Horse Lessons are Life Lessons
Sometimes you just have to let go and start over!
Honestly, the hardest part for me when I went through my Facilitation training for experiential learning work, was having to work through some of my own ideas from the horse trainer part of me.
In horse training you are taught there are things that must be done a particular way, and things you don’t let a horse do.
In experiential work, that is not the case at all.
It is letting go of all the preconceived ideas and thoughts…. and believing that everything happens as it needs to and should.
Being able to give a horse the power and to believe that all is done as it should and needs to be done in the experiential work, took me a while to get used to.
However, I have learned so very much, and have never been let down that everything has a message for the person. I adapted the experiential work into my horse training program.
It always amazes me the lessons a horse has for someone in their life.
This is one of the many examples of how horses give us messages, and we just have to be open to hear them!!
I was working with my client Jane, and her Thoroughbred gelding Joe.
Jane had just started to have some trouble with leading and handling Joe and asked for some help with ground work, and connection.
Jane and Joe had a long relationship and had a good connection in her eyes…. she felt they were friends, and they had always been in tune.
But, now she was having problems. When she would go out and get Joe, he would try and turn around and not go with her out of the pasture.
They had been going round and round and he was getting worse and worse about going with her.
As I started across the pasture with her, Joe lifted his head and began to walk right up to her.
Jane put his halter on and so far, nothing looked out of the ordinary.
Jane looked at me,
“Last time I went to bring him out of the pasture he turned around and pulled to go back to the pasture. I wouldn’t let go so he drug me about 10 feet across the grass on my stomach before he stopped. He has done that now a couple times where he pulls me so hard I end up on the ground being pulled along the dirt before he stops.”
I took the long lead that was attached to his rope halter and asked him to walk and stop and turn with me.
I asked him to go out and move around me and stop.
He was a little slow, but seemed as if he was listening and very respectful.
I walked him to the gate, walking, stopping, turning, and we stopped at the gate.
I turned around and we walked back to Jane in the same fashion.
“Let me see you do the same thing I was doing with him. Walk, stop, walk circles and put your focus on the gate and imagine yourself standing at the gate with him.” I instructed as I handed the lead back.
Off they walked together, stopping, circling and sure enough they ended with both standing at the gate.
“Okay, now do it back to me the same way.” I asked.
Jane and Joe walked quietly back, with stops and circles and soon they stood next to me.
“I just focused on the gate and thought about nothing else,” Jane said. “I guess sometimes I am really worried, and waiting for him to try and turn back and pull on me when we are walking. It is like I get ready for a struggle or it to be difficult and ready to hang on tight. Sometimes I have a lot going on and I am thinking about all of that as well and not really paying attention to him.”
“When you say you have a lot going on and you are thinking about that, what is it you are thinking about?” I asked.
Jane began to tell me that she was struggling with the life she had built for herself with her own business and how hard things were going for her. She couldn’t be a failure to people.
“I want you to think about that and have those conversations in your mind that you do at times, and walk to the gate.” I instructed.
Jane and Joe took three steps forward and Joe turned away from the gate and pulled hard.
Jane did not let go of the lead rope and instead grabbed both hands together on the rope and tried to pull Joe back around towards her.
The more she pulled the harder and faster he got.
Just as Jane was pulled off her feet onto her rear end, I shouted “LET GO! Let go of the lead rope”
Jane let go of the lead rope and Joe walked off and began to graze.
“I know you are not ever suppose to let go, as that teaches them to get away.” Jane was saying as I walked up to her. “It’s like he doesn’t even care that I was holding on to him, and he was happy I let go and he is happier now and grazing.”
I gave her a soft smile and said, “You never sacrifice yourself and get hurt. You are better to just let go instead of fighting so hard to hold on, and you can always let go and then go get him and start over. That is OK, it is not failure or wrong. Let go and start over and don’t put judgement on it.”
Jane started to cry, as Joe’s message and behavior sank in.
That was the first time she had ever let go and started over…. with anything in her life.
She felt that her message was about fighting so hard to keep a business going that was not working for her and causing her so much pain and stress in her life.
She wasn’t really happy anymore and didn’t want to continue to live how she was, but felt she had no choice but to hold on harder. That moment she decided that how her parents would look at her, and her friends would look at her, didn’t matter anymore.
She saw how much happier Joe was after she let go, just grazing and doing what made him happy, and she knew that was what she wanted, and what she had to do.
Needless to say, she never had another issue with Joe pulling.
Sometimes it is hard to see a horse’s misbehavior as a message or lesson for us. Sometimes a horse is being naughty or misbehaving and sometimes it is a deeper lesson for us. We just have to be open to hear and see it, even if it is a hard one we don’t want to face.