As a horse owner, you will see and look at your horse every day. Probably more than once. You look at him when you are feeding, grooming, tacking up, hosing off, rugging, etc but are you really SEEING him?
When you see something or someone every day, sometimes multiple times a day, it is hard to notice subtle changes in their appearance because we just stop seeing them so clearly. Ladies, this is why men don’t notice your new haircut…it is the same thing with your horse. Working with them every day can tone down your observation skills until something is so obviously different that it appears to have happened ‘overnight’.
The art of seeing is quite an interesting and complex subject. We don’t all see equally. What I mean is, we will all notice and see different things even when we are looking at the same subject.
For example, this has been proven with people looking at, and describing art; It is extremely common for people to assess and describe exactly the same painting, but pick out different elements that they saw; ‘didn’t you see the massive table in the background?’ ..’No, I saw the sunflower in the corner..’ It is an odd phenomenon, but it is a very human trait. In the world of crime, taking witness statements and documenting crime scenes is fraught with challenges as peoples’ recollection of events and what they saw can be quite polarizing.
So, what does this mean for you as a horse owner?
The musculoskeletal development of your horse provides you with encyclopaedic volumes of information, all you have to do to unlock this info is to SEE it. At this stage it doesn’t matter that you might not know why or what you are seeing, you just need to see it and describe it.
Next time you are doing something with your horse, take an extra 5-10 mins, stand back and just look at your horse. Don’t force anything, just look. Look at the shapes, the soft contour lines and the more rigid lines. Look at the muscles, look at the feet. Look from both sides, from the front and from the back.
It might be handy to do this with a partner. Have both of you looking at your horse and then describe what you see to each other. It doesn’t matter how basic your assessment is. Get used to just describing what you see. Remember if your sightings differ it’s because we all see differently and focus on different things!
If you have the time, jot your thoughts down and then repeat the exercise for the next 5 days, writing down your assessment each time. Your horse is constantly evolving; the work you do, the time of year, health and age will all play a role in how your horses’ posture changes. You must start to see your horse as a dynamic entity that is constantly changing. That way you become a much more discerning owner, and noticing subtle changes can potentially help to prevent problems before they have manifested.