There are times in relationship when you must step back. Get hold of yourself. Return eyes of accusation from whomever is bugging you to the mirror – and settle. Important relationships require you to handle frustration in ways that create win-win outcomes.
Horses push your buttons. Like people. Sometimes it’s purposeful, but it’s usually a simple emotional reaction to what’s happening.
“Trust me” is never as meaningful as BEING trustworthy.
I seldom indulge in emotionalism, whether positive or negative, with horses or people. Frustration and anger are poor leadership characteristics. Telling your horse, child, friend, or acquaintance to “Trust me” is never as meaningful as BEING trustworthy. Acting impulsively proves us liars.
But there are times when even the most laid-back or patient person feels the slow burn of frustration speed toward the boiling point. When I was first married I used an old-fashioned pressure cookers. The little rocker on top would rattle around as heat and tension built in the pot. I was a little intimidated, familiar with horror stories of the damage or injury when the top blows off a pressure cooker.
The same thing happens when we lose it around our horses. The instant you’re aware that your blood-pressure is rising, back off.
How to handle frustration with a Horse
A couple of weeks ago I got off a horse before the lesson was over because he was a complete idiot. My feet hit the dirt and I tipped toward irritation. I am shamefaced to report this, but I may even have said, “You have no idea who you’re messing with, buddy.”
While marching back to the barn for a longe line, I recognized my emotion. Stifled it, and figured out my next best action.The horse expected me to get after him as punishment. Maybe that’s what he’s used to, but it’s not my way.
I picked up my longe line, and started over as if nothing had happened. We walked back to the precise spot where he behaved badly and I asked him to —-
I asked quietly. Calmly. Free of emotion. Except relief, that I’d caught myself before engaging in wrong behavior. That’s the power of the Holy Spirit. Not proving that I’m all that disciplined, but that God offers that much grace when we earnestly seek it.
At first the horse didn’t believe me, bolting out at an uncoordinated trottish-lope. I went back to the very first step I used to introduce him to work on the longe when he first arrived. He walked, though he wasn’t sure I was sincere the first circle or two. You can tell how a horse feels just by looking, and he looked tight and skeptical, anticipating trouble.
“She’s gonna do something. It can’t be this easy.”
It was. Just that simple. The horse changed because I changed. In a few minutes, the horse who wanted to pick a fight was happy, soft, and obedient. No dust. No drama.
The lesson went longer than planned, but added strength to our foundation.
It was good.
The next day was fantastic.
When someone makes you angry or irritated, don’t take the bait
The next time your horse pushes your buttons, don’t take the bait. Don’t undo all the hard work you’ve put into the relationship. Live up to your promises.
Step back. Settle. Change your perspective. This is an opportunity!
Prove yourself trustworthy.
“I will never hurt you or leave you. We’ll work through this like we always do.”
Faith grows by challenge, never from ease. We are called to be Christlike – even with our horses.
Oswald Chambers wrote, “Watch spiritual hardness, if ever you have the tiniest trace of it, haul up everything else till you get back your softness to the Spirit of God.”
The horse must always win
Whatever you do,
- the horse has to win,
- your relationship needs to be stronger,
- you need to keep every promise you ever made.
Never react to your horse (or anyone else) in a way that burns a bridge, even if it’s only one inch wide and you have three more sturdier and longer bridges left. Every connection is precious.