Trail to 2021:
Incredible Connections

In this Trail to 2021 series, we’ve been talking about you designing your unique story with your horse going forward into 2021.

It’s that vision of yourself as a beautiful rider. You can create a gorgeous picture that reflects you and your horse. That’s an important first step.


Hi, it’s Barb, and in this series, we’ve been talking about you designing your unique story with your horse going forward into 2021.

It’s so much fun to think about designing your story. Go for it.

It’s that vision of yourself as a beautiful rider. You can create a gorgeous picture that reflects you and your horse. That’s an important first step.

And then, the next step is to consider the pieces of your journey because those different pieces are where and how you will keep learning and growing.

As you identify those pieces you can focus your energy… and work toward your vision… and your story in multiple ways.

Now, in the past few videos of this series, I’ve been using an analogy involving what we call the mushroom tree on our property.

I used it to show one way of looking at riding’s component parts.

As you think about going forward in 2021, consider how you will continue to keep growing your knowledge and skill in these individual pieces.

We talked about trunk representing your personal strength both inside and out. It’s about your preferences, resilience when things go awry, and your flexibility to respond to situations.

It’s what goes on within you to carry you through… and sustain you through… all of the ups and downs.

And, then I identified two more big pieces of riding. In last week’s video.

I talked about the technical side of riding, which has to do with good horsemanship aspects, like your seat, stirrup length, and position, how you hold the reins… and what’s required for your discipline.

Now, in this video, we’re going to dig a little more into discovering that sometimes elusive concept of connection with your horse and how you might go about exploring this.

‘Connection’ with your horse has different meanings to different people.

But here, I’m going to speak about it in terms of your relationship with your horse.

Research tells us that as humans, we are hot-wired for connection.

It is our greatest need as people.

We want to share, love, and be loved… and connection happens best when we know we can be ourselves… without fear of being judged.

And see if you agree with this. We feel the most connected with people who ‘get us’ and hear us… and when our communications consist of hearing and listening… and caring… and then responding.

When it comes to our horses, besides our love for these gorgeous animals and their fabulous qualities, most of us feel we can totally be ourselves when we are with them… and be accepted for that. They don’t care how we look or what we’re wearing.

That feels so good.

That’s why our horses are often a refuge away from the sometimes maddening world.

And we absolutely LOVE that.

And I also think many riders want to know that they ‘get’ their horse, too, that they can speak their language so that their horse is at ease, feels confident, understands and responds to them.

To me that’s how I see connection, that wonderful two-way street of respect for each other, caring and communicating.

Of course, as the ‘person,’ we are the leader. We guide them where to go and what we want them to do, but when you’re connected, I believe you have great awareness… and again, back and forth and constant communication.

Again, while it may seem elusive, some of the connection ‘skills’ we can develop are.

Reading a horse’s body language, his ears, eyes, mouth tight or chewing, and the carriage of his head and neck.

You can do this on the ground or in the saddle.

Understanding the application of cues and releasing them when our horses give us the right ‘answer.’

This happens on the ground in everything from how you use your lead-rope to using your seat, to hand and leg cues.

And of course, there are more.

Being aware of their energy… are they too fresh or pooped? Are they excited or tuned out?

And the list goes on. These are just a few of them.

One thing now is that there is more and more conversation is happening in the horse world about ‘connection.’ I love that.

And since connection is something that we all want more of… although, sometimes it’s clearly addressed, and sometimes it’s not, so I encourage you to be your own treasure hunter and keep learning this piece of riding.

So, as you design your story for 2021, and you have your vision of being a beautiful rider… how will you drill down to learn more about connection?

And very importantly, how will you keep that learning fun? There’s ZERO pressure here. Enjoy!

So, what is connection to you? Where have you discovered some of the pieces of it? Let us all know so we can keep learning, too.

Leave a comment for me and see you next time.

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4 Comments on Trail to 2021:
Incredible Connections

  1. Gayle on Sun, 10th Jan 2021 3:40 pm
  2. This speaks to me deeply. My heart believes that our purpose on earth is learning to be in relationship. I began understanding this working with children who had suffered abuse and neglect. They, although resilient and in a place of healing, needed that desperately. Not milk and cookies, new shoes, or a stranger’s “love”. Our natural world requires relationship if we are to survive. I’m allergic to bee stings, but I plant nothing that doesn’t improve the soil, or improve bird and bee survival. Now I turn my living from being commander/leader in chief with my horse, to our deeper relationship in subtle but significant ways. Duh. Kindness and gentleness has been a staple for us, but a deeper understanding and sharing IS possible, and I thank you for calling that out and expanding our thinking. I’m watching and reading everything I can get my hands on with “AHA!” moments of connection not recognized before. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH, Barb, and Cooper is listening.

  3. ca on Sun, 10th Jan 2021 8:51 pm
  4. Hi Barb, I always enjoy so much your “Sunday Videos” that keep encouraging us to move forward with our understanding of our horses–both improving technical skills along with improving our connection to our horses. “Nic” wanted you to talk a little longer so he could “munch” some more grass–Ha Ha. Thank you, 🙂

  5. robyn martin on Tue, 12th Jan 2021 1:23 am
  6. lovely vid, thank you, perfect timing as always!!!!

  7. Rie on Wed, 13th Jan 2021 8:41 pm
  8. Hi Barb, belated New Year Wishes!
    I had an OTTB before. Although I could not ride her well, I had a few experiences that made me feel that we had some connection. One day, she was out grazing and I was at the gate and called her name. She was about 80 yds away from me. She looked at me but continued grazing, so I called her again. She looked at me again. I felt that she was saying, “look I am eating!” but then she slowly walked toward me at the gate. We walked back to the stable together. Unfortunately, she died 2 years ago but I still sometimes feel her breath next to my ears. That is the kind of connection I am looking for, I guess. I now ride horses at the local barn. I have one favorite gelding name, Joey. One nice spring day, we were cantering. It was such a nice day and I said to myself “wow, this is fun”. At the minute that I said the words in my mind, Joey changed his gear and went so fast! A few days ago similar things happened. We were cantering in fresh snow and at the minute that I felt freedom and joy of moving in the snow-covered open space, then immediately Joey started jumping! I feel that Joey somehow senses my feelings. The issue for me now is to learn to follow his movements when he burst his “feelings”. As Barb mentioned the improvement of technical skills is thus really important. This is something that I must work on in the year 2021. I also want to be sensitive enough to understand Joey’s feelings.

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