Category Archives: patience
When you think you know what it is you do and suddenly find yourself fully engulfed having fun changing lives in ways you never quite imagined or have ever explained to another…
In the last few weeks of my working with horses and their owners I was suddenly, almost magically transported to a keen insight into what it is I am actually doing in my “supposed” line of work as a horse trainer/coach. I am a transformer.
I have owners bring me their problems… horses, fears, ideals and dreams. Their horses that have stopped working, are barely moving, running away and are in conflict with what is being expected, or are totally refusing to “behave”.
I evaluate the communication between horse and rider, finding the clues to the mistakes. Many times because the horse’s body is out of alignment. The owner’s timing is off. The horse has never been asked or taught how to move in ways that are comfortable much less correct, and with no idea of how to ask with the rider’s body for the expected results with their horse.
I assist people in learning to connect in the horse’s body language of communication, how much difference it makes to a horse to move in a way that the horse can flow in any direction that is desired when the person asking is in the right place. Even more so to be able to bring to the owner’s awareness that many of the horses brought to me have been started or handled by well-meaning individuals who are not aware of what incredible mimics’ horses are. That every minute you are handling a horse you are teaching it something! What you do want or what you don’t want. For horses focus and live in the now, they are not thinking of ten minutes ago, are where they will be tomorrow.
Their focus on present is so keen, that if they are asked to move in any way that causes the one moving them to stop moving. They accept the non-movement as this last movement they have done was the right answer.
I have had three horses in the last four days that are older horses, who have no idea how to lope confidently on the ground with a lead attached, much less under saddle. These horses all show the signs of being ridden by people that had no idea that everything they asked a horse to do, even if it put the horse’s body out of balance. It had to be the right answer because one of several things would happen. The horse would stop moving, slow down to a more in control speed, the rider would stop pulling, yanking, kicking, lose the rider, or would quit and put the horse away. Many times selling the horse because they didn’t know how to fix the problem they had created.
I assist owners in becoming aware of how everything going on with their horses is a reflection of something in the owner’s confidence in communication. Horses and their owners’ bodies are evaluated, for chiropractic, feet, emotional and communication abilities. Many times as in the present horses… I go all the way back to simple, basic baby steps. In assisting the horse to find trust in my ability to ask with the right feel and timing for the best answer for the horse, then by showing and teaching this to the rider to start a whole new form of communication. Teaching and coaching both with their ability to understand and work with each other to change the habits that have brought them to me.
Always I watch with fascination and joy as a horse learns to lose the brace from frustrated, fearful handling because of all the misunderstanding in trying to figure out what is desired of them, and that it is possible to do these movements in a much more comfortable and easy way. I show both how to communicate comfortably, safely, and effectively in a way that they both understand and can feel that they must move as a team, each one’s job is to be in a position to assist the other the best placement of their bodies, so they can now find a new way to react that feels and works better for the both of them.
Many times taking former “washed up, bad, blown up” horses, and frustrated, fearful riders. Back to performing winners, comfortable, and confident companions, by getting all to slow down, communicate, trust and “ask” each other to be the incredible partner they had both been seeking and believing possible when they first came to me. I love my job, the people and the horses that grace my life.
I get home, we unload feed, my client came to watch me work her horse, ask questions, learn, pick my brain as I play with her horse, asking for softer response each moment, knowing he is feeling my sense of love, fun, and ease at improving the connection between him and me. Then sharing what I am doing with his owner till she understands enough that I can see the physical difference in both her tone and her stance. Ending the session with him softer, more fluid, flexible, tired, but proud of himself for understanding me. His owner commenting on what an incredibly interesting life I have, because interspaced through the entire session, my son wanders through with momentous requests, which I field with looks, body language and temperance. Just like my horses and he gets what he asks for, after he too finds the place of accomplishing what is needed to get the reward he seeks. The owner sees and marvels how all of this stuff ties together, and she schedules her next session.
I get out the appaloosa that belongs to my youngest, today’s session is much like my session with him, he pushes, tries to turn away and act like I am not referring to him, as I stand there and wait until he releases the pressure. No reaction from me when he fiddles, pulls harder, turns his nose up, or wiggles his lip, nothing but patience till he shifts his foot and finally tips his nose, releasing all tension in the rope, to look at me. The look means “is this really all that you want” I grin, we move on to riding, today is much like the pleasure it is becoming in dealing with his owner.
I move to the new horse, she is stiff, braced, looking everywhere, but at me. All the expectations of dealing with her past and what others have done… to “make her ride able”, her eyes are brown, glassy, the whites showing. All the signs of expecting the worse, all tight, tense, ready to push or run over me before I do that or more to her. I start with a brush, a long stroke down the entire length of her body on both sides, then start working of detangling her mane, then the massive tangle in her long, thick to the ground tail. For a solid hour, I detangle both the mess in her tail and the tenseness in her body, as with about every fourth or fifth stroke, I ask her to take a step right, couple more strokes, now step left. The continuous movement of the brushing, breathing, small steps here and there are rhythmic, soothing, almost mesmerizing in there simplicity. They even allow for her couple of times of blowing up, jumping all over the place wild eyed, staring at me, expecting retribution… I just keep slow, quiet, firm and moving her, the brush, me, her tail till I hear this big sigh, and about the same time the final knot comes out of her tail.
I change to the next task, continuing moving her through each situation of asking for her feet, asking her to step forward, to walk over the ground poles, to accept the blankets, to accept the saddle, to allow me to step up in the stirrup, to get on and finally to get her to take willing small uncertain steps around the pen. Each time it is the same slow ask, wait, response, breathe, ask, wait, response, till the right response is found. Slowly her body starts to soften, slower still her head begins to lower, finally I begin to get a softness in her eye. The eye which has changed from hard, glassy, walleyed, to soft, big brown, liquid eyes of relief… I spent four hours with this little mare to get her to go from a state of rigid, dire, “oh no’, to a softer, “what is all of this, not sure but it is definitely worth learning what’s next”.
I love playing with this life I live. I truly am blessed with what I have learned!