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.”
48 hours later and so many things have changed right before my very eyes… All of these illusions, deceptions, frustrations and struggles have all turned into this magical, marvelous path back in time to take a look at my story from a totally new vantage point. To find a little girl, about 5, brown small suitcase clutched tightly under her buttocks as she sits crying all the way around the block on the corner, the one furthest away from home. Sitting there, staring longingly at the opposite side of the street in this attempt to run away, but foiled by the rules of “never cross the street…alone”. Where her mother finds her a little while later asking what she is doing? The little girl wails in total loss, and humiliation “nobody loves me, no one will play with me, they always want to play with dolls, I don’t fit in, I listen, I do what I’m told, I work at playing dolls, I clean, I stayed out of the street, yet my turn to play horses never comes.” The mother comforts the child the best she can “it will all work out”, and they go back home, with the memory etched into the recesses of my mind, for me to finally find… again.
I worked on this memory a few years back when I first found EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and had thought I had cleared it, because I forgot about it. To find in the last few days of outrageous heat (in the shade it was 113 degrees) with no breezes and several horses to ride, which I did very early or very late in the day, yet I couldn’t manage to escape this feeling of being in the hot seat, under a tremendous light. So hot, so miserable, I sought relief in watching movies and large glasses of iced water and limeades. Struggling to get comfortably through to my two touchy, jumpy, horses, way too much work in all of this direct glare, till I found myself, frustrated, tired and sobbing “it’s not fair, I work so hard, and no one wants to play with me”…
Suddenly, like being slapped in the face. I found the nugget of peace I had been so determinedly seeking. This gem of information rocked me to my core. I suddenly saw the trail of relationships with others as the outsider looking in… always working, always cleaning up, fixing for others, doing the impossible, sitting outside of the lime light. With this crazy belief egging me on, that if I “worked, struggled, did whatever I was told”, I would eventually have my turn.
My past attempt to deal with the story was about being different, standing out like a sore thumb and the nobody loves me. There was no memory at that time about no one wanting to play with me. I now see how I have done all of this crazy, insane work of trying to fit in, waiting for things to work out. As my five year old mind took literally “it would all work out”. So work I have, for any and everybody, doing it all to fit in, cleaning up, fixing, repairing, paying for others to help me and even putting others first. All in the crazy belief that when all the work is done…then I can play!
To find myself with a lesson this morning, as I watched her diligently struggle with the newest information I had given her for her toolbox of ways to connect with her mount. As I listened to her berate herself over her inability to use the latest tool the right way. I threw up my hands and told her “enough, I am throwing the whole toolbox and tools idea away”, instead I now want you to look at each idea as a toy, another way for you to play with your horse, toys for your toy box.
The laughter exploded out of her chest, her whole body relaxed, the horse let out a huge sigh of relief. In that moment I saw the glint of gold in my ability to play, have fun, enjoy, pivot, dance, and revel in the joy of allowing myself to be truly paid to play and enjoy life. I have given up working, life is supposed to be fun. All in favor… come on down, the weather is cool, the breeze this evening is fantastic and the shower from the storm that blew the heat away way early Sunday morning has made the ground soft and fluffy as the grass so quickly turned soft, green and vibrant! Life is a dance, find a song and come along, find your own toys and come play!