How can trail riding compare watching TV?

I often tell people that when they are riding their horse they need to realize that they are either making deposits or withdrawals. When we interact with our horses, our children, etc we are either making deposits or withdrawals. It is human nature to believe that we are doing neither and are instead on a plateau.

There are no plateaus. You are either doing one or the other and if you are not SURE which one it is….then you are making a withdrawal.

Watching TV is often a place where as a family it is easy to pretend we are spending time together. But unless there is active discussion around what we are watching together it is generally not a deposit, and therefore it is a withdrawal.

You will most often recognize deposits because they involve planning and/or work. When you go trail riding do you make an effort to improve things or do you cruise along enjoying the show?

Watch for tomorrows post “Is just enjoying your horse bad?”


  1. Marie Bennett on September 14, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Lance, well said!

  2. Michael on June 3, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Great analogy. I’ve always said that whenever you interact with your horse you are either making a positive or a negative impact. My wife and I love to trail ride but just like a Sunday drive in the car, you wouldn’t dare expect the car to drive on auto-pilot would you?

  3. Lance Peterman on June 3, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I have to disagree with the premise here, as I believe it to be anthropomorphic. This is based on the human construct (also flawed, in my opinion) that we are either progressing or regressing in a relationship. There is no neutral state. While I do agree with the concept of deposits and withdrawals, which is true of any relationship, animal or human, this is not a zero sum game.

    There is a zen state that some may consider “neutral” but it is in fact quite healing. I experience that frequently with my horse, and in many cases it is when we are simply enjoying each other’s company (some may to refer to it as “undemanding time”). In this area, I would argue that while “just enjoying her”, I am building rapport as well. In that context, does that make “enjoying her” a deposit or a withdrawal?

    Of course, it can also happen when we are playing or riding. For obvious reasons I can’t attest 100% to the zen experience of the horse, but her queues usually tell me how we’re doing. I feel strongly that “do nothing” time is equally important to playing and focusing on progression, whether online, offine, or in the saddle. While I think Stacy would agree that this time is important, I simply disagree that this constitutes a withdrawal in the relationship. Sometimes it is neutral, sometimes it is a deposit.

    • Lance Peterman on June 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      Feel free to delete this one, I meant to post it on the entry regarding enjoying your horse. Sorry for the confusion.

  4. twomindsoneride on June 3, 2012 at 8:44 am

    A great post, Stacy, and a topic of discussion I have, a lot, with my students. I believe that the horse has no concept of “training” time vs “down” time. For better or worse we are either training or allowing certain behaviors.
    I enjoy reading your blogs and hope you are having a great weekend!!
    Take care, Kim

  5. Kathy Kopylec on June 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I think that`s a great analogy, just came home for lunch now I think I`m heading for the barn to go watch t.v. OOPS, to actively work with my horses and keep the cabinet doors on my T.V shut… untill I`m as great of a horse person as you! Keep those posts coming!

  6. Michele Simpson on June 1, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I like your deposit/withdrawal analogy. I always said you are always “training” a horse. Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the worse. I like your analogy better because it is easier for human minds to comprehend.

  7. Dawn Beard on June 1, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Great topic. The reason why I like this is to get myself thinking on accountability (deposits) I look at it in that every time I handle my horses I am requiring manners (I have one pushy gelding that will forever look for the advantage… unless I require him being a gentleman, there will be a time he chooses otherwise) i.e. I go thru gates first, I have to have space, no hindquarters coming in my direction while grooming. That is in the first few minutes. All the small stuff (just like with kids) quiet to saddle, take time to bridle, better stand stock still while mounting and to stand quiet and settle while I pull on gloves etc. Every little requirement and correction is part of the investment. I see many friends let their horses slide with lapse after lapse, maybe there are mature horses that will stay completely compliant forever… but not the ones I am around 🙂 It is not that long before the horse is running the show. On the trail it is the same. It is great to relax but running tests and giving little jobs keeps everyone in the here and now, prevents the big spooks that come out of the blue and creates seasoning on a horse. It is fine to veg in front of a t.v. … but get lulled into a vegetative state while in the saddle and accidents will happen. One doesn’t need to stay on high alert, but I think one needs to stay on the job.

  8. susan andchloe on June 1, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Great post.

  9. Joanna on June 1, 2012 at 7:17 am

    well, even if I trail ride and actually just cruise, I still believe in making a deposit. It is to do with the rest of the time I spend with my horse. Riding them 5 days a week, spending an awful lot of time in the ring working on little things can make them cranky and sore, so our weekly trail ride takes them out of the ring, and gives them the chance to just relax and still work those muscles while watching something new. Its probably like working the treadmill while watching TV………. 🙂

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