Quality Vs. Quantity

Where there was once green grass, there’s now snow and the leftovers of what was a lush pasture. It’s March, which means it’s also time for our horses to come home. As Mark and I walked out, the halters jingling at our sides, we saw six sets of furry ears pointed in our direction. Each horse began walking toward us, the sun glinting off the icicles that they were wearing in their manes. 

We haltered each horse, led them through the gate and up to the stock trailer. As we asked them to load one at a time, they stepped into the trailer with slow and quiet hooves, their heads dropping before we tied them. 

Some of our horses only get hauled twice a year – to pasture and back – yet they load as well as our two clinic horses who get in and out of our trailer multiple times, rain or shine, night or day, whether we are pulling into a quiet overnight stop, or getting them out at a truck stop so they can move and have some water before we continue down the road.  

We’ve treated trailer loading like much of everything else we ask of our horses; slow, steady, and not adding a lot of extra pressure. While we always do our best to listen, we also want to hold the intention of none of this (this being whatever task we’re approaching) is that big a deal. 

Subsequently, whether it is Top and Banjo getting into a trailer for the fiftieth time that year, or Rocky, Rusty, Tuff, or Ally stepping inside for the second, all the horses load as though it isn’t a big deal. 

The big lesson I keep learning thanks to horses is that it isn’t quantity – it isn’t working them five days a week for however many hours a day. It isn’t doing rote repetition of the same thing over and over. It is about ensuring that the time together that we do have feels good to them. That we’ve listened to what they are saying and do our best to respond in a way that promotes a softer way of going.

Being with horses is simple if our goal is to promote a calm state of mind when we are together, and through all the tasks we ask of them. If we can habitually help a horse reach a calm and quiet state of mind, that state carries over to other tasks. 

Mark often talks about being the calm in the eye of the storm. We all know that horses being horses, they will sometimes worry. They will get scared, they may not understand what we are asking. But if we keep quiet and help and explain, we can be the clarity in a confusing mass of information. We can take advantage of how the horse is built to connect with all of life, and connect to our calm state of mind so that it can become their calm too. 

33 Comments on “Quality Vs. Quantity

  1. Very nice story. But it sounds like something Ceasar Milan writes about dogs….be calm and assertive, he says.

  2. Simply lovely.

    This past weekend my horse Athena, an ex-pro polo mount, still young, still totally able, let young children ride her, ages 4-8, with little kid stirrups slung over the saddle. The children got up clumsily, so happy to simply BE with a horse, all the time bumping this sensitive powerhouse in little kid fashion. But she carried them like it was her greatest desire, her best duty, taking care of them because they honestly only had love and trust to give to her. Frankly, they expected nothing less from her because they were functioning through love and trust. And Athena responded in kind. They spoke the same language.I guess, as your good writing suggests, what we give, we get. The horse, to a large extent, is simply our own reflection. Not news to you. Good going Chrissy! Keep writing!

  3. This is lovely, Crissi. I’ve been thinking a lot about the power in our intention. What are we going for, when we go to our horses? If it is open-ended, without expectation, it offers the horse agency: the ability to shape what happens in an interaction. I think this takes not only mindfulness — calm — but courage and a bit of selflessness. The journey is always worth it.

  4. Once again in a time of need, you pull through with the words that answer what is going on in my head. Thank you my friend!!

  5. Very nicely written, Crissi. Thank you for writing & sharing. I continue to be amazed by how well a horse remembers & is impacted by small QUALITY interactions . I dont do a lot with my 2 horses but there have been profound changes with them over last few years, since embracing an Affirmative philosophy

    • Thank you, Sarah. 😃 I think we do too much with most horses, and dialing that back is one of the ways to achieve a more peaceful relationship.

  6. I love this so much! You really speak to how I want to be with my horses – always ❤️🐴❤️🐴

  7. Thanks once again for sharing your beautiful thoughts.
    Hope all is good with you and yours❤️

  8. Thank you Crissi, I love your writing and I’m always SO happy to see a new blog come up in my email. Your writing is like having a conversation with a like minded, horse-crazy friend , who just ‘gets’ what horses are all about.💞

  9. Quality vs Quantity; This is so well said, thank you. Besides reinforcing the necessity of intention and clear, consistent body language while engaging with our horses, for me at least, it validates I don’t have to be there for “X” amount hours every day (cuz I feel guilty when I am sick, have “day job” demands, or can’t fit all my horses in everyday) Quality, devoted, dedicated time is good. And more trailer loading. My ponies are so good, but I still have to walk in with them, good reminder to practice asking them to step up themselves =—-> TY

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