Horses Make the Best Teachers
One of the many things that Carolyn Resnick has taught me is to forever remain a student of the horse. Thinking you have all the answers in knowing how to train a horse inhibits your ability to "read" the horse. A pitfall I see many trainers fall into. Reading your horse and being fully present in the moment with the horse, allows your intuition, creativity, and desire for connection to spring forth. As you choose which tools work best in the moment with each individual horse, you customize the training to allow your horse to succeed.
I have a tendency to be a people pleaser. When someone brings me a horse to train, I want to do my very best to show them how “good it can be” with their horse. As I journey down the road of The Waterhole Rituals, I too have my own self-realizations. I now realize that in my efforts to please the client, I can potentially sacrifice my connection with the horse. Horses read our energy. I must always place my focus on my connection with the horse verses my client’s expectations or my desire to please them.
While in England, I learned a valuable lesson concerning “connection” from a beautiful horse named Peponita. Several trainers had said Peponita was too dangerous to work with. As she came into the arena with me, she appeared to be very disturbed and anxious. While sharing territory with Peponita, I removed all thought of “doing”, “performing”, and “pleasing” and just became fully present in the moment As I was sitting there, a memory from more than 20 years ago popped into my head. When my son David was two years old, his greatest desire was to play with a neighbor named Alex. Alex was four years old and was not particularly nice to David, often making him cry. David did not seem to care one bit, all he wanted was just to BE with Alex. As I sat with Peponita, I realized in this particular moment, it was enough for me to just want to BE with her. I got up from my chair and approached Peponita while making sure I stayed a comfortable distance away. I then began to mirror her behavior. If Peponita looked left, I looked left. If she snorted, I snorted. If she swatted a fly, I swatted a fly. Little by little I inched my way closer until I was able to touch her. We synchronized our movements like two dancers. As she became calm, I ended the session. The next day, as Peponita came into the arena, I noticed that she was more relaxed. We continued to do more mirroring as I asked nothing from her. We ended this session with an intimacy bucket which mimics the manner in which young horses nurse their mothers. On the third and final day, I asked Peponita’s person, Claire to take my place. As they shared territory, it was obvious that Peponita was calm and comfortable. She ate hay as Claire sat with her. After about 10 minutes of this, I instructed Claire to stand up and position herself to offer a hello. As she walked away, Peponita instinctively left the hay and joined her. Then, they proceeded to walk around the arena together fully connected and bonded. Once again, no requests were made from Peponita. She read our intentions of connection and offered herself freely to us. It was a magical moment for all!
The benefits derived from being a student of the horse, being fully present in the moment, and the realization to focus exclusively on “the connection” I will never negotiate while training a horse. Thank you Peponita for teaching me such special lessons that can best be learned from a horse!
Here is what Bonnie Podroza shared after consulting me about her horse:
Have a great rest of the week!