Category Archives: Solutions

Listen Carefully…

this is meAhh… 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!

Clues, Observations, Realizations, New Solutions

Ground rules … are our own. We establish what we allow or don’t, what is right or wrong for us. We learn from our experiences, when we take whatever has happened and keep turning it, until we get either a view we like, or we find what we can do differently to get the answer we seek. After my writing this morning, I went to find solutions in my favorite gold/goal mine…the horses. Starting with the biggest of my bunch, both in size and position in the herd, he is the most apt to try me. Either by moving so much into my space for attention, that it is in horse language rude and disrespectful, or acting like a spoilt brat, when he finds the first trick doesn’t work. Both of those this morning, I correctly recognized and made the right adjustments so I felt the ease of leadership. He is slowly allowing me back my expected position as in charge, head of the group, leader. The ride was easy and flowing until my trimmer arrived, when I felt him tense up, searched through myself to find I was aware of someone in the position to watch. It took some concentrated breathing to relax me and more core awareness for it to filter him to sort of relax. He managed all the patterns, actually listening for cues, and behaved in the manner that suggested I have changed, I am getting better, though I still haven’t left the peanut gallery completely out. Yet! We got out the hurting mare from yesterday. Her evaluation of some of the soreness could be contributed to her feet and the way she has been made to travel, way up on her toes like a lady in 7 inch heels, most of her life. We got through trimming all four feet, one foot needed three extra swipes with the rasp, which truly gave the mare so much needed relief. To then move on to massage, stretching, and helping the muscle that stood up each time I worked across that area, enough for the trimmer to watch it as it slowly began to release and relax. Lisa and me then began comparing notes to which parts of the various horses she was dealing with and which parts I was noticing. Both of us amused at all of the toe problems she was dealing with, my comment of “been busy walking around on tiptoes with people”. She grinned and then remarked was I aware of in my teaching format, “you have this tendency to constantly validate yourself” stop it your great. The conversation then going on about digging through the past for answers, or looking ahead for solutions, when some where right in the middle of that, we settled on looking at what was or is, to figure out what it is one wants right now in the moment. The digging for what caused it doesn’t help, but knowing how one truly feels, recognizing it, then changing how one looks to find the good or the trigger thing that sets one off. To notice it sooner eachtime, with the idea of yeah that feels like this, but I am wanting to feel like that. All and all it allowed both of us the piece/peace of still doing the scrutinizing, digging, observing, but in the constructed manner of a pile of wood thrown randomly down, looked at, then decide what is there, then reorganized into an easy to use, orderly stack.
We went to lunch, enjoyed the soup, company, and lightened conversation as we talked about the various ways we draw in information, each of us filtering in our different fashions. To come up with a very workable result that satisfies both of us. She went to her next trim, I went to drive, feeling tons lighter about my family. I desire to be treated like the important, weirdly wonderful person I am. I accept full attention, I condone being asked, I love being included because I am wanted. (That entire sentence was a work of art, I had to keep finding the thing I desire, not the old stuff…I threw out)
My son called to tell me my parts for my truck were in, from the two weeks search to find them. The fun part being originally the bill was supposed to be over $100 now that the right parts were correctly identified, the total delivered to him tomorrow is $34 . I continue driving, distracted by people pulling in front of me, then slowing down, I think, I must be going to fast in my racing mind to get things all done now. Slow my thinking, start having fun with what needs to be done, and both vehicles pulled off and turned. I love how things keep working out for me when I relax and allow!
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