By Steve Bauhr
Years ago, I was given a copy of Consider the Horse, a book written by Mark Rashid. It was the first of many he has written, and it’s a real gem. In the book, Mark describes how he first started working with horses as a young man under the teachings of Walter, or as Mark refers to him, “The old man.” The theme of the book matches the title, in which Walter proposes to Mark to consider the horse’s point of view.
Lately, I’ve been working a mare from a local horse sanctuary. Her name is Rosie, and she has no trust in humans. Not being sure of her background, it’s hard to say where things went wrong. It’s my feeling that this mare was always super sensitive, and nobody took the time to help her fit into our world. As my friend says, “It’s not that she had a lot of bad handling, maybe she just never had any good handling.” But sadly, in Rosie’s case, there has been some very bad handling- the scares prove that. As much as I’d like to know all that went on before she arrived at the sanctuary and now my ranch, I don’t, and will never be sure, so I work with what’s in front of me. I let her on her terms tell me what’s going on inside. I try to consider the horse and her needs.
The first issue we needed to address was her hoof care. They were in terrible condition, and as expected, there was no way Rosie was going to let us touch any of them. It’s been a challenge to simply catch her each day and brush her, let alone take hold of a foot and start trimming away. She’s also very head shy and does not want her ears handled; that makes haltering her interesting. The list goes on and on. I guess we could say she arrived with a suitcase full of issues.
In working with her, it has reminded me that we ourselves carry around our own suitcase full of issues. We take a lifetime to fill it up, and in many cases, we like our suitcase to be full and wouldn’t know how to live without it. Such can be the case with horses like Rosie. Since she’s been in the care of the horse sanctuary and now at my ranch, her treatment has been first rate. Yet she won’t let down her guard, and progress has been slow.
We ourselves do the same thing. When we’ve been hurt, or suffered disappointment, we tend to hang on to it, sometimes wearing it as a badge of honor or dishonor. In considering this horse, I’ve been trying to keep with my normal training program, although I’m careful not to get kicked or bit by putting her in a defensive position. Even though Rosie’s had a rough deal, it would do neither of us any good to commiserate. I still see a future with her, so I continue my training as per normal.
I believe she’s enjoying the process rather than just being pampered. It has given her some purpose. She now lunges, takes the bit, gives her feet, and soon to be saddled. There is a drive within every horse that is just behind their self-preservation: it’s their work ethic. Having a job and a purpose, along with praise for doing that job correctly, will be far more rewarding to Rosie than simply trying to pet her.
In our own lives, are we any different? Not really. Every one of us has been designed for a specific purpose. The lucky ones find that in life with peace and fulfillment to follow. In considering the horse, are we not really just considering ourselves? As it’s written, “Treat your neighbor as you yourselves would want to be treated.” In my work with this horse sanctuary, I’ve seen lots of horses that were not treated that way. It’s important that I always work with them respectful to their issues, yet keeping in mind the best way back is through giving them a purpose. By simply considering the horse, Rosie will leave here with nice looking feet, and a new out look toward humans. By simply considering the horse and their needs, we can get past so many spots that might normally be difficult. By simply considering the horse, we may learn an awful lot about ourselves.
See ya out there!
Steve Bauhr owns and operates Bauhr Ranch, a full horses training facility located in Chinese Camp, CA. For more info, go to www.bauhrranch.com You can find Steve Bauhr on Facebook and on his new YouTube channel!