Eventing Nation: Being private investigators for our horses

“Every horse has a story, and it’s our job to put the pieces together in order to solve the mystery or to better articulate the way they are.” By Lila Gendal.

From Lila:

I have always been fascinated by detective and investigative work. I’m not entirely sure where this interest originated from, but nevertheless, untangling mysteries and problem solving has always been at the forefront of my mind. Perhaps this enthrallment comes from the nerdy, math side of my brain. I actually used to get excited when my high school math teacher would ask me to come to the blackboard and solve a calculus problem in front of the entire class. Like I said, I’m a definite nerd and proud of it!

Today while I was riding a new addition to my clan, I started to think about how riding horses could be seen, in some instances, as detective work. Who is this horse? Where did this horse come from? Why does she react like this when I do that? What makes this horse tick? What makes this horse upset, and why? How can I connect mentally with this horse? How can we become a team?

Arguably, every horse has a story, and it’s our job to put the pieces together in order to solve the mystery or to better articulate the way they are. Wouldn’t it be delightful if we could go up to our horse and ask them the following: Excuse me, why are you so miserable today? Or, where does it hurt? Or, what is it about THAT jump that you detest? Or, come on, can’t we just compromise, or can’t you just get on the damn horse trailer? Or, can you please stop spooking at the same tree you spooked at yesterday and the day before?

Valonia SBS 2013, taken by David Frechette

Valonia SBS 2013, taken by David Frechette

Yes, being able to ask our horses whatever questions we desire and to actually have them respond would be simultaneously hilarious and fascinating … but we can’t because that’s just not the way the world works. So, for now, we need to use our non-verbal forms of communication in order to have an unspoken dialogue with our horses, which is precisely where this investigative work comes into play. We need to get to the bottom of every story and be good detectives. No, actually, we need to be great detectives. We need to solve the why, the when, and we need to fill in all the blank holes.

Whether you have you raised your horse from day one, or whether you went out and purchased a 14-year-old event horse that has had six different owners, we are all attempting to communicate with our horses on a daily basis. We are trying to unravel their story, their history and their life. Getting acquainted with your horse can take a great deal of time, as we all know. But the better we know our horses, the more effectively we will be able to converse with them overall.

Whenever you become exasperated, think about how you would react if you were being paid to unravel a high-profile story. Think about the intrigue, and the mystery and how amazing you would feel once you started putting some of the pieces together. In the horse world, any unknown variable often has a negative connotation attached to it. People don’t generally like what they don’t understand or what they don’t know. The unknown can cause fear, anxiety and can be very frustrating.

And yet, these unidentifiable issues that present themselves in the horse world are practically daily occurrences, which is precisely why we must throw the fear, the anxiety, and the angst aside and start thinking of ourselves as private investigators, or detectives who need to carefully and thoughtfully put our horses puzzle pieces together.


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