The days are getting longer

In a sea of difficulty small things make all the difference. The sun breaking through the clouds, a glimmer of warmth during the cold, light at the end of the day. For anyone who works, or ever has worked, in an office, you know how wonderful it is when you come out of your office in the evening, and discover that it is still light. This moment is the first sign of the end of winter, the first hope of spring.

Even at the moment when many of us aren’t in the office, we are often still bound by our working hours, and office jobs encompass many sectors, so that there are many key worker office jobs, with people who have trudged through the dark to work and back. And suddenly there it is. The end of day office conversation around how light it is and but look at the time, remember last week it was dark now…In fairness the scope for conversation at the moment is fairly low, so pretty much anything counts as entertainment.

But it never ceases to amaze me how much the lightening evenings lifts our souls, how very much it surprises us every year. Do we believe that this winter the spring will fail to come and that we will be trapped in some Narnia-esque eternal winter? This winter I suspect anything felt possible, so the redemption of daylight and sunshine seems like a greater blessing than normal.

And indeed in a world where the only form of entertainment is going for a walk, daylight has become more valuable than ever. Picnics when the days are short and the weather drives straight into your bones are not a thing of joy, but a picnic as the days lengthen and the flowers start to push through are a pleasure to look forward to.

Sue’s Standpoint – The difference between guilt and shame

Most working days I hear someone talk about a horse who is ‘rude’, ‘bad tempered’, ‘ignorant’, or similar.  It gets my back up every time.


I deeply respect the work of shame researcher Brene Brown.  If you haven’t watched it already, I highly recommend her TED talks ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ (which has been viewed by nearly 30 million people), and ‘Listening to Shame’  (which has been viewed by over 7 million people).  I have ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ and ‘The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting’ as audiobooks (I spend a lot of time listening to books on Audible  as I drive between yards!), and I go back to them again and again.  If you prefer the written page, then I recommend her books ‘The Gift of Imperfection’  and ‘Daring Greatly’


One of the things she says that sticks most in my mind from Brene Brown’s work is the difference between ‘guilt’ and ‘shame’.  The difference between ‘you did a naughty thing’ and ‘you are naughty’ is what it boils down to, as far as I understand it.  Guilt is a good, helpful emotion, because you can change what you did.  Shame is a bad, unhelpful emotion, because you cannot change who you are.  Read more here, including how differently people behaved in a study where they were told either that ‘people are cheating’ or ‘people are cheaters’!


So is your horse ‘rude’, or did he do a rude thing?  Is it a behaviour that can be changed, or a personality trait that is part of who he is?  Judging by how regularly horses adjust their behaviour according to who is riding or handling them at the time, I’m personally on the side of the behaviour being changeable in the majority of cases.


Something else I’ve learned on my own personal life journey is that if you want to cause a change in someone’s behaviour, you first need to make a change in your own behaviour.  Like you I suspect, I’m on a lifelong journey of learning, continually refining my communication with both humans and horses.  I often get it wrong, but how else would I learn?!  One thing I try hard to do though is to recognise that if a horse I’m working with is behaving in a difficult way, he’s not deliberately demonstrating difficult behaviour – this is not always easy if he is barging me around the stable at the time!  He has learned to behave this way through the cues he has been given by those around him, horse and human.  It’s up to me to adjust my technique to cause a change in his behaviour, and since my aim is always to encourage relaxation during physiotherapy treatment, I have a range of different options available to me.


Horse owners generally want to do the best for their horse in my experience, and the first four books in our ’10 of the Best’ series  are proving really popular.  Many of us are lacking confidence in our own ability, or in our own convictions, and I fully empathise with those who get sidetracked into using techniques they later regret.  Frustration comes from not having the answer, and so it seems to me that the key to developing confidence is education.  More knowledge and more experience leads to greater confidence, and at The Horse Physio we share information from trusted and respected individuals and organisations on a daily basis, people who I like to learn from and who I hope will help you to.


So enjoy your day, enjoy your horse, and today I’ll leave you with a quote from Brene Brown, which I think is from The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting:


“First and foremost, we need to be the adults we want our children to be.  We should watch our own gossiping and anger.  We should model the kindness we want to see.”

Struggling to bridle Eva

“Here is EVA My 6yr old showjumper. We have had her just over 12 months. We have always struggled to put her bridle on. When we approach her in the stable she always seems nervous,  holds her head up high and circles the stable to avoid having bridle on.
After one session with Sue, Eva is now standing still and excepting the bit with treats as a reward. We are still progressing and working with Eva everyday.  Thrilled with results so far.”