hart’s Horsemanship

Be good to your horses!


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