Horsey Therapist

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Lots of talk lately about fear...

All the awareness I've cultivated for the past four decades, and I still can act counter to my best intentions because of fear.

Latest episode: barking a four letter swear word that starts with "s" when my mare scooted while we were on a well traveled roadway going under a highway underpass.

So what does that do to the horse? She is worried enough to try to flee, her closest buddy (me, on her back) is worried enough to call out with extreme tension in her voice, and yes, body froze in a 'hold on' posture... Not what I want to offer her. Although 90% of our ride I felt good about what I offered regarding support and direction. Does a horse balance the percentages? Is a horse capable of figuring 'oh, that's her again, she freezes when I do then relaxes. I won't take her reaction so seriously next time.'

I suspect not. Rather, the horse is worried, then I add to her worries, then why would she turn to me for help when she's worried? I'm not there -- I'm gone into my fear and survival routine. Gone.

I'm glad I don't get afraid like that very often. I'm glad my horses let me get on them anyway. I know they remember what it's like with me on their back. I figure they have a cumulative memory. At least, I like to think so. (And by the way, I'm making this up as I type.) I like to think that if I offer a supportive and fair ride for a few days, that leaves them thinking I'm OK. Then I have a fearful, constricted moment, and that lowers their opinion of my company. Then I have several hours of relaxed-go-with-the-flow-while-I-direct-the-flow type of riding, and that raises their opinion of my company. So at any time, I'm either improving or degrading their opinion of me, based on their overall multitude of experiences with me.

Now that I've spouted all that, I'll have to think about it...

Ok, some other thoughts...

Don't disregard fear -- it has important messages that help provide safety. But fear based on the past can cloud today's possibilities.


At 12 October, 2006 18:33, Blogger ZinniaZ said...

I've been thinking and thinking about this post. I think you are right that horses have cumulative memory but I think you are wrong that your fear lowers their opinion of you. I think our fear makes the horse have to take care of us. It forces them into the leadership position which is not a comfortable one-- but I think once we are ourselves again, the balance is righted and they go on. I think they can be perfectly comfortable with our loss of leadership occasionally in a the greater scheme of things.

Com has taken care of me for a long time. She knew I was not the leader. She is kind enough and strong enough to be a good safe girl. I think she softened considerably and is grateful that I 'grew up' but she took the leadership role (in the face of my tension and fear) like the grand old broodmare she is and it was ok.

I think fear is embarassing to us humans. It doesn't carry that kind of baggage for horses. It just IS or it isn't.


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