It’s not about the obstacles!
I have a privileged job, I watch over 200 videos a month of people with their horses and I love it! These videos are of Horse Agility Club members completing obstacle courses with a variety of equines, and it looks fun!
I don’t have time to see a lot of other people doing this but one video came into my social media feed the other day and I watched 30 seconds before I had to move on. It’s a long time since I’ve seen a pony being dragged on the end of a tight rope with an inattentive handler.
So, I began to really think about what The Horse Agility Club is really about. We have competitions, we have obstacles we have people but how come I haven’t seen a tight rope and a disgruntled pony with an oblivious handler for so long?
Then I realised, our Club members know that it’s not about the obstacles, the obstacles are incidental, it’s the journey that’s the important thing.
The monthly courses are just journeys, with little tests along the way, giving the horse and handler an opportunity to communicate and prepare for moments outside the arena when that ability may be a life saver.
The variety of obstacles create opportunities for a conversation and can be as dramatic as a curtain or as simple as a line drawn in the sand. Some obstacles are easier for the human to understand, a busy road crossing for example, but any horse is far more aware of a dangerous bog in wild country than any human.
As the journey progresses there is a constant conversation:
Are you sure that’s what you want?
Is that safe?
Why do you need to do that?
And these are just a few of the questions both the horse AND the human may ask each other as they travel.
I believe that once we learn to stop telling the horse what to do all the time and listen to what he might say on the subject, things start to change for the better.
So, this is what Horse Agility is, it’s communication between two beings, not control.
It’s shared journey, where both travellers have a point of view. The obstacles are just a way of strengthening that relationship.