One of the best ways to learn about relationship building, is training a horse.
Especially if you are not in a relationship…like me at the moment. But really, aren’t we always in relationship with something? Our family, our friends, our children, our co workers, nature…so maybe we can practice the principles I’m about talk about in all aspects of life.
I can testify that my horse has taught me more about myself then I care to know. They are perfect mirrors. If you are anxious they are, if you are angry, they act up, they can’t speak a word, but an annoyed flick of the tail says everything.
Getting a horse to stand on “The Box” is not as easy as it looks. Especially for my stubborn mare. She’s the most obstinate thing sometimes, such a Taurus. Then again, I’m equally stubborn, we make a fine pair.
We are constantly at odds with each other, and kind of madly adore each other at the same time. I know how I feel about her, I know how she feels about me when she knickers every time I walk in the barn and when she’s tired, she liked to lay her head on my shoulder. It’s a soulmate match to be sure, we both help each other grow.
Today was one of those days. I wanted to teach her a new trick, in typical Perdu fashion, she didn’t want to do it.
My goal, just get one foot on the box. After an hour of cajoling, being patient, creating a shoot with polls to help guide her, getting on the box myself, placing her foot on the box at one point, getting angry, being assertive, trying to force her on to the box, I stopped….and surrendered to the moment.
What the hell was I doing?
Trying to control the situation by literally expecting her to do what I say, something scary, without any sort of incentive. If someone is going to follow you to the moon and back…or to the top of the box and back, they’d better trust that they won’t die on the journey up and down. Getting angry and frustrated doesn’t garner trust.
There’s a point too where you stop and say…is this even possible? Clearly she doesn’t want or can’t put her foot on the box. I should just give up on this untrainable horse, put her back in her stall and call it a day.
But stubborn me wasn’t going to leave the arena until I accomplished the goal. However…you can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result with people or horses. You can’t change the horse or the person…but you can change yourself.
Changing Perdu was a bad idea…I loved her…so…change myself and my strategy.
I removed all the polls, stripped the environment down to simply the box and a wide open area to give her space. I wanted her to feel like she had choices and space, and even if she didn’t choose the box, that was okay, we’d keep trying till she felt comfortable….I’m a wealth of patience these days.
I moved her up to the box, placed her foot on it, gave her grain, let her remove the foot. We did it again, and again…foot, grain, foot, grain, click click, a tap with the wip and presto! I eventually got her to stand peacefully on the box with two feet. A minor miracle with a flighty stubborn warm blood mare.
Don’t change the person/horse, change you.
Don’t be crazy, if you keep trying the same thing over and over again and it’s not working, change what you are doing. The goal is still the same, take a different path.
People and horses take time and patience. Don’t give up on them…give them options, if you get angry, take a break. I had to do that quite a few times today, then go back.
Have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish
Remember…everything is possible.
Be humble…maybe your way of doing things isn’t the best, keep an open mind and be willing to change. You might not be right (obviously I wasn’t)
Make your environment pleasant. Frankly, who wants to be with or follow a tyrant? Be pleasant, speak kindly, carry grain…I guess for people, grain wouldn’t be the best thing to carry, maybe sweet treats and warm loving kisses.
Perdu is 20 and she learned something new…so can you… people and horses do get better with age.