Feeling down about Your own or Your Horse’s Skill Level?

The Horse Training Dilemma

Okay, how many times has this happened to you: You watch a video about horse training, or go to a clinic to learn a new skill, or you watch Cavalia in awe, or a master like Klaus Ferdinand-Hempfling riding bridle-less on some beach. It looks so beautiful, you get so inspired, and in your mind you can already see yourself and your horse doing this together, in harmony, with joy! You go to the paddock, full of hope and dreams to try this out with your horse! And guess what, despite your best efforts it doesn't take long, and you get frustrated. Heck, the whole thing is a disaster! Well, at least in your mind it's a disaster, because (insert your horse's name) didn't do it right. It didn't look or feel anything like what you saw or what you thought it should be like. You blame the horse, stupid (insert your horse's name) and call yourself incompetent.  You feel down and want to give up. Why can't we be like these great riders or horse trainers?

Most trainers would not want anyone to see their "screw ups" anyway. They want you to buy their perfect DVD's, books, courses, and training tools. They want you to believe that you, too can do it, with any horse, and any horse will be willing to do it. All you need is their methods they are selling and you're set! Right?

In the past I too have been down the road of getting "inspired" and day dreaming about the "perfect" ride, training session, or result. We all now and again get sucked in by the images and the emotions these training videos produce, especially when we are in search of great satisfaction and pride. The ego loves to be proud!

But then I give my head a shake.

Horses don't care about perfection; only humans do.

The harder we try, the worse the outcome. Too much force, too much thinking, not enough feeling. Losing touch.

Let's examine this a little more closely. How many years of trial and error "learning" did it take these other trainers to get their horses to "perform" like this? Do they ever talk about their humble beginnings? Do they ever show the video out-takes, the mishaps, of when maybe their horse went bucking and galloping off? Do they talk about what went through their minds, when they applied too much pressure, force, and not enough "feeling"? Does that ever happen to them?

And, importantly, do they ask their horses if they even "want to be there", doing this? Is what they are asking of their horses suitable and fitting to the horse's personality, temperament, intelligence, maturity, and willingness? Does the emotional, mental and physical skill level of the horse match with the tasks and expectations?

Is this training exercise naturally following your and your horse's destined path and journey?

Does whatever you're doing with your horse feel joyfully, spiritually fulfilling?

While all the above questions are compelling, in my heart I feel the last question really speaks to me. In my body, I feel the question about joyful and spiritual fulfillment resonates deeply in my heart and the center of my body. I want to feel joy!

I want to share a story I was told about a man who had Autism living in New York City, and who loved the subway and everything about the subway. I don't know all the exact details but the story is worth telling as I heard it. He knew all about the trains, the subway. He loved it so much, he kept sneaking on the subway, and even somehow ended up driving the train. The authorities were not happy about this and they tried to forbid him to go near the trains. Yet he kept sneaking on. I can't even imagine the frustration he and everyone must have felt. Until, someone said, why don't we give him a job on the subway. He did have something very special to offer: he knew when and where all the trains were running at any given time. He probably had the whole system memorized! No, he was not a nuisance, he was useful, just somebody needed to see that! So they gave him a job where people could call him for information on the trains, and he was able to happily share his innate gifts. Everybody was happy!

What was this man naturally presenting with? An intelligence and skill only he had, that he naturally developed and wanted to share. A gift.

Insights from My Horse Journey

So instead of forcing something unnatural to happen, or blocking something that is naturally happening, why not take what is naturally presenting itself as a gift and work with that?

My horses' gifts: Rollie naturally likes to run and play. He is extremely sensitive (my perception of him!). My horse Link naturally likes to be the boss, he can be a bit opinionated (my perception of him!). Both horses have been exposed to lots of things to see what they like and don't like. Trail riding and obstacle courses are things they like (How do I know? They seem happy, relaxed, and willing. They come to the gate to go trail riding. They want to try. Rollie will even step on the obstacles on his own).

What also came naturally from them was working with people as therapeutic equine partners. And, even what one would consider "annoying" about their quirks, their so-called "challenges" are gifts they bring to us. With my own developing spiritual awareness, I learned and watched in awe as both horses are presenting wonderful modeling and healing for everyone around them, including myself. It's Rollie's sensitivity and Link's strong presence (paying close attention to how and when specifically they present these characteristics) that can give us real gifts. As we are embracing their gifts they in turn, embrace us with our own "flaws" and show us our gifts.

So, if you're feeling down about your own or horse's skill level, maybe ask yourself this: What could my horse be teaching me? What is my horse presenting naturally for my own learning?

I hope this puts watching horse videos and training into a new, more wholistic perspective. Enjoy playing with this!

If you would like to explore Your Journey further…

Questions, or interested in experiencing Equine Facilitated Coaching and Personal Development sessions in Kelowna? Please contact Karin Bauer, BSW, by calling 250-860-1964 or karin@horsejourney.com



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