We learned Awareness from the horse. They know how they feel, and they live in the moment. Their very existence has been based on the ability to stay ahead of situation.
“Teaching is demonstrating possibility, learning is taking ownership of the possibility.” Author Unknown
As we mentioned in the previous blog a clinic/workshop experience should leave you feeling empowered and able. Not set expectations for yourself that make you feel like you’ll never get there. We treat our human friends with the same level of respect, thoughtfulness, and acceptance that we would our horses, cows, dogs, and family.
There’s no need for you to have your horse straight up in a bridle, performing all of our aspirational intricate maneuvers, or even accustomed to cattle, to try something new or experiment with the next step in the progression; whether that be roping, moving cows, trying an advanced piece of headgear, or what have you.
There are a few factors that will help you to ensure that these experimental ventures will be fruitful for you and help you take ownership of the possibility.
Awareness, Empathy, and Presentation are foundation of Lifemanship, and you’ll hear them repeated and explained may times in our workshops. Today we’ll breakdown what Awareness means to us here at The DX Ranch and Project H3LP!.
Awareness, like the other concepts, has multiple levels. We constantly try to improve our Awareness. It’s a function of time and circumstance, but really it starts from within. How do you feel? Are you in this series of moments with your horse, or are you thinking about the bills you have to pay, or the rotten day at work, family squabbles, or the million other things that may seek your attention?
We learned Awareness from the horse. They know how they feel, and they live in the moment. Their very existence has been based on the ability to stay ahead of situation. I’ve been a victim of their better Awareness many times. About 5 years ago I was riding a real nice colt, helping a neighbor gather heifer pairs. I rode up to get a baby calf up, but I got too close, and put the baby calf in his blind spot, and got behind the situation when he reacted to the calf bumping him from an unseen position. Now if you listened to the podcast (link); you know I’m not, nor have I never been, a bronc rider. Consequently, a concussion and a broken finger further convinced me that my Awareness can continue to improve.
I was in that moment, my mind was on my horse and how well he was doing, and he was , but my Awareness of external circumstances was a bit lacking; i.e. calf in blind spot.
Awareness of our self, making sure we’re in the moment, giving as much of our attention as the horse is giving to us, can help us get to the next step. Empathy. After we next discuss the difference between aware and alert, we’ll dive into step 2 — Empathy.
Have you ever known someone with a horse that would consistently frustrate them with something they were asking, but someone more experienced might come along and get there with almost no extra effort? For me, it had to do with getting horses to be still, be with me. One time it was the horse that wouldn’t stand still when I had a calf roped.
You can hear a little more about that story on the Let Freedom Rein podcast. If you’ve already listened, you know it was Ol’ Nub Long that helped me through that. Same type of lesson, in totally different circumstances, I learned from his son, Dave “Daviento” Long when I was struggling to get better at saddling a colt. Dave is as good as I’ve seen at saddling a colt. Such a matter of fact presentation.
When I asked him about how he was able to get it done so smooth, he just chuckled (the same chuckle he still does when he repeatedly out ropes us) and said something like “There’s nothing to worry about. Either I’ve done enough to get him ready, or not, and he’ll let me know. If it goes well, we move on, if it doesn’t we start again.” Incidentally, I’ve never seen Dave make it look like anything other than saddling old reliable.
What Dave helped me realize 20 years ago, is that it was a lack of confidence on my part that it’d be alright either way. I had some confidence around horses but not a lot of experience in saddling a horse that wasn’t tied up. It was just a lack of confidence that it’d be alright. Once I understood that the worst thing that happened was that I go back and revisit a few things that would make my entire relationship with the horse better, I brought a lot less uncertainty to the encounter.
So how do we get that confidence? Odds are not everyone gets to be around as many horses as we get do; and that’s the surest way. This lesson helped us realize that by breaking a situation down to its component parts we can make things more achievable. If we can build confidence in performing those smaller, component parts, that confidence we build in ourselves can project through uncertainty.
In this video Jenn’s working on bridling a colt, and she shows some of the component parts for bridling. You’ll notice there’s no bridle in sight. Jenn is able to comfortably handle the equipment, the horse, and the situation.
Now, think about your situation that frustrated you. What could you do, short of handling a few hundred more horses, to get some more experience that you can gain confidence in? Have real world example you’d like some feedback on? Get in touch with us here, or better yet come on out to our inaugural horsemanship workshop at the ranch in May.
“We’ve been preparing for this for over 20 years. When we first got to see Ol’ Nub Long introduce us to his interpretation of what Hunt and Dorrance had been trying to show the world about horses; it seemed impossible that we’d ever have our own program to offer because there was so much to take in.”
We feel like we’re ready, and we’re excited to share the opportunity with you. And do we dare mention the week will end with an acoustic, private concert with Steve Turner Music – a Nashville recording artist?
Jason helped Zach dig into a bit about “the why” of how he became who is is. We hope you enjoy the podcast as much as Zach enjoyed sharing; Jason does a great job, and we look forward to riding with him someday.
We were fortunate enough to have Curt to the ranch in October of 2016, and boy was that a fun experience.
There are three types of pressure:
Driving Pressure, Drawing pressure and Maintaining pressure. Watch the video clip below for more – it works with people, dogs, horses, and of course stock.
This is is a demonstration Ron Gill got me involved with. The Fort Worth Stockyards is my favorite place to visit. There are great ways to entertain yourself in everything western, but the best part for me is the history. “The Herd” is a big part of keeping the stockmanship tradition alive with two cattle […]
Meet our 2016 ranch interns! We have a lot of Animal Science Majors this year, as well as an Equine Management Major (who isn’t in this video). Ranch interns learn halter breaking, riding, low-stress cattle handling, and we get them teaching each other what they’re learning as soon as we possibly can — so stay tuned for more videos!
This week we just took a few minutes to introduce you to them, and let them share a little about themselves. You can keep up with their adventures via our Facebook page, where they don’t post nearly as much as we’d like, but that also means they’re busy putting in 8-10 hour days with the horses, helping neighbors at brandings, and enjoying the scenery here at home.
The program is set up as an 8 week program, but can be as long or short as your university requires. We promise you’ll have fun and learn a lot!
Around here, we are all about becoming partners with our horses. We want our horses to “want” to help us. To “want” to be with us. To “want” to be bridled and go for a ride. So we take great care in helping them stay in that frame of mind. We get them get them good about searching for a release, and good about looking to us for support. Bridling made easy is part of that. We know that often people have trouble with their horses when it comes to getting them ready to ride. We also know how easy it is to get into a habit with your horse of just skating by, because you only have so many hours in your day and only so much time to spend with your horse. But what if, by spending that time, one or maybe two days, and not riding, you can help your horse, and in turn make your time with your horse eve more enjoyable? I’d say, sign me up.
Below, you’ll find a couple of ways we might go about getting them ready to be bridled and one way to bridle them. These are not the only way. These are just a couple ways we choose to do things.
Before you were to start either of the exercises below, you’ll want to make sure your horse is good about having his mouth/face/ears touched.