From a Center of Serenity


We need to start with a sense of peace of well being.  So how can we help those who come behind us be able to reach that before they approach the horse.

To wait is to base a relationship on fear on uncertainty and if that is where we start what does that mean to the relationship that follows.

It is a conundrum.  We need to have a sense of confidence for the horse to feel confident.  We need to have a sense of calmness, of content, of peace before we ever come before the horse, but it is through knowledge, experience and familiarity that we learn to feel the confidence, calmness to be among these large and powerful animals.  It is the unknown that we fear, the unknown that causes us to be cautious - to hesitate.  A natural inclination that we somehow need to be able to control not just on the surface that other humans can see, but deep into the core of our being, so it is integrated so deeply that this is all the horse can sense.  They don't see or sense our facial expressions, it is incredibly difficult for us to hide our hesitancies, our fears from horses.  They are incredible in their ability to read our emotions.  To sense what and how we feel.  Their ability to read intent is perhaps easily the most powerful of any other species that we work closely with. (this should perhaps be a separate article)

Logical that this is true.  The prey being able to read the intent of the predators.  Hungry, not hungry, hunting, not hunting.  Generation after generation surviving by their ability to read intent. 

Among themselves, they communicate, they pick up on each others emotions, is there danger nearby; is there something new there, but of no concern; is this a friendly that they can be happy to cohabitate this space with?  The how they have this skill set is not of the issue though, that they have it is.  And what that means for us who wish to work with these amazing creatures.

Taylor's gift to me is the realization what an incredible gift this would be as an instructor to give to my riders.  The idea that we start a relationship with a base of trust, of confidence, of security.  That yes while it is true it is always best to allow a horse time to get to decide who you are, at the same time, the emotionally context we bring with us, will influence how he views and interacts with us.  So what we feel at the beginning matters.  It can define our relationship, how we interact together, his choices and decisions on how much to trust us, based all on our level of measured calm, our confidence, our serenity.

The question then becomes if this could be so invaluable how do we help others achieve this measure of trust of serenity even before they interact with a horse, or new horses, who they don't know.  

Those who think it is their right to climb on the back of any horse and tell the horse what to do, in a way are protected. In their blind thinking that they have a right to tell any horse what to do, as if they were machines, their very expectation provides a level of acceptance that this is how it should be, creates an acceptance on the part of the horse.  Those of us who question this right, who feel that as sentient beings we need to respect and give the horse a voice, an opportunity, the time to judge for themselves who and what we are, are in some ways more at risk.  Because we are not blindly certain. 

We need to look at riding in a different light with a different approach.  And when we do, we need to find new ways to help our riders, ways that many horsemanship programs never consider as important,  if at all.  This is the gift from Taylor, that the beginning is before we even approach the horse.  That our lessons for our riders, start long before that.  That as guides, teachers, we need to find a way to help riders achieve this serenity, this comfortableness around a horse from that very first moment of conscious notice of each other's existence, that very first moment of "Oh hello, who are you?".

And so the search begins....






I am struck by this concept - the concept that we will gain confidence, poise, inner peace when we work with horses, when we have had time.  That which is familiar, brining us to a point in confidence.  But the inherent flaws in that concept are clear.  One that when we work with horses sooner or later our fears will be realized.  We will be hurt.  Some horse is going to rip the lead rope out of our hands, some horse is going to spook and we quite likely are going to fly into the air only to land with a thud with that incredibly painful hurting feeling of no air in our lungs and no ability to draw in any breath, when the breath literally gets knocked out of us.  It is going to happen.  Sooner or later.  And it doesn't matter.  We still need to approach every day, every event as if we are insular, as if it isn't going to happen, content and almost placid in our regard to the eventuality.

It is like the concept of death.  It is going to happen, but we can't spend every moment of our lives quaking in fear of it coming.  Whether we realize it or not we all accept.  We accept serenely that it is coming and we dismiss it.  We laugh joyfully, we love blissfully, we challenge fate with new experiences, and old ones.  The statistics alone of being in a serious accident in a car should preclude us from ever getting in one.  Yet we revel in the freedom of the speed and the freedom in our ability to go from here to there. 

When we approach our horses with any hint, any amount of fear for what could happen, if we don't exude complete peace, in ourselves, in this moment, we literally put ourselves in danger.  The horse ever attentive, picks up on his environment always, to the possibility of danger, the possibility of death. 

You are part of that environment.  You are the litmus of whether he is in danger.  Your fear of him, not emboldening him to push against you, but instead creating a resonating timber of emotionally context that has no source.  Fear without sourcing is far more disabling, far more disturbing that a fear we can see, that we can prepare for.  It is adrenaline with no release.  It is a vibration in our soul that makes you more and more uncomfortable as anxiety mounts.

Watching I am struck with the thought we have to begin our journey with confidence, with an inner peace that strokes at the nerve endings of the horse, with an absolute belief in the joy and rightness of this moment in time.  No concerns for a future outcome, just secure in this moment, right now, right here, as we move into the next moment of existence.

As instructors this could possibly be our greatest gift we could ever give to any rider this ability to start with an incredible sense of peace and calm.  That happens before our first step toward the horse.  Something that we need to create, need to have independent of time, familiarity, knowledge and understanding.  This sense of peace needs to be the beginning, needs to be there before the horse sees us for the very first time.

At some level I have come to realize I was always afraid.  New horse, new crazy horse coming in for training, the unknown factor always create a sense of possible doom and now that is gone, at least when I am on the ground.  Somewhere somehow it left.  I now feel quite comfortable to enter a field where a herd complete with an unknown stallion, and a herd of protective momma's live, and come into their space, crouch, kneel down and even lay down in the grass with the foals and mares to take their images.  I still have a sense of preservation, don't think I don't.  I don't have complete trust and if an unknown horse comes my way while I am down on the ground, I am usually quick to get up on two feet, but once on my feet, I am content.  I know I am safe. 

Where did this come from, how did it happen after years and years of being at some level afraid?  

That is the next part of the journey for me, looking to help riders find that inner peace, this contentedness that starts with the horses but then can or perhaps I should say will move into the rest of your life.

Life is fair, life is safe, we are all cherished, valued, by someone, something.  Life has a purpose even if the only purpose is to love, to care, to be.

This is what our horses need to feel from us.  It needs to come from us.  We need to feel embody this first. 

Now it is how we can do this for others, that is the challenge.

This is Taylor's gift.  A gift whether she realizes it or not she has given to the rest of us.  The knowledge that this is where we need to begin.  All of us. No matter the level of our experience, of our expertise.  Not only do we need this for ourselves but we need to find a way to share this incredible gift to those who come after us, those with not as much experience, even for those with no experience.

Safety with horses comes from every cell in our body feeling safe. Feeling content, knowing that in this moment we are exactly where we are supposed to be.