Horsey Therapist

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Riza is teaching me

I enjoy working with Riza. She has a quiet temperament, questions things without getting in a huff first, and lets me know when I am asking her to do something without my being personally involved and connected with her in the doing-it-together way.

If I think about sending her off in a circle aka lunging her, she pins her ears and tells me things are not right in the universe.

All I have to do is bring myself into connection with her again, thinking let's do this together, ok, here we go, and her ears pop forward, her eye relaxes, and off we go exploring my next request.

Awesome little gal. One day soon I will report that I am riding her. A little more understanding about the steering via ground driving aka long lining and we'll be ready to take on the next step of this adventure.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Excuses to not feel good

I get daily reminders from several sources. This morning's quote from Abraham-Hicks via Facebook is:

Tell everyone you know: "My happiness depends on me, so you're off the hook." And then demonstrate it. Be happy, no matter what they're doing. Practice feeling good, no matter what. And before you know it, you will not give anyone else responsibility for the way you feel -- and then, you'll love them all. Because the only reason you don't love them, is because you're using them as your excuse to not feel good.

--- Abraham

This quote reflects something I believe in deeply, and am practicing as often as I remember. And it reminds me of my horsemanship and my life journeys.

My time with horses and my time with family offer me the most opportunities to practice. Being human, I fail, succeed, fail, succeed, and over time am indeed developing deeper habits that harmonize with my ideals and convictions.

I recall -- with a mix of cringing and self-forgiveness -- times when I acted as if my horses were responsible for my feelings. If they didn't do what I thought they could do, I mistakenly thought it reflected on me as a person and a 'trainer' and a horse owner who promotes good horsemanship.

I recall -- with a mix of laughter and tears -- times when I acted as if my husband was responsible for my feelings.

Clearly my long term and short term memory are working. I fall into old habits with my husband too quickly, too easily, too recently! This quote is timely and I am making a poster version of it that will hang over my computer monitor where I will see it at least twice a day.

There is an abundance of excuses to not feel good. I am highly skilled in identifying and seeking the so-called comfort zone of living just behind those excuses. Letting go -- especially when 'I feel' that I've been wronged, misled, excluded -- is in fact as easy as noticing my reaction and choosing a more pleasant thought or assumption in place of the story that was aggravating me.

Perhaps the motivation to be safe around the horses is why I am more purposeful with them than in my human relationships. I have experience of being injured when I am careless around horses. Hmm, I am forgetting that I am living in a state of injury when I am careless around people. Poof! There goes another delusion! My Buddhist roots speak up now reminding me that we are all connected, and what I do, think, and feel affects me as well as others.

Today I will spend time with Rusty to see how well I can stay in my feel good place regardless of what he offers me. I am imagining a breakthrough with us today.


I am resurrecting this from last winter as I've had some remarkable dreams recently. I like this one because of the punning. Some of my more recent and remembered dreams, though lively and meaningful, have been emotional nightmares, helping to surface some old pain kept hidden and alive by my unconscious thoughts and behaviors. I'm sure this dream from last winter is in the same category however the pain didn't wash over me like it did the past couple of weeks.

My notes about that dream: "Can't play, the kids are going to Israel..."

After waking, I wondered why I dreamt that the kids are going to Israel. I said this out loud a few times until I heard the meaning... Isreal, Isreal, Isreal... Is real!

It reflects that some of my internal reality is not playful, not fun. I can't play because my (inner) kids will be in reality.

I'm OK with that and grateful for the amazingly peaceful emptiness that comes after a release of the old, which is what happened recently. Like a knot deep in my belly is untied. Actually this recent knot was smack dab in the middle of my forehead, just above the space between my eyebrows. This knot is unravelling although I am fortunate to have periods when the whole knot feels loosened and ready to fully unravel.

Well, on second thought, I am not OK with the notion that play and getting real are mutually exclusive. Time to try out something different. Just imagine -- life with reality is full of play! I like this, and I bet my horses will, too!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Starting and starting over

I confess I've been spending my 'writing' time on Facebook. It meets some needs although leaves some other needs unmet. So here I am using an old familiar route for expressing myself.

Hello, Fellow Blogospheriacs!

I'm quite accustomed to being busy most of the time. To meet some financial needs, I am working more than I had been for some years, and working using my mental health professional expertise which is rewarding as I feel competent much of the time. I urge everyone to do things that bring the feeling of competence!

Which brings me to one of my horsey questions these days: how to help my horses feel competent when we are doing things together.

I have been spending time with Riza, 5 year old quarter horse cross. I take my time starting a young horse, and saddled her with my bulky, double girthed western saddle this summer for the first time. My other preparations for riding her include lunging then ground driving her. My next steps will be to ground drive her saddled up and down slopes and around the farm outside of the ring or round pen. I have done enough in containment to know she's understanding what I want which so far is walk, trot, turns at walk, turns at trot, stop, and back up. She has done some of this carrying a bit as well, and when I find her further along with steering, like at about 98% responsiveness to my intention, position, and/or reins, then I'll hook the reins to the bit and proceed with that piece of preparing her for riding.

I reviewed much of Mark Rashid's DVD called Ground Driving yesterday. I like his approach to horses, to people, to the progression of skill development.

It leaves me wondering where to start with my older horses who have not have the benefit of being started slowly and systematically with their responses and readiness kept in mind during the process. I did lunge then ground drive two of them recently. They seem to understand -- so now how to get to the comfort, sense of competence, and beyond. That 'beyond' in my book is called enthusiasm.

Of course, I have to ask myself, is it fair to want my horse to be more enthusiastic than I am? How much does fear arise in me when I start feeling my horse's enthusiasm? I have more to release from past scared-as-heck moments I've experienced, especially with one horse. He is the one that continues to puzzle me. Or should I say, my reactions and responses when I'm with him -- even though quite subtle! -- are the ones that continue to puzzle me?

I am developing more focus and discipline as that is about the only way I make time to get out there and do things with the horses. Getting Riza started is one priority, getting/keeping Kacee conditioned enough for her health and her availability to carry me on the occasional longer trail ride is another priority, and now I am adding this 'figuring things out with Rusty on the next levels' as another priority.

I have been reading Mark Rashid's latest book, Whole Heart, Whole Horse which I highly recommend, and do buy it from his website so he gets the $ benefits of sharing his wisdom with us.

He was talking about when we give our hearts completely, then the horse can give the whole of himself. I was thinking about the parts of my heart that I hold back from Rusty, and know that I will start there. Not inspecting the holdings but start with bringing my whole vulnerable heart to our contact and see what happens. I think I vacillate between 'here's my heart' and 'by the way, we're doing this now dammit'. I have been learning a lot from my therapeutic riding students in the past months. I can bring that same freshness and open-minded creativity to my time with Rusty. I'm directing our contact, but please show me what you know, how you learn, how much you can take in new stuff without feeling bored, anxious, or overwhelmed.

I think it's all about my slowing things down with my older horses, like Rusty, just as I do with my younger horses. Slow down, offer something, notice the response, and slow down again. All the while energetically moving forward with purpose.