Our Horses are our Best Teachers

Our Horses are our Best Teachers
Our Horses are our Best Teachers

Interestingly enough this quote has been in the last three books I’ve read.

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” ~Teddy Roosevelt

The last book was “Believe” by Buck Brannaman. There were so very many little gems in this book. I can’t possibly include them all here, but I can encourage you to pick up this book and read it. I have also read “The Faraway Horses” but must admit that I enjoyed “Believe” so much more. It comes from the heart and soul.

It seems to me that horses bring us to the very depth of our heart and soul. Searching for the best we can be. Even if it’s buried under years of confusion, anger, sadness, guilt. The horse will bring either the best or the worst of us out in any given session. The horsemen/women are the people who take a step back and realize what exactly it is in themselves that is causing any strife or resistance in their horse.

When we approach our horse with false happiness, false intentions, fake courage, they can see what is actually going on inside us. We can not fool them. They will push every single button they can to cause us to see the truth and then accept/admit what is going on. Once we can admit that we are feeling angry, sad, scared, things will begin to change between our horse and ourselves. It’s amazing how the relationship will evolve and begin to have wings at this point.

Honesty makes all the difference to our horses. Those of us that continue to enter that arena and face who we really are, while our horses effectively mirror us, are the ones that will ultimately have the lives we wish for. We will truly understand love, how it feels to give it and receive it from one that can not lie or deceive but can only live in the moment.

Our horses are our best teachers.


  1. Mindy, What you have written is very true. I wish to add one more thing. It is often stated that our horse is our mirror. I do not think that this is completely true. To be honest, my horse is BETTER, in some ways, than I am. He is honest and he ALWAYS tries. He NEVER knows self pity. There are times when I do not try as I should. There are times when I am not honest. There are times when indulge in self pity. I try to guide my horse in such a way so that if I were to die tomorrow, there would be many people who would want him to be their own horse. But if I were to claim that he was or is my mirror, I would be an arrogant fool. Penny Johnson

    1. i agree that our horses are better than we are! absolutely. and training them for the tomorrow is a great goal as this will continue to set you and your horse up for success. if you are only worried about “winning” today, it can be a disservice to the horse.

      it is my belief that when horseman say “your horse is your mirror” they are speaking about the emotional side of horsemanship. if i am going out to play with my horse and am not being honest about my intentions, i’m frustrated, sad, angry, then my horse will reflect my dishonesty back to me by not cooperating. HE will not be sad or angry back at me (though he may feel some frustration at my unclear communication) but he will have a difficult time reading my energy.

      horses innately want to be pleasing. unless they have been treated so unfairly by the human that all they can think of is protecting themselves or feeling fearful. billy has not felt that so he is constantly trying to please me, figure me out, do what i’m asking. if he doesn’t do what i said, then i have asked the question wrong!

      many horse people fall into the trap of thinking the horse is stupid. when they try to “train” their horses using gadgets instead of time and communication and when the horse rebels they call that horse stupid, untrainable, unmanagable. that horse is actually their mirror. it is mirroring THEIR inadequacies. but that kind of horse person will not understand this. though over time they may come around to a different kind of thinking.

      i truly believe that true horsemen understand when horses don’t do what they are asking, it is the HUMAN’S fault and not the horse’s. understanding this and understanding when the horse is being a mirror is key to being a great horseman 🙂

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