"And God took a handful of southerly wind, blew his breath over it, and created the horse.”
- Bedouin Legend
I love this line<3
So this week's blog is definitely going to be more horse related content, than dog but both can teach you the same lesson of letting go.
So what I wanted to get into today was how horses have hands down been my greatest teachers of knowing when and how to let go. So often, especially when you're riding a spooky questionably sane 1000 lb animal the idea of release and letting go seems completely insane- and yet do you really think you can control an animal of that size with 2 reins and a bit?
Some people think adding more tools is the way to get around this (and of course there is a time for tools, but maybe you know what I'm getting at here.. ). Add more tools, than you'll have more control right....? Or maybe we should be asking why this horse is struggling to communicate with us after the use of tools in training? Are we using them properly? Does this particular tool effectively communicate with this individual in a kind and compassionate way? Is there something else we could try?
Or some believe that using more force and an alpha position mentality will make them "the boss" of their horse. I want my horse to treat me like a respected person, but they are NOT less than me. We are equals in mutual respect of one another. Her opinions matter to me. We are in a partnership.
I can understand the root of both concepts, but they are fear based and thereby create more fear and do not produce steadfast results. They don't necessarily change how your horse feels about what you are asking.
And I'm all about the feels!
I would rather understand how my horse feels when I teach them something, and if I want to accomplish a certain goal - make sure it's something my horse also wants to accomplish- or we are going to argue constantly! Arguing with horses is tough...
Why not try to create a common mentality around the same goal, make what you want to accomplish fun and interesting for both of you!
I am not passing judgement and not saying I know it all by any means, I just hope that we can always stop and see a conversation with a horse from every angle and make sure we are being as kind and compassionate as possible. To see horses as equal in worth, not the same, they are not people, but worthy of respect, love, understanding, and compassion.
I personally believe that there is a way to communicate with all animals and that every conversation we have with a animals (or person for that matter) should go two ways. There should be a listener at all times for proper communication. Sometimes there are misunderstandings, but if you have a great relationship built (trust, respect, mutual desires) you are less likely to be harmed and more likely to be appreciated.
Even greeted with a can do attitude! You become a person of value to that horse and therefore deserve their attention and to be listened to.
So call me crazy, but when I want attention on me and to be listened to, I need to pay attention and listen to, the cues my horse is giving me and understand them and communicate in a respectful way back .
Easier said than done, and reading horse is not like reading human and horses struggle with this end of the conversation also!
Part of this conversation with horses we humans have developed over time is the concept of pressure and release. In simplest terms meaning that when I am asking my horse to do something I apply some form of pressure (not always physical) and when my horse gives the slightest hint of a try I release. In a way I am saying "yes I liked that" with my release. I am letting go and giving to my horse when she does what I have asked. Now this can be really tough when you have a horse who appears unpredictable, but a lot of times giving them that extra release and letting go of control allows them to relax and you both fall into a flow.
A moving conversation, which I find so beautiful in it's subtlety, compassion, and mutual fluidity of minds and bodies working together in unison.
When we let go of our need to control our horse, what's left is conversation, relationship, openness. We hear their side of things in a different way and allow more space in situations. Sometimes a horse is just asking for more space, more movement in their feet and they just need that for a minute to ground themselves again. If you don't listen they might ground you! Not speaking from personal experience..... haha
Remember letting go might feel scary,
it might feel like you have everything to lose,
but when you realize you will never have control a day in your life,
it feels pretty foolish to obsess over!
Lack of control,
it's to be celebrated,
it is the essence of life and adventure!
Sometimes we just need to remember to ride it out and see what's on the other side.
I hope you enjoyed this blog as much as I did, I just finished a great ride today!
Please share more about your horses, dogs, or animals that have taught you how to step into the unknown with grace.