I recently finished two books by Crissi McDonald, a horse trainer and clinician who lives in Colorado with her husband Mark Rashid, who wrote the previous books I read. I had a theme.
I think they are self-published, but the quality is quite good. She must know a good proofreader. The books are Continuing the Ride, in which she talks about recovering from a bad injury from a horse accident, and Getting along with Horses, which talks about how your attitude can affect your experience with horses.
McDonald is an engaging writer who has honed her craft through blogging and participation in writing groups. In fact, Getting along with Horses started out as blog posts. Good idea! She is good at both telling stories and sharing what she’s learned. I’ll sprinkle some quotes in this review. Here’s one (and I forgot to get the page number, but it’s from Getting along with Horses.)
Riding a horse, or being around horses, is a shared experience. Horses are power sheathed in silky coats. They sweat, they feel a full range of emotions, and they’re accepting of humans and all our crazy ideas. They can’t be fully controlled. And yet. The thrill of a gallop is a freedom mutually felt. The serenity of grazing is something we can be included in. As we share experiences with our horses, we come to see the world through eyes that aren’t blinded by our particular definitions of the world. This world doesn’t belong to just us. We share it with every other living creature, plant, and river. Being with a horse allows us to consider other ways of life, and what is important to them.Crissi McDonald, Getting along with Horses
What made me happiest is that much of what she says about working with horses applies to dealing with humans, so I got lots of food for thought about dealing with people around me as well as my equine companions.
When McDonald talus about recovering from her injuries I could see how her words would help anyone dealing with trauma. She shared how giving herself permission to go as slowly as she needed to go actually sped up recovery. And I love that she didn’t bring anger or blame into the discussion. Things just happen and dwelling on blame just makes it harder to go forward. That is not just a horse thing!
Fear makes it hard to do your best with your horse partner, but it’s so reasonable to have fear. Horses are unpredictable, large, powerful, and easily frightened, themselves. I’ve had to work through my own fear with Apache after my own fall (not a bad one at all) and my lack of confidence in both him and me. No wonder we’ve had all the issues.
What I like best about these books is that McDonald doesn’t come across as preachy or authoritarian, just as a fellow horse lover who’s trying to figure things out, just like you are. She’s also willing to follow her instincts, even when they aren’t all scientific. I do that, too.
When she talked about the importance of your intentions in horse work, I felt relief. A lot of people avoid that, since it comes across all woo-woo or something. But intent has always been a powerful force in my life. Just because we don’t know how something works yet doesn’t make it real. Like gravity and germs, you have to get to the point where people can measure things! I digress.
Two Quotes That Apply to Us All
I’ve written a lot about the importance of remaining calm in the midst of chaos. During the coronavirus pandemic, the chaos waits for us every day. We see that the pleasures and places we thought would always be there no longer are. We watch the numbers affected by the virus go up. No one knows where thisCrissi McDonald, Getting along with Horses, p. 105
train stops. Or even pauses.
As much as anyone can, I’ve tried to stay informed without
spinning emotionally out of control.
My Favorite Topic!
Name-calling a horse, or anyone for that matter, may be borne of frustration or anger, but I can guarantee you that the only result will be to perpetuate an adversarial relationship. Name-calling is a lack of imagination, it shuts down our innate curiosity, and it smothers learning. Wanting to have a partnership with your horse and name-calling are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Since when does seeing your horse as an enemy to be vanquished yield a harmonious and pleasing relationship?Crissi McDonald, Getting along with Horses, p. 19
Anyway, these two books felt like hugs to me, much needed hugs. I feel validated on my path with horses, and I have new insights to help me on that path. Guess I better go follow Crissi McDonald on social media!