Monday, May 18, 2009

Finding Flicka

We all have expectations about what it will be like to own a horse. The reality is usually different, but we can still make it a positive, fulfilling experience if we get the right horse. Recently dressage great, Jane Savoie, interviewed me on this subject for her web site. The links are below if you’d like to listen to this unedited, hour-long interview. In this blog, I’d just like to reiterate a few key points.

1. Choose a horse with your brain and your heart will follow.
Don't let your emotions rule. Take your time, make a plan, hire a horse expert to assist you, be realistic about your own skills and knowledge, and try to be open-minded about the appearance of the horse. You will grow to love a horse that fits your reality just as much as one that fits your fantasy.
2. Horses are not “one size fits all.”
A good horse and a good human may still make a terrible team. Your ideal horse may be very different from my ideal horse.
3. Novice riders need experienced, calm horses.
Only very experienced horsemen should take on young or untrained horses. The most compelling reason? Safety. “Green on green equals black and blue.”
4. Do not agonize about changing horses.
Many of us end up with the wrong horse our first time out. Don't feel bad. But do take action. Allow the horse to go on to life with someone who is a better fit. It’s the most loving thing you can do for the horse and for yourself. Then you can make another, smarter choice.
5. Keep learning, especially from your horse.
You must be the leader in your relationship, but your horse is giving you a continuous stream of feedback about how you’re doing. Listen to that.

Finding Flicka - Jane Savoie interviews Rick Lamb - Part 1
Finding Flicka - Jane Savoie interviews Rick Lamb - Part 2



Buttermilk Biscuit the Norwegian Fjord Horse said...

Thank you for posting this. I'm eager to listen to the interview too. As an instructor who sometimes deals with students on inappropriate horses and helps find appropriate horses other times, this hits home. Being honest with ourselves about our abilities, time, money and energy is critical to finding a great match.

Natural Horsemanship said...


I was just curious if there are any guidelines that would give you an outline that would help someone decide where they are with their horsemanship. I would not consider myself a novice, but by somone elses defintiions they may consider me a novice.

Thank you

Rick said...

Hi Natural Horsemanship,
There are no set definitions for what constitutes a novice horseman.
Some learning systems (such as Parelli) incorporate "levels" for measuring a student's progress.
However some of the most important markers of a horseman's development - confidence, judgment, empathy, flexibility, generosity, and so on - are very difficult to measure. They are just part of your internal, personal development.
If you are bewildered by horses and feel at their mercy when you are around them, you are definitely a novice. However, if you feel confident that you know what do do in most situations with a horse, you are certainly not a novice. What someone else thinks isn't as important as how you feel. When you are no longer a novice, you join the ranks of all the rest of us on this journey toward being real horsemen, a journey that has no end. If you need a label for it, call yourself an Intermediate horseman. That's what I do.