If you haven’t learned something from a horse, you probably haven’t spent much time with one.
For those of us who are passionate about horses, it’s no surprise that they can teach us a lot about life outside of the equestrian realm. Even while they spook at the corner of the arena they’ve gone past 1,000 times, they (mostly) exude wisdom and patience beyond what many of us can understand.
We’ve talked about what we can learn from our horses before, but here are 10 more life lessons we can take from our horses.
1. Actions speak louder than words. Horses don’t care what you say — in fact, the words you speak mean nothing to them. However, your tone, your body language, your actions, your demeanor and your intent speak volumes. Horses pick up on all these things and react accordingly. No matter what you say, what you do is what stands out to a horse.
2. Hard work can pay off. When you work with horses, there are no days off. Whether it’s freezing or sweltering outside, horses still need to be fed and watered. Their survival is dependent on you being present and putting their needs first. The same can be said for training. Whether you are working on your horse or yourself, making progress is not a fair weather endeavor. Instead, you need to be willing to put in the work no matter what the temperature and what else you have going on in your life.
3. A lot can be made right in the world by a good gallop. Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The canter is a cure for every evil.” He wasn’t wrong. There’s just something about moving along with your horse’s smooth gait that is good for the soul. The same can also be said for the feeling of exhilaration that accompanies galloping through an open field. It makes you take a breath and let the rest of the world fall away as it — literally — speeds by you.
4. A little dirt never hurt. Sometimes, you’ve just got to get your hands dirty. Whether you’re working on a house project, mucking stalls or enjoying some time outside, getting a little dirt under your fingernails is sometimes necessary — and good for you.
5. Stay active. If you’ve ever seen a horse let off a little steam after some time in the stall, you know how important staying active is for the body and mind. Too much time in confined spaces — whether that’s in front of a screen in an office, holed up in your bedroom or a metaphorical confinement — can make you go stir crazy. So be active, stretch your legs and keep your body and mind engaged.
6. But don’t be afraid to relax. Staying active is important, but so is rest. Sleep when you need to sleep, blow off steam when you need to blow off steam and remember that a deep breath and a full body shake can lighten the burdens you carry on a daily basis.
7. Spend quality time with those you love. Horses know how to bond with their herds. They groom each other, they eat together, they sleep together, they just enjoy being with their herd mates. Okay, so maybe all that quality time would be a but much for most of us, but we can still learn a lot from our equine pals. Enjoy spending time with those you love. It doesn’t have to be a big affair, but make them part of your daily routines and let them know you care.
8. Not everyone is your friend — and that’s okay. Horses are excellent at establishing a hierarchy within their herds; it’s how they set up their entire social structure. In order to do so, they express their dominance or yield to those who show more initiative. They need are clear about who they are and who they do (and do not) want to spend time with. They learn to tolerate their not-so-savory herd mates, but they are always clear about who they prefer. The same is true for humans. Even though we ought not run around like stallions looking to take over a herd, we should still stand up for ourselves, express ourselves and remember that, though civility is necessary, we don’t need to be friends with everyone.
9. There’s no such thing as perfect — and that’s okay. Oh, you’re wearing a crisp white show shirt? Your horse will definitely sneeze or rub its green tinted slobber across your chest. You think you’ve nearly completed a perfect test? Your horse will spook at its own flatulence. You want to get the perfect photo shoot? Your grey horse will absolutely roll in mud and sleep in its own poop the night before. No matter what your idea of perfect is, your horse will find a way to humble you and remind you that perfection is not attainable. And, we need to learn to be okay with that.
10. You have to roll with the punches. Horses will keep you on your toes. Whether it’s a spook at a plastic bag or a maintenance issue you weren’t expecting, horses teach you to make do with the hand you’ve been dealt. You learn to find creative solutions to nearly any problem, that duct tape and baling twine can fix nearly everything and, if nothing else, how to keep your butt planted firmly in the saddle while everything around you turns to chaos.
What lessons have your horses taught you? Let us know in the comments.