Horsey Therapist

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Being early

I quote Harry Whitney as saying:

"If you are early, you don't have to be fast."

"It doesn't take a lot of strength when it's right."

I'll put those together and say:

It's easy when you're early.

Not to say that it's easy to get to the place where you can be early, but once that is figured out, it is easier to be early, you don't have to be fast like Harry said, and it doesn't take a lot of strength and there are few signs of struggle (mouth gaping, tail wringing, eyes rolling, etc.)

What are some things it take to be early?

AWARENESS

KNOWLEDGE

TIME WITH HORSES

LEARNING FROM YOUR MISTAKES

MORE AWARENESS AND KNOWLEDGE

LOTS MORE TIME WITH HORSES


I'd be honest saying I know a lot more about being late and struggling than being early and having it go easy. But I'm excited about the changes I've been making this year, this season, this month.

As I get quiet inside I become more able to really pay attention to what is outside myself, ie, my horse, while still being emotionally and intuitively (not sure if they are separate things actually) attuned to myself and my environment. In these moments -- and having felt when things are fluid and connected with my horse -- I can feel the smallest and earliest indications that someone's mind is straying from our togetherness. It could be my mind or it could be my horse's mind, or both. The sooner I notice, the easier it is to ask the mind to come back, to attend to the "now". The longer the mind gets to wander and become infused with some other place or event, the harder it can be to come back. Plus it can come back with gusto and that is not always easy to ride!

I've heard Harry many times talk about the importance of having the mind and the body in one place. Also about the importance of helping the horse develop the habit of letting go of his thought(s) so there is room for my thoughts. And of course each horse has an unique level of commitment to his own thoughts. The stronger the commitment the horse has to his own thoughts, the bigger the clash might feel when he is asked to let go and come along with his human's thoughts. I spent years supporting one of my horses to develop the habit of following his own thoughts and ignoring mine unless under duress. Bad habit of mine = bad habit of horse!

If he were to be a pasture pet with little interaction with people, it would be fully appropriate for him to live entirely by his beliefs. Well, he might have to work a few things out with other horses if he's in a herd. But the more I want him to fit into our human world and become a pleasant companion for a ride, the more I need to change what I'm doing to help him fit in better.

When something new comes to his attention, for example, without him having good human-world-habits, he is free to turn and run for his life. Hmmm, not so good for me although most of the time I've stuck with him. But it's unnerving to ride out and wonder when is this going to happen.

What a delight to be coached to develop ways of helping this horse let go easier, helping him to trust he will survive if he follows my guidance when things get scary. We had a lovely, calm, mostly forward and willing "trail ride" yesterday. I guess we went a quarter mile from home and back, riding on a slack rein 93% of the time. One day we'll go five or ten miles, but this was a sign of great progress yesterday. I waited for him to be ready to head out, he listened when I asked him to go forward, to stand still, to look ahead to where we were going. Our turn around to head home was no faster or worried than our heading out away from home. These seem like little things as I write them, but some folks know how gargantuan are these changes.

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