Why I no longer ride
by OurHorses community member Ren Hurst, Glen Rose, Texas
It has taken me weeks to finally sit down and write this. Mostly, that is because I wanted to do it from the same place of happiness and joy that this decision has given me many moments and glimpses of, but honestly – I’m in a state of transition that isn’t all that joyful lately. Instead, it’s downright uncomfortable and uncertain. I am not exactly sure what this decision means for my future, but it’s important for others out there wishing to follow their dreams to know the truth – it’s not always easy, sometimes you go through seriously rough periods of self-doubt and discovery, but I know from personal experience that the harder you push toward your truth, the more amazing the revelations and experiences are on the other side.
I don’t want to waste this beautiful life following the rules implemented by a society that is mostly asleep to the incredible world around them. I would rather be miserable for a little while until I figure things out and am able to move forward again with my lessons learned. So, with that said, I can see the light on the horizon, and here are my reasons to move forward and get off the horses’ backs.
I have been studying and working with horses for the majority of my life. Because of the nature of the work I do and have done with them, I have had the rare opportunity to work with hundreds. When you engage with those kinds of numbers, whether it is human, horse, or any other type of being, you get a lot more information to ponder than the average person when it comes to drawing conclusions about the truth of certain things. I have also been on a personal journey of my own spiritual development over the past decade, mostly concentrated in the past four years or so.
The combination of those two facts has provided me with real life example after example of the harm that is caused by controlling, manipulating, and causing physical discomfort and harm to another being for no other reason than my own personal enjoyment or desire. To say that riding benefits the horse in some way seems completely delusional to me considering all the scientific evidence to prove otherwise. There are now countless studies and research materials available to prove the science behind the harm of riding, but I will not go into those facts here. I think it is much simpler than that. When people are able to climb on the back of a horse and have some non-violent means of communication that didn’t take 30, 60, or 90 days to accomplish through pain, equipment, manipulative means, coercion, bribery, learned helplessness, etc., then I will be 100% open to believing we belong up there.
And then there are the horses themselves, and the stories they “tell” when riding is no longer a part of their lives. It isn’t as simple as just throwing them in a pasture and letting them stand around free of any responsibility. One actually has to make significant changes in their management as well as begin relating to them and spending time with them in different ways for the changes to take place. It is hard to describe to those that aren’t aware of the principles behind Nevzorov Haute Ecole, but all I can say is that our herd of twelve horses has never been so eager, engaged, playful, healthy, or vibrantly excited to be a part of our lives. Some of them still have a long way to go, but the improvement is seen daily.
It is like a completely different world with our horses now, and I cannot imagine ever going back. I have said it before, but I must say it again – after working with so many of these animals, I never truly met one before I decided to let go of everything I thought I knew about them, meet them as equals, and provide them the safety and respect that comes from allowing someone to be exactly who and what they are, and then loving them for just that.
The truth is, I could fill an entire book (maybe many) with all of the information, experiences, etc. that have led me to make this decision in my life. I think it makes more sense for this blog to keep it short and simple. I no longer ride because I am choosing to honor a creature I love in order to attain a greater and more permanent sense of peace and joy in my life. I am using this way of being and relating to horses in part as a vehicle to move toward my own inner peace and self actualization, in a way that I hope to share with others.
It is my hope and desire that by only engaging in peaceful interactions with my horses, I will cultivate peace within myself and in my relationships with my fellow humans. I want the world to be a more peaceful, joyful place, and the only way to make that happen is to start with me.
Is it wrong to ride horses? I don’t think it is for me to say, and I have no desire to convince anyone to make changes they are not comfortable with in their own lives. All I know is there is great harm that comes from riding, both for the horse and the human. Anyone wishing to explore that more fully could begin by studying the latest hippology texts or checking out the principles of Nevzorov Haute Ecole (http://www.hauteecole.ru/en/