Just Say No, to No

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The Relatable Rider

Sometimes you get to the point where you can no longer accept “no” as an answer. Recently, that happened for me with my mare, Fire. 

There is a beautiful five-acre park behind our barn that we can ride through, and it’s a nice loop to cool out on. I have made it there a few times with the help of a horsey babysitter, but never managed to do the loop with Fire solo. So, on Saturday I decided I was going to try again. 

I made up my mind that I was going to do it – no matter what. And again, Fire said “no.” She said “no” many times, but I just kept asking the same question. Eventually, we made it all the way around. Not only was it great for her to get out and about, but my feeling of accomplishment was enormous. We finally did it!

So naturally, I thought it would be straightforward for us to do the same thing the next day. And once again, Fire said “no” – except this time with more drama and more attitude. She wouldn’t even walk out the back gate of the ring. So once that started, I knew I had to make it around no matter how long it took.

Eventually, we made it out of the ring and down the trail towards the park. When we got to the entrance of the park, once again she said “no.” She would do anything but walk forward, including running backward, rearing, and kicking out. Still, I knew I had to get her around the loop. If not, I’d be letting her know she is in charge in our relationship and would always have this fight with her.

So, I just kept asking the same question… forward. Just. Go. Forward. And she kept saying “no.” I tried multiple things, even verbally reasoning with her… she wasn’t super receptive, but I was determined. And after about 15 minutes of “heated discussion,” she finally resigned and marched around the park. Unlike the day before, this time she didn’t stop at every corner, but now walked with purpose around the park without stopping.

Over the last three years this mare has tested me. In my experience, it’s always harder to set boundaries with your own horse, and so much easier to do so with someone else’s horse. But now I feel as if I’ve finally gotten through to Fire, and I’m finding my voice. Sure, it’s between me and my horse, but that can transfer over to the rest of life, too. There are times you must accept “no” as the answer, but there are times you just might have to ask again, and again, until you get the right answer.

“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won't accept.” ― Anna Taylor  


Photo: Soul Touch Photography