On Horses and Relationships

So Sunday night marked the end of my three year relationship with a wonderful individual I had met in high school. He had helped me through some hard times throughout freshman and sophomore year, but as this third year loomed closer, the strain of being in a long distance relationship began to seriously take its toll. It was a hard decision, but considering our relationship had become more of a friendship (I still consider him to be my best friend) we are slowly trying to feel our way across this strange new terrain and learn how to heal two broken hearts.

But the morning after the decision, my mom graciously offered to go on a ride with me, and boy did I need it. There’s nothing like a good horse for getting over a bad guy ( in my case I still had a wonderful guy in my life, although he was unattainable) and a perfect way to get your troubles in perspective is to simply spend some time bonding with these magnificent animals. Riding certainly makes me feel as though I can conquer my fears, challenge my insecurities, and triumph over my own sadness. Also, a great cure for some post-breakup sadness is to improve yourself. Buy a couple new tops, splurge on a new haircut or a relaxing facial, or even practicing that new movement until you and your horse excel at its execution. Horses not only remind us of how great we have it to be able to call ourselves a rider, but along they way they teach us some valuable lessons about knowing when to let go.

1) Some horses are set in their ways. Whether it be bad conformation that results in a bumpy trot, or some ignorant training that causes incessant spooking, some horses cannot unlearn these habits. While we love to hear stories about “the good girl who changed the bad boy,” such success stories are often few and far between.Don’t let your sense of romanticism (but he’s just the right color!) sway your decision in buying the right horse, just as you should not allow yourself to get swept off your feet by just any old guy.

2) The grass looks greener on the other side. I’m sure we’ve all seen the comical image of a horse standing in a pasture full of delectable grass, with his head wedged uncomfortable between the fence boards to grasp at the questionable shoots just out of reach. Not only is this behavior dangerous (the horse could scrape his face, rip the boards out, or become caught) it reminds us that sometimes while you may be wistfully thinking of how great it must be to be either single or with someone else, your own grass is just as green, or even greener. We need to remember to take care of our own pastures, and only then will the grass be rich beyond compare.

3) A treat can usually perk up the grumpiest old mare. Sometimes people (and horses) have rough days. Maybe your boss snapped at you or you spilled your coffee, or you tried to go sniff that interesting new horse and nearly got kicked in the teeth. Life just did not go your way. But it is important to remember that even when your partner, whether he/she is human or equine, is allowed to have bad days. You are a pair, and you are there to help your friend just as your friend should help you when you are feeling down. It is a constant game of give and take, and if you only give or you only take, your relationship will not work out. All it may take is a little scratch on the neck, or a kind word or two, just to remind your friends that you love them.

4) Know when to emergency dismount. This was a term I picked up in Pony Club. When all else fails, when the going gets tough and there’s no tough left to get going, that’s when you need to bail. You will probably earns a few bumps and bruises, but the danger of holding on is far greater than the potential for a scrape or two. You need to know when to let go, and trust that it will turn out okay. Thank you, Peanut, for making me particularly skilled in this aspect of riding. You made me a practiced faller, and now I have much less fear.

5) When you fall, get right back on. This is certainly the most cliched lesson, but probably the most important. What does your horse learn when he refuses at the jump, you sail off, and he is walked back to the barn and untacked? That when he refuses, he gets to go home. That is a terrible lesson to be teaching your horse, so unless you are truly physically hurt, it is so important to brush off the dirt, hop back on and finish what you started. And if you are successful, the feeling of accomplishment will wipe any any doubts you may have, but if you’re not, just keep on trying. You may hit that brick wall a few times, but eventually you’ll scale over it if you grit your teeth and commit. Just as if you go through a bad breakup, get back out there! You are a catch, and you ought to let everyone know it.