This is a word that has many meanings and interpretations. I have been riding a couple of horses lately pretty steady. I have not gotten to do this much as of late and am certainly enjoying it.
I am working hard on getting them handy, safe, and content with me and the work we will do while not taking the spirit out of them. This is the spot that does not get talked about much, but I think it may be the difference in horsemanship styles. The way you go about controlling movement can kill the spirit or keep it there.
Horses with all the horse left in them don’t work for many situations. Many riders don’t have the skills to ride a horse with lots of life and spirit. Imagine a dude ranch with a bunch of spirited horses. Beginning and novice riders need horses that are as sensitive to pressure as the jockey is at giving it.
This has had a big effect on horsemanship. In the show world we take the life out by loping circles and drilling the horse so they can be shown. In the world of horsemanship clinics we must get control of the horse physically by bending and disengaging the hind quarters of the horse, to try to keep the rider safe even though he is behind the action of the horse.
It is very important to be safe, so I am not saying it is wrong to match a horse with a rider’s skill level. But for me I get so much pleasure, pride and performance out of riding the horse for the spirit in them.
To do this you must stay ahead of the horse mentally. If he gets ahead of you, you must be able to ride good enough to get him through it and bring him back to you mentally. If you overpower him physically by bending him or disengaging the hind end you are able to get control of all the life in him. Then you start over or put the life back in. If you do this too much you can really take the life or spirit out of the horse.
This to me is important, not only for horses but for all living things.
I have mentioned the book Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton. In this book he talks about cellular biology. All living things are made up of billions of cells. In his study of cells he claims each has three main purposes. Growth, survival, and to “live.” Cells need to live it up like the billions of cells that make up the horse that needs to run, buck and play. If every time the horse shows enthusiasm and we shut it down, we take a little life out of him and some of the spirit.
It seems the same is true in how we deal with people. Parenting, teaching, being a boss or a preacher can be done in many styles. The ones I enjoy observing the most are those that get the job done with spirit and not killing the life and enthusiasm in the person.
I hope this gives you something to think about. If we navigated our way through life trying to create spirit and improve quality of life by matching spirit with the environment the animal or person is in, there may be much less negative pressure and the stress it creates.
~ Curt Pate