The Curse of Expectations

Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life

I swear to you, in my case anyway, expectations can drive a horse away from you. At least they’ve done that with my horse, Dino. For years, I’ve struggled to get him interested and wanting to be with me.  He’s by far my favorite mount — the most comfortable horse on the entire planet to throw a leg over — once I can get him caught.

In his defense, once he was started and going, he sort of became my “go-to” mount because I was forced to retire my two older horses. I roped on him for the first time when he was 4, and since then, he’s been my mount of choice for gathering cattle, corralling bulls come fall, roping in the branding pen, and generally riding around if I want to be comfortable.

There’ve been a lot of goals set by me for this horse. I want him to be my first bridle horse.  For several years, I put that on a timeline. But horses, see they don’t work like that, and all I managed to do was frustrate both of us because we weren’t perfect or progressing fast enough.

I’ve finally thrown those goals out the window — partially because there is more than one way to skin a cat, or train a horse as it turns out, and I was looking at the puzzle all wrong.  Instead of taking the pieces as the horse gave them to me, I was trying to shove them into places they didn’t yet belong.  Now, I’ve taken to just hanging out with him, climbing on for a bareback ride with a rope halter, or a simple neck rope. We’ve learned how to jump, how to enjoy the moment; we’re trying new, and different things.

The Curse of Expectations

Dx Jurassic Classic, Dino

What he’s been trying to teach me, that I struggled to grasp, was that he wasn’t having fun. I wasn’t being engaging enough on a consistent basis. He felt like he couldn’t please me, and he had given up trying to be my partner. Oh, he was willing enough, but it was because the horse is forgiving and kind, not because he was truly wondering how much fun we’d have together.  Life is an adventure and that should flow into my relationship with my horse. I’m starting to understand the concept of adventure. Because of this, he’s gotten better to catch; he even hunted me up in the corral last week.

The bottom line — I haven’t given up my goals for him — I’m just looking at the picture differently and I’ll still get there — but it won’t be the linear progress my brain loves. It might be a winding, often smooth, sometimes bumpy road, but it’ll be a fun one!

Until next time — Happy Trails!

Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life


About Jenn Zeller

Jenn Zeller was transplanted, from a big city in Texas, to the plains of South Dakota. The only person in her family to ride, she grew up rodeoing, managed a rodeo scholarship to college, and earned a marketing degree from Tarleton State University. She went...

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