Category Archives: Horsetraining
Ahh… the simple question of a child. The ten year old at lessons yesterday so intent on getting right the timing with her horse, stopped suddenly in tears of frustration. “I’m so stupid!! She’s not even trying to listen to me and do what I say. We are never going to get this right, I don’t even know why we come here. Stupid horse, stupid heat, stupid ground. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Ms Cat why do you even come out here with us?” Tears rolling down her face, in the 96 degree weather on a hot Thursday afternoon in Texas.
With only attempting one new move, a tiny shift in her posture to re-learn after my noticing her growth spurt of the last few weeks. After taking the time to adjust her stirrups and explain how it would help her sit and feel better. I told her “just takes a little while to get used to”. Watching her face as I demonstrated how those 2” of adjustment were now going to allow her to be able to sit deeper in the saddle, to feel her horse up under her. She would no longer be crouched forward in trying to keep her stirrups in place caused by her growing legs adjusting to fit in the saddle, instead of adjusting the saddle to fit her.
All the excitement of “hope” that this would be the cure-all for the problems found in the last few weeks since her previous lesson, showing in her face after the adjustments were completed. She proceeded to walk through the simple warm-ups she has been learning, to see if the little mare was following her feel. Listening, turning and moving together easily and smoother than minutes before.
Smiling from ear to ear she moved into the trot… for it all to seem to come apart. The horse dropping in to turn, the small hands trying to compensate with all of the thoughts running through her mind of “what it was she thought she understood she was trying to do”. By the third attempt all of the tears, frustration and indignation surfaced from all the time her mother said she had been working on it at home. They came boiling to the surface in the tirade that ended in the needed to be answered question.
I let the tirade run its course. Looked at her and asked “Why do you think I am still out here with you?”
She reached down petting her horse and apologizing to her for being so darn stupid and mad. Then looking at me, took her hand made it into the letter L (I use here to symbolize learning) held it at the front of her head and said “Because you love helping us to learn! You care about having fun. Fun for me, my horse, for you and that we are comfortable, confident and safe!”
And… I queried? “Baby steps!” Suddenly her face lit up as she remembered, “Ms Cat this is what practice is for, so I can learn it slowly, for it to become easy for me and her. I don’t have to get it perfect, just improve a teeny, tiny, bit, have fun, be safe and breathe!”
I then asked her “What do you think is wrong?” As she sat there thinking for her answer. I watched as the tension was released in first her fingers, then her body as she became more relaxed in the saddle. The mare’s head dipped, the reins became soft, with a cocked her hind foot as calmness returned.
“I don’t know… can you explain it to me better?” I thought about the maneuvers she was making and where I saw the improvement might be made, and then I asked her to explain what she thought she was trying to do. Listening as I heard her explanation, aware of her understanding what she thought I was saying, verses what I was intending for her to do. Aware of the discrepancy in words, I immediately switching to my physical mode of teaching, by allowing her to see and really “feel” the movement of the horse step by step in the best position for this mare’s physique and her young rider. Mimicking with my body the movement of the horse in the correct position with hindquarters engaged and the frustrating feel of the horse when dropping to turn, causing the hind legs stepping out, with no collection. To have the thrill of within just a few simple, really slow steps, she was getting her body in sync with the little mare at a walk, then an extended walk, to finally one simple circled trot to the right, then to the left with both moving together, upright and connected, all smiles and scratches for her mare.
The Wayne Dyer’s quote “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!” came up a lot this last week. Reading questions and concerns on a few horse sites I belong to from so many owners and riders who in learning new ways are having the same disconnection of words to physical action seen with this student earlier. When she allowed her emotions to come boiling up, and thankfully flowing out of her body for relief. Instead of the learned habit many experience in “feeling not good, pretty, successful, happy, rich etc… enough”. Many asking for help… to find tons of advice and suggestions. Not aware of how much their “not enough” feelings about what they are attempting are the limiting factor. The negative self talk, then internalizing the feelings into walls of doubt that seem impossible to overcome. Aware also of how many words there are out there to describe a movement, a place, a desire, a need… the words are only as capable as the feeling of possible or not possible as the understanding behind them.
In assisting my clients and their animals I’ve learned to listen to the question asked and the feeling accompanying it is. Slowing things down, hearing what they think, how they feel and what is the thing inside so tangled as to be creating this confusion of “I need the whole thing now!” Not the fun and joy of feeling the music in learning and creating their own dance. Teaching for me is awareness, breathing, learning and fun along with others on this journey!
If you feel drawn to someone, but you are annoyed because you think that they are telling you some lies, try to look beyond the lies and try to focus upon the feeling. People offer all kinds of words for all kinds of different reasons. Most lies are offered to try to keep things in alignment. We’re not encouraging it, but the motive behind lying is usually a pretty honorable motive. In other words, when a child lies to their parents, it’s usually because they want to be free to do what they want to do, and they don’t want their parents to be upset about it. It’s about wanting an alignment. Physical ears have a hard time hearing this. You keep talking about “We need to be honest.” And we say, we don’t meet any of you who are honest. Even those who claim to be the most virtuous, are not honest, but your vibration always is. We would trust the feeling more than the words.
Excerpted from the workshop in Houston, TX on Saturday, January 13th, 2001 # 280
Which I have been pondering all day, which I think has contributed to the up and down feelings. My son’s school meeting, turned out he turned himself in originally, literally asking (sub-consciously) for the alternative. It went pretty well, he can get out earlier, when he cleans up his act and finds way to apply himself to figuring out the good in going to school and being responsible for his actions.
Great morning lesson, found places where the horse and her are stuck…the horse knows exactly how far he can move to prevent her from moving him. I took over, and tinkered with it (I broke a sweat in 37 degree weather) kept moving him, and re-positioning everything. Till I found the place where he had the choice of backing into the fence and stopping with me consistently, rapidly and constantly increasing pressure with the whip or the opening to easily move forward freely toward. It took about 20 minutes before he decided I was not easy to out maneuver, I was consistent, I would increase the pressure, and I honestly left him a big enough opening for him to choose to go to. Then we went over it with her in charge, and it was improved, but she has a lot to work on till next week’s lesson.
I then came in here to sort through this up and down, whose responsible stuff. Typed up a new wish list and while I was out giving the next lesson. My youngest, because he is still suspended, got on the computer to look something up (his story) when I came back my stuff had been deleted. Argh…mad…enough… I can figure this out. Spitting fire, fuming at the seams, bellowing smoke… I am going to be okay, I am smart, I am allowed to be mad, as he curls up on the couch pretending to be asleep. I gasp, mutter, and type… Then I breathe as I realize the lesson with the horse is me with him. I breathe again, I just change the parameters, suddenly he is walking around cleaning, gathering trash, and washing dishes.
I am okay, I still have my wits about me and I have the list re-done and this typed. I am excellent, even okay with myself for getting and being mad. One day at a time…or getting general one breath at a time, no thoughts just breathe in, breathe out… I am now honoring the save button on my computer every 10 minutes or if I even think about walking away from it.