Emotional Fitness – Working on being a better leader for my horse

Emotional Fitness - In order to be an effective leader for my horse I must be emotionally fit.
In order to be an effective leader for my horse I must be emotionally fit.

There are days that things just don’t go well. Even when we have all these techniques in our mind and can implement them well, we are still emotional beings, as are our horses, and emotions can take over.

Being emotionally fit is very difficult for me. I’ve had and handled horses all my life, but haven’t been doing Parelli for very long. I used to be “normal” in my horse handling. One of the rules that weighed heavy in my mind then, was that it was paramount that I win. In every situation I must win the game. Though at that time it was more work than play. It didn’t matter what the session looked like as long as I came out on top. Most of the time if things got tricky both the horse and myself would come back to the barn sweaty, tired and grumpy. I didn’t want much to do with that horse and I’m certain it didn’t want much to do with me.

One of the things that really drew me to Parelli was the idea that being with my horse could be fun, a game. Horses were always work for me. I would enjoy driving them or riding them, there was lots of laughter and good times,but when things didn’t go well or “right” it was all business and things could get a little ugly. I never beat my horses by any means, but I did win the argument.

My goal now is to keep our session fun. Even when things go wrong. That does not always happen and man do I beat myself up when I fall back into my old pattern. I have to remember that I spent 34 years doing it the “normal” way and only 2 years the natural way. It might take a little time for me to be totally consistent with my emotional fitness.  This is not an excuse for my behavior.  When I do fall back into old patterns  the best thing I can do for Billy and for myself is to stop whatever I’m doing and put him away. Just stop.  Don’t push through my problem and make it his problem. When I do that I can break down the trust that I’ve worked for 2 years to build up.

It’s important to remember that trust can take a long time to build and just a short time to break.

When Billy doesn’t do what I’ve asked it’s usually because he doesn’t understand what I’m asking. Sometimes it’s because I haven’t proven to him that I’m a good leader that day.

Escape comes from a place of fear or confusion. Disrespect comes from a place of contempt or disregard for me. Yielding to the pressure comes when he has respect for me.

When we are struggling or I feel I’ve lost some of his trust then I will spend some undemanding time with him. Undemanding time is time spent with him when I am not asking him to do anything. For me this usually means I take a book out to his pen and sit and read for awhile. I will sit in with him or just sit outside his pen along the fence. He will come and stand over me and doze when I do this. This time is very relaxing for both of us.  I think of it as a reset. I’m not frustrated or angry. I’m just quiet and relaxed. This puts both of us in a better frame of mind for our next play.

It can be easy to get frustrated with this process. That is why people quit horses. They get frustrated or scared and just walk away. To me, horses are my passion. Being a natural horse-woman is my passion. The journey and the process fascinate me. That is what keeps me from walking away.

I remind myself that the principles are more important then the purpose. The relationship must come before the goals can be met.

This journey is a process.

Always I remind myself to play with my horse, work on myself.


    1. LOL! i dabbled in it before with my andalusian… i used to be one of the biggest parelli nay sayers!! LOL isn’t that funny!? the thing is. i am mostly a stay at home mom, homeschooling and working only 2 days a week. i have the TIME to put into this program. i watch every video. sometimes 3 or 4 or 5 times. it took me 4 hours to watch the LBE part of the latest savvy club dvd because i was rewinding and rewatching all the little pieces and parts. i’m obsessed 😉 but i enjoy the studying, reading and watching. i don’t feel like any of it is a waste of time. and if i see something that will help someone else in their journey i LOVE sharing!!

  1. I can’t tell you how much I love this! I hope you understand that you are definitely not alone! If I fall back into any old habits, I beat myself up for days over it. It get’s easier as time goes on though thats for sure!

    One of my absolute FAVORITE things about Parelli is that it is okay to just put them away and wait for a better day. Being female, somedays I am not interested in anything and I don’t realize that until I am out with my horse. If I am not up to par, neither is my horse so I put them away or just groom and try again tomorrow. I hated the “you can’t let me win” and always felt so much pressure from that. My sessions have become so much more fun and laid back and I never walk away feeling frustrated like I used to. Even if I can’t figure something out, I know there is a PP out there that can so I don’t worry anymore ;).

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