Welcome back! If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that we covered the first two steps of the process, Be Still and Be Curious in the posts Monday and Tuesday. If you haven’t read them yet, visit part 1 HERE and part 2 HERE. OK, everybody ready? The third step to better understanding your horse is:

Be Patient

The human race is becoming a lot more impatient. Studyfinds.org reported on research commissioned by Bic, famous for pens, razors, and lighters, that showed most respondents’ patience for things like waiting for ink to dry on a card or waiting for a kettle to boil, (it was a British study), could be measured in mere seconds. Instagram, Instapot, Instant Rice – the ever-shrinking time we’re willing to wait for anything could end us up in an Insti-tution!

Glance back over your day and try to remember times where you waited for more than 2 minutes. For anything. Kind of hard, isn’t it? We deal with this frenzied pace all day – and then we go to the barn to spend time with our horse. Patience is probably the last thing on your mind.

Following this scenario, you arrive at the barn, you’re stressed and want to get tacked up, and ride so you can work on the new exercises you’re introducing to your horse. He was doing a super job yesterday, and you want to take it to the next level today.

So you get on.

And it sucks.

Your horse apparently lost all memory overnight because he obviously has no idea what you’re asking him to do. What was easy yesterday just ain’t happenin’ today. You’re frustrated, he’s frustrated. The whole thing is heading to Hell in a handbasket and you’re ready to take up crocheting instead of riding. Then you could just sit at home evenings with a bottle of wine and feel satisfied.

Take a deep breath and resist the urge to just go home and spend quality time with a bottle of wine. This is where the learning begins.

Enter patience. Patience doesn’t just refer to waiting for 20 minutes while your horse takes his time eating his dinner, and then another 5 while he licks out the bucket. True patience doesn’t just refer to your relationship with your horse, you also have to practice it with yourself.

You’re probably discovering a theme in this series – it’s not him, it’s you. And if you want to improve things, you need to learn to be patient with yourself.

It’s hard to be patient with your horse (or your kids, or a traffic jam) when your internal dialog starts complaining that “this is taking too long” when you’ve spent 10 seconds on a project. (Even crocheting doilies doesn’t happen that fast).

Horses are here to teach us things we wouldn’t otherwise discover in ourselves – like stillness, curiosity, and patience, and spending time with them offers plenty of opportunities to practice.

Your ride not going as planned? Your horse threw a shoe right before the long trailride you were going to take (and 1 day after the blacksmith was at the barn)? Great – another chance to practice patience!

So flip the way you see things – instead of getting angry or frustrated, view this as an opportunity. Horse not getting the exercise he’d done perfectly yesterday? Take it back down to something he learned a week ago or a year ago. Give him (and yourself) a chance to have a positive experience. Pulled a shoe? Spend the time you were going to be riding on grooming, hand-grazing, or ground manners.

Don’t worry, his short term memory will return. He’ll give up spooking at the mailbox he’s been walking past for the last year. He’ll sail through the new exercises flawlessly.

It might not happen right away, but with patience, you’ll appreciate the journey and the end result will be even better.

But be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day.