We’ve had the opportunity to work with some new people and horses over the past couple of weeks. That’s always a thrill for us because not only do we have the opportunity to share some of our knowledge with someone new, we have the chance to be exposed to different ideas. When we did a lot of day-work on neighboring cattle ranches, we saw a lot of different ways to work cattle and use horses. It was a great way to see, in practice, ideas that might work for us. Whether we learned what we wanted to try or not to try in our own operation, the ability to experience ideas was invaluable to our education.
Continuing to educate ourselves beyond the walls of a classroom and a formal education is one of the great things about life. It’s a life choice. We can either stay stuck in our ways and ideas or we can venture out beyond our comfort levels and experiment with new ideas and methods of doing things that are important to us. Amy and I have gotten to the age and stage in life where we’ve experienced quite a bit. We’ve found things that work well for us by doing lots of things that didn’t work as well. It has been a blessing to be able to work with, for, and around lots of different people doing lots of different things. Those experiences have helped us develop into who we are and what we do.
One of the endless debates in the horse community is about whether the front end or hind end of the horse is more important to control. As our teacher and mentor Tom Dorrance used to say, “it depends”. As in a lot of things in life, if we get too focused on one thing, other things will suffer. Amy and I try to keep track of the whole horse; mind, body, and spirit. By doing that we become more aware of what happening before other things happen. We continue to develop a feel for our horse and become less mechanical. We’ve discovered that there are times when the hindquarters are more important than the front end and times when we really need the front end to get a job done.
The more we all understand how horses see, think, and react to things, the better we can prepare ourselves and then our horse for the jobs we will do with them. If I understand how my horse needs to move to carry my weight and do what I need done, I can help him to get balanced within his body so his feet can move how and where they need to go when they need to go. If my horse and I fail to stay balanced in our job, we’re likely to be working against one another. If I’ve educated my horse to the job we are doing and taught him to stay with me and stay balanced, I can let him decide what part of his body is more important for getting my thing done his way.
So, if you’re caught in the debate over front end versus hind end, don’t fret over which end is up. Instead ask yourself if you’re considering the whole horse and the jobs you will be doing together. Our bet is that you and your horse can find the answer together. And, if you need some help figuring it out, we’d be happy to help!