A letter to the editor of Eclectic Horseman

sent back in March – but recently published in the May / June issue of Eclectic Horseman

While we may dream of riding the range, roping and doctoring cattle or making the perfect bridle horse, the side of the range we rarely fantasize about are the -30 mornings when you actually have to be outside. Frozen water tanks, tractors that refuse to start, hydraulic fluid as thick as molasses, fingers that don’t work, numb feet and so many layers of clothes everything feels like you are moving in slow motion. As March arrives it’s hard to believe that spring is suppose to be here in less than three weeks.

Now I realise that not everyone has to live with the same frigid temperatures, but from what I hear, this year, winter seems to have all but covered North America. Mother nature simply doesn’t seem to be holding up her end of the deal. Regardless of the weather cows will be calving and there will be many hardy souls checking to ensure the latest arrival has a chance. The cowboy image is more than a heated indoor arena and the conveniences we have grown so accustomed to.

A good number of us reading Eclectic Horseman spend more of our time riding a desk chair than our horse, even fewer who work with cattle on a regular basis. Statistics suggest about 80% of horse owners board. For those of us who don’t, we try to manage horse time along with work commitments, commuting and keeping up with friends and family that have little to no interest in our equine passion.

I am fortunate enough to look upon participating in a horsemanship clinic as professional development. While I hone my horsemanship skills I am always seeking out tidbits of information that apply outside of the arena. What I am finding is that cowboy wisdom applies to more than just handling horses or cattle. Pretty much every clinic I’ve attended there is as much talk about the person solving their problem as there is about managing a horse problem.

While there may be a plethora of buckaroos and cowboys decked out with all the right stuff, Buck Brannaman couldn’t have said it better “Horsemanship is not a wardrobe issue.” What we are learning is not so much about the outside of the horse but what motivates the inside. There is always talk about understanding the horse, getting to the mind, firing up the natural curiosity and their inherit desire to get along. Everything that we are learning about our relationship with our horse applies outside the arena.

Horsemanship is actually about becoming better human beings. We have an incredible capacity to change things and what I’m seeing is how horses can change people.

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"Never say WHOA in a mud hole."