Book Report: Whole Heart, Whole Horse

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Here’s a short book report, since I talked about this book in a recent post already. Whole Heart, Whole Horse: Building Trust Between Horse and Rider, by Mark Rashid (2009, 2014) is another book that helps you put a finger on what’s going right and what’s going wrong with your relationship to your horse. And there’s some human-human wisdom in there as well.

As usual, Rashid tells a lot of stories about his younger days with his mentor, as well as stories about people and horses he met during his clinics. One of the things that struck me with this book is how well he combines intuition with knowledge of how both people and horses work. His clinic attendees must really get a lot out of their interactions.

From this book, I learned how important balancing your reactions to things, so that horses can mirror your reactions and minimize their own reactions. His discussion of using energy to cue horses as much or more than physical cues makes a lot of sense to me. I can see where I’ve done my own horses a real disservice, but at least I have a plan for what I can work on moving forward.

We will keep working on it.

I just hope I haven’t ruined poor Apache’s life with all my emotions, fear, and inability to remain calm no matter what. I’m getting better, though, and hope I can be more consistent. That’s the other thing Rashid talks about, how horses learn to trust people through consistency. That has always been hard for me, since most of the time I’ve been with Apache I’ve not lived with him, and have been gone a lot. But you know, I also have to live my own life, so I’ll just do the best I can. I’m sure that’s what he’s doing too.

And I will try my best to forge a good relationship with Drew, now that I am getting more training and have learned more. I guess the oldest “child” is always the one that has to deal with inexperienced caregivers.

Just feed me.

I recommend any of his books to people who want to learn more about how the relationship between horses and people works. The more you learn, the more nuggets you can take and apply to your own life with equines. Plus, you’ll grow to love the horses he has worked with as much as Rashid did.

Taking Time to Smile

Not much time to write, because I was busy working and having fun. I got to check out Anita’s house renovation in progress, and I was surprised to see how pink the bricks are that haven’t been exposed to the elements since the 50s.

Same brick! The ones on the ground were removed to add the window, which is original to the house, but was removed to add a patio door.

Her house is going so great, and I’m proud of the work so far. Heck, the whole town is looking better. Some ugly stucco was taken off a building in downtown and this was revealed.

Old ads.

After I finished teaching, Lee and I went over to a lesson for Apache (because I’m busy this weekend). He seemed in a bad mood, but quickly perked up once we got there. It WAS a bit late.

We had another great lesson in which we both learned a lot. He’s still confused at cantering but was willing to do it for Tarrin. I ran around a lot, but he wouldn’t.

I’ve decided I really like the Western saddle on him. I can feel what I’m doing with my feet better. He started to try to be squirrelly with Tarrin, but she worked with him to get used to being under her lights.

Then I got to try some tight turns and circles, using more “refined aids.” That means not yanking the reins. I figured it out, and was just barely tugging the reins and moving my legs to get him to follow instructions.

I felt so good after improving! I could trot and look correct, even. I think I may become an okay rider after all. I just needed Apache to learn what to expect, then learn to do it. We both are getting a clue.

I even was able to handle him outside the training arena in the dark. Some parts he just did well on, and other parts I coped with. So proud!

Drew and I have a competition number!

I smiled all the way home. I’m so grateful for my great teacher and the chance to keep learning. Heck, Drew and I may even compete later in the year! And Tarrin said trail rides may be sooner than I think. I miss them!

My Horse Is My Toughest Teacher

I’ve always contended that I plan to keep learning new things until I die. I often think of my friend, Marian, who, well into her 90s gets all excited about the new topics she’s reading about, new technology she’s mastered, and new ideas she’s heard. I hope that’s me in 30 years!

And you certainly never know where you’ll find teachers and mentors, or where you’ll find your education. For sure, my neighbor, Sara, who you hear about a lot in my musings, is a great teacher and mentor in many ways. We’re very different, but have similar interests, which makes us a good team.

We are so proud of how Ace is progressing!

I’m sure glad I have her with me when I’m out with my Paint/Arabian mix horse, Apache. Sara has a lot more training and experience, which helps her figure out my problems. I’m also learning a lot watching her work with Ace, the Black Beauty she’s working with. I read this in Western Horseman (SUCH a great magazine) last night:

…when you ride by yourself you perfect your mistakes.

Chuck Reid, quoted in “All-Around Horseman,” by Jennifer Dennison, Western Horseman May 2021, p. 21.

But, are you really alone when you’re riding? No. You always have your equine partner with you! And Apache is one intense task-master. I mentioned last week that his back was hurting. Maybe this had something to do with the fact that the last few times I’d ridden him, he has been pretty scary. Whatever I asked him to do, he reacted by trotting nervously wherever HE wanted to go. He had absolutely no interest in turning right (making me think he was hurting). His head would either be tossing around or down frantically gulping grass. It was not a fun experience, and I even got a bit scared when he started backing and turning sideways.

Big Red says she wasn’t scared. I took this when she and I went on a walk. Yes. We did.

And on the ground, he was patently uninterested in doing his warm ups. He’d walk a couple of steps, then eat grass. It would take a lot of effort to get him to move, back, or pay attention to me. And when he WAS paying attention, he’d stop in the middle of doing something, face me, move his head up and down, and paw the ground, as if to say he was DONE with whatever we were doing. He was trying to tell me something, but what?

Continue reading “My Horse Is My Toughest Teacher”
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