I will admit that sometimes, I wish I could step backwards into ignorance. The more I become aware of those subtle yellow or obvious red lights I get from my horses, the harder it is to overlook them. Some days, I am very good at dealing with getting to green lights, and other days it can cause some internal turbulence for me. The challenging days are when I have gotten caught up in a previous goal, and realize that’s not in the cards at the moment.
This quote came along at the right time, and helped me to put things in perspective:
“We don’t expect the child to write his name the first day or two in school. As soon as he learns to sit down in class and listen to the teacher, he is not immediately expected to write his name…..but we expect immediate learning from a horse. We expect the horse to go from kindergarten to the eighth grade, to high school, to college without enough time, preparation, or consideration for his thoughts and feelings. We often don’t even get him into a learning frame-of-mind before we begin to train him. We don’t even have him relaxed and confident, where he can sit down in class and just listen. We skip all that preparation because we are so superior, or neglectful, or lazy. Because we haven’t prepared ourselves to recognize the horse’s feelings.” – Ray Hunt
I am thankful that even on the days when the inner turbulence appears, I am able to choose my horse and the bond we have over the critical voices that are creating the unrest. I understand how difficult it can be to undo the conditioning. The messages from the mainstream horse world have not always been about honoring the horse. At least, not the way that I interpreted them (not saying it’s the same for everyone). It is very common to hear phrases such as “don’t let the horse get away with that” or “you have to let them know who’s boss”. To me, following this type of philosophy causes me to get rigid and tense in both my thinking and my body. Honoring where my horse is, especially by observing his or her expression, helps me turn away from those sentiments, and turn back toward building the trust and honoring our bond. Fortunately, I know more and more that I am not alone on this journey. Thankfully, I am getting to meet and know more and more people that are interested in working with horses in a compassionate, empathetic manner. I also find that I come across quotes, like the one above, or some other validation just when I need it. A little support can go a long ways in having the courage to follow your heart. Thank goodness!