Dave Seay Progressive Horsemanship
Moonlight Ride

The Little Things

“It’s the little things that make a big difference”, is often said and heard in the world of horsemanship, but how many of us really take this sentiment to heart?


Dave Seay will say that these ‘little things’ begin from the moment you wake-up in the morning to the moment you go to bed. Each day we have a choice, most of us at least, to decide how we’d like to present ourselves to the world, and to our horses. We may not always wake-up with the same feelings or level of confidence as the previous day, but if we can give more thought to our actions and try to think more positively, our horses might agree we’re kind of nicer to be around. Presenting a positive and steady presence to our horses will help them to know they can trust us, and through our consistent actions they’ll feel like they can count on us to take care of them, no matter what the situation.


So what are these little things Dave speaks of? A lot of it is simply awareness. Being aware of what our horses are telling us through their expressions. Eyes, ears, skin, breath—these are the visible ways they may try to communicate with us before “speaking” a little louder, and we can answer them at that same low level, if we’re paying attention. It's these little things that mean a whole lot to the horse.


Dave’s working horse Loree is not the type to easily put her trust in just anyone. There are some days that she’ll even check-in with him to confirm he’s up for the job of being her leader that day. It’s very subtle, but because he’s so aware, he notices and answers back just as quietly. This conversation may happen in varying forms, and most people wouldn’t even notice it was taking place, but Loree sure does!


Our typical daily interaction with our horses is another one of these little things. Do we have boundaries and do we keep them. If the rules of the road changed every time we drove down the street, it might start making us a little nervous to drive out of fear of doing something wrong. Setting boundaries doesn’t mean we have to be strict or we can’t love on our horses, it just means we have to be consistent in what our expectations are, setting rules for how we coexist. When people marvel about how “easy” it is for Dave to get along with a horse, he makes it no secret that it’s not something that just happens automatically, he begins building the relationship before he gets to the gate. It’s the way he approaches the horse, and respectfully halters the horse, and asks the horse to go with him that speaks volumes.


Possibly one of the biggest little things that we can be aware of is "where is my horse's attention, and where is mine?" It can be hard for us to checkout from worries about work, family, or whatever, but we owe it to our horses to be mentally present when we’re with them. At least try! And in the spirit of togetherness, we want our horses’ focus to primarily be on us too. This by no means requires us to micromanage them, nobody likes that, but we do need to provide our horses with an active partnership and continuous interaction, listening to what they’re saying quietly before they feel like they need to take matters into their own hands.


© Dave Seay Progressive Horsemanship.