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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Straight From the Horse’s Mouth: 3 Life Lessons from Horseback Riding

I grew up riding and my recent time in the country among horses renewed fond memories. It got me to thinking about life lessons I’ve learned from horseback riding. I could easily name about a dozen points, but there are three big ones that could easily speak to anyone, equestrian or not.

Number One – Don’t wait for a leg up in life. When mounting a horse, you can use a mounting block. That’s kind of like two or three free-standing steps in the middle of nowhere. Then you’re high enough to put your toe in the stirrup and hop on up.

I don’t think I’ve ever in my life used a mounting block. Maybe I come from humble origins, lol. On very tall horses, we would let out (extend) the stirrup a few inches if we could not reach it from the ground. This got us halfway up with our left foot in the stirrup, we then threw our right leg over the saddle, followed by adjusting the left stirrup back up to its proper length.

We might have been young, but we learned how to hoist ourselves up in life. Bingo.

It’s possible to put your knee into someone else’s clasped hands and they can give you “a leg up”. The rider holds up the left leg, facing the same direction as the horse and just behind the shoulder of the horse. The helper holds rider’s left leg up by the mid-shin and knee, about waist height. You both count to three to get on the same rhythm, and on three, you jump, pushing off the ground with your right foot and the helper lifts you higher by your left leg. Nothing wrong with getting a leg up when you’re facing something much bigger than yourself.

But if you feel you need someone to constantly push your behind into position, there’s a problem. That’s not how it works. With just a little experience, you can learn to lift yourself.

Good lesson.

Number Two – You control the reins. In life, we go in the direction we steer. Yes, there are horses who will bash your leg against a fence. On purpose. They will take you under low-hanging tree branches, so that even if you’re bent over flat against the saddle, you still get all scraped and scratched. Which means you need to anticipate problems and steer clear. You need to have an idea of which direction you want to head.

If the horse has his way, he will head for the barn or the pasture every time. Remember: you’re in charge because you have the reins which guide the bit in the horse’s mouth.

Pull the right rein out to the right and the horse turns. Pull the left rein out to the left and he goes left. Pull back slightly and the horse stops. Let the reins out a bit and he moves forward.

It’s like magic.

You turn the reins in life.

Little kids on pony rides have someone else lead them in a circle by a lead attached to the horse’s harness. There are no reins.

You’re not a child. Get an idea on where you’re headed and take the reins for yourself.

Number Three – If you’ve fallen off, get back in the saddle. That doesn’t sound encouraging, the falling off part, at least, but it happens. I’ve gone over many a fence, jump, hurdle—both with, and without—the horse underneath me! Some are true stinkers, stopping dead, right before the jump. What can I say? They give a bad name to horses.

They have issues. This is not their day. They want you off their back. But they’re the one wearing the harness and you must harness their hulk to move in your direction by getting back in the saddle.

If life has thrown you, get back in the saddle. Sooner or later. Up to you. Recognize that not all horses are like this, some will throw you and some will not throw you. But get back up.

I know, it’s not easy. I know, there’s a bunch of uncertainty. I know the pain of being thrown onto a brick wall or on top of a wooden fence.

Ouch. There’s a good bit of potential for danger and injury.

So you’re allowed to take a short break to regroup and get your nerve back if you’re recovering from illness, a relationship breakup, a job loss. Figure out what happened so you don’t make the same mistake again. But then, get back in the saddle.

Follow these three life tips straight from the horse’s mouth and it’s bound to be happy trails for you!


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