I recently had the opportunity to attend the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in Denver, and when I saw Temple Grandin was speaking, I just knew I had to see her. Working in the cattle industry, I’ve been exposed to a lot of her teachings about low-stress cattle handling, but I’d never seen her speak live and I was super curious to hear what she had to say about my favorite animal.
I’m so glad I took the time to listen to Grandin’s presentation. She was articulate, surprisingly funny and everything she said made perfect sense.
Perfect, common sense…hmm…doesn’t it seem that today common sense isn’t so common? Sad, but I think often true, even in our horse community.
Here are a few “horse sense” reminders gleaned from Grandin’s thoughts. These are some of the most primal and important lessons horsemen and women should know:
How do the different bits feel in your hand? Sure it’s nice to have a recommendation from someone you trust about what bit would work best, or to read a description of what the bit should do, but take all that away and feel it. Does it feel good? Does it feel funky? Why? Visualize what the experience for the horse might be like and go from there.What ways can you see things from your horse’s point of sensory view?
In the thrill of the moment of working the cow, I was really excited, but I wasn’t smooth…I was a jerk!
Al came over and demonstrated what smooth vs. jerky feels like by taking my wrist and pulling smoothly once. Then he pulled again, but with a jerk vs. an even and smooth tug. Light-bulb moment and very memorable. Yes, I knew smooth vs. jerky always wins, but wasn’t embodying this principle. What do you do to keep a calm mind and smooth hands and body? When things aren’t going well on your ride, take a moment to ponder this question.
I took away several other great words of wisdom from Grandin’s speech and can’t wait to read some of her latest work. It’s great to try to see things from another’s perspective, isn’t it?
Happy trails, friends!