100 Things Horses taught me

I grew up always having a great passion for horses. My mother has always been around horses, since me and my sister were very young.

We started young, and when we moved over to Portugal, a horse was promised. My dream came true. We were going to have our own horses at home. The desire to learn more, was constant. 

And after my study, horse rescue crossed my path. In the last 3 years, we rescued over 50 horses.
These horses have taught me many things. Because they keep on teaching me, I decided to make a list of 100 things the horses taught me.

  1. Horses are great teachers of self-awareness – one needs to be self-aware to train horses
  2. Energy is the base of horse language – are you nervous? The horse will be the first to reveal it.
  3. Horses are the mirrors to our soul – whoever has been around horses has feld this.
  4. Language doesn’t matter – they might not understand our words or language…
  5. Details do matter – small actions can have a big impact. Ever saw a horse spooking?
  6. Tone of words and our actions do matter – as with people, the same applies for horses.
  7. Intention is more powerful than words – many horses can read our intentions as no one else.
  8. Trust is key – horses are willing to do almost anything when trust is established.
  9. Size doesn’t matter – they don’t realize how big and powerful they are.
  10. Our energy shows our real size – they respect and trust depending on what energy you show them.
  11. Positive teachers, have happier students – positive reinforcement has great impact on the way horses learn.
  12. Learning goes quicker with curiosity – ever saw a horse trying to escape? The curiosity levels up to unpredictable levels, and the horses how to escape.
  13. Be a good friend – for sure your horse has taught you to be a good friend.
  14. Support over all – in a herd, horses support each other, guarding each other, but also scratching, finding places to drink and eat.
  15. Show love and affection – horses show loads of love and affection in their relationships with friends and family.
  16. Be a good listener – listen to your horse, don’t push too far.
  17. Horses have this incredible ability to live in the moment – How happy even a horse with the most terrible past can be, just with a new green field.
  18. Acceptance is key for happiness – as soon as they accept a new situation, they are happy about it.
  19. Be non-judgemental – ever rode a horse the wrong way, because of the bad warnings received?
  20. Set boundaries and respect the boundaries of others – we all have our limits, people and horses, respect them.
  21. Reset your own boundaries to learn – never say never – as horses teach us on a daily basis, we need to reset our boundaries.
  22. Don’t spoil or be overprotective – being overprotective doesn’t mean a horse or human will listen to you.
  23. Be honest to yourself – re-evaluate yourself, or you will fall in the illusion you are better than you are. Before you know, you fall of a horse.
  24. Be genuine – With horses, what you see is what you get. They seek authentic connection.
  25. Becoming a lifelong learner – horses make me realize, I’m a forever-learner.
  26. The risk is worth it – learning with horses, means you will fail, and improve, and that’s worth it.
  27. Find a balance – I believe horses made me a more balanced person, more aware of where I stand.
  28. Horses transmit serenity – after a bad day, there is no better way to recover your serenity, than to sit with them at the end of the day.
  29. Approach others with respect and awareness – every horse or person is different, and will have different reactions on your approach.
  30. Be aware and realistic – with horses you always need to be aware of things that can happen that can injure your horse or yourself. 
  31. Overcome fear of inferiority – when a horse knows it’s superiority in hierarchy, most likely he will take advantage of it.
  32. Overcoming fear brings empowerment – ever felt proud after doing something with your horse that you feared?
  33. Overcoming fear will help you overcome intimidating situations in life – the overcoming of fear has been a great tool for myself to deal with unexpected situations.
  34. Have self confidence – trust in yourself, or you will not be a good leader for your horse
  35. “Fake it till you make it” – with horses, be self confident, or pretend it
  36. You are able to manage and manipulate your own self confidence – horses taught me that I can manipulate my own self confidence if required
  37. Not being self confident leads to exploitative behaviour – even horses take the lead if we don’t show them enough self confidence.
  38. Horses help us improve self confidence – by taking the lead if we don’t show enough self confidence, they teach us how to improve our self confidence.
  39. We can affect confidence of others – ever saw someone being to harsh on a horse, they quickly feel unworthy. 
  40. Don’t be dictatorial or bossy – if you are to bossy or dictatorial to your horse, quickly he will feel helpless.
  41. Do trust others – without trusting your horse, you will show you are unworthy, and exploitative behaviour can be expected
  42. Trust can be built – some horses trust from day one, but others are so traumatized, and still continue to work on their trust.
  43. Trust can be broken – one action can destroy trust. Respect each horse’s boundaries.
  44. Know when and when not to trust – we can trust everyone, but not for everything. Horses teach us, to listen and read behaviours.
  45. Be a good leader – being around horses teaches us to become a better leader.
  46. Be a respectable leader – a horse leader is no leader if not respected.
  47. Be clear and determined – If you are not clear and determined about what you expect from your horse, you will most probably not receive what you expect.
  48. Being a good leader isn’t about intimidating – intimidating a horse, makes him slowly losing confidence in you.
  49. Being a good leader is about being the best partner, transmitting trust and clear communication – being your horse’s leader is more than just friendship, it’s the ability to guide him with our body language.
  50. Never forget a flick of a horse ear can move a whole herd – for horses it is very important to understand what they can expect from you.
  51. Be grateful – horses are very grateful animals. They show us a way to wholeness.
  52. Never expect others to be grateful – what is nice for you, doesn’t mean it is nice for the horse.
  53. Never take anything for granted – every experienced horseman, has probably been bitten or kicked. Accidents happen, don’t take anything for granted.
  54. Learn to forgive – with horse training, it’s essential to be able to forgive any undesired behaviour.
  55. Don’t blame – before you blame your horse, you should re-evaluate if you are communicating well and being a good leader.
  56. Don’t be to Resistant – sometimes being too resistant with your horses, can make them defend themselves. Try to communicate in a different way.
  57. Accept differences in boundaries – horses don’t understand our words, they might also not understand your clues. Accept they all have different boundaries
  58. Change takes time – repetition and improving the horse exercises, is what makes most change over time.
  59. Change takes patience – not all horses learn at the same rate, have patience, every horse is different.
  60. Good habits take a lot to acquire – good habits on horses are created with repetition, improving and change over time.
  61. Be driven enough –  if you don’t really want to do, why should your horse want to.
  62. Do your best – being around horses is all about focus. On what do you focus? Hopefully doing your best for the horse.
  63. Keep it interesting – Don’t do boring work with your horses to keep them interested in doing it for you.
  64. Bad habits are easy to create – giving treats to your horse all the time? Before you know, you have over-spoiled horses, nibbing your pockets.
  65. Good and bad experiences lead to certain habits – some horses find it hard to leave their past behind and keep forever traumas.
  66. Don’t try to solve problems with anger – most horse problems can’t be solved with anger, the more anger you show, the more frustrated your horse will be.
  67. Solve problems by communicating – with horses, best is to keep calm, and make the horse understand there is no problem at all.
  68. Problems are here to challenge us – when your horse stresses, you are challenged to keep calm, as you don’t want the horse to feel your stress.
  69. Think of the solution and not the problem – when a horse stresses, the first thing I think about is how am I getting him calm.
  70. Problems are there to be solved – we are constantly learning to react to unexpected situations. If we don’t think about how things will be solved. We most likely end up on an uncontrolled horse.
  71. If you fight, expect revenge – when a horse is in distress, it might want to fight or flight. Hopefully the horse chooses flight, but don’t forget some might just fight.
  72. Be prepared for betrayal – when you least expect it, your horse gets over excited with some other horses. And “forgets” about the rider. Betrayal happens anywhere.
  73. Too high expectations, lead to disappointments – expecting too much of your horse, can lead to miscommunication and distress.
  74. Be kind – horses teach us to connect our minds with our hearts. Be kind to a horse, and most likely you will receive kindness back.
  75. Be interested – horses have a gentle way of showing what our personality is.
  76. Don’t be too docile – a relationship with a horse is about setting your own boundaries, so they can be respected, if you are too docile with a horse, most likely those boundaries will be disrespected.
  77. Control your emotions – horses teach us to control our emotions.
  78. Be brave and calm – ever imagined leading a horse without braveness and calmness?
  79. Nothing works all the time – horses are no robots, and even robots get bugs sometimes. There is no technique that works all the time.
  80. Nothing works for anyone – each horse is different and might need a different approach.
  81. Stressful times shows personality that you didn’t know were there – horses are very unpredictable and specially in distress.
  82. What others become under pressure is revealing – sometimes you trust a horse to the moon and back, but what happens under pressure, will tell most about your relationship.
  83. Who we become under pressure can be eye-opening-  your reaction in a stressful situation tells a lot about yourself.
  84. Hard work pays off – it’s totally worth seeing how much your training pays off after some time.
  85. Be humble – every horse, every life is different, what’s easy for your horse, might not be to another. Be humble, as there is no right or wrong.
  86. The path to get somewhere is just as important as actually getting there – the small improvements in a horse during training, are as important as the final result. And very gratifying.
  87. Some days are not your days – horses also have good and bad moods, as we do.
  88. Accept, laugh and move on – horses teach us greater acceptance, which makes us happier and stronger to move on.
  89. Think ahead – being a great horseman is about anticipating, and not letting “shit happen”.
  90. Be wise – your actions have impact, in both your horse, and ultimately your horse. Act wise to succeed.
  91. When you fall down, get back up – this is one of the hardest lessons learned, but so true. When you fall down, get back up, or you will give up.
  92. Take responsibility for your actions – having one, two, or twenty horses requires huge responsibility. Their welfare depends on you.
  93. Do what you love to do – horses continuously remind me how much I love them, thus I will do everything to give them a better life. 
  94. Have fun – never but never forget, these incredible horses can give us so much fun, and that learning having fun is more efficient and enjoyable for both rider and horsen
  95. Work together not against – your horse is your friend, your team mate, not your poppet.
  96. Be positive – a horse problem today, doesn’t mean the end of the world.
  97. You decide for your reactions – horses teach us how to be brave in difficult situations. The brave reactions we sometimes have are ultimately your choice.
  98. Your happiness is your choice – losing a horse you love, makes you realize, you are the one who chooses to be happy about having had that horse in your life or feel endlessly miserable.
  99. “The more you know, the more you realize you know nothing.” – everyday I am surprised with how many things I have learned and am still learning with horses.
  100. Horses teach us to be better people – I consider that I have learned to be a more balanced person with the help of the horses. 

Horses keep on teaching me so many impressive things and make me realize in real life, I should apply the same. This list of 100 Things the horses taught me is inspired out of rescuing horses in need, which made it possible to meet so many incredible beings.

Horses are great examples of how more people should be, more genuine and thankful.

I would love to ask everyone to help us rescue more horses by supporting our rescue work.

Donate today,

Thank you,
Femke Irik

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