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Karen Casto

Team Player

Series 16 - #1

   In the horse's world there is, his rider or riders, his job (as he knows it), a few barn mates, food, and maybe a relaxing pasture.  The horse's world is somewhat smaller than the rider's, until we include him in a team.  Though sometimes we don't view a horse as a teammate, but as a lesser creature that needs our care, guidance, etc.  In return we get a wonderful big friend to hang out with and ride. 


   It can be safely said that usually the equine part of the team does the majority of the work, especially on the physical level and sometimes on the mental.  Therefore, from the equine partner's viewpoint, he gains a great deal when his job is made easier.


   So, what I would like to address here is, if this is a team sport and the horse is our teammate, are we pulling our weight on this team?  One thing that seems prevalent in any good team is how incredibly well the partners work together. Each member seems to know exactly what his team is going to do and what needs to be done to set the team up for success.  Granted, a large part of working well together comes from experience, technical skill, practice and being physically fit enough to contribute.  Knowing each teammate is a large aspect of teamwork.   Recognizing and understanding their weaknesses, strengths, likes, dislikes, style, personality, fears, attitudes, thought processes, what's important to them, what's not, and so on.  Do we care enough to take the time to get to know our equine partner this well?  Caring is what teammates do for one another.  I guarantee our equine partner checks on our emotional state and physical condition, because it all plays into how well the team performs.  It determines their entire life, and they base their performance on it every time that rider steps aboard.


   You and your horse are a team of two and how well you work together is determined by how much work you put into becoming the best teammate you can.  Each horse is an individual as is each human rider.  There are not two teams alike and therefore, each team has to create their own dynamic through understanding and practice.  It is comfortable to say that ninety percent of problems and performance issues are caused by the rider failing to take full responsibility for his contribution to the team.  It is the rider's responsibility to take the time to learn and understand the physical and emotional nature of the horse.  It is a lifelong and continual process as a teammate.  The horse, as a herd animal, is wired to work as a team, so your equine partner is already ahead of you on this level.


   Humans spend a great deal of time learning how to be team players and sometimes require intense training to actually acquire the skill. Take the time to work on being the best rider a horse could want on his team.  Read, study, take classes and listen to your partner, they know more than you think and all they want to do is perform well so life is easy and fun for them and for you. 


   Responsible Horsemanship is dedicated to promoting and creating events and opportunities for horse people to improve themselves as riders and equine partners.  There are numerous ways to approach horsemanship and most of them work.  We recommend not getting caught up in a "method" of learning.  No one person or technique has all the answers or is one hundred percent correct.  It's a process.  Responsible Horsemanship will provide access to many different horsemen and women, clinicians, top trainers, mental and physical coaches, veterinarians, and horse psychologists, to name just a few.  Hopefully, this can help riders in their journey to become well-rounded, informed and understanding teammates who really care.


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