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An Old Dog

Kate Fenner - Saturday, April 27, 2013
I had a visitor staying last night and we were chatting away about plans for the morning clinic. I explained to him that I had an exam to do over the next few days and he enquired as to why I was studying. I went on to say that I was hoping to do a research degree in human and equine learning blah, blah, blah. 
He smiled kindly and said 'you're never too old to study'.

 old woman 

A few questions ran through my mind:
  • Where the ... is that expensive L'Occitane moisturiser?
  • Has it really been that long of a day?
  • Perhaps it is just a language gap, cultural difference or I misunderstood.
  • Is this why I live alone? Am I getting paranoid in my old age?
Recovering, I began to think about the older horses I  work with and how quickly they learn to do things like travel in frame and be soft in the bridle, even if they have been going around 'upside down', star-gazing, hollow-backed and rigidly tense for years. People are often worried that their horses are too old to learn things such as 'traveling in frame' or 'softness in the bridle' but I find just the opposite to be true. Horses that have been subjected to a lot of meaningless pressure (i.e. relentless pressure that they are unable to free themselves from) usually pick up on these things very quickly. They are delighted to be involved in the learning process and when they discover that the pressure will be released if they hold their head in a certain position or move a foot to a particular place they quickly oblige. It is wonderful to see these older and more experienced horses mentally engage in the lesson and understand that it is alright to try a few possible answers to any request when looking for a release of pressure. Within minutes the horse is visibly more relaxed, confident and 'softer' in the bridle making riding a much more enjoyable experience for both horse and rider. You are never too old and neither is your horse!

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