Not For The Faint Of Heart

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I stood beside him holding the 30 pound, roughout saddle.  I kept checking in with myself, making sure I wasn’t holding my breath or holding any tension in my body as I patiently waited.  He stood next to me, the saddle pad resting on his bay colored back, head slowly lowering, deep chocolate colored eyes getting sleepy looking, velvety muzzle twitching slightly.  As I had lifted the saddle to place it gently on his back, I had observed the tension rise up through his neck, his lips tightened and the life behind his eyes dimmed a bit, as if he were bracing and disassociating from what he expected to experience in that moment.  I immediately backed off, removing the pressure of the saddle moving towards his back and honored the threshold he’d shown.  And I stood waiting, holding space for him as he sorted things out, processing the work we were doing.  Slowly, I began to see life flicker behind his eyes again, as if he were checking back in, he turned his head my direction and began licking and chewing.  I smiled, “Let it all go big guy. . . release all that pent up junk.  You’re safe, you’re respected and you’re very much loved.  You dictate this time line.” As if on cue, he let out a huge sigh.

Untethering horse hearts is something I’ve been doing since I was a young child.  I worked with the horses no one else wanted to, you know, the ones that were labeled, in some way, negatively.  I didn’t realize then that what I was doing was untethering their hearts and shifting their perspective, their expectations of how interacting with humans was supposed to go.  What I was aware of was, the horse that once had a bad reputation, was soon the one people wanted to ride.  I’d lose my mount and begin all over again with the next horse that needed a shift in their perspective.  I don’t remember caring much which horse I was interacting with, I just wanted to be around horses no matter their breed, training or color!  I suppose that’s still fairly true today 🙂

I stood in the middle of the round corral repeating the same motion, gently swinging the saddle and acutely observing if there was any tension in his body.  He remained engaged with me and so I set the saddle on his back as if I were wrapping him in a big hug.  And I waited . . . . .  I joke about not knowing what it’s like to ride a finished, well broke horse and that’s half true.  I’ve ridden them, shown and competed on them however they’ve been very few and very far between.  The horses in my wheel house are the misfits, the outlaws and outcasts, you know, those horses that breathe fire, scorching people first and asking questions later.  If they are pissed at the world, they find their way to me.  If they are shut down, they find their way to me.  If they are broken, they  –  find  –  their  – way  –  to  –  me.

I watched the beautiful bay gelding as he began to relax, his head lowering again, eyes getting that dreamy look, leg cocked, rich ebony colored tail slowly twitching at the fly trying to land on his side and then he blew out a long, deep breath.  I reached up and lifted the saddle and saddle pad from his back.  He licked and chewed turning toward me as I watched a yawn begin to work it’s way from the tippy top of his cute little ears all the way down until he could no longer mask it and his mouth opened wide.  “Huge releases there handsome.  Thank you.” I said quietly as he continued in succession to yawn repeatedly.  I smiled at him, “Thank you for working with me on this.”

Restarting isn’t for the faint of heart.  I love starting young horses.  I get the opportunity to be part of a long list of their firsts – first saddling, first rides, first adventures away from home, etc.  I get to set the stage for them, committed to ensuring that all of those first time experiences are good ones, the kind that build the horse’s confidence, sense of safety and security.  I am the one to lay a strong, solid foundation for them to use the rest of their days and that’s not something I take lightly.  Restarting a horse, on the other hand, can be a very grueling, exhausting process.  It involves taking a horse all the way back in their training to that place where they were first introduced to things like saddling, and resetting their expectations and responses to that stimuli.  I am pretty slow to throw the, ‘That horse has been abused’, card.  It’s not abuse.  It’s a lack of awareness and therefore a lack of properly assessing where the horse is at throughout the training process, i.e. rushing them.  No, it’s not abuse rather is rushed, hurried along and something people do to horses, not with them.

The process of restarting, can be, to the untrained eye, a lot like watching paint dry on a humid day!  I’m watching the horse for the subtlest of feedback that tells me if there is tension, worry, concern or any other form of resistance in their past experience.  When I pick up on that resistance, I retreat.  That resistance is a threshold, a place where, for the horse, and for people, if we go blowing through it (usually because we’re unaware it’s present), we add to the friction and tension that exits.  When we gain awareness that there is a threshold and honor it by backing off, taking the pressure that’s being applied and retreating a bit, we’re showing respect for where that horse or human is at.

I can’t help but think about how similar restarting horses is to coaching humans.  Humans show up with defenses and strategies that, up to the point of our meeting, are in place for good reason.  There are thresholds that come up along the way and as long as I am respectful of those thresholds, honoring that they are there, moving closer and staying longer, holding space as the client processes through the work, their perspective shifts toward more positive outcomes and interactions.

As I set the saddle down on the red, hard plastic mounting block, I felt his breath on the back of my neck, tangling my hair a bit.  “Hi.” I softly said as I slowly turned toward him.  He inspected the saddle and pad.  I stroked his sleek, muscular neck.  “You did well sweet boy.  I promise this will continue to look very different for you.”  I slipped the halter back on his head, snapped a line to it and we ambled across the round corral through the beachy sand toward the gate.

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave” ❤

I See You …

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I considered ignoring you’re continued harassment for the sake of turning the other cheek and taking the higher road.  When I received your “comment”, I was admittedly taken aback that someone would attack in such a vile, disrespectful and unrelated way after I had written about the heart breaking loss of such a unique, powerful and special teacher, as was “Cricket”.  Then, I considered that you have no boundaries.  I considered that those that are hurting, try to hurt others in equal measure.  You sit behind a screen and “arm chair quarterback” from where it’s “safe”.  Those who choose to attack, harass and bully from behind a hidden identity are usually the ones that have the most personal work to do.  Even as you read what I’ve just written, you are denying vehemently that you have any personal work or growth that needs addressed.  As I sat with your words, spewed like bile from an empty stomach after getting gut punched, I considered that the higher road is, in actuality, hitting head on, that which you are so threatened by, ME!

In staying true to my “God (you should capitalize His name, f.y.i.) fearing, Bible (again, should be capitalized) worshiping saint” – persona, my job as a believer is to love you.  I am called to love my enemies, to love those that are hurting & less fortunate in any way shape or form and to share the Good News that Jesus died for me and He died for YOU.  The higher road isn’t in ignoring those that are hurting rather it’s in looking them in the eye, even if in this case it’s through words on a screen, and saying, “I see you.”  It’s in saying, “I hear the pain that is behind your attacks and I … see … you.”  I can only imagine how your blood must be boiling right now!  Lol!  Is this offensive to you?  I would ask you to take a deep breath and feel into that anger, that rage, where is it rooted?  When you feel into your body, where do you feel it?  If you could give it a voice, what would it say?

I’ll tell ya, I don’t “horse whisper” and I’ve never met anyone that did.  Those that claim to “horse whisper” are usually full of shit!  I have met those and worked with those that are masterful at supporting horses in learning new things, quickly.  The horses that come to me are generally, like you, pissed off, jaded and willing to play pretty dirty to get their point and opinion across to whomever it is that is working with them.  I thrive in this setting!  You see I don’t do what they expect.  Horses know what happens before what happens, happens.  Much like hurting people who attack first before they can be hurt in any way, horses will one up ya if they think they know what’s coming.  I don’t play by the traditional rule book.  Horses are willing to offer more when I am respectful of their opinions and instead of blowing through their thresholds I simply show them, what I can verbalize to you, which is, “I see you.”  We have a nickname for what is I do, however it’s not appropriate to say here.  Suffice to say, I shift horses perspectives and I shift humans perspectives.  Call it what you will however “horse whispering” is pretty stupid (people know you have no idea what you’re talking about when you use that “terminology”).

Speaking of pretty stupid, the word “Trollop” is a new one!  Lol!  Call a whore, a whore, or a hooker, a hooker, or a slut, a slut, “trollop”?  I mean really!?!  Lol!  That’s just dumb!  For starters having “many casual sexual encounters and/or relationships” calls for far more time and energy than I have to expend.  I cannot imagine trying to juggle “many casual sexual encounters and/or relationships” with two kids, all their activities, my work down in New Mexico along with what I have going on here in Colorado not to mention, I’m pretty sure I would need to be “social” in some way to even meet people that would be willing to be part of a trollop’s reality.  I don’t even have time for casual friendships!  Lol!  I appreciate the good laugh for sure and a new word for my vocabulary that has already been used in inside jokes repeatedly since your message.

My husband and my kids are, in my book, off limits.  That further shows your lack of boundaries, and in case you were unaware, I have a horse for that!  1200 pounds has a way of teaching what boundaries are and how to maintain them like nothing I’ve ever seen.  I can only pray that at some point in your life, you are in some way, in relationship with someone as genuine, loving, give-you-the-shirt-off-his-back and his bank account number to make sure you and your family are fed, kind of person as my husband is.  I can’t imagine he’d ever be okay with sitting still and not working hard, even if he had a sugar mama to provide for his every whim!  He’s just that kind of guy.  I adore him not for his work ethic or paycheck rather for the heart that beats in his big ol’ chest!  You see, he saw me, when I was broken into a million pieces and he loves me even with all my pieces put back together differently.

My ‘wasband’ didn’t kick me to the curb.  That’s another part of your story that you’ve recorded inaccurately.  I bolted out of that marriage!  I ran for my life!  He may have filed for divorce directly after my exit however I was the one that left.  I wouldn’t be on this planet for you to harass had I not found the courage to get out of that abusive relationship.  And should my husband “tire of me and my bull crap (whatever that is – hard to be a bullshitter and a straight shooter – my upfront, straightforwardness is what people expect and appreciate about me)” then I suppose that would be between him and I.  The difference in our relationship and that of so many others is, we don’t need each other, we want each other.  I want him in my life, he wants me in his life.  I don’t have to have him in my life (need) nor does he have to have (need) me in his life.  It’s that part of our relationship that is so beautiful, that part where there are no fences confining our souls, there are no rules and expectations that bind and tether our hearts, there is wide open, wild and free space to roam together, even when we’re apart.

I encourage you to begin looking within.  I encourage you to begin digging around and excavating.  What is it about me that intimidates and causes you to become defensive, lashing out and attacking?  This isn’t about me or what you believe to be true about me.  This is about you and what it is that you are struggling to come to terms with in your own heart.  I have a horse for that and I will go so far as to offer you a coaching session on me.  If you decide that you are ready to look at the unfinished business in your background and begin to heal it, my gate is open to you.  My horses and I are available to support you in peering into the deep, dark recesses of your life, exposing them to light, applying healing salve to the those wounds and shifting the trajectory of your life toward more positive interactions and outcomes.  You know where to find me.

“You are powerful, beautiful, brilliant & brave” ❤