Patience-the Making of a Horseman by Craig Cameron
Craig Cameron – Patience is a huge key in life and in horsemanship. To me, patience is waiting without worry. I can’t get out there with my horse and get worried or mad or frustrated. Show me a guy who gets mad or impatient, and I can show you a guy who is no horseman.
With horses, you must be willing to wait out a situation. Sometimes you have to stop, sit back and think about what you’re doing that is getting a certain result, whether the result is good or bad. You have to think about what direction you should take and how you can fix problems.
Sometimes, while you’re thinking about the direction to go, the horse tells you where he needs the help. Listen to the horse. Remember to watch his eyes, ears, the tilt of his head, his body position and expression. The actions of the horse can help tell you which direction you should take. That’s how you’re going to get the positive result you’ve been seeking.
Being able to stay the course and remain patient says a lot about your character and your maturity level. These things help you in life, too.
Sometimes I feel like I’m better with horses than I am with people. I can be ultra-patient with a horse and less patient with a person! But I try to apply the traits of good horsemanship to my life and my relationships in general.
Good horsemen make conscientious efforts to improve. Patience allows you to develop that same thought process, which allows you to think as you’re riding and working your horse. Horsemanship is truly a thinking man’s game. When you work your horse, even though it can sometimes seem like you’re moving in slow motion, patience allows you to make steady progress.
Your hands are the key to unlocking your horse’s true potential. When you often hear me talk about having a “slow hand,” that means you move slowly, not suddenly. The hands are so important. Are you going to have rough, unsympathetic, unyielding hands? Or are you going to have educating, soft, understanding hands—the hands of a horseman?
Moving those hands slowly and softly is what I want to do, and what I want to see. We use our hands so much, with lead ropes, with our reins. Through the reins, we give a signal or cue to the horse’s mouth, which goes to his mind…the mind that controls his body, legs and feet. When we slow down those hands, we are able to guide our horses easily. People often don’t realize that the faster a horse’s feet are going, the slower the hands should move. That is part of developing a sense of feel and timing. Learning and knowing how little pressure it takes to operate a horse — not how much pressure —is the mark of an experienced horseman.
Every day, I want to see how light I can be with my cues, with my signals to that horse, and with my hands. Those things are making me a better horseman. Those are the things I try to do on a consistent basis. There are going to be good days and bad days, for me and for the horse, as well.
A Native Texan Craig Cameron, one of the original clinicians, is on the road more than 44 weeks a year covering 80,000 miles demonstrating the style of horsemanship he has perfected in the last 23 years. Called the “public defender of the horse,” Craig dedicates himself to those who educate their horses by first educating themselves. At an age where most have long since retired the thought of starting colts, Craig Cameron, known as “The Cowboy’s Clinician,” starts hundreds of horses each year. Learn more about Craig Cameron at www.CraigCameron.com
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This article was printed in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 9, Issue 5