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  • tklees01

In Reflection (2017-2019): Horsemanship

The focus of my pursuit of better horsemanship over the past two years has been all about rediscovery and refinement. I say rediscovery in the sense of the pure passion I used to have for horsemanship before I made it my sole source of income. When I refer to refinement, I speak to working horses of my own over longer periods, taking them from start to a more refined state.

I must first acknowledge my journey up to the past two years by saying how grateful I am to have been able to experience all that I did and make a great living doing it. Without that exposure to so many different facets of the horse industry and the people within it, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my future as I desire now. But in life, some times we have to let go of something good for something better! That in and of itself is a definition of the word refinement as I have come to believe in it at this time of my life.

The last two years have been so humbling for even having the opportunity to explore refinement in a setting I couldn’t have dreamed up any better. I mean some people never can make it out of the survival state of being to pursue any desirable future of their own. Some people have to do everything in their power just to make it through one day. Other people have to spend every moment of their life working to provide a potentially better future for others.

Previously, my life with horses was all about short term fixes or starts, never allowing me the ability to actually enjoy the fruits of the long term labors of refinement. That was the missing link between both in the rediscovery of my love for horsemanship as well as my own personal refinement within my pursuits. I believe the key to being a balanced horseman is the ability to start, fix, and refine horses both in the short term and in the long term.

The importance of refinement is only realized through years of dedicated and intentionally focused work. The love for something isn’t enough, that love needs to be reinforced with proof of action and the results from those actions. Refinement isn’t anything that anyone else can just give you, it has to be earned from within. Obviously, we all need mentors to show us what is correct and what is unnecessary, but at the end of the day, it relies solely on the ownership of the individual.

To refine a horse, one must first be capable of starting the uneducated horse as well as progress them beyond the basics. One must also have the ability to fix the created problem horses out there. This allows an individual to understand both the nature of the horse and the nature of the human. Two similar natures, but portrayed in infinitely different progressions. A topic for another time.

Thus leading me back to the enjoyment I so dearly missed, getting to ride refined horses. The refined horse is the representation of oneself if taken from start to our personal limitations at that time. The process shows us our faults or represents our understanding to the best of our abilities at that time. If one can create a refined horse then one truly respects and honors the horse as an equal. A refined horse is literally the fruits of intentional labor over a lifetime. There is no other way about it, you can’t just be given a refined horse or purchase one, for the truth will shine right through those illusions.

Refining horses was the piece of balance missing in my life and from the pursuit of the refinement comes the rediscovery of what horsemanship used to be to me. From the whole process, an infinite pool of compassion continues to fill within me with each passing year. By understanding the reality of the importance of the start of a horse and the understanding that bad horses aren’t born, they are created by us. Therefore leading to not only compassion for horses who are putting up with our infinite ineptitudes but also compassion for the humans who have created the troubled horse. It wasn’t even their fault, it was the fault of those closest to them who failed to show them the reality of the growth necessary from within to overcome our most basic reflexive human instincts. In the end, the process shows us the extreme effort, time, and love It takes to create a real refined horse or should I say a refined rendition of ourselves. To really understand what It means to create refinement, from the start to a state of refinement, it can only be understood by those who have achieved it through one discipline or another.

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