Yesterday I watched a video on evaluating a horse. It had to be the most interesting horsemanship video I have watched in a while. I always evaluate my horses before I work with them. I lunge them at a walk then trot and canter to see if they may be leg sore. And I also pay attention to how they greet me when I come into the barn or paddock. It tells me if they are interested in me that day or would rather avoid me. Now what they do doesn't necessarily impact whether or not they are going to be played with at that time, but it sure reveals their state of mind and causes me to adjust my approach to them. If Raven has a lot of spunk, you know, the head tossing and tail in the air kind of trot or canter. Then I know that she has alot of energy. It affects my gameplan.
But when I watched this video I picked up on several things I can do to better evaluate their physical and mental condition. This will be especially helpful when initially working with a new horse.This is important because if a horse is sore or not feeling well their willingness to pay close attention to me is going to be short. They may be cranky, or seem mad showing it with their ears pinned back, or they might buck or try to kick or bite. Now I don't know about you but when I don't feel well I wouldn't like my grandkids climbing on my back, and kicking and yelling at me either. So I give my horses some slack in this area. Once this past summer I noticed Jake was moving funny when I was riding him, especially in a trot. I discovered one of his hind legs (I forget which one) was a bit puffy so I treated it and stayed off of him until the puffiness went down and he wasn't favoring it. It was akin to a sprained ankle. You have to give it some rest, but a horse needs all four feet, so that is kinda hard to do. I just didn't aggravate it more by not riding him.
The attention to detail regarding the evaluation was good to see too. The instructor went over every inch of that horse with her hands, paying attention to twitching of the skin, swishing of the tail, bob of the head, pinning of ears, moving away etc. All of which are indications of trouble spots. On the horse she was using, he had a bucking and rearing problem. She discovered that he had a sore back, with some vertebrates out of place, and a swollen hind leg. It was apparent that he didn't like to move, because as he followed her (he did that real well) his ears were pinned back like he was in pain. She said that she could see him gritting his teeth and see worry lines above his eyes. That is detail that I will pay alot more attention to myself. I even started a little bit on my horses this morning.
If it is important to do an evaluation, periodically, on a horse, and I would everytime I work with one, it is more important to do a self evaluation on a daily basis. How are you doing today? Feel good? why or why not? Do you hurt? How come? How's your inner peace? Are you anxious, troubled, stressed out,worried, etc.? There is a short saying that goes like this, "No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace." That sums it up for me. This season we have been celebrating the birth of Jesus. The message that was announced by the angel that would bring "peace on earth, good will toward men." But do you have that peace? That peace that "passes all understanding" Phil. 4:7. You might check out these other verses as well, Phil. 4:9; Col. 1:20; Col. 3:15; 2 Thess. 3:16 because these all address the issue of peace and the true source of it.
When I am working with my horses or with one who has been brought to me, I want to beat peace with them, but if they are hurting or fearful, they are going to view my attempts to play with them with agitation. I must take that into account in each situation. So it is daily for me personally. If you know Jesus keep focused on Him. If you don't why not put your trust in him then peace will flood your heart, Romans 5:1,2.
God bless and when you are riding stay between the ears.