I’ve been resisting writing the last few days, even though I know I have uncovered a lot of stuff and turned it all into rich, soft, fertile ground to plant all of my now renewed, re-discovered and truly life changing hopes and dreams. Many of them from years and years back, some relating all the way back to my childhood where all I could ever imagine or think about was spending time near horses, around horses or on horses. Making equipment, blankets, bridles, reins and halters out of every scrap of lacing, leather or material I had access to.
Begging, pleading, bartering or chattering to any and all that would listen. Getting into this much misaligned habit of sharing by having to play with others in the games, manners and ways that made them happy, as I hopefully waited for my turn, the turn that came with the promise of if I shared my time with them, and “played nice”, then they would have to do the same for me. Though many times as not the minutes, hours, days would roll by with the “if I would just wait or do one more thing” then my turn would come.
To find me all these many years later, still waiting, playing, coaching, teaching, training and being paid handsomely for those who are starting out, starting over, actually going after their dreams too, of the joy, freedom, and satisfaction that comes from being a horse owner and connecting as a partner with an animal of such immense size, ability and awareness.
The last few days of this week found me once again working with and mulling over the little app horse I have had for 6 years, which had been given to me as a kid’s because of his size. Though my initial response in handling and meeting him… was are you kidding me?? Taking all of the time possible since then, to exam him and myself for all of the accumulated lessons of fear, distrust, and fleeing, so readily discernible up until the last three years of his tendency to bolt at the slightest movement from anyone or anything. So much of that originally attributed to the large indention in the center of his head about two inches up from between his eyes where he would flinch if a hand got to close, more so on the left side where he would then lock his legs, swing his head as far as possible to the right and stand there.
I have used and tried so very many different methods that I know, have learned, have had suggested, a lot of trial and error, always making small steps toward releasing the image he has so ingrained into his habitual responses. Though on Thursday I noticed his jumping always tied into the minute either hind quarter was trapped into a space he had to pass through. Finding the story I had learned about other foals the previous owner had raised then gives away as 2 and 3 year olds and how he would push them into a squeeze shoot, fumbling with his disability from several old injuries, sometimes falling onto the horses, or off the shoot. This would then cause a horse with the desire to run, left with the only option with their feet so aptly held in the shoot to lean as hard and far as possible to the other side to escape these rough, jerky motions that left the horse with a strong fear and distaste of fences, sudden movement and human contact.
As I played with the thought in my mind, I was aware of how much I dearly love to share and teach, how much I have held back over layers of uncertainty of my rights to be in control of what I can or should be doing with my life. So I rearranged my two barrels that are used to direct a horse in, out, and around them from about six feet from the fence on one side and open on the other. Where this little horse would jump every time he came close to any opening, with a locked, raised neck and the whites of his eyes watching for any and every opportunity to escape, when I recognized he didn’t feel like he had a choice. Even though my hands were light upon the rope as I guided him through, I saw a possible new solution after half an hour with minimal relaxing or even breathing from him, of moving my saddling rail to make a temporary chute to “walk” him through. Get him into a place as small as possible that he could still walk in, walk through, walk out, slowly, then step by step for the next hour I played with him, till I felt him relax, yawn, and let go of the terror of forced enclosure. Aware of the resistance in me to trap myself into fully walking eyes wide open to my fullest dreams of and for me, completely, solidly, comfortably… asking no one if, how, why, or may I.
Amazed at the tension that left both of us about the same time, I just wanted to sit down and bawl, over all of the years of waiting for the support I thought was necessary from outside of me. And yet here it was, my imaginary fears of outside disapproval’s, when it was only me holding me back, trying to protect me from allowing all of me out… to fully live.
I love my life, my horses, my kids, my family, my friends and everything I have ever done or come in contact with. It’s all shaped me, the sharing of episodes and escapades many times helps others see that what they are attempting or afraid of, that someone like me who makes so much of what I do appear easy… has had to wade through the swamps of fears, to climb out on the rocks and logs to find the stream of life always ready to wash us off, cool and refresh us as we float along supported by the Universe in each of ours desires, dreams and passions to be fully uniquely ourselves as we learn, understand and expand to truly live our life to the fullest.
The last few days have been a delving into bouts of extreme tiredness, giving me a chance to look around and see what might be the cause of this occasional body awareness. Which at one time I just assumed came from being worn out from whatever was going on in my life. But in this learning to be more aware of having the choice of what I observe as to what kind of time I am having, I chose to pay more attention to what the probable cause might truly be. Remembering to take in as many clues as I could during the first sign of fatigue, all the way up until the yawning gave way to a much needed nap. To be amazed at what I uncovered when today’s morning was almost exactly like yesterday’s, minus several small, particularly energy sapping situations.
Yesterday included my bus route, both am and pm. My son getting up, assisting with chores, eating breakfast and then asking for extra money with a five minute pleading session, followed by a yawn. Came home, to set up for the day of riding with equipment, watering, and my usual rotation of animals to ride. As my morning client arrived and started pitching in to get things rolling with the usual catching up with another over the few days between lessons. I addressing the progress with the two horses with feet issues, how the changes have allowed each horse to move easier. How much fun the weekend clients had been in teaching students so thoroughly interested in each answer I gave to their inquiring, curious minds.
Which as the information was exchanged, I felt this tug at my gut as the conversation suddenly turned to the chaotic evening now being explained to me. My entire body had this sensation of total alert; my mind suddenly found trying to race forward for possible solutions as the story was being told. When I realized my mount was uneasy. So I took a breath, excused myself, gave the story teller the option to get out the next horse to keep my timetable on track, and went out to ride. Once again comfortable, at ease, riding, fascinated by the horse staying so tuned into my every move. Enjoying myself as I played with the ease of his movements mimicking mine, when I spotted the student at odds with their mount as all of the actions between the two were tight, rigid and at odds, as a definite battle of the wills was in plain sight.
I rode over to be of assistance with this out of touch duo, giving suggestions, ideas, reminding to breathe, and relax hoping to break the tension. Finally at the thought of helping both rider and horse, I suggested a change to my mount since he is such an easy well finished horse, and as the student swapped from one animal to the next. My horse of long standing patience, reached out to nip my forearm as if to say enough, don’t, arghhh… I jumped as his lips just grazed the skin, aware of the feeling of tiredness almost overwhelming me. To then find myself querying the rider in my head if they knew how much they were rattling the horse and me, as I began intensely focusing on asking them detailed questions about their breathing, attitude, horse’s body language and to please relax. First the frown on their face, then the tightness of their knuckles, then wrists, arms, all the way through till they were wiggling both toes, freely without stirrups.
To finally see the horse take in deep breaths, as the person realized they were trying too hard. As they began to make progress, I could feel exhaustion sweeping over me. I so desired a break, a massage, a chance to piddle, to step away, to find the peace I had experienced earlier. So aware of the huge wave of frustration and fear over now what, to luckily by then find the duo had found a small connection, several steps taken as a pair, enough so that the rider knew the internal struggle was the cause of their disconnect. I became so aware of how easily I have in the past, learned to react trying to fix another’s story of struggle, and how wonderfully my body has learned to show me that I know longer need to do all of this fixing. It’s not my job!
My body is tired of me not living and taking full care of myself…only. I no longer need to allow conversations of angst, struggle, and disarray to affect me. Other than just being a sounding board to reflect back what they have said if they ask for help. They are just stories. They are just excuses from others to feel needy, incapable, helpless and so ineffective at shining their own light, not figuring out they have the power within themselves to be okay. It’s their choice and it’s always my choice to play or pay, depending upon how far down their tale of desperation I choose to go. Funny thing is today, both story tellers, left to their own solutions, came up with much better results by themselves and I had a great day by just stepping away and allowing them to find their own two feet to stand on.