The other day, I had a call from a client who has been doing really well with their horse….I mean REALLY well.
I was so proud of how far they had come in just a few short months and their horse was so much calmer, trusting and willing. He was gaining in confidence every time I saw him and this reflected in his way of going. He had been asking questions all along as if he was really trying to understand what his owner wanted and their progress was a joy to watch.
It’s the kind of results that every coach or trainer dreams of seeing in one of their students and I felt so humble and privileged that they had chosen me to help them with the issues they initially had. I think the owner may have thought that I was the influence in how their horse was progressing, but in actual fact, it was mainly due to their persistent dedication and application of the lessons that they had been learning that helped them connect with their horse.
Well on this particular day, I had 3 missed calls from this student and felt terrible that I had not been there in their hour of need. I try to make myself available if they have a problem when I am not with them and never mind them calling me. On calling them back, they told me that the ride that day had been a disaster and that the horse had been bucking and rearing every time a horse fly landed on them.
Of course my first feeling was of concern for the rider’s safety and I asked if they got off when things were going wrong. They did. They managed to calm the horse down which was evident with the licking a chewing and then remounted, only for the horse to behave like that again.
Now then, consider this if it had been you.
What would YOU have done?
Imagine this….. You have spent the last 5 months, working on your own level of confidence and your ability to connect with your horse, recognise his needs……. and were just beginning to forget the anxiety you used to experience in the past……and this happened. Would you feel like you had gone right back to square one?
It’s easy for any of us to pontificate how we would have done this, that or the other.
But in reality, most of us would have experienced either one of the following emotions.
Anxiety or Anger.
Now then. You will probably not like what I am going to say now, but how HELPFUL to the horse are either of these emotions at a time like this? How helpful are they to the rider? Who are they helping?
And this is where emotional responsibility comes in.
It is up to each and everyone of us to behave in a way at any given time that OUR HORSE needs us to behave. Now that is easy to say. But not so easy to do.
Anxiety can quickly be removed when we dismount. That used to be an alien concept to me. After all, as a B.H.S.I.I, one is taught to ‘master’ the horse and that in turn is what I used to teach. It never seemed to work in reducing the student’s anxiety though. They just seemed to get worse….
Now this particular student got angry….really angry…..they said that it seemed as if there was really no relationship at all with their horse. That the horse SHOULD have behaved in a better way.
Well, from my own experience, sitting with a psychotherapist for the last two and a half years, learning about this stuff….and NOT just from a book , but from actually DOING it, I am here to ask ‘Why exactly SHOULD the horse do want we require of him?
This means that we are demanding that our horse behaves in a particular way and as soon as we DEMAND things from our horse, we set ourselves up for disappointment. I am not saying that we have to LIKE it when he doesn’t go in the way we wanted…..
So how could we look at things from a different point of view then?
We could PREFER, rather than demand, that our horse behaves how we would like him to. We could accept that horses, just like humans, can have a mental block at times and that they are mainly acting on instinct…….
And THAT is another blog post for another day:)
Horses and Humans have an opposing set of instincts and when we understand that concept, EVERYTHING changes for us:)
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