Category Archives: patience
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!
Wasn’t sure just where to start… figuring I would let it flow and see what came about in my awareness of living life with the Heart I now find at the very edge of each and every thought. As I have been soaking up the newness of change… in my own beliefs, words, and realizations from others experiences so lovingly shared and found when one searches. Necessary from my previously unknown tendency to take “to heart” and become what others needed me to be so they might be happy.
Thankfully, whenever I last wrote here, a few days later I was sent a notice that another person was following my blog, so I went back to read one of the post they liked. Which led to my reading two other post I had written months apart, yet basically just loops of the same place I was struggling in. I stepped back. Tried to look around to truly see as best possible of where I was. To start clearing, cleaning, changing and feeling for what was it I was truly “Wanting”!
This last weekend found me deep within connecting to my self in an entirely new profound way. I was looking into my own eyes, feeling my focus for what I saw… was I truly looking inside of me, or just at the physical aspects of me? How was I thinking? From the thoughts of what my looks were or where my looks were radiating from…
I have a new 3 ½ year old filly. The first day I went to see her I had a flash of intuition of who she truly would become. Loaded her up and she came home with me. Starting with… vet, wormed, chiropractor, farrier, 60 days ground work of her consistently “taking directions”… noting how aware she was of guarding her right side. Slow, careful, consistent 21 days under saddle.
Day 22… noted how old the earpiece on the bridle was (to be changed later). Which found me hard on the ground minutes later, after her panicked run into the fence when the bridle broke at the buckled spot and she tried to get away from this swinging piece near her eye. I “panicked” by physically making sure we did not run through the fence as she started to collide with it. Once turned she immediately unloaded her once confident rider, and two jumps later as I am refilling my lungs with air. She turns and walks back up to me with reins and bridle dangling from around her neck to find out what was so scary.
Healing is a mental thing, I knew I had missed something… I stopped and went back to the start, with slow, observant ground work. When I happened to reach over to the right side of her face where the bridle gave and found the still, very acute panic that had been apparent in her at the beginning. That which I had “obediently trained” her past. Suddenly having a very strong memory of my ole man “Chic” and the fear so strongly present in him when I first finally got to own him, and the months of slow, careful, conscious time earning his trust. Realizations of who I was and what I have been missing in my assisting others to change, all of these many years later after he died.
I forgot the Heart, Soul, and Look of Eagles when the light goes on because another knows you are listening to “ALL” of them. Seeing another as who they see themselves to be. Not who others think they should, could or ought to be.
Acutely aware of the time I went to a rodeo type event when I first moved back here and won 5 of the 7 events, placing 2nd in the others because I had to learn them minutes before competing. So relishing the comrade of being noticed, talked to and “accepted”. Highly aware of the one common comment “What I did was awesome BUT how much faster I would be when I learned to do it like they all did!”
Basically I went to clinics… untaught, untrained and disciplined myself to obediently follow the guidelines, finding the winnings getting less and less. Unless I started a beginning rider or horse with my self taught basics. From which they would start winning, only to be enticed to other stables so they could fit in and “Really Win”. I’d lost my own heart, trained it obediently away and didn’t even know it.
Thankfully I have never given up, just learned to slow down, start over and examine “everything!” Which blissfully led to this last weekend with my three different horses, now with a heartfelt connection to me, as I am looking and treating them as full valuable partners. Allowing them to know we are doing this together, step by step. The reward in their letting down, letting in, and amazed at the immense physical releases of their years worth of just “being obedient” yet having no real say in the partnership.
The run, run, hurry, hurry, everyone wants it now! Why aren’t you riding, trotting, loping, winning or on them yet demands. I had bought into the outcome, quantity, and “other peoples” wants for the mount to be just ridden and controlled. Their horses obediently following directions and going through the motions.
Not the quality and class of bringing the whole horse I am so capable and available to assist others in finding. The “Look of Eagles” in their eyes in full partnership, each a full half of the team. The team that sparkles and shines because of the connection of being powerful beings “Together, calm, connected, confident, classy, full Partners in Heart.”
The last few years I have sparsely written, as I had chosen the path of true self-discovery. Much like the weaver of a blanket who discovers in their almost completed project a couple of twisted out of place threads, which could have been just snipped, untwisted and replaced. Yet who knew instead there was much more to be gained in going back, completely undoing the months and years of work, to slowly… with new found awareness, patience and complete love of self to a place of truly knowing who I am worth to choose to rework the entire weave.
The last couple of years here in this small Texas town that has weathered the destruction and reconstruction (for me such a perfect outward expression of my inner journey) a tornado, straight line winds, massive rainfall, and just recently the edge of a hurricane, the eye passing within thirty miles to the east of here.
My oldest son changing jobs, buying his own place and settling into his current phase of life, whilst my youngest graduated, worked a series of fast food jobs, before finally finding work he truly, currently, enjoys. Including his moving out in the last few weeks as part of the series of learning the value of being on his own, which amazingly accompanied my own realization of how much of my life had been programed to taking care of others first.
In reweaving my life’s blanket, the threads I have gone within to find were all of the beliefs given to me by well-meaning others, the media, society, any and everything else that has attempted to tell me who I am so that I fit their idea of me.
I had just about found my way back to the first third of my life’s blanket the month after my youngest graduated last year, when I discovered this strange lack of activity in my routine. In puzzling over the difference as I continued with my “normal” routine, when the awareness of what the something missing was finally found me. For the first time in 24 years I did not have to “run” to school, the store, and the office to report, fix, repair, replace or return anything in assisting my boys in getting through school to be the somebody’s society expected.
I found myself bathed in the uncertainty of who was I really? I had this enormous list of things I was doing to fit into being “who I thought I was supposed to be”. Followed by slowly, carefully, daily, unthreading, unwinding, and sorting through the colors of beliefs, ideas and suggestions that I had learned to believe were supposed to be me. Thus utilizing yoga, exercise, diet, reading, and listening to a variety of authors as I allowed myself to actually discover, be content, and happy, by doing whatever I truly desired.
It took this last year with lots of alone time with the horses, the cats, the dog, myself, this place with its amazing views and the assortment of clients for me to see the reflection of who I had been, who I could be, who I was… always vividly portrayed by the situations I would see in front of me.
I have learned what the horses have shown, taught and instilled in me, as my truth. Everything is a result of what I am vibrating, feeling, being and expecting. There are no exceptions. It took almost stripping myself bare, learning to listen to every single thought, really feeling every feeling, awareness to every word I spoke aloud to finally realize I had created my entire life, no exceptions! If I truly desired change, I would have to be as aware in my moment to moment activities of my mind, body and beliefs, as I am when I am fully aware in handling and working with anything new.
There are no idle thoughts or feelings. Animals are gifted that way. They feel their way by living fully in each moment. There is no worry about tomorrow, or yesterday. Only this moment exist.
All of my old habits of thoughts as to what another thinks is okay or right… have been the walls of the prison I held myself in by thinking that I have to be some particular way to have a life, much less my life.
I am in such an amazing place of awareness and appreciation for everything I have ever done. I KNOW I can say no and not give a rip about anyone else. Because I truly am the only one who creates in my reality. I am really for the first time in forever knowing and loving who I am, what It is I desire, and who I comfortably, completely, thoroughly enjoy being and becoming more of. I am in love and at home with myself.
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!