Embracing Slow Horsemanship – Moving at a Pace that Values the Journey

by Catherine Madera


Embracing Slow Horsemanship - Moving at a Pace that Values the Journey
Mateo, now a four-year-old. Photo credit Catherine Madera

I remember the first time I heard the term “slow food.” Immediately I pondered how food could be slow and why I should take the pace of my food into consideration. When I looked the term up I found this is not a fad, it is an entire international movement, one seeking to “counteract the fast life.” The logo of the organization is a snail.

Any horseman who enjoys training and learning new methods has probably noticed that slow horsemanship isn’t particularly popular.  Instead, we champion colt makeover challenges that move a wild and unbroke horse to one that does flying lead changes, herds cattle, negotiates an obstacle course and tolerates the trainer standing on them while snapping a bull whip, all within 30, 60, or 90 days. I’m not saying this isn’t impressive; it is. And sometimes the horse not only handles the challenge, it excels with an experienced horseman.

The rub comes when the expectation of horse training is speedy success. The reality is there are A LOT of horses that will not impress anybody after 90 days. Some will still struggle with the basics. There are no short cuts to those wet saddle blankets and we’re busy, busy people.

I’ve thought a lot about training this spring as I continue on with my mustang, Mateo. He is an intelligent horse, but has tried my patience with his resistance to move along quickly. His logo could be a snail. That said, each time we’ve had a breakthrough our bond increases and I have no doubt he has a good mind. It just needs more time to think things through. Mateo has reminded me that it’s always about the journey, not the destination.

It’s May and daylight hours are increasing, grass is growing and the trail awaits. I would encourage you to enjoy your horse and counteract the fast life, the one obsessed with goals and success. The slow life—with your horse—has much to offer.  Enjoy the magazine this month; we have several articles to help you do just that. Email me at editor@nwhorsesource.com

Ride on—fast or slow!


Published May 2014 Issue

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